The success story of bold acquisitions continues with a 70% growth
“We needed to accelerate our growth and impact to increase our expertise and service portfolio. Rapidly. Such a thing is only possible with well-selected acquisitions,” said Martin Pejsa, Executive Chairman of Creative Dock, about a year ago. And the strategy worked: At the end of 2023, Creative Dock, the largest independent corporate venture builder in Europe and MENA, reached a year-to-year revenue increase of 70%.
Words by Tomas Kolder, Pictures by Creative Dock archive
“Organic growth is great. But it’s time-consuming. And if you want to expand, you can’t invest years and years just to establish your business in each new market,” said Martin Pejsa at the end of last year, explaining his company's chain of bold acquisitions (as seen in the article Size does matter. A success story of growth). As it turned out, in 2023, these acquisitions made corporate venture builder Creative Dock the most prominent independent player in its category. Pejsa's courageous plan worked perfectly.
“Starting in January 2023, Creative Dock has become one entity, with Spark Works, FoundersLane, and IdeaSense adopting the Creative Dock brand, while Rohrbeck Heger stays on as Creative Dock’s sub-brand.”
Acquisitions alone are not enough to succeed
However, acquisitions cannot be the only growth strategy. They will only work if you have a more comprehensive plan beyond simply scaling the company through investment. Integrating other companies must be only one step in a much broader plan. Otherwise, you will spend money you will never get back; a special article dedicated to our acquisition experience can be found here. Of course, Creative Dock didn't just rely on acquisitions, either. An increasingly important part of the company's success story is leveraging significant business potential in artificial intelligence.
For Creative Dock, the key to the future was AI transformation
As a corporate venture builder based on technology solutions, Creative Dock has been flirting with artificial intelligence for a long time. And it launched its first ventures using, for example, machine learning-based scoring for personal loans more than a decade ago. But real AI and Large Language Models (LLM) came more intensely into the innovation department's sights about a year and a half ago. In 2023, we started using AI for internal processes, but soon implemented it within our first clients' solutions. We saw in just a few months what AI can do if you take it seriously and not just have a few people from business development or IT use it as a toy.
“Through internal testing, efficiency in certain areas increased by up to 30%. Nearly 9 out of 10 people in Creative Dock use AI tools, including during product testing in the market.”
Can AI take your work? Yes, and you'll be thankful for it.
"Even in the crucial fintech sector, we’ve seen enormous potential in the use of artificial intelligence tools. We are working on optimising internal processes and improving products and services, such as enhancing the customer experience, including voice control, improving customer communication, handling requests, increasing financial literacy, and improving the efficiency of services like customer scoring, as well as automating specific processes such as fraud detection and reminders," said Gabriela Teissing, CEO of Creative Dock. Regarding the future outlook, Creative Dock highlights decarbonisation and sustainability among the trends and business opportunities.
”I am really dedicated to having Creative Dock become an AI-obsessed company. Because this will mean the way we live today will change a lot, so of course, the first common reaction is: oh, so I am not needed anymore, I can go to my cottage and spend the rest of my life there. But the thing is more about figuring out how we can use AI in the best way and how we can improve everything that we do. How we can improve our clients' work, how we can deliver more, how we can change ourselves and the way we work. We are used to certain ways of working; we’ve been doing it more or less in the same manner for a long time. Now, suddenly, a huge change appeared, so we also need to change – rapidly and entirely,” the CEO said in an interview at the beginning of 2023. Many of her plans have already been achieved, and others are in progress. The full interview can be found here.
What the numbers say: Our success story through the eyes of the CFO
According to the latest financial report, most of Creative Dock's revenue comes from the DACH region (45%), followed by the Middle East (40%). Among the biggest projects were contracts with banking institutions, insurance companies, the tobacco industry, and telecommunications and construction firms—the fintech sector accounts for nearly a third of Creative Dock's revenue. "In 2022, Creative Dock had its most successful year yet. We’ve maintained a double-digit growth rate and plan to target the same this year. The majority of Creative Dock's revenue comes from international operations, specifically 89%, and in terms of sectors, fintech contributes the most at 32%," commented Miroslav Esser, CFO of Creative Dock.
“Over the past decade, Creative Dock has launched over 100 ventures and standalone products in fintech, insurtech, e-commerce, retail, logistics, construction, manufacturing, and more.”
Our main clients are not corporations, but ordinary people around the world
Besides Europe focusing on DACH (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria), key regions for Creative Dock include the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). "The MENA region, especially countries that are progressive in investing in new products and development, holds significant potential. Saudi Arabia, in particular, is witnessing substantial investments in economic development, with 63% of the population being under thirty. These young and digitally adept individuals create an ideal environment for developing digital products and services, presenting a great opportunity for us. We are working on projects that assist ordinary citizens of Saudi Arabia in their daily lives," concluded Gabriela Teissing.
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