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Eureka! with Siegert Dierickx & Philippe Vlaemminck

One is a marketeer at heart with a penchant for customer experience, the other combines his passion for IT with a dash of rock and roll. Together, Siegert and Philippe are at the helm of MultiMinds, a bustling data analytics hub in the heart of Aalst, run by some 20 data fanatics. Today, the dynamic duo looks back on 7 years of entrepreneurship in the ever-changing data landscape and sheds light on the future of MultiMinds.

Siegert’s Eureka!-moment:

Simply putting your website online won't do the trick. You need to let your data speak for itself in order to obtain relevant insights and change things up accordingly. - Siegert Dierickx, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at MultiMinds

Let’s go back in time for a moment: how did you both end up in data?

Philippe: “In my day, studying IT was something for real nerds. At that time, only banking and financial data were relevant. During my first job as a programmer at a bank, I realized that bank accounts were nothing more than numbers on a computer. Later, when I worked at Euroclear, Visa and Proton, I came to the same conclusion: only when we attribute a certain value to those numbers do the data become relevant, whether it’s about money on bank accounts or customer behavior on digital platforms.”

Were you a nerd back then, or have you always had the rock ‘n roll vibe?

Philippe: “I’ve never considered myself a nerd. I was always looking for new, challenging IT projects to broaden my horizons. At MultiMinds, we do much cooler stuff than banking data.”

What about you, Siegert? How did you get into data?

Siegert: “While studying marketing, supplemented by a postgraduate degree in IT and a master in e-business in London, I grew fascinated by digital platforms. Back then, I liked to make websites for my friends with a tracker to observe the visitors. After my studies, I started working for a software and hardware distributor in the sales and consulting team. My early interest in websites and trackers gradually grew into a strong passion for customer data and large, complex online platforms.”

How did MultiMinds come about?

Siegert: “Throughout my career, I worked at multiple agencies, building websites and big campaigns for even bigger clients. I had to work with media budgets and analyze the results afterwards. That duality of being judge and jury at the same time didn’t feel right to me. I longed for a more objective approach, but back then, there were no independent data analytics companies in Belgium. I saw an opportunity, but I was just a marketeer with minimal experience in IT. If the quality of your data is bad, marketing can't do a lot. I started looking for a business partner to share my dream with, went to a pub three times with this guy called Philippe whom I didn’t know before, and the rest is MultiMinds history.”

What made MultiMinds unique at the time?

Siegert: “Definitely our independence and our objective, transparent and ethical approach. Over the years, these values have remained at the heart of our story. Our first customers came to us because they were looking for transparent reporting and a close, independent partner to help them improve their online performance. Thanks to our unique approach, we were able to gain and maintain their trust and support.”

What is MultiMinds' view on how customer data is handled today?

Philippe: “Data is without doubt an incredibly powerful tool, yet few people understand its full potential. At MultiMinds, we want to raise awareness by showing people how to handle their data – and that of others – with care and respect. In fact, GDPR was a true blessing for us, because people finally started thinking about the potential and, more importantly, the pitfalls of online data.”

GDPR was a real blessing for MultiMinds. It provides us with a solid framework for our activities and drove business forward. - Philippe Vlaemminck, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at MultiMinds

How is the Belgian data economy faring these days?

Philippe: “With Belgian companies doing about ten percent of what they could, we are lagging behind compared to many other countries. Innovation isn’t necessarily the problem. Many companies are trying to collect data, but they don’t do anything with it. The digital landscape is changing at light speed. If we don’t catch up, we’ll be irrelevant sooner or later.”

Siegert: “Especially some of our Belgian flagship companies are at risk. They still use legacy systems, and while they pretend to do a lot about CX, in reality, their work is very unstructured and quite inefficient. An agile, flexible approach is key. If we want to make the digital transformation, it’s a matter of using our data potential to the fullest to make appropriate changes and take action. Small companies and start-ups seem to be more aware of the gravity of the situation.”

If we don't start focusing on our data potential today, we'll be irrelevant in five - or ten-years' time. The imminent transition to Web 3.0 will be a game changer in tomorrow's digital landscape. - Siegert Dierickx

Can Belgian companies be competitive and ethical at the same time?

Siegert: “I believe it’s possible to reconcile both. Nowadays, gaining the trust of your customers is more important than ever. An ethical approach is the first step towards this trust culture.”

Philippe: “I think we’re in a good position. Belgium has some of the strictest privacy regulations, which is a huge benefit for the future. Of course, countries like China or the US don’t care about being ethical. They’ve crossed the line many times before and said sorry, but today, they’re dominating the market. I believe they’ll change in the future, but not before they’ve taken the entire global market.”

Belgium has always put the bar high when it comes to privacy. That's a good thing: guaranteeing your customers' privacy and gaining their trust and support go hand in hand. - Philippe Vlaemminck

What does the future hold for MultiMinds?

Philippe: “We want to do more of what we’re doing today, but bigger and better. By expanding our team, we can take on more challenging projects and keep growing in the future. To improve our work flow even further, we’ve drawn up a new strategic trajectory for our new and current clients.”

Siegert: “In the coming years, we’d like to take our story outside of the Benelux. Our independent, ethical approach could definitely work in other European countries as well. The war on talent is another challenge. We want to continue to reward our employees with amazing projects and create value for all our stakeholders. Meanwhile, customer intimacy remains at the core of our activities.”

Customer intimacy will always be at the heart of MultiMinds. No matter where we go next, creating value for our stakeholders will always be our number one priority. - Siegert Dierickx

Are there any individuals who’ve inspired you or who you look up to?

Siegert: “Many people in the different organizations that I have worked, have inspired me along my professional journey. I guess I was lucky. But it wouldn't be fair to name one in particular. I like to look far and beyond to get new insights.”

Philippe: “Around the year 2000, I worked at Sun Microsystems. One of its founders, Andy Bechtolsheim, is a real visionary. He believed that one day, computers would become a utility like water or electricity, and that the real innovation would be the network that connected the computers. Today, everything runs on clouds. I got to meet him once. He’s definitely a big inspiration for me.”

“If I’m allowed to pick someone closer to me, I’d go with Nicolas. I love how he dares to experiment with the latest technologies. He genuinely represents the mindset we’re trying to achieve at MultiMinds.”

Let’s end on a wholesome note: what are you grateful for at MultiMinds?

Philippe: “Do you have an hour? I’m truly grateful to be able to share this story with Siegert. Each in our own way, we’ve managed to make something beautiful out of it. Of course, I also want to thank our clients for trusting us and giving us the chance to try new things. Last but not least, a big shoutout to our people at MultiMinds who joined us on this journey and give their best every day.”

Siegert: “The past two years have been tough, but together we’ve managed to pull through. Cheers to more challenging projects and wonderful partnerships in 2022.”