iWelcome is an international leader in virtual identity and access management products, and owes its success in part to investment fund Newion through the Seed Capital scheme.
Danny de Vreeze’s company is ambitious and determined to expand. Next year they plan to increase their sales division and to raise iWelcome’s profile in the European market.
iWelcome enables companies to regulate access by staff and clients to their IT systems and online services. ‘Providing user-friendly, safe and manageable access at low cost can be a complex challenge for large companies and government departments,’ De Vreeze explains. ‘The information may also be privacy-sensitive. So in addition to providing access, we ensure that the environment is safe.’
Still, it’s a fine line – especially when clients have access to a platform. ‘Systems often store a lot of valuable data. Managing that efficiently enables companies to improve their services to clients. At the same time, privacy must be guaranteed completely. With our technology we deliver both.’
When De Vreeze started iWelcome in 2012, he realised that his clients needed a robust environment. ‘We are at the core of our client’s IT so we always have to be on. Without iWelcome, users cannot access their applications and services. Creating a cloud platform guaranteeing non-stop access required solid investment at an early stage in iWelcome’s development. While for initial and subsequent development we used the WBSO scheme, for a robust financial injection we turned to Newion.’
Good market position
‘In return for a minority stake, Newion invested € 2.3 million of its capital. iWelcome received around € 800,000 from Newion Investments Capital Early Stage Seed fund (Dutch), financed by a € 4 million techno-partner financial deal. Along with investments by other shareholders (Filsa and PPM Oost) we have managed to establish a good market position,’ De Vreeze continues.
iWelcome found Newion to be a hands-on investor. ‘We specialise in investing in IT companies,’ says Newion’s Patrick Polak. ‘We follow around 1,800 companies in the Benelux countries in order to make considered assessments. We are especially interested in relatively new firms with potential for growth, like iWelcome, and take a minority holding in these companies. Usually we like to get in early: as soon as the development phase is complete and the product is ready for the market. Then Newion examines the product and the plans. We also speak to existing and future clients and test the product.’
Polak explains that investments depend on more than just financial and technical data. ‘It’s also about the feeling you get from a business owner. It’s like a corporate marriage: you have to believe in each other and trust each other. Transparency – even in hard times – is essential. When De Vreeze came to us for support, it felt right from the start. He’s a passionate businessman; he has an enormous drive and professional nous. And he never paints things any rosier than they are.’
De Vreeze will be needing that perseverance in the coming years, because it isn’t enough that analysts Gartner and KuppingerCole have acclaimed his company a worldwide product leader. ‘We want to upgrade commercially and market our product better. So we borrowed € 1,200,000 from ING Bank.’ ING lent the sum as an Innovative Guarantee Credit (in Dutch: “Innovatief Borgstellingskrediet”, IBSK) under the MKB Credit Guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized businesses (BMKB). IBSKs offer wider possibilities for innovative companies.
‘Without government support through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) we would probably never have succeeded,’ says De Vreeze. ‘Banks consider the risks first and are extremely conservative, even if government provides extra security. RVO.nl’s proactive support, in this phase too, has helped us significantly. It will enable us to expand our activities to other European countries in the coming years and to develop iWelcome further.’