Web-IQ's higher goal matches that of its customers: solve more crime on the Internet and, in particular, tackle child pornography. "We can contribute to that with our technology by building a healthy, sustainable business," says CEO Eldert van Wijngaarden.
Web-IQ developed the intelligence platform Voyager. This is a computer program that searches the Internet in a methodical and automated manner. With this platform, child pornography and other criminal activities can be detected. The technology is of great international significance.
The relatively complicated market in which Van Wijngaarden and his associate Mathijs Homminga operate came their way by chance. It all started with the sinister bycatch of a totally different software product. "We had set up Internet media company Kalooga, which developed search technology for photo collections. The built-in filters that blocked porn images turned out to catch child pornography as well. We got in touch with the police, and a few tests showed that our software offered opportunities to detect criminal activity on the darknet. If you can be so significant, you have to go for it. Even if that means doing something completely different from what you originally planned. So we founded Web-IQ alongside Kalooga to focus on this completely new world."
Of course, they didn't take any chances, but they didn't have to think for very long. Eldert: "I became an entrepreneur to choose what I wanted to do and where I could add the most value. If an opportunity like this comes along, you take it. That's the freedom you have as an entrepreneur. We did take a risk, but with the support of our shareholders we dared to take the step."
Setting up Web-IQ was a world of difference from Kalooga: "It gives much more energy, because of the great importance. At the same time, we ran into very different issues. We now make a product for parties primarily engaged in crime fighting, from police forces to Interpol. The social importance is much greater. At the same time, that also makes it different, because you are now making a product for non-commercial parties. They work with community money, so we cannot and do not want to think only in flat revenue goals. But that too is part of entrepreneurship: constantly adapting to what your customers ask and want from you, without losing sight of your own values. Our business requires a different mindset and a longer breath than an ordinary commercial product. That's why it's so nice that NOM also looks at it that way and gives us room to experiment."
Social return does not naturally manifest itself in profit. Then, as a company, it is important to find the balance. Van Wijngaarden: "Thanks to our paying customers, we can further expand and refine Voyager. Moreover, we invest in the implementation. Because getting a technologically advanced product to work well in practice is a challenge."
An important turning point for Web-IQ was the change from working on a project basis to a standard product with a licensing model, to serve more organizations. "And we are expanding our network of resellers to get into the picture with other Law Enforcement Agencies. Because financial return remains a prerequisite to realize social return."
If you can be significant, you have to go full steam ahead
That doesn't happen here
The focus is beginning to bear fruit, partly because there is more political attention and thus money to tackle issues such as human trafficking and child pornography. Van Wijngaarden: "That gives a boost. Although at the moment most people are still dominated by the 'that won't happen here with us' feeling. We would like to see that changed."
At the start of Web-IQ, Kalooga's shareholders were largely on board. "It was about loyalty," explains Eldert van Wijngaarden. "We wanted to involve these people." Thus, NOM was also given a role within Web-IQ. "They additionally helped us with funding until a new shareholder came in. We noticed that NOM believed and believes in us. Our business requires not only a different mindset and a long breath with us, but also with our shareholders. All the more wonderful that we managed to retain them. "
"Founding Web-IQ has shown me clearly what entrepreneurship requires of you. The most important thing is to keep stepping over your own shadow. Unexpected things always happen and as an entrepreneur you have to learn to deal with them. Don't stick rigidly to the picture in your head, but let yourself be surprised by what comes your way."