Can a tech company that has been around for a quarter of a century truly have the energy of a start-up? At DX, we believe that we represent a market-tested corporate partner with 25 years of experience with the culture and dynamism of a brand-new tech start-up.
A Little About Our History
Our beginnings are very similar to those of recent market-leading tech start-ups. Before the launch of DX (formerly known as Dialog eXe) in 1997, cinemas looking for an electronic ticketing solution had few options that were all very expensive. The Fram Kino cinema in Bodø, Norway–the first cinema in Norway–was going to hire a German company to provide electronic ticketing services, but the founders of Dialog eXe, Tore M. Hansen and John Kristiansen, realized that they could build the technology themselves. Tore and John created a ticketing platform for Windows with a user experience and design that was far beyond what else was available on the market. In the company’s first year, Dialog eXe had a half-dozen customers who received product updates via floppy discs sent in the postal mail—and that was considered cutting-edge technical support at the time!
From the very beginning, we adapted to new technology and expanded what we could do for cinemas. The company’s operations expanded to telephone reservations with Kinofon in 1999, print-at-home tickets in 2003, pre-smartphone ticketing with NFC ticketing in 2006, concession sales in 2008, and with dxWeb our technology became available on the internet in 2016, allowing our customers to access our product from anywhere.
Our current platform is built on 25 years of development and experience. And while it has been fully migrated to the cloud, we realize from our history that this technology will need to continue to evolve for the next 25 years, from floppy discs to the cloud to whatever comes next. But we also know from experience that even timely upgrades to 25 year-old technology do not always allow for product innovation. At some point in that update cycle, the path forward isn’t creating another patch, but to start fresh by creating a new product entirely with the knowledge developed from previous products and developments. Over these 25 years we have gained a lot of insights and knowledge on how the cinema business works. A lot of this is implemented in our current platform and a lot is knowledge in peoples’ minds. Bringing these things with us as we develop our product further, brings value to our customers. Improving our technology and maintaining a consistent dialogue with our customers have always been and will always remain key to our business.
Of course, cinema was one of the many parts of the entertainment industry that was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the businesses of our clients shut down and budgets tighter than ever, we saw an opportunity to invest in our research and development to launch a brand-new, cloud-native product. With the goal of providing unparalleled support for a new era of theater-going, because we want to ensure that we’re meeting the expectations and needs of cinemagoers who are using the latest technology in their everyday lives–from ordering lunch to booking appointments in smooth, hassle-free online transactions. After all, we realize that our clients’ customers are the end users of our products. By operating in such a forward-thinking manner, DX shares the innovative mindset of start-up companies that aspire to create more user-friendly technology experiences.
We are now positioned as a software as a service (SaaS) company, and with these completely new ways of working our quarter-century-old company has been injected with the fresh energy and environment of a brand-new start-up.
Learning How to Work as We Go
There is no denying that DX is facing a daunting challenge by building a new product from scratch while staying true to our mission to enhance the cinema experience.
And since our company is creating something that’s never been done before, we are faced with solving new challenges that require us to learn on the job. For example, we are learning every day how to organize the collaboration between our product and engineering teams in a cross-functional, autonomous environment. While we do have specialized teams—typically including one project manager, one designer, and two or three engineers with different expertise—all our teams work across the platform to promote knowledge sharing. Our teams may each have different missions, but we are all working toward the same goal together.
Our company realizes that we embraced the major challenge of switching from operating as a traditional software vendor to a SaaS company. That requires a stronger focus on implementing customer requests to product outcomes based on data-driven research and design. We understand that in addition to serving technological needs, our platform also needs to support marketing needs as well to bring new audiences into cinemas. Our marketing tools assist cinemas by giving them insights into content creation to ensure that all customer-facing messaging enhances each customer experience.
Expanding Our Remote Work Horizons
We have embraced #remotework to hire the best talent available from around the globe. While we maintain two offices in Norway, attendance is completely 100% optional. And we mean optional—our Head of Marketing has shared her thoughts about how the DX team is made up of people like her “who build their happiness wherever they want and create career opportunities for themselves.” Even our CEO, Martin Berg, has regularly shared his philosophies of remote work that are fully embraced by DX to bring transparency to the heart of the organization. From the very top, DX ensures that all our meetings have a purpose and an agenda so that they are more like working sessions with actionable takeaways and clear results than management simply checking in on our staff.
While we still maintain a small team of 34 employees working asynchronously, we’re ready to expand—and we’re planning to double in size in the next three years! That expansion will be partially financed with the support of our first external investor, Øgreid AS, a family-owned investment company with roots in Stavanger, Norway dating back to 1876. Øgreid AS primarily invests in forward-leaning Norwegian companies with ambitions to expand internationally, and we are proud to be part of its family of companies.
While our focus has always been on helping independent cinema owners, we are also thinking about our colleagues in the SaaS technology industry and what they do for their clients. We are proud to be part of those innovations, including:
Less friction, more value creation. We offer secure payment processing—no matter how complex the transactions are—with all the hardware that cinemas need for points of sale as part of the service for a fixed monthly fee. This makes it unnecessary to update hardware with expensive new gear every few years. And with our cloud-based service, cinemas can access their Backoffice from anywhere without the need to manage any servers on their own
Digital-first for the cinema and audience. An increasing number of cinema customers are skipping the box office line and buying tickets online before they ever step foot in the cinema. Each transaction is an opportunity to build relationships and compile data that will yield actionable insights about the audience, their theatergoing habits, and their interests. Even better, our online experience is second-to-none, exceeding the expectations of the audience with each transaction.
We’re playing the long game. Our clients are our partners in the never-ending development of the DX Platform. As the needs of cinemas change, we listen to our clients’ feedback to drive our development. We understand that client success is our key metric, so our service comes with extensive documentation and support to ensure clients are getting the most out of DX. Furthermore, we are paying close attention to the industry so we can anticipate how the future of cinema will impact our clients.
Our Legacy is Our Start-up Values
Perhaps the main reason why our 25-year-old company feels more like a cutting-edge start-up is how important our company’s values are. These values infuse our staff with innovative energy:
1. Have fun together. Even remotely, we spend more time communicating with our co-workers on a day-to-day basis than we sometimes do with friends and family. It’s important to make sure we’re enjoying what we are creating together.
2. Enable others to succeed. We are all on the same team and an individual co-worker’s success helps lift everyone to a new level.
3. Our customers are our closest allies. They will lead us to discover how to keep improving our services by sharing invaluable feedback.
4. Good today, better tomorrow. We all face frustrations and setbacks. We’ll do our best to solve those issues today and come in with our new knowledge to face the next challenge tomorrow.
5. Dare to try. At DX, we’re creating groundbreaking technology and services that are new to cinemas. As cinemas change with technological and industry shifts, we will keep trying new ideas to see how to best meet the new demands.
At DX, we are committed to innovating the latest technology to offer our clients a path forward to the newest advances in customer service and relationship building. It is by design that our company’s goals, values, and outlook are all based on innovation and finding the best employees for our team no matter where they live. While other companies with our experience might “act their age,” we’re confident that our “start-up” culture produces the best possible support for our clients.