How was Smartdc founded?
For many years I worked at APC. I was responsible for the data center facilities of large Enterprise customers. After that, I started working at TCN as a rental manager. Among other things, I managed a data center location in Rotterdam. When I worked at TCN, I met Stijn Koster, the founder of i3D.net, a managed hosting provider and co-founder of Smartdc.
After the bankruptcy of TCN, Stijn and I kept in touch and later decided to start a data center in Rotterdam together. From the point of view of his company, he knew what he wanted from his own data center. And with my years of experience, I contributed with relevant knowledge about the industry. Together, we made a business plan and went to the bank to present the ideas for building our own data center. We also hired an external financier ourselves.
Where does the Smartdc name come from?
I came up with the name Smartdc while I was writing the business plan. The nice thing about starting your own business is that you can come up with a name yourself. Smartdc is a catchy name and tells who we are and what we do. It’s a smart data center because it’s innovative, modular, and scalable. In addition, Smartdc stands for transparency, hence the glass walls; customers can immediately see what’s inside upon arrival.
How did you find the location at the Van Nelle Factory?
Stijn was already looking for a private data center location at that time. One that caught his eye was the historic Van Nelle Factory. I have some business relations in the energy sector, so I requested information about various buildings in the area. The Van Nelle Factory is connected to the industrial 23kV network, which is much less susceptible to interference than the 10 kV network used by Rotterdam households and companies.
What is your first memory of Smartdc?
The moment that we founded the B.V., that’s what made the plan tangible. I can still see an empty distribution center growing into a data center, which made me very proud.
What was the most memorable moment for you?
Moving the data center in was very exciting and spectacular to see.
What were your expectations when you started with Smartdc?
I have always wanted to have my own company; it’s in my DNA. When we founded Smartdc, we expected a very modest growth perspective of 5% annually. And that 5% has become 50%. The expectations were somewhat reserved, but the results are spectacular.
To what extent has that expectation come true?
All of them have been exceeded. In 2014 we expanded to our second Smartdc location in Heerlen. Financially, we are solid – the cash flow is always positive, so that is very healthy. If you had told me 10 years ago that Smartdc would be what it is now, I wouldn’t have taken you seriously at all. I expected half of what we achieved.
So, it’s been 10 years. What makes you the proudest?
10 years ago, we had the idea, “let’s build a data center!” – we succeeded, and it’s been going very well. I’m most proud of that. If you have a good idea, find people who share your vision, and you can create something extraordinary.
At the end of 2017, we gave a thorough makeover to the Smartdc front desk. It has undergone a complete metamorphosis, making it one of the world’s most modern and open data centers. Many customers go “wow” when they enter the building. July 4, 2019, is the 10th anniversary of the data center, which makes me very proud!
How do you see the future for Smartdc? Do you already have specific plans?
At the end of 2018, we’ve been acquired by Ubisoft, a leading publisher of popular video games. This gives us more international opportunities. How cool would it be if we could also expand Smartdc with international locations? We have a bright future to look forward to!