After years of working for ‘traditional’ companies, Pieter Feenstra has made the switch to the Indian newcomer Addverb. His mission is to take the automation and robotics specialist to new heights in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The ambition is great, and so is the potential!
Pieter Feenstra in Delhi: It sounds like a Tintin adventure. Just like his career over the past decades. Feenstra wandered the world for decades; first for Swisslog. This led him to various positions in Australia, England, and Switzerland. In 2017, he moved to Körber where he joined an acquired supply chain automation company in Portugal. He moved to Atlanta in 2021, to start off Körber’s supply automation branch in the United States. Shortly thereafter, he met with Addverb. “I worked for years in traditional companies and saw all these newcomers emerging. That made me think and it intrigued me. At the end of 2021, I advised Addverb to start in the EMEA region and I wanted to pull that cart,” say Feenstra. The energy of a start-up attracted him as well as the company’s extensive portfolio. Addverb, headquartered in Delhi, offers traditional warehouse automation such as shuttles, cranes, and conveyors, as well as AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) and software.
What is Addverb’s core business?
Addverb was founded in 2016. Today, the company employs 800 people. Addverb was mainly active only in India until 2020, when the company opened offices in Australia and Singapore. A year later, projects were also requested in the United States and Europe. Addverb was eager for more after such a satisfying introduction to the global market. In order to achieve the planned growth in EMEA, the company inaugurated an office in Zoetermeer (Netherlands), in 2022, under the leadership of Feenstra. “We chose Zoetermeer because of the building. We are located on the Dutch Tech Campus in the former Siemens head office where we also have a showroom as well as a spacious business office.”
The automation market is booming. The demand as well as the offer. As a newcomer from India, how do you convince potential clients of the value of your solutions?
“In Europe, we are a bit more conservative than, for example, America. Europe likes references that are just around the corner. So, initially you need companies that want to look further. We sell directly in the Netherlands, England, Germany, the Middle East, and Scandinavia. We work with partners for Southern and Eastern Europe and we recently entered into a partnership with Element Logic for the products side. We also build up strong references through those partners.”
The main long-term challenge for the dozens of robotics companies is how to differentiate themselves. “Software will make the difference in the future.” Feenstra is convinced of that. Feenstra and Addverb therefore aim for robust software in addition to hardware. “We want to offer a complete solution, so we do both. But I am convinced that software will catch up with hardware, also because you will get more and more open interfaces. That is the reason why we strive to broaden our capabilities. Now we are mainly on the warehouse side, which includes healthcare and stand-alone software. We recently opened an office in Pune where 150 smart young engineers from various universities can develop our software solutions. A second branch in Delhi will follow soon.”
What are Addverb’s objectives in Europe and specifically in the Netherlands?
“Over the next five years, we want to achieve a turnover of 150 million euros in Europe. In the Netherlands in particular, we are aiming for 20 to 30 million in the coming years.”