How Patrik Vandewalle Set Up a Leading European IT Nearshore Company
What does launching and growing a new company look and feel like? The media greatly romanticizes such a venture by looking only at the positives. Still, in the opinion of Patrik Vandewalle, running a startup from conception to maturity and sustainable international success is much more challenging, but undeniably equally, if not more mentally rewarding, than managing an already established business with 3,000+ employees. Yet the founder and owner of Skelia, a company that offers to hire dedicated development teams, managed both of these endeavors.
Let us tell you Skelia’s story, which would be impossible to write without the story of its creator, Patrik Vandewalle.
Patrik Vandewalle, born and raised in Belgium, has always been driven and energized by the joy of creation, attracted by the unknown, by inspiring challenges and finding creative ways to transform ideas into businesses that matter.
Over 30 years ago, Patrik Vandewalle began his career as one of the first Unix engineers at Olivetti, an Italian design and technology company founded in 1908. In five years, he was persistent growing and happy to join Accenture, one of the globally leading business consulting companies to date, as one of their first managers “from the outside” and was fueled by a natural drive to overcome the ‘cultural canyon’ between Olivetti’s Italian disorder and the, at that time, polished up-or-out the big-5 structure of Accenture. Patrik managed large international projects within multiple industries as well as the public sector, rapidly enriching his business maturity and vast experience on the verge of different cultures, business models, and approaches. An enriching initial career journey laying the foundation for later career moves as country manager and later CEO of international IT companies, including DXC, CGI/Logica, and Euronext-list Econocom with 3,000+ employees in 15+ countries.
To some extent, the idea to create Skelia was inspired by his work experience – Patrik helped others buy and sell profitable companies but never owned his own.
Together with two experienced Belgian co-entrepreneurs, Patrik decided to create his own venture, Skelia, in 2008, anticipating changing company needs and new business opportunities originating from the alarming financial crisis that same year and continued acute talent
Skelia’s founders crafted a transparent business model aiming to solve traditional customer roadblocks while outsourcing, such as employee turnover, cultural differences, management overheads and evolving needs. With Skelia they created a remarkable business experience, which is as close as possible to having your own employees, as though Skelia builds and operates a new customer office in Eastern Europe.
Unlike traditional outsourcing companies, Skelia offers its customers the unique opportunity to transfer their Skelia team into a fully customer-owned legal entity. We don’t sell individuals, we sell teams and organizations. Team transfer opens-up exciting strategic scenarios for companies that want to launch their Eastern-European affiliates in a risk-free way.
For more than 10 years, Skelia has helped its customers build effective cross-border IT organizations by extending their in-house operations and building dedicated teams from scratch, according to their specific business needs.
To date, Skelia is a leading international staff augmentation company headquartered in Luxembourg and New York, and servicing its international customers out of Eastern Europe. It employs 300+ tech professionals and heads for 500 employees in 2 years. It has served 80+ customers across16 countries.
In 2020, Skelia was ranked the #1 Business & IT Services company by Clutch, and awarded as a Global Top 100 Sustained Growth company.
Skelia doesn’t promote itself as a traditional outsourcing company, but as “organization builders.” They have custom built over 200 cross-border teams for companies in USA, Europe, UK and the Nordics. Most of Skelia’s customers look for a structural cross-border organization and therefore build a strategic, long-term partnership with Skelia lasting on average 3 to 6 years. Interesting to know that its first three enterprise clients still work with Skelia, and this for over 10 years.
Its unique selling proposition is powered by an enduring focus to build stable cross-border IT and engineering organizations with the highest possible employee retention while ensuring the perfect cultural fit. Cultural matching of people, companies and jobs, remains Skelia’s most important long-term success factor. If things go wrong, it’s more often due to culture than to technology. Software developers working within the same technology area can require very different profiles when selected for teams with a large international bank vs. a Silicon Valley startup. When choosing candidates, we allow them to interview their prospective organizations – this gives them a voice in the match and creates a transparent culture.
Our employee-centric corporate culture allows us to keep our employee churn on customer teams very low – targeting a turnover of 10% or lower. We have developed outstanding recruiting practices to secure rapid integration and scaling of our in-house tech teams.
The top-3 reasons why customers prefer Skelia are the quality of resources, its unique team retention and the possibility to spin-off and acquire your team as a fully owned affiliate company.
In 2021, Skelia continues to grow, expanding its reach and coverage. The company offers not only team empowerment services but also a set of services on-demand, such as developing cutting-edge mobile commerce apps, testing the already existing solutions and finding ways to make them even more outstanding, plus making your business processes more effective and innovative with the help of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
The story of Skelia is the story of a winning mix of listening to your real customer needs and structurally acting upon, profound technical knowledge and entrepreneurial mindset, and the skill to re-apply best practices experienced before and enhance those with new and creative approaches.
This is also the story of passion, hard work, and learning from mistakes. But most importantly, it is the story of an honest and transparent business that proves to its customers that nothing is impossible. With Skelia, your remote team can be effective, your dedicated team is dedicated, and your extended development team isn’t only extended but empowered.
This article was originally published here.