50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2021

Dennis De Cat, Managing Director at Upthrust, Speaks Exclusively to The Silicon Review: ‘We’re a Global Digital Acceleration Office’


“Clients call on our expertise to build best-in-class leadfunnels and highly converting digital products.”

Upthrust, a global digital business acceleration office, focuses on full funnel (digital) marketing, i.e. acquisition campaigning, conversion optimization, and retention automation. They implement growth marketing processes and build high-performing digital front-end products for scale-ups, ambitious SMEs and big corporates while training their internal teams on the process and tactics used.

Upthrust is part of Customer Collective — a leading professional services group that focuses on building high-performing commercial organizations.

To highlight and further understand what Upthrust stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Dennis De Cat, who serves as the company’s Managing Director.

Below is an excerpt.

Q. As a journalist, I find Upthrust quite striking. From the emotional branding standpoint, it has that appeal. How did you come up with the brand name, and what does it depict?

We scale companies and uplift digital capacity and capability. So we looked for something that reflects exactly hat. In its literal meaning, Upthrust is a term used in physics, describing an upward power in nature. This is exactly what we want to pursue for all of our clients. Fun fact – “upthrust” is also the power that makes sure icebergs keep floating and show their ‘tip’. That’s what we reflect in our logo.

Q. What makes Upthrust great? And how does the company bridge the gap between marketing and IT?

We vet the top international talents in the market, both in the field of growth marketing and digital design & development. This focus on attracting pioneers and topic leaders that are highly motivated by business challenges has resulted in a company culture that thrives on impact and delivering bottom line outcomes. We have a 100% flexible workforce as the team is combining working from client HQ’s with working from home — operating from the US, Dubai, St. Petersburg, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany.

In our combined projects with growth marketing and digital product studio work we build digital products (e.g. websites, apps, PWA’s, lead gen tools, etc.) that are tested, optimized and built to last on scalable technologies with a strong vision. By delivering this to our clients we typically bridge the IT/marketing gap.

Q. What are your focus areas?

We are known in the market for five domains:

Tracking, analytics, and data visualization: We fix and upscale analytics. Running a growth track and helping B2B companies get more leads or B2C companies boost their eCommerce results, does not make any sense without the prior alignment on full-funnel KPIs, a data collection strategy, tracking set-up, and appealing visualizations. 

Digital Studio: Our Digital Studio Experts help with building highly converting digital products such as eCommerce websites, web applications, and lead-generating corporate websites. Since all the Digital Studio Experts work daily with our Digital Growth Experts, there is 100 percent alignment on building highly converting products versus than just building digital products that look beautiful but don’t bring in any sales.

Growth Marketing: We run growth tracks to find the winning way forward to scale your business. The core of what we do is accelerating B2B and B2C companies by using full-funnel marketing, high tempo testing, validation of campaign hypothesis, and using weekly kill/scale rounds to ensure resource (people, media budget) is only spent to those activities that contribute to achieving the company’s OMTM (One Metric That Matters). Achieving growth figures of 5x, 10x is only possible when moving forward fast. Moreover, if companies are starting the use growth marketing techniques and their competitors do not, growth can have an even bigger hockey stick effect.

Performance marketing: We believe in a very strong connection between the Always On campaign (SEA, Paid Social…) and Growth Experiments (finding new audiences, testing new campaign angles…). The insights from the Growth Marketing campaign experiments feed the Always On layer, ensuring that the campaign performance stays high.

Growth experts: We have a big pool of top-tier growth marketers and plug-and-play digital talent to help inject knowledge into companies fast. Our people typically fill in interim positions such as ‘Head of Growth’, ‘Digital Campaign Lead’, ‘Performance Expert’, ‘Growth Marketer’, and ‘Full Stack Design/Developers’.

Q. What can you tell us about your parent company ‘Customer Collective’?

Customer Collective is a unique ecosystem that has grown both organically and via the acquisition of promising companies. The whole ecosystem works together on projects and combines more T-shaped generalists with I-shaped topic experts. Summarized, with over 270 talents in our Eco-System, we focus on building better commercial organizations.

Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

Transformation #1: We are deploying the core principles of “growth” (i.e. experimentation, full funnel approach, agile team & skill allocation, moving fast, etc.) to other departments like for example HR. The talent market is highly competitive these days. 90% of all corporates is still attracting talents via traditional methods like headhunting, job portals, etc. We innovate HR talent acquisition approaches by implementing single job funnels, using UGC to build audiences, run quizzes to prequalify candidates, etc. And all this with only 1 core focus: getting the best possible candidates at the lowest cost per qualified applicant.

Transformation #2: We are deploying our analytics and dashboarding skills in end-to-end tracking projects in B2B environments so that commercial teams can start measuring the efforts of their digital activities from impression > contact > lead > MQL > SQL > opportunity pipeline > won contracts.

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Dennis De Cat | Managing Director

Dennis is a serial venture builder and growth strategist. He holds degrees at MIT (Artificial Intelligence), AMS (Innovation), and UGent (Business Administration). Colleagues and clients describe him as a hustler, no-bullshit goal-getter who gets things done. He’s a proud father of two daughters who energize him every day. His motto: Wake up. Kickass. Repeat.

“We focus on acquisition, conversion and retention automation and inject knowledge into client teams by working on-site.”