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b13 Digital Agency Grows With TYPO3 Partnership - TYPO3 GmbH

Thanks to Jam from OSP for sharing!

I met David Steeb, co-founder of the b:dreizehn agency (aka b13), at the 2017 TYPO3 Developer Days in Malmö, Sweden. We sat down to get to know each other and talk about the value to his company of being a TYPO3 GmbH partner. In a nutshell, David says the partnership helps b13 grow its business and represents a seal of quality assurance, for both TYPO3 CMS and b13’s services.  As the commercial arm of the open source TYPO3 community, TYPO3 GmbH offers a range of services tailored to supporting the professional implementation of the already stable, flexible, and freely available TYPO3 CMS.

Find out how you can gain new business opportunities and scale your operations as a TYPO3 partner.

Growing with TYPO3

David has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He started his first business touring with bands, selling merchandise like CDs, t-shirts, and books. He struggled at first because he had to wait a full year to start his business officially. The government wouldn’t let him sign contracts—David was, after all, only 14.

By the time he met his business partner Benni Mack, eight years ago, David had expanded from merchandising to developing websites—a natural progression as Europe was getting serious about being online. Benni, now TYPO3 CMS Core Team Lead, was always technically gifted. Together they formed a two-person team to provide application and development services to ad agencies, and b13 was born. David paints a low-key picture of them at the time. They were the "two-guy team in the basement like everyone else," but since then, they've grown and now employ 24 people, all committed to delivering projects using TYPO3 CMS.

Choosing TYPO3 CMS has proven to be a good investment for David and Benni. They found with TYPO3 that they could manage anything their clients threw at them. The platform also offers a consistent and stable upgrade path, allowing them to keep client sites secure and up-to-date without breaking their budgets. TYPO3 gave them the brilliant flexibility to adapt to any challenge.

This flexibility also helped them offer better service, better meet their clients’ needs over time, and eventually, change the nature of their business. In the early days, b13 was just the developer team in the background. Nobody knew who they were. The ad agencies and designers who engaged them took the client meetings and did the planning, throwing their designs ‘over the wall’ to David and Benni to implement. As David puts it, “We were the ones the clients never saw, but we were the ones who did all the legwork.” Often, the designers’ plans were drawn up with no regard for how the editors and admins would maintain the sites. b13 understood that the people who work on the site every day need to be empowered to do their work independently. They wanted to get closer to the clients, discover their real business needs–not just what was trendy or what someone thought they wanted. So b13 started working with clients directly and delivering more value accordingly, “And it grew and we got bigger clients, and we got rid of the agency in between because we wanted to share our knowledge with the client and understand what the client needs, not what they want. The agency always told us what they wanted.”

David’s TYPO3 Top Three

When I asked him what other people should know about TYPO3 CMS, David told me that for him there’s not just one selling point. Off the top of his head, he told me he likes:

  1. The TYPO3 community.

  2. TYPO3 CMS’s extensibility - “I like the way the system is set up in a way that we can extend for the use cases we have.”

  3. TYPO3’s longevity - “What is astonishing to me is that the basic principle of TYPO3, with the page tree and content elements, hasn’t changed in ten years and you’re still able to do responsive web design, for example, without changing the basic system.”

Committed to Open Source

The b13 vision is grounded in open source. The company actively contributes to improving their core product–TYPO3 CMS–with code and sharing knowledge with their peers, clients, and competitors in the TYPO3 community. Knowledge sharing isn’t just abstract good open source citizenship; it can also save valuable time and money. Something that might take one person days to troubleshoot might be quickly and easily solved by someone else in the community–if you’re willing to be open about it and ask. Open source is good business.   

Sharing with clients and competitors at this level is unique to open source ecosystems. Everyone benefits from the community’s code getting better and everyone has something to learn from everyone else. “We love to share our knowledge with customers, with IT departments, with the community. We want to participate. We like the idea of sharing what we know.” At community events especially, David finds this most apparent. “You can sit down with people that ‘should be your competitors and in some way they are, but you still share ideas and learn from other people. That is something that I really enjoy about open source.”

Many business decision makers have experienced vendor lock-in with escalating maintenance contracts and undocumented proprietary code. Open source, backed by established standards and best practices offers a safer investment. b13’s vision demonstrates this perfectly. “It’s part of our vision to work for a client as long as the client wants us to work for them,” David said, “They should be able to take what we have done for them, with them.” They’re open about the fact that their clients can move on if they’re unhappy. With open source, clients are free from the vendor lock-in found with closed-source solutions and have the choice to move on if a service provider is no longer a good fit or isn’t delivering the appropriate levels of quality.

A seal of trust for TYPO3 partners

For b13, being a TYPO3 GmbH Partner is an obvious choice. “We think it’s necessary to have a commercial entity that gives the TYPO3 ecosystem things like Service Level Agreements (SLAs), professional marketing materials … [an entity] that has the vision of the TYPO3 Association, but also the means to really move things along without solely relying on people who volunteer in their spare time. We think this is the logical next step and it separates TYPO3 from other projects.”

David also points out that TYPO3 GmbH services like independent code reviews give decision makers confidence that b13 knows how to do things ‘The TYPO3 Way.’ That’s because they’re based on best-practices and developer certifications. Clients also get peace of mind from being able to purchase TYPO3 CMS SLAs through b13, ensuring reliable and dedicated lines of support. Especially for large clients with risk-averse IT Departments, both the SLA and code reviews provide reassurance.

The TYPO3 GmbH partnership program reinforces all this and clients know this is more than a marketing gimmick; it’s a seal of quality. It comes down to establishing trust between them and their clients. As David says, “That is a seal of trust we can offer.”

Everything you invest in the TYPO3 partnership comes back to you. As a partner, you support the ecosystem and benefit from a professional marketing program with standards of quality that set TYPO3 ahead of the competition. For David and Benni at b13, it was obvious that they should join the partner program because of the competitive advantages they gain from TYPO3 GmbH.

But their main motivation for joining as a partner was to invest in the community. TYPO3 GmbH uses its funding from partners and the Association to directly support core development, skill development, and community events. Whatever you pay in partnership fees gets recycled right back into the project. “If that was the only thing we get from the partnership, it’s worth it,” David said, “When TYPO3 gets better, we all profit.”

Find out how you can gain new business opportunities and scale your operations as a TYPO3 partner.


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