Munich, Germany-based think project! group grew revenues 20% in 2018 and regards itself as Europe’s market leader in the SaaS construction collaboration market.
Thomas Bachmaier, founder and CEO of Munich, Germany-based SaaS construction technology provider think project!, believes the business is set to grow even more strongly. Speaking during the first day of the group’s internal kick-off conference in Munich on 23 January 2019, when the company shared its vision, mission and strategy with around 230 of its now almost-300 employees, he said the company was now set for growth, both organically and by acquisition.
In an exclusive on-the-record briefing during the conference,* Bachmaier said the change had started in early 2017 when private equity investor TA Associates took a strategic stake in the business. It was looking, in Bachmaier’s words, to “unlock the potential” and “to take it to a new level”. He said TA had helped the company benchmark itself against other businesses in the sector and in TA’s portfolio, and had also helped identify when the timing might be right for the group to grow a UK presence.
(For context, TA had previously invested in the US software vendor Viewpoint in 2012, who acquired the UK’s 4Projects in February 2013. This investment was short-lived – being bought out by Bain Capital in April 2014.)
TA’s investment in think project! instigated some changes among the non-executive team. It brought in SaaS veteran Peter Prestele in November 2017 and Laing O’Rourke CIO Gareth Burton in February 2018, for example. Among the executive team, Ralf Grüßhaber joined as managing director and the group’s new chief financial officer in October 2017. With Bachmaier, he helped lead conference sessions alongside other recent appointments including chief sales officer Anton Hofmeier and chief product officer Frank Felten.
“Digitisation in the industry is both a big opportunity for us and at the same time a big challenge. Customers know more exactly what they want from a project point of view but as we move to enterprise solutions, new people come wanting to make new decisions. This event is about making the company ready to meet those new requirements – and benefit from it”
Think project! revenue growth
The think project! group grew revenue by over 20% during the financial year ending 31 December 2018 (news release). Revenue for think project!, both in Germany and internationally, grew across all target segments (public and private asset owners, general contractors and project managers). This has stimulated an expansion of staff in development, sales and customer services, resulting in an overall 15% increase to approximately 300 people across the entire group. The year’s saw numerous wins of strong customers including Bayer AG, Siemens RE, CG Group AG (release), DEKA, Gerchgroup AG, Arkema, and Femern Link Contractors.
It is now arguably the biggest Europe-based vendor, particularly following recent merger/ acquisition activity among other providers. The aggregation of BIW, Conject and Aconex finally became part of the US giant Oracle in March 2018, while the former 4Projects/Viewpoint business became part of the US-based Trimble group the following month (April 2018).
2018 also saw think project! group complete a major UK acquisition. It bought the Gloucester-based SaaS contract change management software developer CEMAR (post; CEMAR’s Ben Walker speaking at the conference, right), and it, too, enjoyed a successful year of growth. The conference also heard updates from various specialist and regional businesses. The group’s Eplass and PlanConnect product businesses, the former LASCOM business in France (post), and the former ProjectCentre business in Spain (post) all reported strong growth.
While retaining a strong presence across its traditional central European stronghold, Bachmaier says think project! is now looking to gradually expand. The Group will initially be using CEMAR as a springboard to grow think project! adoption in the UK, in the Asia-Pacific market, and potentially South Africa, where CEMAR has been building on adoption of NEC contracts in those territories. CEMAR might also expand into Europe to exploit FIDIC opportunities, he said, and think project! would also be offered in the UK and in France (as announced in October 2018).
“We will also launch a new user interface (UI/UX) with Version 10 of think project!, as well as further accelerate our investment in mobile solutions and BIM.”
[* Disclosure: I attended the think project! kick off event at the company’s invitation and under a non-disclosure agreement (briefly relaxed for my conversation with Thomas Bachmaier). Think project! paid my hotel and travel expenses and a speaker’s fee for participation in a discussion forum at the conference.]