Bastiaan Anthonie Baaij – CEO of FLIXNET: “When you acquire an existing company, you are helping other people save their jobs or their businesses”
Bastiaan Anthonie Baaij is a Dutch entrepreneur who moved to Finland in November 2015 for family reasons. Since then, he has worked hard to integrate and find his place in Finnish society, first as an employee in various jobs, then as project manager at TWID Oy until begin of 2021 when the company filed bankruptcy.
On the 1st of July 2021, together with his Dutch business partner Marc Ghering, they choose to buy the bankrupt estate TWID Oy and transformed it into FLIXNET BV. As a result, Bastiaan has now become a business owner / entrepreneur, while ensuring the viability of the business. His decision has also given former TWID clients the opportunity to continue growing and developing their projects.
-QUESTION: Why Finland?
-ANSWER: Due to family reasons and better work opportunities of his Finnish partner. In a variety of choices and opportunities we both felt we could also secure a better learning and living climate for our children.
Core to my work is to share and sell my skills with others, letting these be of support for their personal development and well-being improvement. When we moved to Finland I had to leave everything behind that I had built up and start all over again. Eventually, my partner and I broke up, but I decided to stay because of my vow never to leave my children alone and second because I saw a lot of interesting things happening here.
-Q: For example?
-A: As a foreigner, I have learned a lot about the Finnish education system, I got help with learning the language, housing and other matters. I came here as a person with a positive minded entrepreneurial spirit, with knowledge of coaching in the field of education and well-being and in digital services. With those 3 aspects I knew I could definitely make a living here.
-Q: Could you explain what kind of services your company offers?
-A: FLIXNET provides an Efficient E-learning Platform for Creating and Swiping through Digital Coaching, Education and Certification Content. A full service e-learning platform for companies that need custom online coaching, education and certification solutions as well being an e-commerce platform for influencers and trainers with a message or method to sell. Together with our client we record and set up their customized and branded video, webinar and interactive e-learning quiz content, CRM management-, and Stripe payment system and can even custom create user features such as Mobile apps. To where we continue to train them to easily create and sell their own online courses using our drag & drop course builder and advanced online marketing and CRM tools.
-Q: But you ended up buying the company and now you are the CEO.
-A: Yes indeed, something I never would have expected. Back in the days TWID had among its clients some of the biggest names in Finland in the fields of health and wellness, fitness, schooling and business training. It felt sad that TWID could no longer serve them. I knew a lot of Finnish and Dutch clients and started to wonder if there was still a chance to go ahead and help them keep their businesses alive.
So, I went back to the drawing table and wrote a new business plan for our new venture. Finally, my business partner and I made an offer to buy the company and its software platform. The offer was accepted. We are grateful for the clients such as Vaurasnainen, Lexmentor, Asahi, FysioGuide who kept faith in moving forward with us building a new long lasting business relationship and the new clients that are already in the process of onboarding to our platform.
-Q: If your plan was to continue an existing business, why did you change the company name?
-A: Good question. I think the moment a company is publicly bankrupt it is not very smart to keep the name and continue with something that has shown to no longer work. The change of name also has another caveat. In our logo and url I choose to use: www.flixnet.works. Meaning that every time you say this you actually also amplify that FLIXNET works. So we are stepping out of an old red sea and are expanding to new segments in our new blue potential ocean.
-Q: Expanding, to where?
-A: Since the company transfer, our first goal has been to focus on keeping established clients. And for new clients, we focus on three target areas: one is medium or large companies (in Dutch; MKB+) that see the need now with Covid-19 to keep their employees trained and certified. Then we have influencers/ trainers who already have a large established client base but who want to have their content online and want to sell it commercially. The last pillar is the non-governmental and educational systems, for example schools that have learned through confinement that finding the right path for online education, training and certification has become more relevant.
Our country expanding lies in the Nordics, the Benelux for current matters and in the 3rd quarter of 2022 we seek to expand to other European countries.
-Q: There are other platforms offered by large technology companies for that. What makes FLIXNET different?
