Consulting, analytics and partnership blend sees YGroup grow rapidly

31 May 2018

YGroup is a fast-growing advisory firm with offices on three continents. The company is leveraging an innovative model of consultancy services complemented with execution, data analytics and managed services, redefining the traditional model of consulting firms.

Founded in 2013, YGroup has grown to become an international consulting firm by delivering on its “discerning but also refreshing value proposition”, according to Stijn Groenink, a Partner at the firm. “Y strongly believes in result-driven consulting, hence we not only invest time and resources but also capital in our business partners. We truly want to take full responsibility for the implementation of the strategies we develop together with them”.

This approach has been well received by its growing number of clients, which consists of large corporates, medium-sized companies as well as start-ups. The firm’s team currently consists of around 150 professionals, including partners and consultants, but also data scientists and data engineers. “We have employees from 22 different nationalities and we are very proud of our diverse team both in terms of cultures, gender, professional- and academic backgrounds”.

Besides offering more traditional consulting services, YGroup has an arm that builds long term partnerships through joint investments and partnerships around managed services. Another part of the organisation supports business partners with (advanced) analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), while its core consulting business focuses on strategy & execution, with specific emphasis on growth, digital, restructuring and M&A. “But ultimately, the firm is at its best when all these capabilities are brought together in order to help business partners to actually move from A to B, doing whatever is needed to become successful. This is where the real magic happens,” said Groenink in a discussion with, analytics and partnership blend sees YGroup grow rapidly

Multifaceted offering

Working predominantly for multinationals, with such organisations comprising 60% of YGroup’s client base, the firm also caters to large local players and mid-sized international companies. Its consultants typically work on both large strategic- and organisational change programmes.

For a global FMCG player, the consulting firm helped the company’s management with pricing and a road-map for bolstering commercial effectiveness. The organisation, which has €10+ billion in revenues globally, was facing a declining market share in its major Western European markets. Upon completion of the programme, the client’s organisation had reaped over €300 million in savings and was provided with the basis for what Groenink calls “insight based reporting & acting.” YGroup supported the programme from the clients’ headquarters, with its consultants flying all over Europe to help the combined project team meet local objectives.

Another example of an engagement, is work the firm delivered to support the digital transformation of a global fashion manufacturer. The group had limited visibility in its ecommerce operations, despite boasting a healthy €4 billion in global sales. YGroup subsequently deployed digitalisation- and operational optimisation advice for the company’s ecommerce channels in the UK, Germany, China, Hong Kong and other key markets, which led to improved ecommerce growth and an optimised supply chain.

At another client where the Y team has been involved for over a year, a joint venture currently is in the making, with the aim of growing the client’s lead management & ecommerce business threefold over the coming five years, through building and delivering the technical architecture. Meanwhile, with data becoming one of the hottest commodities in the business realm, the joint venture will capture data insights and translate those into levers for improved decision-making and ultimately for “making money”.

Long-term partnerships such as these are the ones in which YGroup works to differentiate itself in a crowded consulting marketplace, providing a holistic service from strategy through to execution, said Daan Hendriks, another Partner at the consultancy. He adds; “At Y, we prefer not to have just clients, but to develop true partnerships so that we can deliver real long-term value. We have a vision that we can create superior value for companies when combining strategic advice with tangible ownership for the actual value creation.”

Stijn Groenink en Daan Hendriks

Consulting business model

This holistic partnership-based model deployed by YGroup is also reflected in the way the firm engages with its business partners. “Preferably, we bear financial risks related to the actual value creation. It's the results that count and we wish to stay on board, collaborating with our partners, until actual performance has improved so we can jointly reap the benefits.”

Riding the crest of a growing trend in the consulting industry, the firm’s billing is strictly performance-based. In a tightening market, in which clients are increasingly anxious to obtain value for money, such a method of doing business is likely to play a major role in the future of consulting. YGroup believes that this structure incentivises to truly collaborate with clients, avoiding the practice of one-size-fits-all advice through hourly rates, as both the client and their advisor will invest into a successful partnership.

