“Playing in Gartner’s Champions League”

Good news for Betty Blocks. We have been included by Gartner in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platforms as a Service (aPaaS). What does that mean and how unique is this actually? Our CEO Chris Obdam explains.


The Magic What?
“Magic Quadrant. The name more or less says it all: It’s a quadrant in which a select group of companies is active in the market for application development platforms. The box at the upper right lists the so-called leaders, at the upper left are the challengers, at the bottom left you have the niche players and at the bottom right are the visionaries. Betty Blocks is included in the Magic Quadrant in the niche players box, right next to leaders such as Salesforce and Mendix. In this way, Gartner is actually saying: We see in you an important party in the market for application development platforms.”

How impressive is that?
“As level-headed North Hollanders, we are not easily impressed, but we can justifiably be a bit proud of this. Just 14 companies are included in the Magic Quadrant this year. Worldwide, that is. The fact that we, as a relatively young player from the small town of Obdam, are included among this illustrious group is fairly impressive. Certainly if you consider the speed with which we achieved it, that is not something that they have seen happen so quickly before at Gartner. Other names that you encounter are Oracle, Fujitsu and Salesforce, the world’s supplier of CRM software. Betty Blocks and the Rotterdam company Mendix are the only two Dutch application development platforms that are included in the Magic Quadrant. I recently spoke with the CEO of one of our fellow companies in our branch who told me that they have been working for three years to obtain certification from Gartner. Unsuccessfully.”

A rapid listing
“The fact that we, as a relatively small organisation, can nevertheless do big things. The speed with which we are growing, the way in which we have set up our work processes and of course the development platform itself will certainly have helped to achieve the rapid listing. And above all the user friendliness of our platform. Anyone with even the slightest interest in IT can build their own application with Betty Blocks. You don’t even need any programming experience to do that. Our vision is that software development will ultimately be made available for everyone, with or without experience”

And by everyone, you in fact mean… everyone?
“You have a movement that says that children in primary school should already be learning to code. But there is another way you can look at it: Make programming simpler and you achieve the same result. Our speck on the horizon is that ultimately everyone must be able to build an application, using Betty Blocks of course. That is very interesting for large companies. Because imagine: A marketer or head of a production line sees a problem in the organisation and wants an application for that, preferably today. Thanks to Betty Blocks, he is able to develop the app himself. With our help, of course, but in a role in which you as a company always maintain control. This not only makes developing applications much easier, it also makes it much more fun.”

Is there an account or client that you like to talk about at parties?
“When people ask about it, I like to use examples of larger companies that develop their own software on our platform. KPMG, for example. Sligro, or Tele2. At first, we usually tend to sense a bit of scepticism at these types of large organisations. Building an application will cost a lot of money and take months or even years; that’s the idea they have. But it quickly becomes apparent that, with our help, their own employees – even if they have little programming experience – are able to design the software. At Tele2 our platform is used to enable new innovation, and in that way to simplify the lives of the clients and partners. Those types of stories are nice to pass along.”

What are your company’s ambitions for the coming years?
“To expand the organisation, develop the product, internationalise and double in size every year. As incidentally, as much as possible without investors at first. We know companies where that type of external cash infusion certainly did not improve the corporate culture. That type of hierarchical organisation structure with a VP Sales, a VP Marketing and VP Development? I don’t even like to think about it. We have the same speed of growth, but then on our own terms.”

But that also means that you need people to achieve those ambitions.
“Our door is always open to good people. We have about 35 professionals working for Betty Blocks now, and that number will continue to grow strongly. We are looking for sales professionals, online marketers, growth hackers and, of course, developers. Incidentally, we don’t immediately make every applicant an offer, but we are really always looking for – as I refer to them – A-players. People who organise their work themselves, who have the drive to continually better themselves and who bring their colleagues along with them when doing so. In short, more character than knowledge.”

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot: Why would someone want to work here?
“Our mission is to be among the world top 5 application development platforms. How cool would it be to be a part of that? You’re looking at the Champions League and you know: I’m in the qualifiers. Now let’s continue on with the entire team and we’ll take that step!”

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