How Dept grew into one of the 10 fastest growers in the Netherlands in just three years

16 March 2020

The Amsterdam-based company Dept, which originated from a collective of several leading digital agencies, can not only call itself one of the 250 fastest-growing companies in the Netherlands but also immediately places itself in the top 10. A growth that many entrepreneurs dream of. 

Dept started in 2016 with the aim of helping companies with innovative solutions that connect to the new digital world. Previously, Dept consisted of 13 different, specialized digital agencies that had joined TamTam, one of the first internet agencies in the Netherlands. Under a new label, Dept hoped to grow beyond the walls of one agency or the borders of one country. 

‘Grow hard’  
Paul Manuel, founder of TamTam and now co-founder & supervisory board member of Dept, describes how he allowed TamTam to grow into Dept: “Just simple entrepreneurship. Customers, employees and service first.” He, therefore, advises young entrepreneurs to dare to do business and to set ambitious goals. Goals that seem at first sight unfeasible within the set timeframe and then work hard to achieve them. The company advises entrepreneurs to set ambitious goals. Goals that you think may not be achievable within the set timeframe and then work hard to achieve them. 

It turns out that this is strong advice from practice. Together with his employees, Paul set a clear goal: to be in the top three of agencies in the Netherlands. To take it a step further, the idea also arose to become an international company. That was the beginning of the growth strategy from TamTam to Dept with a “buy-and-build” approach. 

TamTam’s buy-and-build strategy meant that Paul wanted to accelerate his business through acquisitions. To this end, the company partnered with a private equity investor to accelerate the availability of funds for acquisitions. With a team of five, TamTam went looking for companies that could think and act together. By having more and more companies join, TamTam was able to reach more customers and offer better services. This ensured that the companies grew faster together and developed under the umbrella brand Dept as a leading digital agency in Europe.

Let employees grow along 
The buy-and-build strategy ensured that in three years Dept developed into one of the fastest-growing agencies in the world with more than 1500 employees in thirteen countries across Europe and America. Yet growth is not directly the focus of Dept. “We want to serve our customers better and better,” said Fieke Ripping, global marketing manager at Dept. “We see that it works well when different specialisations work together and really sit around the table.” With various initiatives, Dept ensures that its employees can keep up with and achieve fast growth. “Depsters” undergo strict recruitment and selection where not only the skills are considered, but the culture fit is also very important. Several times a year, Dept organizes the “Dept Induction Days” for new employees, where they learn all about Dept and the associated mindset while meeting colleagues from all over the world. “Every Depster is assigned a buddy who guides him or her and introduces us to our systems, processes and structures.” 

Growth ambitions for the future 
At the end of last year, Dept announced that it would continue to pursue its global growth ambition with a new international investment fund. With this investment, Dept is taking the next step towards growth within an industry that is developing at a rapid pace. The company is now busy scaling its services in the UK & US to full service and we, therefore, expect to see them again in the Top 250 Scale-ups next year. 

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