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Chapter 12: 1T3XT BVBA


Opening Quote  

There's a Flemish website Met Falen en Opstaan (Failing Forward) where entrepreneurs talk about failing in business. The perception was that failing isn't as accepted in Belgium as it in places such as Silicon Valley. Although I shared my story , I also want to warn for the "cultivation of failure" in the sense that I sometimes have the feeling that some founders actively seek failure. With the opening quote for chapter 12, I want to share that "Failure is a wonderful teacher. But there's no need to seek out failure. It will find you." I found this quote in an article on the Codding Horror blog . You may also be interested in reading the Success through Failure blogpost on the same website. There is a reason why I also focus on some of the projects that failed in my book.

Valuation History

The first time we thought about the value of our project, we thought it was worth €1M to €1.5M.
Valuation History iText: 2006

First iText company

The first iText company was founded in 2008.
screenshot iText website in 2008

You'll notice that the logo changed. In the first version of the logo, the i of iText was shaped as an eye. The new version of the logo looked like a graffiti tag; I designed it like a signature:
design process second iText logo design process second iText logo design process second iText logo

The initial result consisted of the full signature. For letter versions only the iT was kept, but some people confused those letters with a capital J because that's what it actually looked like.

original iText logo      second version iText logo      abbreviated iText logo

All these logos could be produced using Bézier curves that I programmed in iText.

Hippopotamus for Christmas

The site mentions that my son was diagnozed with cancer. I wrote a book in Dutch, Nijlpaard voor Kerstmis , about the year my son spent in hospital. The title of this book translates as "Hippopotamus for Christmas".

Users, Not Customers

This is the mail that almost led to me giving up on iText. I've redacted the names, but in this mail, the project leader of a project that involved iText, apologizes for the behavior of a developer at TCS working on behalf of the Belgian company Colruyt. He explains that the pressure to deliver in time was very high and that this caused plenty of stress. Nevertheless, this pressure doesn't justify the way I was treated. The project leader also confirms that there was no doubt about the quality of iText.
apology mail from Colruyt
Afterward, once my son was "in the clear", I had a closer look at the problem, and I did find what was causing the issue. I fixed it, but since Colruyt had no intention to become a customer at that time, I decided not to inform Colruyt about the fix. Today I realize that this wasn't very entrepreneurial of me.
Many years later, I contacted one of the owners of Colruyt the day before an event where he was a speaker. I invited him to talk about what had happened in 2008, but I never received an answer, so I never got closure on this painful episode in my life.

Book Quotes  

  • I submitted an attempt at a business plan for iText, but the judges didn’t quite get what my idea was about. They wrote: “We don't think you'll ever be financially successful with this project.”
  • I was thinking too much as an engineer and not enough as an entrepreneur. I was angry with the judges for not seeing any value in iText, but I failed at explaining the business model.
  • As a child, I had seen the rise of computers and I thought that this digital revolution would result in a reduction of paper waste. In practice, the exact opposite happened. The more people started to use computers, the more documents they printed. I wanted to reverse that trend.


  • On page 158 "faith" should be "fate": "Was that my fate as an open source developer" (reported by Paul Jowett).

Soundtrack for this Chapter  

I listen to music, but my taste in music is questionable. I've selected a handful of songs for every chapters. Sometimes, there's a link to the chapter, sometimes I just like the song.

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