Before WiMedia, Wim Meulders was Chief Commercial Officer and shareholder of Silicon Technology, the leading mobile ICT wholesale distributor of Belgium. By running the commercial side of Silicon Technology he learned that good product management and smart marketing can boost a company forward.
Wim joined Silicon Technology in 1994 but left in 1996 after his strategic plan to restructure the company into a specialized mobile ICT wholesaler was rejected. After working 2 years abroad for Scala as EMEA business & product development manager for the Strategic Alliances division Wim was called back in by the founder of Silicon Technology in 1998 to implement his plan as Chief Commercial Officer / VP Sales & Marketing and to join the company as co-owner. Wim put a lot of focus and effort in building the best telesales team as this was for a wholesale distributor selling to ICT resellers and retailers the main differentiator with the two big American competitors Computer2000/Tech-Data and Ingram Micro.
After the plan was executed Silicon Technology grew from 4.8M€ in 1998 to a massive 17.9M€ in 2005, marking one milestone after the other and becoming the largest Toshiba distributor as of 2003. In the last quarter of 2005, the company realized 80% of Toshiba’s turnover in the Belgian retail channel and the cumulated turnover grew to a dazzling 82.500.000 € ($91.900.000). Although the biggest turnover was realized with notebooks from Toshiba, Packard Bell and Sony the margin was mainly coming from innovative products that were developped and/or imported.
Silicon Technology was the first company in Europe to sell a talking GPS navigation solution for PDA’s by Teletype, which led to the development of the Compaq GPS Navigation Pack built on Navman GPS hardware, Alturion software and a Compaq iPaq. At introduction the pack was sold for 1500€ which was a bargain compared to build-in car GPS systems that were sold for 5000€ or more. Few months later TomTom came to the market and 2/3 years later the price dropped to 150€ for a compareable solution. If companies don’t see the need for innovation, I always explain them they could be today in a very comfortable situation like the build-in car GPS manufacturers were before we and TomTom stepped in and disrupted the market but you can be sure of one thing: one day a disruptor will come and even the biggest companies can then fail. Remember Kodak.
Begin 2000, Silicon Technology developed a Mobile Internet Pack for Proximus-Belgacom which allowed a HP Jornada PDA user to connect via a Bluetooth card to a Sony Ericsson GPRS enabled mobile phone which allowed the PDA to go online to the internet, building de facto a smartphone avant la lettre. Shortly after HP aquired Compaq. Imho it is one of the biggest mistakes HP ever made to choose for the in-house developed Jornada PDA over the next generation Compaq iPAQ PDA which was made by High-Tech Computer Corporation, now better known as HTC… This new device was a smartphone without keyboard but HP decided not to take it so HTC was forced to find an alternative way of bringing it to the market. HTC offered it to some large operators like O2 as an operator branded Pocket PC phone and for smaller operators like Belgacom in Belgium the Qtek brand was created. The first Qtek 2020 was distributed by Silicon Technology. Imagine however what would have happened if this revolutionary smartphone with touchscreen and no physical keyboard would have been sold by HP years before Apple launched the iPhone. We would all be running with an iPAQ in our hands, rather than an iPhone… Always look at the best available product and sometimes it’s not your own. As a good product manager you need to be able to kill your darlings and go for the best solution which is not always your own prefered solution.
Even before the name Marketing Automation existed Silicon Technology started in 1998 as one of the first companies in Belgium with automated e-mailings being send out to a database of +3000 ICT resellers and retailers coming from the proprietary built CRM.
Wim sold his shares in Silicon Technology in August 2006 and continued working for the new owner until July 2008. In that period Wim was already often asked as a key-note speaker by suppliers like Rainbow at RetailVision’07.