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Member Spotlight: Levi9 – making an impact

Levi9 is an IT outsourcing company that offers services in five areas: traffic and transport, electronic retail, financial technology services, digital marketing and media, and software services. They are headquarted in Amsterdam and work out of Serbia, Romania and the Ukraine.

With 900 employees in seven locations, Levi9 has long ceased to be an SME. Founded in 2005, Levi9 has expanded rapidly, achieving between 20-40% growth every year for the last 5 years. Their success has been recognized by their peers: research agency Giarte awarded Levi9 for the fourth year in a row a 100% recommendation score in their Outsourcing Performance Benchmark in 2017.

How has Levi9 achieved this success? I asked Pien Oosterman, Chief Customer Officer, whether it is due to their business model, market growth, or other factors. The answer, it seems, is a mixture of all these things.

First of all, Levi9 was founded with a solid structure. Bernhard van Oranje and Menno de Jong started the company in 2005, along with twelve IT experts who they already knew from their previous company. This gave the young company a solid base from which to grow.

Second, Levi9 takes an agile approach to their work. Despite their size, they only have around twenty employees in their head office. Rather than building a large support structure, they incorporated professionals into their teams to ensure smooth and high-quality operations. As Pien explained:

“One of the really essential choices of this company is to be as agile as possible. The whole idea is that IT is changing so fast, the demands that organizations have are changing so fast, that the best thing you can do is be as agile as possible, to move with these changing requirements. We also think that the best way to get results is to put the people who need something next to the people who bring something. Every layer of management, every feature that is not focused on creating results is just slack. So we have very little management and lots of professionals here.”

Third, Levi9 has managed to maintain quite a stable workforce, thus avoiding one of the major pitfalls that many IT companies face. This stable workforce means they can maintain personal relationships among their team and with their customers. Given that the company work across different cultures, this is especially important. Pien explained that having stable management helps because it makes it possible to distll common ways of working throughout the entire company.

Levi9’s highly personal approach also reinforces their client relationships. Every time they take on a new client, one of the board members will visit that client in person, as well as follow up with the relationship over time. They are also highly selective when it comes to their clients: if a collaboration seems unlikely to be successful, then they feel it is better not to start it in the first place. Moreover, they are well aware of which types of clients fit them best. Pien stated:

“If you look at our culture, we have the best match with scale-ups, not with start-ups; our delivery model is too heavy for their purpose and quite often they lack a long-term roadmap to give us enough guidance. The scale-ups are the ones we have the best cultural match with, and what you see is that we grow together with our clients.”

This personalization also extends to the way Levi9 delivers services to clients. The company only offers tailor-made products to their clients, not standardized ones. Such an approach makes Levi9 well-suited to occupy a market niche characterized by rapid changes in both the market and in products.

Given their adaptability to change, it is perhaps not surprising that Levi9 is seeing the most growth taking place in their fintech offerings. Pien told us that this growth is occurring despite the fact that they are not investing more in fintech than in their other specializations. She puts this success down to growth in the market itself:

“We just see that there is a lot of traction in the market, it’s moving. It is also because there are a lot of fintech companies, the market is changing so rapidly, and it is also changing in an area that fits us very well.”

How does Pien view the future of the market? Overall, her interpretation is favorable. While she expressed concern over regulatory issues, she views the decline in dominance of a few players in favour of a diverse range of companies as a positive development, both for Levi9 and the market as a whole.

One thing is certain: the company is living up to its name. “Levi9” is borrowed from the asteroid Levy9-Shoemaker, which crashed into Jupiter in 2004, making a big impact.

To learn more about Levi9, you can visit their website.

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