Social business software that is all about collaboration, communication and knowledge sharing. That is Embrace's product. Erik Dokter, one of the spiritual fathers of the company: "Our product is a portal, it is the first thing employees see when they start up the computer. They receive relevant (organizational) news, communicate easily with colleagues, they can start projects, create groups and go directly to applications they use often."
Embrace employs many young people who want to develop in their profession. To encourage that drive, the company - part of software house Malengo - has a flat, informal and, above all, open structure. "That has brought us far, although we also notice that it becomes more complex as the size of the company increases. New phases require adjustments in structure. This sometimes takes some searching, because we do want to keep feeding our open culture. Innovation only occurs when there is room for it and that is sometimes exciting in a growing company."
Funnily enough, that very growth keeps generating new ideas. "Our social business software is already being used at more than two hundred different organizations. These are often larger organizations such as hospitals, financial service providers or municipalities. Sharing knowledge through the platform helps the affiliated professionals further in their work. We deliver 90% standard: we have a comprehensive product with functionalities with which we meet the demand of almost every organization. In the eyes of the customer it is customization through its own look & feel and layout. The remaining 10% is customization for customer-specific needs. By using it ourselves, we continue to hone our software. Our employees are involved enough to provide feedback."
Embrace's founders want to create a platform where all facets of work and communication come together. Dokter: "A platform for a lifetime. Then you have to constantly release new releases to stay up-to-date. The drive to improve is the basis of our product."
In that development, the inspired Groningen software company goes beyond new features. "It is mainly about smart links, so that a complete digital workplace is created. Furthermore, we also look at all the data that comes in, for example, because people share knowledge. Among other things, you gain insight into communication patterns and see where things can be done more efficiently. A good analysis and translation of that can provide useful organizational advice. The interpretation of big data via Embrace is still in its infancy, but we are investigating how we can be meaningful in that area. Because if you want to initiate new movements yourself, you have to keep experimenting."
NOM's support brought peace and leeway
To experiment and continue to grow, funding is needed. Embrace started in 2012, knocked on the door of a bank and also ended up with NOM. Dokter: "Thanks to the financial support, that initial period was less demanding. NOM's support gave peace of mind and we were given leeway. What else pulled us through those early days? Confidence. You can't prepare for everything, keep believing in it." For Erik Dokter, entrepreneurship is mainly about drive, doing what you believe in and daring to experiment. "We like to initiate new movements ourselves."