I’d like to take you back to October 1st, 2018. The day my father Marco van den Bosch and I (Rick van den Bosch) founded Channext. We started Channext with only one mission: to create the best channel automation platform out there that accelerates growth for resellers, brands & distributors in the indirect channel. But how did we get to this mission? Why did a father & son decide to start a company together that aims to shake up the channel landscape worldwide? In this blog I’m going to tell you why we love channels and how Channext found its origin.
Marco: 30 years of channel experience
Marco started his channel career at an Apple dealer in 1989. After that, he soon became a partner manager at Apple Benelux, lead the Apple Macintosh division of Ingram Micro and eventually ended up as Director Benelux of Apple Software. Fulfilling all these different types of roles in the channel, on both the supplier side and the reseller side, gave him a holistic view of the channel and the specific needs and challenges of every player in the channel. In 1998, he started Digital Channel, where they were one of the first companies that emphasized the importance of an online connection between resellers, brands & distributors. He knew the internet was going to play a huge role in retail and channels, and was working day & night to convince boards of the importance of the internet (can you believe most of them thought the internet was just a hype back then?!).
After selling Digital Channel in 2006, Marco repeated the trick of setting up online channels several times for amongst others Tech Data worldwide, Euronics & Intersport. Always with the same mission, creating an online channel connection and a win-win situation for every stakeholder in the channel. Besides being my co-founder and Chairman of the Channext Advisory Board, he is now working on the icing on the cake of his channel career. Setting up the indirect partner channel of the first flying car in the world, PAL-V.
Rick: young & ambitious entrepreneur
As long as I can remember I was always interested in what my father was doing with his businesses. When I was a boy of 10 years old, everybody my age wanted to become a professional football player or a firefighter. My answer was a bit different from the rest of the kids, I wanted to be a Director (just like my father). I remember sitting behind his giant desk at his office, where he had a singing fish (“Don’t worry, be happy”, remember that one?). Every time I waved my hand in front of the fish, he started singing. I was visualizing what it would be like to have such a desk of your own, and lots of people working together with you. That image never left my mind.
As I got a little bit older and went to high school, my interest grew in what it was exactly he was doing. We could talk for hours about the challenges that the internet brought to the traditional channel. All the frustrations it brought to all stakeholders: resellers, brands & distributors. The way indirect channels worked was (and is) not compatible with online. I founded my first company when I was 20 years old, where we build virtual experiences for large brands. A half-year later I hired my first employee and from there we grew fast. We worked for some amazing brands like Coolblue, Mercedes & De Efteling. While we were active in a variety of markets (e.g. automotive, furniture, electronics), almost all of our customers had one thing in common: they were all part of an indirect channel. And the funny thing was: it didn’t matter which market, they all shared similar challenges.
Challenges & frustrations in the channel
The crazy thing is, the challenges and frustrations I heard at the customers of my first company, were the exact same problems my father was always describing already 15+ years ago. How could it be that brands & resellers in the channel still haven’t figured out how to effectively work together online? In my opinion, it is because all marketing and e-commerce software platforms are designed from a centralized perspective. They’re focused on having one website, one social channel per platform and one e-commerce shop. This type of software is great for a direct-to-customer brand, but is the exact opposite of how channels work.
Say you are a marketing manager in an indirect channel for a brand with 1.000 resellers. You don’t have just one website to build your brand, you have your own website + 1.000 reseller websites. If you could leverage the reach of your resellers by pushing your content through them to the end customer, you can exponentially grow your brand.
Brands are frustrated that their well-invested marketing & product content doesn’t reach the end customer of their resellers. Resellers don’t have the knowledge or resources to keep their website and marketing channels up-to-date with good content, which is the foundation to drive traffic to your store and collect leads. Resellers have a big reach and a strong local customer base, but no content to activate them. Brands have great content, but can never achieve the same reach as the collective reach of their resellers. What if we could build a product that would combine those strengths, the reach of the resellers and the content of the brands, to create a win-win for the entire channel?
The origin of Channext
After already working together a lot in my first company, we found out that we are a great team. Even though we might totally disagree with each other at first, within 10 minutes we get to the core and find the right solutions. If you could hear us you would probably think we’re arguing, but we like to call it ‘passionate discussions’. My father is a creative visionary and an inspirator, always 2 steps ahead of the rest. I am highly passionate about making our clients successful, improving our product, and creating a great company culture.
A little over a year ago, we founded Channext to combine our strengths and extensive channel experience. We’re growing rapidly and are already working with a team of 9 for world-class brands, our dream of creating the best channel automation platform out there is starting to take shape. What an exciting times and what a pleasure to work on this dream with such a great team.
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Let’s connect the channel!