Showing the future using visualizations: that's what The Imagineers do in Sneek. The NOM invested in the company and director Ronald de Vries explains what that meant. "With a bank alone we didn't have to knock on the door with our ideas. Fortunately, the NOM did see a future in our ideas."
The Imagineers employ enthusiastic image makers and software engineers who work on spatial planning. Freeways, solar parks, urban redevelopment or windmills: what impact will they have on the environment? "Within our company we make such changes visible," says Ronald. "What does it mean for an environment if a road is suddenly a ditch? What is the impact of a wind turbine in your backyard? And what if a new apartment is built? We bring it into focus."
The images produced by The Imagineers are beautiful, but there is another purpose behind them. Ronald: "Our clients include engineering firms, the Department of Public Works, project developers, provinces and municipalities. They want to show what is intended by their plans and thus create support. A good example is the city of Amsterdam. There are plans to convert the old naval terrain into a place to live and work. We have developed a platform where citizens can watch and participate. This is very valuable for all parties."
Picking up the net at the NOM
This method of visualization - besides being valuable - is also costly. Ronald: "Our plan was to be able to show the visual impact of a wind turbine within three minutes, anywhere in the world. We wanted to bring 360-degree photography and the visual world together on the Internet and make it available to the whole world. Cost-effectively and in such a way that people could move freely through it. To do that, we had to invest a lot of money in software.
We knew we didn't need to knock on a bank's door. Software is quickly labeled as difficult and intangible, especially if it's something new and innovative. I still knew NOM from my previous company, so I knew I'd like to pick up my net there sometime."
The little train started running
Ronald contacted NOM. "I knew they were willing to take risks that a bank would not take. And it soon became clear that they did indeed see a future in our company. Together we set up an investment train - and it started running. NOM always thought along with us and always focused on the progress of our company. Because we were not directly waiting for a shareholder in the first phase of our investment, we opted for a subordinated loan."
At a bank alone we did not need to knock on the door
Type of funding
Whether Ronald recommends such a loan to other entrepreneurs? "Not necessarily. It depends entirely on your own situation which type of funding is best to apply for. With a subordinated loan, for example, the question is whether you are able to bear the interest burden from day one and pay it off after a year. With equity participation, that question does not arise. It is important to ask yourself the right questions. What do you need? How much guarantee can you offer? NOM can help you with that."
From nothing to something
In addition to The Imagineers, Ronald owns another company: Mobiléa. This company builds and sells an image care application to increase the independence of chronically ill, elderly or disabled people. NOM funding was also provided to Mobiléa. Ronald: "We took the first steps within Mobiléa with our own money and a grant. From nothing we built something and with that we went looking for a funding party again. It helped that we could already show something. This is also a useful tip for other entrepreneurs. Show something. Sales, customers, a prototype ... something. It makes it more likely to get successful funding."