Recognized as an example of innovation, potential, growth and success in the Belgian economy, Odoo has been chosen by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to illustrate the 315 billion euro investment plan jointly launched by the two institutions to foster business competitiveness.
As the recipient of both private and public funding in the form of cash investments and government initiatives, we were identified as a great choice to host a European delegation. The opinion of a young entrepreneur like our founder Fabien Pinckaers is vital in the framework of a project that aims to invest in the future of new businesses, and that is so dear to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junkers.
It’s the early afternoon of Tuesday May 26th when the first journalists arrive at the atypical location chosen for the event. All the employees at Odoo’s HQ, a modernized farm in Grand Rosière with a lingering rustic charm, are, as usual, working at their desks. However, this time they’re wearing our characteristic bright purple Odoo polo shirts for the special occasion and with a little more pride.
The silence of the courtyard, the countryside feeling, the wind gently grazing the leaves of the garden trees strikes the journalists. "It's so quiet here, one would never guess that the Vice-President of the European Commission is supposed to arrive in a few minutes" one says.
As more and more journalists arrive, I take care of showing them around. This uncharacteristic setting for an IT business charms them and they happily scribble and snap away.
The first big personality to arrive is Minister-President of Wallonia Paul Magnette, warmly welcomed by Odoo CEO Fabien Pinckaers. Everything is seemingly going smoothly and according to plan, but as the courtyard fills with press and dignitaries, EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen surprises us by entering the premises through a different entrance that leads to another part of the offices. Even Mr Katainen seems impressed by the location as he makes his way to greet Fabien.
Jyrki Katainen (responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness), Marianne Thyssen (Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility) and the other EU dignitaries are welcomed by Paul Magnette and Fabien Pinckaers.
The group follow Fabien in the meeting room, where he introduces the concept behind Odoo, the company’s business plan, and, most importantly, future challenges and investments.
Although the presentation is short and crisp, Fabien is his usual self: his trademark anecdotes and jokes warm up the atmosphere, and in no time, politicians and press alike show their interest in the business model. Economy, recruitment and HR policies, the software, but also the path that led Fabien to be the leader of a steadily-growing business.
Faithful to his hands-on approach, Fabien guides the gathering on a tour of the office. The message is strong and clear: this is who we are, this is how we do things, this is what makes us strong and fuels our growth. All departments are part of the journey and vision, from Consultants, to Support and R&D, the company’s core. Although a little camera-shy, Odoo employees carry on with their work. Fabien helpfully explains the various processes to the press and politicians.
The atmosphere at what we call “The Farm” is buzzing, and the more than 30 guests are escorted to enjoy a drink in the sunshine, journalists interviewing the delegation of politicians and our very own Fabien.
It is with enthusiasm and optimism that Vice-President Katainen dismisses the meeting, declaring that the existence of Odoo and its business model as encouraging and promising, saying he’s “surprised and pleased” by everything he’s seen.
Certainly, the visit to the Odoo HQ isn’t something that will be easily forgotten.