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Interview with Managing Director Richard Boogaard
This year, Smartdc celebrates its 10th anniversary. In this interview, Richard Boogaard looks back on the 10th anniversary of Smartdc.
How was the foundation of Smartdc achieved?
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. Stijn Koster is the founder of i3D.net, a managed hosting provider, and also co-founder of Smartdc.
After the bankruptcy of TCN, Stijn and I kept in touch. We then decided to start a data center in Rotterdam together. My knowledge and experience was a good match with Stijn’s ideas. From Stijn’s company (i3D.net) point of view, he had many ideas about the requirements and wishes of his own data center. With my own years of experience, I was able to contribute with my relevant knowledge about the data center industry. Together we made a business plan and we 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 for it yourself. Smartdc is a catchy name and tells who we are and what we do. We are a smart data center because we have built in an innovative, modular and scalable way. In addition, Smartdc stands for transparency, hence the glass walls; customers can immediately see what we have inside the data center upon arrival in the entrance.
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 of those locations 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 was a very suitable location where sufficient energy was available. This is because the data center is connected to the 23kV network of the port of Rotterdam and is situated next to the railways. This energy network is much less susceptible to interference than the “normal” 10 kV network to which all regular Rotterdam households and companies are connected.
What is your first memory of Smartdc?
My first memory is the moment that we founded the B.V., that moment made the plan tangible. In addition, I have the image of how an empty distribution center grew into a data center still on my mind. At the start you see it continue to expand and grow. That was great to see.
What was the most memorable moment for you?
The most memorable thing has been the move, which 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; I think that is something that is in your DNA. When we founded Smartdc, we set out a very defensive growth perspective with an annual growth of 5%. 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 expectations have been exceeded. In 2014 we even opened our second Smartdc location in Heerlen. Financially, we are a very strong company. The cash flow is always positive, so that is very positive. If you had told me 10 years ago that Smartdc is what it is now, I wouldn’t have taken you seriously at all. I expected that half of what is now there would be.
Today, we are now 10 years later. What are you most proud of?
10 years ago, we had the idea, let’s build a data center! 1: it succeeded and 2: it also worked out incredibly well. I’m most proud of that. If you have a good idea, you know how to find people around you who also see a living and you are looking for your strong partners, you can turn anything into something great.
In addition, at the end of 2017 we gave the entrance to Smartdc a thorough makeover. Smartdc has undergone a complete metamorphosis, making it one of the most modern and open data centers in the world. Many customers now really have a “wow” feeling when they enter the building. On July 4, 2019 we will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the data center, which I am also very proud of!
How do you see the future for Smartdc? Do you already have specific plans?
At the end of 2018 we got acquired by Ubisoft, a leading publisher of popular video games. This will give us more international opportunities. How cool would it be if we could also expand Smartdc with international locations? The future will tell, at least something to look forward to!