Fabien Pinckaers remembers when he was a bright, young computer science graduate. He wanted to fight the good tech fight, and SAP was the first billion-dollar firm he was to bring low. The Belgian-native wished to liberate the enterprise management market from the shackles of proprietary software and intended to do so by championing an open-source movement.
In 2005, he started developing TinyERP – an open-source solution meant to topple enterprise software giants. Pinckaers’ big dreams were eventually tempered by harsh reality but he stayed true to the spirit of his mission. In a LinkedIn article, he ruefully recounts one example when a room full of Danone directors asked why they should pay millions of dollars for “tiny” software.
He subsequently changed the name to OpenERP and things started to come together for the company. By 2010, they had developed dozens of business apps, grew the open-source community, and expanded to 100+ employees. That same year, the software provider partnered with VC firms Soffinova and Xavier Niel of Iliad to raise approximately $3.3 million in capital to fund the next chapter of their growth.
Pinckaers’ recruited a top-notch management team, pivoted from service provider to software publisher, and moved far beyond the boundaries of a conventional ERP player. The company rebranded itself as Odoo and topped 2 million users by 2014. Somewhere in that year, the founder realized that his company was transforming the industry.
“My goal in founding Odoo was to make a difference. I wanted to create software that powers the growth of businesses and changes the world,” said Pinckaers, Odoo founder and CEO. "In order to achieve this, we've had to work hard, build a team, and innovate at every turn.”
Today, the ERP serves clients by providing software that manages complexity. Open-source has come into its own, and Odoo’s community of 2550 partners and 4.5 million users is flourishing. The Belgium-based tech firm offers a full suite of business applications, ranging from CRM, eCommerce, accounting, and point of sale. Odoo developed and maintains a core group of software applications and can scale services to accommodate anyone from the sole-proprietor up to large enterprises (30,000+).
While sometimes called the ‘Bill Gates of Belgium,' Pinckaers believes there is still much room for growth. “Most companies are still largely inefficient in the way they operate. We have done a lot to improve their situation, but there are so many more areas to improve,” he said in a 2019 interview with Bulletin.
In December 2019, Odoo agreed to a $90 million minority investment led private equity firm Summit Partners. The new resources will be used to accelerate product development and assist with global expansion.