Creative Dock goes Christmas shopping, buys Swiss innovation company Spark Works for 2.7M EUR
Where is Creative Dock headed and what does its latest acquisition mean for the clients? The companies’ respective CEOs, Martin Pejša and Linda Armbruster answered our questions.
Words by Jan Strmiska, photo: SW and CD
Spark Works brings the latest innovative methodologies and an energetic, 10-languages-speaking team to the Creative Dock Group. In just five years, the small consultancy has grown into a leading innovation company with offices in Zurich and London, providing companies with the products and strategies needed to drive innovation from within.
Creative Dock is a venture builder. Using a unique innovation methodology, it creates functional startups that attract customers. It operates in areas like Fintech, Insurtech, Marketplaces, and Sustainability. Creative Dock has a presence in nine European countries, employing more than 400 people.
We asked Martin Pejša, Creative Dock’s CEO
What does Creative Dock mean for you at this point?
A company that builds businesses and products for more than twenty multinational companies across Europe — and we are proud of it.
What can a company like Creative Dock do for multinational corporations?
Companies that are accustomed to flawlessly serving millions of clients usually have an organization tailored to exactly that. But it doesn’t allow them to quickly launch new services, to take the risk of imperfection. We fill this space. We help build and scale new services so that our partners can compete with new digital players or, conversely, be the first to seize new opportunities.
You’re growing fast. Where does Creative Dock see itself in 5 years?
Helping Europe become a global digital player. Improving our industry, venture building, and being on the level of, say, Accenture. Being the ones to call when the CEO of a large European company decides they need to digitalize. We believe that competition helps to drive improvement and great results.
Creative Dock was founded in Czechia, but you aspire to become a European leader. How difficult is it to succeed on an international level?
Already 70% of revenue comes from our office outside Czechia. And we’re accelerating. The pandemic has opened up a big opportunity, but at the same time, a lot of smaller players have emerged in the innovation field. I think it’s time to begin consolidating the market and we are already big enough to do that.
This is your first purchase. Why is Creative Dock getting into acquisitions now? Isn’t it better to save money and build the company vertically, using your own resources?
Of course, our primary growth is organic, it comes from our own projects. But at the same time, we understand that size matters to our clients. Size opens up other opportunities. If a company wants to spend tens of millions of euros, they will naturally be very aware of how big a player they cooperate with.
Slow growth is not your thing, is it?
Our strategic goal is to be four times bigger in four years. And you can’t just reach that goal organically.
But your company building business model is very specific. Is there anything to draw from in Europe?
There are two or three very capable companies in each country that fit into our portfolio, bringing new competencies and local presence.
Was this an isolated event or are there more acquisitions in the pipeline?
We are currently working on another one, of a company that operates in Germany. And we are planning yet another one for the next year. Our main interest is in big European markets like Italy, Spain, and France.
What does this mean for Creative Dock’s existing clients?
An expansion of our capabilities and possibilities — including the diversity of services, deep knowledge of other industries, or better scaling of our projects across Europe.
Why Spark Works?
The team is really strong and passionate, and their methodology in product design and testing will certainly add to our own experience. In addition, Switzerland is a crucial country for us, one where we have been operating for 3 years and where we see huge potential as many companies’ global leaderships are concentrated there. Spark Works also has a strong portfolio of clients such as UBS, SwissRe, and Roche. And in terms of research, it has very strong links with the Zurich University of Technology (Universität Zurich). One of the owners is a professor there. That’s why we expect to gain both access to talent and the opportunity to collaborate on interesting projects.
How much did the acquisition go for? At least approximately?
2.7 million euros.
What exactly will Spark Works’ role be within Creative Dock?
Spark Works will focus on pushing our capabilities in the early stages of our projects, across the group. That means research, innovation, and more.
Who will take over and what will be the status of the company?
Based on our first experiences, we will decide whether we keep Spark Works cobranded with Creative Dock or fully rebrand the company. Legally, Spark Works will be accountable to the Creative Dock Group and will continue to be led by Linda Armbruster.
And a couple of questions for Linda Armbruster, Spark Works’ CEO
What kind of know-how are you bringing in?
Our role is to strengthen the front end of the innovation cycle through our expertise in various methods and tools. Specific areas of work, which we have built over the years, include qualitative user research and testing, product and service design, future foresight, and more. To date, our academic origin and backgrounds have helped us strengthen our reputation as a solid innovation partner.
How will your current clients benefit from the acquisition?
Through this combined new team, we will now have the capability to help any organization bring their innovations from post-it to market. Creative Dock now brings the expertise to build the thing right. This opens up enormous potential for our team and clients.
What are your ambitions for being part of the Creative Dock Group?
We share the goal and ambition to drive innovation in Europe and we believe growth is the only way to accomplish this. Today, we are happy to be one step further.