Building on this more entrepreneurial approach to consulting, the consultant profile of YGroup varies significantly from that of the more traditional firms on the market, says Hendriks. While the “classic consultant” serves as an independent outsider, using industry benchmarks to advise clients on how to best improve operations, YGroup’s partnership-approach tasks consultants with navigating challenges as “a true insider.” In some aspects, this can present new challenges – e.g. forfeiting the protection traditional strategy firms have against culpability for negative impact of the advice they provided. However, the firm’s partners firmly believe it presents YGroup with a unique opportunity to provide a genuine end-to-end service, one that so far has allowed the firm to rapidly grow new business with this approach.

Growth strategy

For the coming years YGroup has set out an international growth strategy. The firm aims at growing its number of offices around the globe – in some cases expansion will be driven by moving into countries together with existing clients, in other cases the firm will seek to capture opportunities in greenfield markets. The company currently has offices in the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, India and the United States.

One market YGroup is particularly eyeing is Latin America. After kick-starting its operations in Spain through a strategic alliance with an influential Spanish boutique (which has since adopted the YGroup brand), the firm now wants to leverage its track record in that country as a spring board towards other Spanish-speaking markets, including Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. “The Spanish speaking advisory market will grow significantly in the coming years, allowing for new, more innovative firms like ours. There are also many Spanish companies who want to internationalise – we believe our capabilities and long term partnership model will work very well with these kind of companies,” concluded Groenink.

France has grown into Comatch's second largest market

19 April 2019

France has quickly become Comatch’s second largest market, since launching in 2017. The platform for connecting consultants and independent experts with companies has used the wide ranging expertise of its 900 strong network to enjoy rapid growth in the country.

Two years after launching in Germany in 2015, Comatch landed in Europe’s second largest economy of France. Now one and a half years down the line, the company has completed dozens of projects in the country. Over the past six months, the number of projects completed has increased by 170%.

Comatch’s activities in France are growing for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the excellent health of the consulting market in France is a key factor. In 2018, Consult’in France found that the industry had expanded its revenues by 11%, and with this boom in demand, the need for independents as found in Comatch’s network has risen as well. Its database of French freelancers now hosts around 1,000 management consultants and industry practitioners. The firm’s entire database sits at 7,000 members all over the world, so almost 15% of the network is currently based in France.

At the same time, Comatch’s network boasts quality as well as quantity. Each member is handpicked and must undergo a rigorous process of vetting before being admitted. Meanwhile, the wide variety of skills and capabilities shared by these consultants mean that Comatch is capable of covering matters across strategy and business consulting. It now has a track record in more than 30 sectors as a result.France has grown into Comatch's second largest marketContrary to the largest consulting firms, Comatch targets mainly medium-sized and intermediate companies that typically find the fees of the MBB or the Big Four too high, or their consulting processes to cumbersome. According to Bernhard Ney, the Chief Executive of Comatch France, this means that clients are satisfied with Comatch’s consultants, due to the very high return rate on engaging them.

Ney explained, “With reduced overhead costs, the Comatch model makes top consultants more accessible to these companies. We see major opportunities in this segment, and thus address them with a personalised approach and a tailor-made support system… With a rate of recommendation of 94% and the multiplication of project renewals, we are convinced of the relevance of our model. Our customers emphasise not only the flexibility and availability of our teams, but also the quality of the members of our network.”

For 2019, the firm aims at continuing its growth. It intends to do this by becoming a trusted partner of companies, and extending its portfolio of services from consultancy engagements to placements as well. To support these developments in the French market, the team has been strengthened and now has around fifteen people.

The French team will now build on the foundation built by Comatch globally. The company has a global team of over 100 employees, and last year closed a €8 million financial round to accelerate its expansion, including a deepening of its services, investment in its technical infrastructure, and entering new markets.

Even talk of a global economic slowdown doesn’t concern Ney thanks to this progress. He concluded; “If forecasts of economic slowdown materialise, our light cost structure will allow us to propose consulting engagements at prices adapted to this cycle of the economy.”