Sharkmark makes organizational improvement fun and practical
  • Becoming Investor Ready

Sharkmark makes organizational improvement fun and practical

Letting employees discover, develop and perpetuate their organization's improvement potential through play. That is, in essence, the concept of SharkMark. After intensive coaching by Flinc, the Groningen-based software company is ready to take the (international) market by storm.

Organizational improvement and process optimization. No, they are not exactly popular topics at birthdays or receptions right now. But even people who have gone through such processes are often not the best ambassadors. And that while employees are the improvement experts par excellence. However, when you talk to those same people about sports and games, a totally different dynamic emerges. Then they become sympathetic and enthusiastic.

With this in mind, Lammert van der Wal founded the company SharkMark. Based in the city of Groningen, SharkMark creates mobile games as a tool for organizational improvement practitioners such as managers, consultants and trainers.

'We develop so-called serious games, intended to mobilize the improvement expertise of employees and above all to make organizational improvement fun and practical,' Lammert clarifies. 'Everything indicates that a game contains mechanisms that increase people's intrinsic motivation and involvement. This ensures that information sticks better and longer. With SharkMark we try to make the best possible use of this.

Lots of potential

A pilot at the UMCG clearly showed that the concept has great potential. It was now a matter of getting the products ready for the market and successfully introducing them to the target group. Good support was more than welcome.

Lammert had been working alone since the start and over time was running up against the limits of his capacity. But above all, in order to further develop the products and roll out its growth ambitions, SharkMark needed additional funding. Through Triade (UMCG's investment fund), one of his company's shareholders, he came into contact with Flinc.

What followed was an intensive and fruitful collaboration. 'There was a business plan, but it was not yet investor-ready,' says Flinc's coordinator Ellen Ploeger, 'so before we could match the company with financiers, the plan had to be tightened up considerably.

Lammert's drive was not to be faulted, I soon noticed. He does not let himself get off track and can get stuck into anything. Moreover, he is Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certified, proof that he has proven and recent experience in implementing improvement projects. He understands what is going on within organizations.

Sharkmark makes organizational improvement fun and practical

So his content background aligns well with the products SharkMark intends to offer. Its connection to the market, on the other hand, could be improved in certain areas.

Earnings model

Lammert and Ellen went from appointment to appointment. The concept was constantly tested with potential target groups. And again and again the business plan had to be adjusted. 'With every choice I had to make, Ellen gave me excellent help,' Lammert reflects. 'It was a powerful collaboration in which we quickly understood each other. Ellen always continued to believe in the concept. I appreciated that enormously. A main point of attention in our sessions was the earnings model.

Excel is willing, which makes it easy to count yourself rich. But the customer has to be willing to pay for it. For example, I initially came up with an expensive four-day training course with an expensive license behind it. But the market was not waiting for that. After frequent sparring, we finally settled on selling subscriptions based on the number of players of the game in question.'

Successful funding

The next step was to find the right financiers. To that end, Flinc has a large network of investors. 'It always starts with looking at exactly what an entrepreneur needs,' Ellen explains. Then I investigate which investor fits that need. During this process Lammert made a teaser, which was used to arouse the interest of investors.'

With success, because in addition to Triade, Stichting Telematica and G-Force Capital also showed their willingness to step into SharkMark. Fund manager Marco de Jong of G-Force, a fund for start-ups in the ICT sector in the province of Groningen, was immediately enthusiastic, he says.' A very strong concept that responds maximally to two important trends: gamification and operationalizing strategies.

In addition, it is scalable, making the concept easy to roll out internationally as well. But just as important is the belief in the entrepreneur. Lammert has a mix of expertise in him that you rarely come across.'


SharkMark recently launched the game JUNGOO Lean, the successor to the Lean Scene Investigation developed a few years ago. In JUNGOO Lean, a combination of crowdsourcing and gamification, participants help a lean consultant put their own organization in order in a playful manner. Utrecht-based FTE Group has already indicated that it will use the game as a tooling and incorporate it into their training courses. SharkMark recently signed a partnership with the consultancy firm, which employs more than 100 consultants.