Embrace and MXR Podoblock. Two companies to be proud of. After NOM funding, they generated further growth and activity. Exactly what we had in mind. Now that the loan has been paid off we say goodbye to each other. A story about two successful exits.
Pride echoes in Chantal Leijendekker's voice. A successful exit is what she does it all for as Investment Manager. 'I have truly enjoyed the stormy development that Embrace and MXR Podoblock have gone through,' she says. 'Fantastic that we were able to contribute to that. Of course, from NOM we saw the potential of both companies. We knew that the market was ready for them and above all, we had every confidence that the entrepreneurs could actually take their business forward. That is also the reason we provided a loan at the time. It is great then that the confidence has been fully realized and Embrace and MXR Podoblock have generated impressive growth.
Social business software
Groningen-based Embrace develops and delivers social business software. The software is used as an employee portal and is intended to make collaboration, communication and knowledge sharing within organizations more efficient and easier. The idea for Embrace arose in 2009 from the ambition to reinvent the intranet. 'Martijn Weesjes, one of the partners, was making software for intranets, among other things, with his company Malengo at the time,' says Erik Dokter, who stepped down as CEO January 1, 2019, but remained a shareholder. 'Although custom software was provided, all those intranets turned out to be virtually identical. Moreover, they were hardly ever used, and knowledge sharing within organizations was also rare. It was at the time when social media was emerging. We felt that if we could translate the principles of social media into software, we had a very strong proposition. The condition was that it had to contribute to achieving the goals of an organization. With that in mind, we started building.
Peace and play
In September 2011, Embrace knocked on NOM's door. At that time, the company had already realized several prototypes. But to keep experimenting and facilitate the expected growth, funding was needed. 'If we wanted to realize our ambition, we had to spend a long time with several people developing the software and getting it working,' Dokter clarified. 'After we received funding from the NOM, a bank also decided to extend Embrace a credit. That would probably never have happened otherwise. That financial support gave us peace of mind and leeway to further shape Embrace into a platform where all facets of work and communication come together. The trust of NOM and the good conversations with Chantal have undeniably contributed to Embrace's success. Since its founding, we have grown from a small company to an enterprise with 160 employees. By now, our social business software is used by some 350 different clients. Especially larger organizations such as healthcare institutions, municipalities and business service providers.'
MXR Podoblock has also had the wind in its sails for years. The company from Tynaarlo, founded in 2008 by Nico Gorter and Alex Berends, supplies tools for X-ray equipment to equine veterinarians. Berends himself likes to make the comparison with a cell phone. 'We then do not supply the phone that is synonymous with the X-ray receiver, but only the accessories,' he says. Once, the two founders were colleagues at an equine veterinary practice. Gorter was a farrier, Berends a veterinary assistant. They regularly took x-rays of horses together. To make their work easier, lighter, but above all safer and faster, they developed their own tools. The response was so positive that they decided to start a business. Since then, things have gone lightning fast. Indeed, MXR Podoblock, which now has seven employees, has become a leading player in the world market.
The first contacts with NOM date from the spring of 2012. 'We were growing explosively,' Berends explains. 'All over Europe our products were being purchased. But we had also gained a foothold in the United States. The NOM indicated its willingness to help us finance the growth. It was the beginning of a smooth and pleasant cooperation.
I have experienced NOM as a committed organization that leaves you completely free as an entrepreneur. You don't have to justify every choice. However, if necessary and always in good consultation, Chantal did occasionally make adjustments and contributed ideas about strategic and organizational challenges. NOM is considerably more than just a lender. We appreciated that enormously and it brought us a lot.' In October 2017, Nico Gorter passed away. This loss logically had a major impact on Berends, privately and professionally. 'For almost a decade we had built a company together,' he says. 'We knew exactly what we had to offer each other. Suddenly I was on my own. After a period of panic-footing and a company move were over, I decided to say goodbye to old working methods and implement an automation drive. To steer that process in the right direction, I regularly sparred with Chantal. As a result, internally we are again completely ready to continue the growth of MXR Podoblock.'
Besides pride, there is also a slight sense of wistfulness, Leijendekker confesses. 'Because an exit means saying goodbye to each other. NOM's role is then over. On the one hand, that is quite unfortunate. During the term of the funding we did build a bond with each other. But of course what prevails by far is that we leave Embrace and MXR Podoblock healthy after the exit.'