In a relatively short time, Dave Lark has created something beautiful with MyEmma. But it was not entirely without a struggle. Recently, the document management portal was acquired by SnelStart from Alkmaar. "The acquisition makes it possible to realize our future ambitions.
The broad smile and relaxed demeanor speak volumes. Dave Leeuwerik is in good spirits. Last June, his company MyEmma was acquired by SnelStart, a provider of smart billing and accounting solutions. Nothing indicates that Dave had to let go of his "baby" with pain in his heart. 'On the contrary, I see it as an appreciation for three years of hard work,' he says decidedly. "A crowning achievement for the entire team.
MyEmma is a Document Management System in which companies can securely and encryptedly share and find documents while having them approved and signed. Immediately after its official launch in 2019, the customer portal received great interest from accounting and administrative offices. Not surprisingly, as MyEmma offered them all the possibilities to communicate with customers quickly, easily and reliably. To continue growing, not much later two investors got on board and the company became a limited liability company.
Those who suspect that MyEmma is one big success story will be disappointed. In fact, Dave says he barely enjoyed the adventure for the past three years. "I had to keep so many balls in the air that I was completely absorbed by the business. Did things I didn't really like at all and at one point couldn't even catch any sleep. It was one big war of attrition. However, I did enjoy the team dynamics. That we sat up late programming in a coffee shop in Groningen. The next morning I would get in the car to a presentation, the developers had worked all night, and after I arrived I would see that the last updates were ready. To then give a top-notch presentation for the customer. Those were unforgettable moments and, above all, wonderful team achievements.
And then there was the corona crisis, just a few months after the investors arrived. At first, Dave was still positive. Because of the lockdown, customers of accounting and bookkeeping firms were no longer allowed to physically deliver their records. And so they might desperately need MyEmma. And so it turned out, because the applications poured in. Until the government presented the support measures. 'Immediately all offers and agreements were put on-hold,' says Dave. 'Accounting and administrative offices were suddenly too busy helping clients apply for the schemes. Time for MyEmma was lacking. A big deal.'
Comprehensive communication platform
What followed was a period of uncertainty and severe budget cuts. Fortunately, there was the Corona Bridge Loan (COL) granted by NOM, which secured MyEmma's future. 'The corona period taught me to look beyond accountancy,' Dave stresses. 'It led us to develop into a comprehensive communication platform for all organizations dealing with large document flows. With results, because growth was back on solid ground immediately. It even went so well that NOM decided to invest in MyEmma and even became a shareholder. The resulting confidence has given the company an enormous boost.
So now MyEmma has been acquired by SnelStart from Alkmaar. For Dave, it marked the end of a, to put it mildly, hectic and turbulent time. The effect was immediately noticeable when, after it was certain that the company was sold, he was on his way to the notary. 'Along the highway I saw a bird building a nest,' Dave looks back. 'I hadn't seen that for years. All this time I was being lived and sitting focused and tense behind the wheel or the desk. What quote still has to go out the door, who do I still have to call and are there any overdue payments? This went on day and night. Now all the stress was gone and creativity, one of my most important core qualities, slowly returned. I felt reborn.
With today's knowledge, what would he have done differently? The answer doesn't stay long. 'I should have had a good manager beside me from the beginning. Someone who complements me, provides structure and helps me plan the day. I am an ADHD'er, a chaotic person. I can think up and sell things very enthusiastically, but can forget to send the offer just like that. Besides creativity and the ability to switch quickly, my strength lies in my contact with customers. This is not unimportant, because in my opinion as CEO you have to know what is going on with them. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. At MyEmma, the customer was and is radically central. This means that we listen carefully to customers and develop the software based on their needs.'
SnelStart, where he now works on a freelance basis, feels like a warm blanket. He feels, he says, valued and suddenly has 200 colleagues there. 'But I also have the desired manager who puts me in my power,' Dave smiles. 'All he requires of me is that I enjoy and put my ideas about MyEmma on paper so he can turn it into a business plan. MyEmma's office, by the way, will simply remain located in Groningen. I commute back and forth regularly. With great pleasure, I love coming to the office in Alkmaar. It's a perfect match. Simply because we can mean a lot to each other and because the acquisition makes it possible to realize MyEmma's ambitions for the future. Within three to five years MyEmma could easily become the European market leader in document management solutions.
One thing is certain: Dave wants nothing more than to work in the software business. It is one of the most important lessons he says he has learned over the past three years. "I love coming up with a solution to a customer problem and then translating it into working software. I see it almost as my vocation. Whether I will ever start a company again? I'm in the right place now, but would like to play the game again. That could also be under the banner of SnelStart. In any case, I'm not going to do it alone anymore.'
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