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Interviews
5 min read

Caspar Hardholt, CEO of Alumio, on Integrations & Success

Written by
Carla Hetherington
Published on
December 20, 2022

Let’s start at the beginning. What was your first job?

My first job was creating websites and offering graphic design services to small local businesses that wished to have an online presence, something I began doing after school at the age of 16. Whether it was the Italian pizzeria next door, or the art director the next street over, I was happy to help with their logos, advertisements, and whatever content they needed. It was easy money because it didn’t even feel like work, I loved doing it, and getting paid for it was just a bonus. Using my abilities to contribute to a business’s value just seemed like the natural thing to do, there was no elaborate business plan behind it.

What drove you to start your first company?

I encountered e-commerce for the first time sort of by accident when I was around 19. Although the concept of e-commerce had already begun to appear and people were purchasing things online, they were doing so on a small scale. It was then that my business partner, Tjitte Folkertsma, and I thought it would be useful to develop platforms for businesses to sell their products online. Our first client was a company from my hometown called Music Print which produced and sold sheet music for orchestras. At the time, they were selling roughly 20,000 items online, and we were the ones who designed and developed their website.

Looking back, it was hard for me to take the risk of starting my own company. Unlike my business partner, Tjitte, who came from an entrepreneurial family, my family had always raised me to be cautious and not take unnecessary risks. Still, I decided to take a leap of faith and by the time my first year of university was over, we were making some 100,000 euros in annual revenue.

Since that proved to be successful, we continued to build all kinds of websites until 2005 when we fully and exclusively stepped into the world of e-commerce. MediaCT became a solid commerce development agency that specialized in Magento Enterprise Solutions, I took on the role as CEO, and the rest is history.

What gets you out of bed every morning and drives you to succeed?

I guess what gets me out of bed every morning is my alarm. Jokes aside, the driving force behind my motivation is to create things. As long as I can contribute to the growth and the commercial and creative aspect of building a business, I feel energized.

What is the story behind Alumio?

In short, Alumio was created out of a customer demand for a solid integration platform. At our previous company, we took on a lot of e-commerce projects and we faced numerous problems ingrained in coding integrations. These ranged from having a complete reliance on developers to the presence of human errors and a slow time to market. Customers got frustrated because of the long and complex integration process and, having encountered the same problems over and over again, I began to sense a pattern, but still I could not figure out how to solve the puzzle.

At the time, we were working with the number one e-commerce platform in the world: Magento (now known as Adobe Commerce). One day, Magento introduced a new version of their software that could handle more integrations, but this meant we had to redo all of our integrations from scratch. I thought to myself “My gosh, this is a disaster.” It was right then and there that I knew we had to come up with a solution. We needed to develop something that was less dependent on the actual software and was an agnostic software that could connect to Magento’s new version. However, we needed to think bigger. And so we did. We created an agnostic software or middleware that can connect any two or multiple existing systems, which is also known as an integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).

This solution would allow us to not only reduce manual labor, mistakes and inefficiencies, but also to keep up with our client’s demands, who were starting to add more and more systems which kept on increasing the complexity behind integrations. We wanted to build a low-code solution that would make integrations simple not just for developers but also managers and end customers. Providing users with that sense of ownership, stability, and security was a key priority.

Due to the grand scale of this project, it began to take away too many resources from MediaCT, and we had to make a decision. By 2016, we were deeply invested in this project, and wanted to open up our integration solution to the entire market as an independent venture. With that ambition, Alumio was born.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome since you founded Alumio?

The huge demand for a flexible integration platform has translated into the huge growth of Alumio. However, rapid growth comes with a lot of challenges, from building a strong team to continuously increasing the capabilities of the product, to making sure our messaging aligns with the end user, etc. And the biggest challenge, I would say, has been to be able to keep up with the growth. Having a successful start-up quickly turn into a scale-up keeps you on your toes, and then it’s not about whether the company can keep up with your impetus, but whether you can keep up with it. In a way, it’s like raising a child, a very needy one at that. You need to come up with answers to its many demands, follow through on its development, and, most importantly, you need to make sure you are providing the right environment so it can grow.

What does success look like for Alumio?

Our success is best exemplified by our happy customers and their success stories. They have experienced the value of our solution first-hand, and as such, they are the personification of Alumio’s success. Customer experiences are something that may seem trivial to many and can therefore be easily overlooked, but checking in with your existing customers and listening to their side of things is imperative to know how to continue delivering high-quality results. It is fulfilling to know that, through our solution, we are able to lift a weight off the shoulders of our customers and take their business to an unprecedented level.

And for yourself?

From a personal standpoint, success to me is an ongoing process and not a clearly-defined goal. When I achieve a result, I am already busy with the next thing. I can’t pinpoint a specific goal that can encapsulate my success. Success is simply the journey I am on.

What are you most proud of within Alumio?

I am extremely proud of the culture we have created within the company. Our culture is based on working towards a shared, common goal that exceeds individual needs and responsibilities, and this communal goal is the energy that drives each one of us. There isn’t a cliche that rings truer than “teamwork makes the dream work;” when individuals work as a united team, there are no limitations to the things we can achieve.

Why do you think clients should bet on Alumio?

If they want to bet, they should go to Vegas! I trust that when prospective clients choose Alumio, it is because they have made a well-informed decision and have reached the conclusion that Alumio is a good fit for their business. Choosing Alumio means having reached well-thought conclusions after deep analysis. As for our existing clients, I like to let our product speak for itself. Alumio provides an independent solution that enables companies to have ownership over their automation and integrations. They decide where they want to go, and when they do, they will not be slowed down by a service provider, or a developer, but empowered by our solution.

Where do you see Alumio in five years?

In five years’ time, Alumio will be a world-renowned company. When talking about great enterprise solutions, Alumio will definitely be part of the conversation. We will be embedded in service providers’ portfolios, and they will recommend Alumio to their clients who want to have not only E-commerce development services but also integration services. Alumio will be the keystone service for technology providers such as Shopware, Spryker, Channel Engine, etc. All these companies need to be integrated. These integrations can be initiated by the end user, you can also provide them with an integration solution from the technology provider itself, and from that perspective, we will be everywhere. When it comes to all the integrations our iPaaS can, and will, be able to handle, the sky is the limit, and we’re all set to fly.

In a parallel dimension in which you aren’t Alumio’s CEO, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t Alumio’s CEO, I would be working for a non-profit organization on something that could potentially change the world from an environmental and sustainable perspective. However, this doesn’t need to be something in a parallel dimension, it could well be my next big thing in this dimension. I like the idea of bridging technology with people, and being able to implement technology to contribute to the greater good. I am inspired by the organization called Ocean Clean Up. They have created technology that has a real impact on our environment, and I would sign up tomorrow, if Alumio did not exist.

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