Until about ten years ago, resin floors were cold, gray surfaces that you only saw in the industry. Until architects and designers picked it up. David Bols (30) saw potential and dove into the market. His Senso is now the market leader with trendy resin floors.
“In 2000 you saw that resin floors emerged as a design product, partly due to the rise of minimalism. It is the only seamless floor finishing product that allows you to create a sleek base in a room, a kind of blank canvas. You can build the rest of your interior on this, which is ideal for designers or architects. They started using it for chic interiors of shops, offices and homes.
I was then working as a salesperson in a company that made resin floors for the industrial market, called epoxy floors. There they were used to make concrete floors liquid-tight. They didn’t have to be beautiful, so their presentation was very technical, dealing with layer thickness and wear resistance. That means nothing to a consumer. They want a high-quality product, but especially want to see how it looks in their own home. That’s why I started Senso in 2004, specifically for the aesthetic market. I initially approached my old employer with the idea, but he was not interested, so I started my own business.


At first I worked on Senso in the evenings next to my job. I lived in a small apartment above a pub, so I had few costs and was able to put all my savings into building the business. I wanted to change the old epoxy floors because they are hard and rigid, which means they crack easily. That is why I and a chemist friend started looking for basic materials that are flexible and elastic. They are less likely to tear and offer more comfort and sound insulation. I also made the product so finely pigmentable that you could create many more color gradations with it. That was very important, because a spot of green can be the difference between swearing or matching in a market where details are important.
I obtained some raw materials from the same supplier as my former employer. However, he did not agree with this and, with its scale, ensured that I could no longer involve it there. That was a major setback, because I had just started and suddenly ran out of product. It forced me to look creatively at other suppliers to get sales going again.


In addition to the technical development, we thought it was very important to do the presentation differently. To turn an industrial product into a design product, you need more than just a good product. We wanted to show that cast floors can be very warm, as long as you have them in the right color and combine them with the right materials and fabrics. We therefore furnish our showrooms with these combinations, in collaboration with design labels.
Connecting major brands and designers to the brand has been important for Senso. In the beginning we had the opportunity to share a showroom in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel with Vitra, one of the leading furniture brands in the world. And when we moved to the center of Amsterdam, we created the showroom with Moooi, the furniture brand of Casper Vissers and Marcel Wanders. That immediately resulted in beautiful pictures that magazines like to publish. If your name is next to that of Marcel Wanders, it creates a positive brand experience. We now have more projects in which we collaborate with well-known designers and can showcase them to the world.
We are also fortunate to have customers who build beautiful villas or renovate old buildings and furnish them beautifully. All we have to do is take good photos afterwards and send them to the magazines. It is very interesting for a magazine like Eigen Huis & Interieur or Elle to publish those photos with a story.

Our motto is that we try to do everything faster than the competition. For the internal organization, we have written down our strategy and history in a document that starts with a quote from Rupert Murdoch, owner of CNN: “In this time, it’s not the big beating the small anymore, but the fast beating the slow”. You don’t have to be big to win a race, you just have to be faster. This applies to the introduction of new products, but also to the entire communication. Customers who want price information will immediately receive a price indication from us in their mailbox. At the same time, we focus on solutions in our communication. If someone wants to hang a painting, he does not want to hear from the supplier that he has to make a hole with a 13 millimeter concrete spiral drill. The customer wants the painting to hang well, whether you drill or shoot a hole in it. That’s the way we operate. If a customer wants a floor in his store, we offer the flooring solution that is best for that specific location, and talk about wear resistance and maintenance. That’s all a customer wants to know.

Fast growth

In the early years we did a lot of cold calling, we were just calling: architects, contractors, clients. If we heard that someone was going to renovate or renovate – the Heineken Experience, for example – we would call. These things are planned years in advance, so you hoped to be the first to do so.
The company grew so fast in the first three years that we needed more staff and had to expand to more locations. You need a good organizer for that, which is why I asked my brother to join the company, with his commercial background. We had often discussed it at home, so I said to him: if you know it so well, come and show it. Since the end of 2006, he has been responsible as partner for Senso’s structure and long-term strategy.
The rapid growth – 822 percent from 2007 to 2009 – did not always go well. The order book often grew faster than after-sales. In 2009 we grew from 2.8 to 5.6 million euros in turnover in one year; then we had to hire and train a lot of new people, that just wasn’t possible. We worked really hard, but we made quite a few mistakes. Because if things go wrong and you don’t solve them quickly enough, then you have a problem. That’s the speed that is so important. In retrospect, the crisis was not inconvenient for us, because the weakening of the economy gave us the opportunity to focus properly on the internal organization. The company is now much more tightly structured, with good procedures and clear information provision to our customers. We have a project team that is responsible for the entire process, from the moment the product is sold to aftercare and managing the application teams. Partly because of this, we are growing rapidly again this year, but this time the growth is much more manageable for us.


We continue to develop at Senso. We have to keep up with the market, because cast floors may become less popular after a while. We talk a lot with designers and architects about what they see in terms of trends in the market and we experiment a lot. Nine out of ten ideas don’t work out, but the tenth one is a golden opportunity. For example, last year we started with Laguzzo, a seamless wall finish, and in collaboration with Marcel Wanders we developed Senso Impressions, cast floors with a 3D effect.
In addition, in product development we focus on specific solutions for sectors such as healthcare and sports and wellness complexes. For example, floors with high moisture and temperature resistance for a sauna, or floors for operating rooms that must conduct static electricity and be resistant to blood and disinfectants.
So far we have been able to build the company with our own money, we don’t even have a bank loan. We do everything step by step – product development, hiring good people or expanding – and invest our entire profits in the company. Then you don’t need investors. But I don’t know yet whether we can take the next step without financing.


Our objective was to focus on the Netherlands for the first five years, to gain a foothold here and build a healthy company. Since 2010, our focus has also been international. We opened a showroom in Antwerp in January last year, and in London in September. Cologne and Milan are planned for next year. In fact, the whole world is open to us, because the same epoxy-based products are still sold almost everywhere. We even have customers who come to shop here from Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi. These are of course exceptions now, but the intention is that we can open a branch there when the concept is complete.
We will use the next three years to gain experience and fine-tune our concept for franchising. Then everything must be thought out in order to properly transfer it to franchisees: corporate identity, communication, marketing plan, product development, showroom design, training programs and sales plan.
A famous economist, Peter Drucker, once said, “People overestimate what they can do in a year, but underestimate what they can accomplish in five.” The same applies to us. We started in a showroom on the first floor of an industrial estate. We now have five branches in three countries. In five years’ time we want to achieve the same thing again and have a branch in ten world cities. We see that that space is there.”