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When you grow from your strength and passion, it is real and enduring’

What do you get when you put a banker, a techie and an aircraft engineer together with the right dose of inspiration? Right, then you get OptimaData, the full-service multi-platform data (base) service provider. In this article, Gerard Zuidweg, Edco Wallet and Martijn Wallet look back on five years of OptimaData.

Edco Wallet

Co-Founder & eigenaar
Edco Wallet - Co-Founder & eigenaar

Three different careers come together

Edco: “Our careers started completely different. Gerard is a former banker, my brother Martijn studied aeronautical engineering, and my career started in engineering. I started as a mechanic at Xafax Netherlands, a company that dealt in payment card systems for schools, but after a few years the commuting distance broke me up and I ended up at secondment agency United Technical Solutions. Suddenly I was on the other side of the table, deploying mechanics to different companies.

That role was right up my alley: negotiating prices, salaries, terms and conditions. Bringing supply and demand together, that came naturally to me. I climbed within UTS and later joined parent company USG as Operational Manager. There I was asked to set up a new secondment label, aimed at employment mediation in the technical sector.

To build that from the ground up was super fun, but as fun and challenging as it was, at some point my expiration date there had passed. Then I also set up an IT secondment label for the Nováccent Group. With my experience in the secondment market and having successfully set up a secondment label twice, I ended up as a relationship manager at Pay for People, a specialist in back office services. There I laid the foundation for taking relationship management to the next level, but after about two years the cake was over as far as I was concerned. It was time for the next step, but what?

Tidy type

Martijn Wallet

Martijn: “When I graduated in aircraft engineering in 1997, Fokker had just gone bankrupt. The aircraft industry was not very vibrant, while the IT industry was just completely revived. I felt like a fish in the water there and so began my career in IT. Soon I was asked to become a Database Administrator (DBA) and that’s how I got into the world of databases. It is also a profession that suits me: I am a tidy type, work very neatly and am quite a perfectionist.

Qualities that belong to a DBA. I did discover that if you are a DBA at a company, at a certain point you can dream of their database. After a foray into ABN AMRO, I decided to freelance. As a freelancer, you’re free to choose your clients, and it made better money too. When the banking crisis hit, I landed a permanent job at Nováccent Group, a company that offered database consulting and managed services to companies. There I was also introduced to open source databases.

In the end, I still felt more comfortable freelancing. Through a friend, I met Gerard. In 2014, with five entrepreneurs, we set up PageLoad, a company that offered solutions for optimally performing mobile and desktop websites. Behind every website is a database, and that’s where I was set up with my expertise. A great experience, but five captains on one ship, that didn’t work in the long run.’

A bright future for database technology

Gerard ZuidwegGerard: As a former banker, I worked at ABN AMRO for many years. Starting as a trainee, I ended up in the Management Team Netherlands for Business through all kinds of line and management positions. In my final years within the bank, I saw the banking world change rapidly.

I saw those things I liked, the customer side, relationship management, gradually disappear and the bank became more and more of an IT organization. I then moved to a startup in Fintech, but there I missed the connection with the customer. Around that time I met Martijn and PageLoad came my way. With Pageload we managed to bring in great clients and projects and set up a successful company in a short time.

However, the importance of Pageload’s specialty, Web site optimization, was quickly overtaken by technical and market developments. However, we did see that database technology was the future.’

The seed was planted

Martijn: “When we realized that, the seed was born that later became called OptimaData. Gerard and I discussed our ideas and soon came to the conclusion that the core is in finding the right people. That really is a profession in its own right.

But where do you find a good recruiter who also wants to be an entrepreneur. Well, sometimes you look for a horse and sit on it. Edco was the best in his field, and when we asked him, it turned out to be perfect timing: he was ready for something else. That’s how the three of us started OptimaData.’

Together through a door

Edco Wallet

Edco: “When Martijn called me, I was immediately interested. But first I had to meet Gerard, we didn’t know each other and if you want to start a company, you have to be able to get through the same door together.

Fortunately there was an instant click, we soon felt we had the same thing in mind. All three of us are very different, but that is precisely our strength.


Martijn: ‘It’s our strength, but it also had to set in at the beginning. Together with a coach, we discovered that OptimaData is the result of our joint strength, precisely because we complement each other so well. Yes, we had to learn to get along, but once we do, you only strengthen each other. OptimaData would never have become what it is today if one of us three had left.

Added value for the customer

Gerard: “The coaching process helped us understand each other better. What I like to see is that what binds us, from day one, is the desire to really add value for the customer. We do that based on long-term commitment, from a family feeling.

We possess a great deal of knowledge and expertise, but are approachable and communicatively very flexible. That is also what we want to be and to radiate, no matter how fast we grow. That added value for the customer is the drive of everyone who works here. When the customer calls, we are there for it, without exception.’

Quickly putting the finger on the sore spot

Gerard: “Sometimes I am really amazed by our people. A customer has a problem, they organize a call and within half an hour they have put their finger on the sore spot. The problem is not solved immediately, but the solution is on the table very quickly. I find that very clever. I also notice it in all our people, they are all proud to work here. The informal working atmosphere and the open, transparent culture appeals to all of us.

Database expertise increasingly relevant

Gerard: “Quite a lot has changed in recent years. About five years ago our focus was still on the long-term secondment of our DBAs, but today we deploy our experts part-time at organizations. We are more concerned with adding value to all developments within an organization than purely supplying hands. And Cloud developments of course also bring about a big change. What does it mean when soon that computer will no longer be under the customer’s desk, but somewhere in the Cloud in America? But we do not fear these developments.

Our added value will remain necessary in every situation. If not from the availability of systems, then from the efficiency drive, from the accountant. When I see large companies switching completely to the Cloud, I think: what are you hanging yourself on? Then at least make sure you have the knowledge to steer yourself, otherwise you become completely dependent on such a Cloud provider.’

Expanding skillset

Martijn: “That is why it is so important that we continue to develop. We are professionals in IT and we must remain so. If you hand everything over to cloud providers, you run a big risk. The knowledge and experience of a DBA is still needed.

If it is not for solving complex problems or major disruptions, then it is when making infrastructure choices or setting up data models. That is why we are constantly looking around us to see how we can sharpen our database expertise. I can really look forward to that, to expanding our set of skills even further.


Gerard: “Whatever the developments are going to be, the most important thing is that we maintain the character of our company. This is important for us as management, but also for our employees. The people on the floor are our assets, not the managers. Managers tend quite often to want to shine, while experts tend to be introverted.

But they are the ones who make our company. I am far outnumbered here, as the only manager. Martijn has a job, Edco has a job, the guys have a job, I kind of stick it all together. I envy them for their craftsmanship, for how deep they can dive into things, but I do bring the vision, the connection, which is also important.’

Growth from strength and passion

Edco: “It is nice to see how we have all taken our roles, but that we have now also arranged everything in such a way that the business does continue if one of us is not there. That is good for the future of the company and that is what we want to continue in the coming years: working more on our business than in our business. After all, when you grow, you have to be able to step back.

Growth, by the way, is not our goal; that growth comes from having fun. If you think from growth, it is fleeting; if you grow from your strength and passion, it is real and enduring.


Martijn - Gerard - Edco

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