Page One Person: Felix van de Maele of Collibra

Felix van de Maele is the CEO and Co-Founder of Collibra, a leader in enterprise data governance and catalog software. Born and educated in Belgium, Felix was inspired to create Collibra at the age of 23, after learning about Silicon Valley startups during his studies in business and computer science from Vlerick Business School and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Without any prior formal experience, he started the company in an old 20-square meter office and built the company from the ground up – quite literally building office furniture from IKEA and deciding job roles with his fellow founders over pizza. Through his drive and passion, Felix grew Collibra to global heights – today the company has over 450 employees in offices across Brussels, New York, London, Paris, Toronto, and Wroclaw, Poland.

 

When Collibra was established in 2008, Felix and his co-founders were almost too ahead of the curve – the ‘big bang’ of data had not happened yet, and they were challenged with of minimal market awareness of how data-powered insights could change the way businesses work. Undeterred, Felix wanted businesses to understand the power of data, and realised this was an opportunity to gain first-mover advantage in the market.

 

When Collibra secured its first client, the Flemish Ministry of Education, it was key. The ministry had so many academic institutions using different terminologies for various disciplines, that they couldn’t monitor how government funding was being used; ultimately blocking them from analysing compliance and returns. Felix explained how data governance could help them build complex mappings of the institutions’ various terminologies and codes, and that by using Collibra, the ministry could finally monitor its resource allocation.

 

To this day, Felix remains passionate about educating businesses on data issues, and created Collibra University, which provides tutoring and resources about data governance.

 

Since Collibra’s first customer win, Felix has remained at the helm of the company’s global business strategy; gaining significant customer & partner relationships, most recently including DNB Bank, Proximus, and AWS.

 

In January, Felix spearheaded the company’s Series E funding, led by a $100 million investment from Google’s equity investment arm CapitalG, elevating the company to unicorn status. The recent investment makes Collibra one of the first companies to reach the $1B valuation in 2019, and the first Belgian unicorn. This follows a record revenue year, with an 80% increase in annualised recurring revenue.

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