Bontouch and Shape Join Forces to Revolutionize the Digital Product Agency Landscape
Stockholm, June 28 2023
The premier digital product agencies in the Nordics—Bontouch in Sweden and Shape in Denmark—are uniting on a mission to build the leading international digital product agency and top strategic partner for brands that want to have the best customer experience in their industry. The two companies are partnering with Waterland Private Equity to help fund and realize their ambitious vision.
Established in 2010, Bontouch quickly rose to prominence as Sweden’s leading digital product agency, most well-known for its mobile apps. Today, Bontouch has 300 designers and engineers across five studios in Stockholm, Åre/Östersund, Kalmar, New York, and London. Over 50 million people use products built by Bontouch and its brand partners, including Swish, PostNord, SJ, SEB, H&M, Post-it, and more. Shape, also established in 2010, has over 100 employees, with an equally impressive client roster of IKEA, Red Bull, Credit Suisse, Bang & Olufsen, and more.
Bontouch and Shape will operate jointly and continue to grow organically in their existing markets. Together, they will also pursue international expansion through acquisitions, with Waterland Private Equity serving as the ideal partner. Founded in the Netherlands in 1999, the European private equity investor has perhaps the longest and most distinguished history of successful international agency expansions in all of Europe.
The partners’ aspirations for global expansion demand considerable investment. Over the years, generalist consultancy firms have undergone extensive consolidation, which Waterland has participated in as part of other investments. However, so far, consolidation has been almost non-existent among digital product agencies. Bontouch, Shape and Waterland see huge potential and intend to become the international market leader.
Bontouch was founded by serial entrepreneurs Pontus Axelsson and Martin Forsling, who introduced the innovative “software startup as-a-service” business model. Through multi-year partnerships with leading brands in traditional non-tech industries—co-creating the digital experiences for their consumers—Bontouch has had tremendous positive impact on how millions of people go about their day. In 2022, Mayako Fagerfjäll, an 8-year veteran of the company who has been instrumental in implementing and developing the model, took over as CEO. For the founders, this bold new plan represents the culmination of a period of carefully weighing how to best bring their model to the global arena, and have even greater impact.
Martin Forsling notes, “In our conversations with Shape we became convinced that not only are we a perfect match, but also that there are other companies like us out there; premium agencies with a similar ethos, started at the dawn of the mobile revolution and thinking about their next chapter after conquering their home market, just like we have. Together, we believe Bontouch and Shape will be able to unite them, and we aim to go public as one.” Pontus Axelsson expands, “We were first introduced to Shape by Apple in 2015. Ever since, we have been fascinated with just how similar our approaches to products are—the care, the taste, the belief that technology alone is not enough. And we never stopped wondering, what could we do together? The answer: create a lasting home for all of us who want to show that building wonderful experiences can also be a great business.”
For the executive team at Bontouch, this is a natural progression of the company’s vision. Mayako Fagerfjäll, CEO, expresses her confidence in the future, “We have always known that our software startup as-a-service model and the approach to product development that we share with Shape lead to superior outcomes. Now we get to demonstrate that it is universal and globally applicable. This collaboration and our new goals will help us serve existing and future brand partners even better.” Kristian Duvald Friis, Managing Director of Shape, agrees and adds, “The cultural fit between Shape and Bontouch is remarkable. United, we will be the brightest shining example for our customers of how to best use technology to solve meaningful problems in impactful ways.”
Expectations at Waterland are also high. Kaspar Kristiansen, Managing Partner for Waterland Nordics, says, “Bontouch and Shape are both leaders in a premium market segment that they helped create. Together they constitute the perfect platform for further growth and expansion. We have great confidence in the management and employees, and look forward to contributing with our rich expertise in building global market leaders.”
No changes to the management or organization of Bontouch or Shape will be made, nor will existing customer relationships be affected. The parties have agreed not to disclose financial terms of the partnership.
About the partners
Bontouch is an award-winning product agency headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Profitable every year since its inception, Bontouch has organically grown its revenues on average over 35% yearly, to more than 350 MSEK in 2022. It has been named DI Gasell for eight consecutive years. Bontouch products have received numerous prestigious accolades like App of the Year from Apple and Material Design Award from Google. Today, virtually 100% of the adult population of Sweden has at least two apps built by Bontouch on their phone.
Shape is an award-winning native mobile application development studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Shape is known for building high-quality mobile apps that tackle real problems and push businesses forward. Shape has received more than 80 awards and recognitions in total, which corresponds to more than half of the developed apps having won awards and recognition. For two years in a row, the company has been among the top five agencies in Denmark, a feat achieved by only three agencies. Shape’s apps have an average user rating of 4.4 based on more than 300,000 reviews.
Waterland is an independent European private equity investment group that supports entrepreneurs in realizing their visions. With substantial financial resources and committed industry expertise, Waterland helps entrepreneurs grow both organically and through acquisitions. Whilst the management team is firmly in control of running the business, Waterland provides hands-on support with acquisitions, financing, organization development, and other projects such as commercial excellence. To date, Waterland has made investments in over 1,000 companies.
Mayako Fagerfjäll, CEO, Bontouch
email@example.com | +46 708 71 72 82
Kristian Duvald Friis, Managing Director, Shape
firstname.lastname@example.org | +45 28 51 91 05