When he heard that the COL had been awarded, everyone could join in. So exuberant was Dave Lark cheering. Because of the money, of course, but also because of the appreciation expressed. 'NOM does not provide the bridging loan just like that,' the CEO and founder of MyEmma emphasizes. 'They have confidence in the future of the company. That feels good, especially in these turbulent times.'
MyEmma is a Document Management system, or more precisely, a customer portal where you can securely and encrypted share and find documents as well as have them approved and signed. The idea came about in 2017 after a conversation with an accountant. He told Dave Leeuwerik that he was going crazy with clients who regularly called him asking to see an IB or other return. A time-consuming search, he complained. After all, where was the requested document again? In Dropbox, in the mail or perhaps I saved it in Google Drive? It would be great if my clients could easily access it themselves, the accountant concluded his story.
Grand and awesome
Dave, active in the world of online media since 2001, smelled an opportunity. It was undoubtedly an annoyance that many accounting and bookkeeping firms faced. Diligently he set out to find a solution. What followed was a period of thinking, sparring with programmers, building and fine-tuning. 'That eventually resulted in MyEmma,' says Dave. 'Why the name? We were looking for a girl's name and quickly came up with Emma. It was the most popular name at the time and, above all, stands for great and awesome. And that's exactly what we have in mind. We want to create a great system for a great audience. We seem to be succeeding just fine at that.'
Indeed, MyEmma has been well received since its official launch in 2019. It makes sense, as the portal offers accounting and administration firms everything they need to communicate with customers quickly and securely. To enable further growth, two investors got on board in December last year. 'Since then, MyEmma has become a limited liability company,' Dave says. 'We went into it in good spirits. There was a marketing budget and I was also able to hire developers, who were previously freelancers, on a permanent basis. A few months later, corona broke out. Immediately after the lockdown was declared, applications poured in from companies. After all, employees of accounting and administrative firms had to work from home. And so clients were not allowed to deliver records to their offices. In short, they needed MyEmma. This might turn out to be very positive for us, I thought.
But alas, as often happens, practice proved more unruly. For a short time later, all outstanding offers and agreements made were put on-hold. 'When the support measures were presented, accounting and administration firms suddenly became extremely busy supporting clients in applying for the schemes,' Dave explains. 'They simply didn't have any more time for MyEmma, so everything was pushed back. From then on, uncertainty struck. The rent has to be paid and at the same time I am responsible for my employees. As a start-up, you fall outside all the regulations. You've only been around for a short time and so you can't prove that as a result of corona you've had 20% less turnover. What now? I lay awake at night thinking about that.
Major cuts were made by MyEmma. This included adjusting marketing budgets and saying goodbye to freelancers. In addition, the focus shifted to serving existing customers as optimally as possible. But one thing was certain: if they could get through those first few months, a bright future for the Groningen company was on the horizon. Especially also because in the last months of the year accounting and administration firms usually choose their software. And many, as mentioned, had already indicated that they were convinced of MyEmma's added value. That beckoning prospect got a big boost when one of the investors told Dave that the COL was coming. It would be really cool if we could take advantage of that, Dave realized. He decided to pull out all the stops to make that happen, together with the investors.
'The business plan I had written for the investors gave me a good impression of where we would have been under normal circumstances,' says Dave. ' We adapted that plan completely by mentioning the impact of the corona crisis in each section. Of course, our future plans were also discussed in detail. Days and nights we worked on it. It resulted in a comprehensive presentation, in a business plan with a corona layer over it. I even wrote a personal letter to NOM after submitting the application. A business plan is a business document, a bit aloof. I thought they should also get to know the person behind MyEmma.'
The efforts were rewarded. Well within the allotted time, Dave received word that the COL had been awarded. The future of MyEmma was thus definitively secured. 'The relief was, as you can understand, enormous,' Dave reflects. 'We could move on again. Thank goodness, because the number of applications is already growing. Not only from accounting and administration firms, but there is also interest from other industries, such as debt relief, real estate and mortgage lenders. The software appears to be appealing to more and more organizations. Or as a customer recently told me: You can tell that MyEmma was built by a man from Groningen. It's just down-to-earth and does what it needs to do. '
In this white paper:
- What challenges do you face and how do you deal with them?
- Becoming investor ready in four steps!
- An overview of all funding options
Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.