Date of creation: 2008
Main activity: “Software as a Service” (SaaS) solution providers for SMEs
Amal Choury is the founder and managing director of e-Kenz, a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that enables SMEs to reduce the cost of their enterprise resource planning (ERP) activities and allows them to focus on their core business. Since it was founded in 2008, the company and its managing director have gone through a period of astonishing development thanks to their sheer dynamism. This momentum has already translated into several awards for Ms Choury personally – including the prestigious Woman Business Manager of the Year prize in 2010.
It was certainly no accident that saw Amal Choury set up a successful IT company, with the help of several strategic partners. The field of ICT in the Grand Duchy is one she has been involved in for over a decade. She is the president of the Luxembourg branch of EuroCloud, the founder of SAP User Group Luxembourg, and also plays a prominent role in the ICT section of Fedil, the country’s business federation.
Ms Choury says that she is "Moroccan by origin, French by passport and Luxembourgish at heart". She studied computer management in Metz and subsequently began her career in Luxembourg. In 2006 she made a move that would alter the course of her career by becoming Chief Information Officer at Eurobéton Group. e-Kenz, a spin-off of Eurobéton’s IT department, was launched in April 2008.
How did the new company come about? "I had already noted that SMEs, in the industrial sector for example, were not well served in their general ICT needs, and in ERP in particular", explains Ms Choury. "There were a number of reasons for this, whether it was a lack of available solutions or a lack of budget for investment in ERP. These companies also needed a high-quality ERP, and that is where e-Kenz came in".
The goal behind the new venture was to create something truly innovative for the market, and the solution that arose was to provide these smaller businesses with an SAP platform in an SaaS mode. "This is a stable and reliable system, and it is accessible to our target market".
"The way I see it, our model brings added value in three distinct aspects. Strategically, company bosses can concentrate on their own business as e-Kenz operates their ERP. This enables them to develop and frees them up to focus on growing their business", says Ms Choury.
"Then there is the economic and financial part", she adds. "Our offer enables fixed costs to become variable. At the end of 2008, with the financial crisis, this became more important than ever. Our clients have more control over their costs as they pay as they use our services.
There is not just one single financial model that they have to take or leave. It is tailored on a case-by-case basis. The fact that we are a Luxembourg-based company gives them a proximity to us – adding to the accessibility of our pool of resources. In addition, clients do not have to put up an investment. e-Kenz takes over the start, and they then pay as they use the services".
There is also the matter of technology. "The constraints that SMEs can be subject to on the technological side, such as systems maintenance or security, are looked after by e-Kenz. It is part of our remit to manage that for our clients. Our systems are ready to use, and that is part of the work we do for them".
To meet client needs more effectively, e-Kenz has converted a suite of industry solutions, developed by Delaware Consulting, into the SaaS mode. "These are vertical solutions, designed for different sectors", Ms Choury expands. "There is FAST-Engineering, for companies operating in the manufacturing industry. Another solution we have in place is FAST-Start, which allows start-ups to speed up the time and reduce the budget in their quest to get to market". There are other options in the e-Kenz SaaS portfolio: FAST-Food, for SMEs that specialise in the food industry, FAST-Chemical, for the pharmaceutical industry, and FASTFiduciaire, offering trust management solutions for fiduciaries. All solutions in the FAST range are tailored to the industries they serve and, as Ms Choury points out, secure internet access is all e-Kenz clients need to avail of any of the company’s solutions.
This convenience, as well as the gap in the market, has seen e-Kenz grow in a very healthy fashion over the past three years. These, however, are not the only reasons, according to Ms Choury. "We have the support of two main shareholders: LBO Investments and Delaware Consulting. It is through the latter that we can offer such a comprehensive range of SaaS options. And amongst our partners we can also count SAP". A year-by-year breakdown shows an extraordinary development for e-Kenz, Ms Choury adds. "In 3 years, we have gone from 3 employees to 11. We are now looking to recruit 15 people, which is not an easy task in Luxembourg. We need specialised people for each module".
How have the revenue figures developed? "They have tripled since the start", she smiles, "while we have increased the numbers of large clients we are taking on. It’s really just the beginning!"
The swift development of e-Kenz has not gone unnoticed by the ICT industry in Luxembourg, and the company has its eyes fixed on the Greater Region as it grows. The team’s can-do spirit won it the Start-Up of the Year award in 2009. At the same time, Ms Choury became Luxembourg’s ICT Woman of the Year.
Another big award came in 2010, when she was named "Woman Business Manager of the Year".
"I’m very proud of that", she says. "It’s not just winning the award, but also the recognition of the fact that I am a business woman, not just an ICT player. It’s a prize that shows how far I’ve come, and it motivates me to go further. It happened in Luxembourg, so it’s not an American dream. It’s my Luxembourgish dream!" A dream that provides ample space for growth – in Luxembourg and the Greater Region, in Belgium and in France, where many busy SMEs may wish to take a closer look at e-Kenz.
This article was initially published in FOCUS on Research & Innovation in Luxembourg - N°5/2011 - Leading the Way in ICT Security. FOCUS is the first magazine dedicated to promoting research, development and innovation in Luxembourg to an international audience.