-A: If you want to be successful online, you need a team and a project plan. We custom support our clients to reach their (potential) customers with a fully automated learning content management and online CRM marketing system. FLIXNET team creates a custom platform environment for each client, company, education institute and such. But based on a clear project time management formula of 3 months that fits the focus on quality to successfully launch our client’s online program.
Back in 2010 when TWID got launched the online playing field for education/ membership platforms was in its early years with hardly any competition. It still has its uniqueness I am passionate about. But along the ways obstacles occurred leading to its bankruptcy.
NOWADAYS YOUNGER PLATFORMS OFTEN SELL YOU A ‘DO IT YOURSELF SOLUTION’ ONLY. BUT IN MY OPINION THIS PUSHES THE CLIENT TO BECOME A “JACK OF TRADES AND MASTER OF NONE”.
Even if the technical framework is ready, creating professional digital content is a skill on its own. Figuring out how to transform your method or certification module into an engaging digital learning program. It’s time consuming, frustrating and with its biggest obstacle that due to lack of knowledge it never reaches to an product launch.
With FLIXNET the choice is yours: build your own courses or let our staff support your company from start to finish to successfully launch your digital program or course in a set time frame. Whenever you need help we have the best programmers, copywriters, photographers and video makers available and work only with selected third party professionals for custom feature creation. And of course we keep your content safe and secure.
-Q: Why did you choose to buy an existing business instead of starting from scratch?
-A: Because as a former employee of TWID it hurt me that if no one bought the company the entire platform would be deleted. Later, I heard from many clients who were very grateful that we stepped in and continued providing the same space that they were already used to using. That gratitude is very valuable to us.
-Q: So, an advantage was that you could retain the clients that the company already had, right?
-A: Yes, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t challenging. Many of our Finnish clients want to deal with a Finnish company, do things in the Finnish language and deal with a Finnish registered responsible legal entity. I respect and understand those things. So to provide them this trust I also registered Baaij Oy with auxiliary FLIXNET. As FLIXNET BV being officially registered in the Netherlands. This made me an 100% legal and liable Finnish entity and co-owner of FLIXNET BV.
-Q: How would you describe the whole bureaucratic process?
-A: It was definitely not easy, but we got a lot of support from TWID’s previous business owners, TWID former clients, from Suomen Yrittäjät, the attorney in law that supported the bankrupt estate transfer and everyone else who participated in the process. I think we experienced less bureaucracy than if I had not had any previous contact with the company.
-Q: What was the main obstacle through the whole process?
-A: You need patience to get things done. The biggest nuisance for me was and is, is that when I needed to read all those things in Finnish I still have a huge disadvantage. I understand Finnish, but not how it is presented in legal terms. I am therefore very grateful for being surrounded with professional translators I can fully trust.
-Q: So, what is in your opinion the first thing a business buyer in Finland should do?
-A: Register with Suomen Yrittäjät and get a lawyer who is skilled in business transfer operations.
-Q: Do you think a business acquisition is a good idea specifically for foreigners?
-A: Yes, for three reasons: First, because you are really providing value to a Finnish company that would have gone broke and you are giving it a second chance, so you are preserving something. Second, because it lets you learn in high speed about the system to work with a Finnish company. Third, because of the people you are actually helping to save their jobs, their companies, their message and people they serve. As one should not underestimate the value a company provides to its customers and when that falls apart, so also leaves a gap in the lives of the customers’ journey.
-Q: How did you get the funding?
-A: We chose not to work with funding yet. We first invested our own money with the intention to maintain financial balance with the clients we still have. Then we will start working to find investors. But first we want to rebalance all the stress that has been there. We also needed to migrate the whole platform to our new dedicated AWS FLIXNET server account and choose to provide a complete overhaul on the software platform and its user interface. For that we do see possibilities to seek partnerships and investors. As after the migration its merely about modernize the platform that was successfully built in 2010, its now ready for an update 3.0 .
-Q: What is it required to be successful in Finland as an entrepreneur?
-A: The important thing to be successful as an entrepreneur in Finland has to do with trust. In Finland, you succeed when you have earned the trust of the customers you serve. When they respect and accept you, then the doors open. If not, you are getting nowhere.