Craftware’s cofounder Łukasz Pietrzak describes how the company went from being a family company to a large company acquired by the international telecom operator and digital service provider Orange.

Starting small

Łukasz Pietrzak was one of the Craftware founders who opened the business in 2009. During his time at the company, he has taken on many different roles: team manager, developer, vice CEO, and IT architect.

  • In the beginning, we were like a family business where everyone knew each other. But over time, we grew, so did our professionalism. Craftware, which started with four people and an idea, currently has over 400 employees and the business extending across Europe, says Łukasz Pietrzak from Craftware.

The key to maintaining the company’s soul, but at the same time professionalizing it, was to create common values and policies for employees early on. Transparency and honesty are the watchwords for the business, both internally and externally. Good and open communication with the company’s customers and employees has been crucial in its growth.

  • “We are convinced that the increased demand for our services depends entirely on the experts we have at the company. When you are a business leader, it is about nurturing your company team’s talents and constantly evolving together. Customers come back to us because they understand the value of the experts they can cooperate with.”

 

Freedom as a driving force

Craftware leaves great freedom to the employees. The company’s various department heads may, for example, recruit the necessary staff themselves and have a significant influence over the teams.

  • Of course, we have recommendations and guidelines in the recruitment process, but essentially all managers recruit their own employees. I think it results in creating better teams and a strong sense of belonging. It also motivates our managers to influence and create a culture that will push the company forward. As the company has grown, this has become even more important – to trust your employees, and so far, I have not been disappointed.

Łukasz Pietrzak is convinced that employees grow faster with the freedom and become more loyal to the company, compared to other more hierarchical companies.

 

The right approach

This approach also paid off, as several different M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) companies contacted the management over the years to buy out Craftware. But it was not until 2020 that the discussions became a reality with the international telecom and IT provider Orange as a potential buyer.

  • “We were very picky when it came to potential buyers. We were clear that we wanted to keep the business as it is and not let it be split up into several parts or lose the soul of the company in a larger context. The buyer and seller must match each other here for it to be a good deal. “

The M&A process, which only a few people at Craftware knew about, took almost a year. With the help of the Polish M&A agency Team Value Partners, a long due diligence process was initiated.

  • “When we decided to merge with Orange, it was significant that there was already another company with similar standards and work culture in the Group. Bluesoft complemented our offer with integration services, cloud solutions, and data management. For the first time, we really got to look at the company from a different perspective. It was difficult to find all the data without revealing what we needed it for. When external parties came into the process, we also had to present things we hadn’t thought of before.”

In addition to the internal due diligence work, Craftware’s management also looked at other IT companies that Orange had recently acquired. Craftware wanted to preserve the company’s culture but at the same time develop it in a larger international context.

  • “Orange acquired our friends, the Bluesoft company, in 2018. They had nothing but good things to say about the acquisition, the process, and the outcome, which made us, the management, feel confident in the process going forward.” 

The M&A process continued and, in the spring of 2020, the Craftware management met several leading executives from Orange. Their attitude to the company’s future was the same as that of Craftware’s management.

  • “The acquisition process was challenging for some of us because we had been involved in building the company from the ground up. The possibility of selling the company to someone else was a thought we had to reconcile ourselves to.” 

 

One Step Ahead

The contract was signed on December 7, 2020, and the decision was well received by the company’s employees, based on the feedback Łukasz Pietrzak has received. The company’s operations and culture were left intact.

  • “There were no negative changes, dismissals, or such things, so our employees probably understood the decision. Six months after the deal, we have not seen any signs of a larger employee turnover or increased problems in the business.” 

Orange did not force through any major changes in the company, and Craftware’s expert knowledge of CRM systems and Salesforce remains a niche in the market.

  • “I also think our employees see the benefits of being acquired by such a big player as Orange. New business opportunities have emerged, especially with larger companies, and, in fact, Craftware’s everyday life is now very similar to before the takeover.” 

For Craftware founders, the acquisition primarily meant reducing the risk and concern. The support of an international organization such as Orange has also opened new prospects for the company.

  • “Orange has helped us become even more professional and today the demand for our services is greater than ever. The management’s current challenge is to take advantage of all the opportunities and business that the new synergies bring.” 

Author

  • Łukasz Pietrzak
  • Co-founder Craftware, Co-CEO Craftware
  • A graduate of the Electronics and Information Technology Faculty at the Warsaw University of Technology. He started his career as a developer, and later he became a leader of Java developers team. Co-founder of Craftware, established in 2009. Since then, he had many different hats – as an analyst, architect, developer, managing partner. Since 2011, he has been engaged in the development of systems based on the Salesforce platform that he values for the capability to deliver quickly full-blown solutions and close work with the business partners. He is truly passionate about this technology — he participated several times in Dreamforce in San Francisco, one of the biggest tech conferences in the world. He holds certificates confirming the  knowledge about Salesforce. He has cooperated both with corporations and start-ups.
    Outside his work, he is passionate about team sports and MMO games.

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