Meet Tom de Ridder

Never be afraid to go all-in 

My name is Tom and I live with my girlfriend Kim on our farm in Drenthe, by far the loveliest province in the Netherlands. Because we live a long way from Utrecht, I drive a round trip of around 320 kilometers to and from work every day. So I think can justifiably claim to be ValueBlue’s long-distance record holder with 90,000 kilometers a year! I’m 45 years old and I was born in Driebergen-Rijsenburg. It can get very busy at home, because I have 3 children: Robyn (17), Timo (15) and Eva (12). And my girlfriend Kim, the love of my life, has another 3: Brian (21), Tom (16) and Vince (14). 

I really admire Bill Gates. In my eyes, he’s an absolute genius of our time. It’s not for nothing that I’m called a “Microsoft fanboy” by my colleagues: my love for Microsoft products knows no bounds… I like most kinds of food: but not too spicy because I don’t want to punish my taste buds. I prefer meat dishes. And I have an unhealthy relationship with mayonnaise 😉! 

“Fear leads to the dark side”. I know, a corruption of what Yoda would say, but I think my version sounds better. What I mean to say is that you must never be afraid to go all-in with something new. 

“I think that’s it, Tom. When can you start?” 

I studied Business Information Science at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht. In 1997, a classmate helped me get a summer job at VAI (the company that Wilko launched in that same year). I liked it so much that I applied for a full-time job there. In February 1998 I had my “job interview” with Wilko. It wasn’t really an interview… After I introduced myself, Wilko talked for 45 minutes about his ideas and plans for VAI. At the end of those 45 minutes he said: “I think that’s it, Tom. When can you start?” I had lots of interesting experiences at VAI (and later BRAIN FORCE), did lots of different jobs, from technical consultant to package engineer to development manager. I had a great time. 

When Wilko asked me in mid-2010 if I’d like to start a company with him, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Until the launch in January 2011, most evenings (besides our day jobs: me still at BRAIN FORCE and Wilko at Atos) we were busy giving shape to our ideas about ValueBlue (but we hadn’t come up with that name yet). We held our first company meeting in a restaurant on the A28 motorway.  

Except for the three years that Wilko worked at Atos, we’ve been working together for almost 20 years in one way or another. When I think about it, that’s pretty special. I have other ValueBlue colleagues from that time too: Henk and Dennis, with whom I’ve been working since 2000. 

I really enjoy connecting product, solution and the customer’s needs 

ValueBlue has grown into an amazing company with fantastic, passionate people! I really couldn’t have imagined it 9 years ago. I think it’s truly amazing that we’ve become a software company based on our earlier proposition as a consultancy company.  

My passion is software development and to evangelize our product (which I also did at BRAIN FORCE). I’m a nerd, I love technology. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the combination of technology and using that technology for customers really suits me. I really enjoy connecting the product, the solution and the customer’s needs. 

I like to be busy 

I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved with BlueDolphin. Did you know that the first version of BlueDolphin was already available in a beta version in 2011? A set of Silverlight components on top of SharePoint services. Not really scalable… In 2014, we started with the version of BlueDolphin as we now know it. BlueDolphin is becoming more beautiful and more powerful all the time, thanks to the enormous effort that we as a company are investing in it. It’s amazing to see it happening and to be part of it! 

I’ve always been involved with the product and our ideas about BlueDolphin, but I’ve actually been part of the DevOps team since late 2018. So I’m working on the platform under BlueDolphin, which runs on Microsoft Azure. I also play the role of CISO. Security and compliancy are hugely important for BlueDolphin. As a SaaS solution in the public cloud, we’re carefully checked on all fronts, especially in terms of security and continuity. That’s why these two roles combine so well. I recently started doing pre-sales too. I like to be busy 😉. 

An enthusiastic club of fifty people 

In 5 years’ time, we’ll be world leader with BlueDolphin in the field of Enterprise Architecture collaboration. Then we’ll be a trend-setter in our feature set and the way EA and the related areas are used to achieve the maximum effect in large and medium-sized organizations, both nationally and internationally. We’ll also be a lot bigger then, I think, but hopefully with the same sense of fun, passion and effort that we have now. 

I’m proud of our company and the people who’ve made it what it is. From two people in 2011 to the passionate club of fifty that’s now working at ValueBlue, with our fantastic product and the journey to the future that we’re making together. I think it’s all absolutely amazing.