As many of you know, I’ve been fan of Constellation Software. I’ve continue that same interest in Constellation’s latest “propagation”, Topicus.com.
Like Constellation, most things seem elusive. Though it’s not intention, is made harder because the parts that now make Topicus.com were previously private companies or subsidiaries of public companies. That’s because Topicus.com is made up of 3 parts:
- TSS Blue
- TSS Public
Topicus which is now (kind of) a subsidiary of Topicus.com retains the businesses that were part of that organization. We know that Daan Dijkhuizen has lead that company successfully and according to Mark Leonard (President of Constellation Software) that Dijkhuizen has been successful at Topicus for growing to its size “without using outside shareholder funding”. That is impressive indeed.
We know Dijkhuizen has been able to grow by:
- Listening and working very closely with customers to build VMS (vertical market software) to their needs,
- Instilling a “lean startup” type model whereby there are short projects where you create an MVP to see if there is interest in the market to grow it further
- Instilling a culture of “craft” and people being proud of the craft that is contributing positively to society (not just software for its own sake).
That’s what I’ve been able to find out about Topicus prior to forming Topicus.com. Here are some other more random facts I was able to find on the internet as continued my investigation:
- Dijkhuizen (CEO of Topicus and now Topicus.com) is an Industrial Engineer by training.
- There’s some YouTube videos of Dijkhuizen leading some hackathon sessions and talking about Topicus (but very high-level), but not of much use.
- Topicus hails from Deventer, Netherlands, so much of the information out there is in Dutch.
- I was able to find one recent interview on ManagementScope.nl (and used Google Translate to convert) of Dijkhuizen given in June 6, 2020. Dijkhuizen talks with the journalist about how the lockdown has affected Europe and the Netherlands in particular and how Topicus has seen and grown through it. A few key things to note from that interview:
- “Topicus is known to the general public from ParnasSys, a pupil tracking system in primary education. But Topicus also has a large market share with Findesk among financial advisors. In addition to education and healthcare professionals, mortgage advisers, banks and municipalities also work with Topicus software. The company has grown tenfold in the number of employees in the past ten years and is therefore the fastest growing employer in Overijssel.”
- “The broad focus is the result of the decentralized structure of the company: employees form groups of seven to ten people, each with a relatively independent market focus. The groups are free to develop and exploit their own products – the pioneers also have the opportunity to take an interest. What characterizes the company is a strong social mission, with meaning, craftsmanship and self-determination as values. The ability to independently develop meaningful products strengthens the loyalty of the many ICT workers associated with the Deventer company. With an average employment contract of eight years, the company appears to be an attractive employer.“
- “”Topicus focuses on three values: meaning, craftsmanship and self-determination. These three values determine how we attract our employees. Most of our people have a technical background. You have to let those employees reach their goal with craftsmanship. At the same time, we also want to develop meaningful technology. That is why we are pioneers in the digitization of healthcare and education, and that is why we are creating a system for banks that gives people financial autonomy. These sensible solutions make us a distinctively attractive employer for technicians.””
- I could just paste the whole thing (but wouldn’t) but it’s very worth your time to read the entire interview. I’ve highlighted the main things above and really helps you get into the mind of Dijkhuizen and the culture he’s built at Topicus. Remains to be seen if he can continue that same focused culture while running the larger company with 3 subsidiaries now.
There’s probably a few more things in the past year that I’ve been about to dig up but haven’t included yet. Would love to hear what you think and what you might have also uncovered.
Oh and of course, here is a very excellent investment thesis of the company by The 10th Man.