Formerly Qliktech, Qlik provides companies of all scales with business intelligence software solutions, delivering hassle-free data analysis and reporting solutions through their platform product QlikView.
The company first sprung out of the Oresund Region in the early 90s and still have their Swedish headquarters stationed in Lund. Since their breakthrough in the early 2000s, Qlik’s success has placed them among the top three of America’s fastest-growing tech companies (according to Forbes’s 2012 list), in the same rank as Apple and LinkedIn. Now hailed the world leader in Business Discovery, the company currently employs more than 1,800 people in 24 countries, has over 1,700 partners worldwide, as well as a vast user base of 31,000 customers including the likes of The Campbell Soup Company, Sara Lee and London Fog.
Evidently, Qlik can no longer be considered a startup, but it began in much the usual fashion; with a unique idea and a set of bright, entrepreneurial minds determined to develop it.
Where it All Began
Qlik was founded in Lund, 1993 by the late Björn Berg and Staffan Gestrelius. Their mission was to build an entirely new type of software; one able to reflect and embody the complex workings of the human mind, to create a product able to provide a truly intuitive user experience. The result was Quikview. This is today known as Qlikview, the name adopted in 1996 to reflect the ease with which users are able to retrieve incredibly detailed data analysis with a simple click. QUIK is an acronym for Quality, Understanding, Interaction and Knowledge, and although the name has changed since, these four characteristics remain the cornerstones of the firm’s aim.
Starting out Small
Qlik earned its success by going were none had previously ventured: providing business intelligence software to a huge, but obscure, market of SMEs. They began by targeting the small-scale enterprises, those not yet detected by the competing, larger firms offering similar solutions, like SAP’s BusinessObjects and IBM’s Cognos. Gradually, the firm was able to invade the businesses of these major-league players too, becoming itself a global leader which now is on a par with Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and SAP.
In 1998 the company received funding from Swedish investors Handelsbanken and Industrifonden. Their product required some initial tampering to ensure its seamless functioning. By 1999, it was successfully installed at the disposal of a large number of small enterprises, as well as a few big-time companies like Tetrapak, the world’s leading provider in food processing and packaging solutions, and biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
A New Century: A New CEO
The start of the 21st century saw the firm undertaking new leadership, with Måns Hultman appointed as CEO and Lars Björk acting as CFO (who has taken over the role of CEO following Hultman’s leave in 2010). The expertise of this star duo helped the firm, which, despite its fantastic product, had been facing tough times and was at the brink of bankruptcy, out of their slump and rocketed them into the realm of success. Hultman’s decision to focus solely on the field of BI, adopting clients from local, mid-sized manufacturing companies, resulted in an expanding client list, from 6 to 200 over the course of just a year. However, the firm still lacked the capital to further accelerate its growth. Rather than seeking the financial aid from Swedish investors, Hultman chose to broaden the firm’s vision to an international level, seeking expertise as well as money.
Funding from International Investors
In 2004, Qlik secured an impressive $12.5 million in venture capital funding from equity firms Accel Partners and JVP (Jerusalem Venture Partners). JVP owns 21.4% of stocks, following the company’s IPO in 2010. Meanwhile, Accel boasts a long, renowned history within the venture capital scene, having funded big names like Facebook (2005), Spotify (2011) and Etsy (2012).
Qlik used funds to finance the expansion of their international presence. This appeared to have been put into good use as by the end of that year the firm boasted a 35% annual growth rate and a final $13 million in total revenue.
Going Public to Become a 1.5 Billion Dollar Business
After launching an initial public offering of stock on the NASDAQ in mid-2010, the firm saw an immediate increase in their stock of more than 30%, before settling only slightly below at a 28% gain. This distinguished Qlik as one of the hottest tech IPOs of that year in the US. Following their debut on the stock market during early July, the firm’s initial value was $77 million, floating at $10 per share. Come late November, their value had increased to a hefty $1.5 billion.
Recognizing their large consumer base existing in Western Australia, the company has in the course of the last year, 2013, opened a new office in Perth, thus affirming its strong position in the Australian market and further allowing the firm to provide services on a more personalized, individual level. At the end of the year, Qlik celebrated a total annual revenue of $470.5 million, an increase in 21% from the previous year.
The Ripple Effect
As admitted by Henrik Been (former Qlik Executive Director of Products), the power of word of mouth has been a driving force in the company’s success (ignoring the unique product, efficient marketing and clever investments made in research and development). Enthusiasm for the product has spread like wild-fire and recommendations from satisfied users to their colleagues and friends have played a pivotal role in QlikView’s widespread recognition.
Success is here to stay
It seems that for Qlik the only way from here is up. The fact that competition is fairly weak means that Qlik’s high place in the market remains secure and their clients satisfied. The Oresund Region will hopefully continue to bask in their glory for years to come, while startups in the area will have a solid role model to gain inspiration from.