Featured case: Studio 100: A Growth Story of a
Showcase in Show Business

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The case

Who – the protagonist

Studio 100 logo

Hans Bourlon, Gert Verhulst and Danny Verbiest. Three programme makers who left the Belgian television station BRT to create their own production house.


Studio 100 is an international family entertainment group. Its many activities include the production of popular television programmes for children and the management of seven amusement parks.


Over the years, Studio 100 had developed a clear and winning business model in Belgium and the Netherlands, built around ‘boundless creativity and innovation’. But international expansion is a huge challenge and simply copying the same business model across different countries doesn’t work.


Studio 100 logo

Studio 100 was founded in 1996. Fifteen years later, it had more than 1,000 employees and was the owner of one of the largest independent catalogues of children’s TV series in the world.


Hans, Gert and Danny started the company, without any help from investors, in Schelle, a town close to Antwerp in Belgium. They created new characters and recorded television shows. The company started with five people and the office they had bought was initially far too big for their needs.

Fifteen years later, the company was distributing television series in more than 120 countries; its revenue increased from 5.6 million euros in 1996 to 170.2 million euros in 2011.

Key quote

‘A company starts to get in trouble when it only organises, plans and structures what is already there – which is what I call “management”. That is why I am more afraid that we will lose that creative drive. If we start to do “more of the same” and exploit rather than explore, then that is the end of Studio 100.’ – Hans Bourlon, co-founder of Studio 100

What next?

Studio 100 is highly ambitious and determined to further expand the international business in its corporate portfolio. New initiatives have not always been successful, for example, a radio station project for children didn’t work. At Studio 100, doing business and being creative are inextricably linked. How can it build on its successes to date?

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The author


Kurt Verweire

Kurt explains how he met Hans Bourlon and outlines the importance of product leadership.

Meeting Hans

Studio 100 is a famous company in Belgium and the Netherlands and its managers are often featured in the Belgian and Dutch popular press. Many children grew up with the characters of Studio 100.

Vlerick Business School

At Vlerick Business School, we always try to apply our academic concepts to the business world. One way we do this is by inviting guest speakers on our MBA, Master and Executive programmes. Hans Bourlon is a great speaker with a great story, and when I asked him he immediately agreed to take part in writing this case.

Product leadership

Product leadership is one of the three competitive strategies as defined by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema (in addition to operational excellence and customer intimacy). Companies that operate in non-disruptive markets can be successful by choosing and implementing one of these three competitive strategies.

Product leaders are companies that win in their market by having high-quality products and the most innovative products in the industry. Apple, Google and Pixar are typical examples, but Studio 100 is a great example too.

Kids reading at bedtimeSeamless innovation

Participants in our MBA and executive classes tend to underestimate the importance of rigorous innovation processes and discipline in successful product leadership.

Creativity and entrepreneurship are essential elements of an innovative organisation, but they are not sufficient. It’s equally important to have an innovation strategy that builds on a seamless innovation process with appropriate resources. Product leaders need both creativity and discipline to be successful.

Entrepreneurial organisation

Studio 100 merchandise Studio 100 is a very entrepreneurial organisation: it explores numerous opportunities with different products in different markets. Some people argue that Studio 100 is an overstretched corporation. But the case illustrates how Studio 100’s integrated business model builds on a limited set of innovation capabilities that the company leverages over and over again.

Intrinsic motivation

Many HR specialists wonder how to get a committed and motivated workforce. Extrinsic motivation is when earning a reward or avoiding punishment motivates you. Intrinsic motivation involves doing something that is personally rewarding. It is clear that Studio 100 relies more on the latter to attract and keep the right people.

About the author

Kurt Verweire is a Strategy Professor and Partner at Vlerick Business School.
e kurt.verweire@vlerick.com


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