Odoo develops and creates business management (ERP) software aimed at making companies better at what they do. Their mobile unit squad of two Expandable trailers, however, is outfitted purely for educational purposes. Why is that? And how does that tie into their business model? Charline Louis, team leader of the education team, takes us through the steps it took Odoo to get there.
Odoo creates business software solutions that help companies run their business better. “We help make companies a better place by providing intuitive software”, says Charline Louis. “We have a standard software package that works for 85% of the needs of small to medium-sized business enterprises. It can be customized, but our core business is to sell the standard version.”
At Odoo, 30 main applications have been developed and are continuously improved. Additionally, a community of over 1,500 members contributed to more than 16,000+ apps to cater to a wide range of business needs.
The goal is to provide a selection of easy-to-use business applications, giving companies the tools to meet all their business needs. Millions of businesses are offered easy access to the necessary software to run and expand their operations. This both ensures they can meet evolving customer needs and accompany startups as they outgrow.
"Our Expandable trailers aren't just a space; they're a dynamic ecosystem where education meets the cutting edge of business software."
Looking for a mobile space
Odoo has been rapidly increasing in size, Charline says. “When we built our new office about two years ago, we initially had a room planned as a showroom”, she comments. “However, not quickly thereafter we had to confiscate it for more office space. So we put the project on hold.”
“We came across Expandable because the daughter of our CEO once was able to do scientific experiments at her primary school inside a mobile trailer”, Charline continues. “That was how the idea for a mobile trailer was born. Her enthusiasm was contagious, so we also started looking for a mobile solution, but with an educational aspect too. Through word-of-mouth, I came into contact with Expandable.”
The mobile showroom idea was quickly abandoned, however. “We started thinking about our products in concert with educational purposes”, Charline reflects. “We noted that there is a gap when education stops and ‘real life’ working experience begins. We wanted to help bridge that gap.” Creating bridges between education and business life – that is what Odoo’s mobile trailer is all about.
So they created Woody Furniture – a fictional manufacturer of wooden furniture. “We want to teach students how business management works, and what day-to-day operations look like”, continues Charline. “We designed our trailer in such a way that students can discover nine different business roles, from accounting to HR and from e-commerce to logistics. Students explore use cases per department, backed up by Odoo software.”
Travelling across the country (within a two-hour radius around Lille, France), Odoo knew going in that a reliable power outlet wasn’t necessarily guaranteed. That’s why they outfitted the trailer with a generator and batteries, enabling it to operate independently. “Because signing up for the roadshow is 100% free, being able to operate without external power means the barrier for educational institutions is virtually nonexistent”, notes Charline.
Bridging the gap
In less than eighteen months, the Odoo mobile workplace – called ‘LabOdoo’ – has visited 115 locations and welcomed 6,400 students. Teachers appreciate the hands-on approach, as it aligns with their course material (and because it’s free); students like it because they discover something new.
“We are very pleased with how our roadshow has turned out”, concludes Charline. “It enables us to not only help students bridge the gap after graduation and full-time work but also to introduce them to our business software. Who knows, maybe they’ll think of our software should they need it in the future!”
As of this writing (August 2023), the calendar for the rest of the year is already fully booked, well into January next year. Starting next school year, a second trailer will join their fleet.