Note from the author: This list would have been a lot longer if I hadn’t given the founders a limit of one memory per year.
1999 – Dare to try
This is the year it all began for Jeroen and Gilbert. They’d come up with the idea to use SMS to reach groups. More specifically, visitors of clubs and discotheques. Besides the dive into entrepreneurship being an exiting time full of firsts, perhaps one of the most fun memories to look back on is people saying their idea was a bad idea. Jeroen: “There’s no future in SMS, people said. I guess it’s safe to say by now, it’s a good thing we didn’t listen.”
2000 – We’re in business
On January 14th 2000, Jeroen and Gilbert registered CM.com (then: ClubMessage) in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, the KVK. They started as two students at the Technical University with an idea to target club visitors via SMS, trying to sell their idea to club owners. Gilbert: “Back then, we probably would not have predicted the growth this undertaking would go through, and that even the greatest DJ’s of our time would be lining up to use the CM.com platform in just a few years!”
2001 – Spread the word
The success of mobile messaging (SMS) was noticed not only by clubs and discotheques. The scope of ClubMessage broadened as schools, hospitals and banks also discovered the power of SMS. And it didn’t stop there. Gilbert: “This is when we got our first taste of marketing. Crafting up our own marketing materials, new customers were discovering the power of SMS one by one!”
2002 – When 2 becomes 3
Back in 2002, ClubMessage made their first trip across the border. Besides being a young entrepreneur, Gilbert was also quite the DJ ‘back in the day’ (and he still knows how to get a party started to this very day). “Together with Jan Saan, we took our SMS idea to clubs in Poland under their ‘Dutchified’ aliases Gilbert van Gooijers and Jan van Saan (now CTO).” Even though this endeavor to Poland didn’t last, Jan joined Jeroen and Gilbert at ClubMessage.
2003 – We’re getting too big
“Remember the Prinsenkade in Breda?” In 2003, ClubMessage had already outgrown its first location. So, ClubMessage moved to a bigger venue, at the Konijnenberg in Breda. Jeroen: “This was to become the HQ for a company that would - over the years - gain a foothold in multiple countries across the world. And since then, this Breda HQ expanded into a true CM Campus.”
2004 – A change in menu
“Grilled cheese sandwiches”. In 2004, the current staff of ClubMessage finally had had enough of those everyday grilled cheese sandwiches. “During the first years, this was all we ate”, Gilbert jokes. With the CM Bistro we have today, it’s hard to image not having an entire buffet of freshly made options for lunch. But, staying true to our roots, the grilled cheese sandwich is still on the menu!
2005 – The Trojan Horse
Starting 2005, ClubMessage starts selling its technology to competitors. This proves to be a great move. “Once again, people said we were crazy for doing this, because our technology put us in the lead of our competition.” But the strategy of Jeroen and Gilberts proved successful. By adding their technology into other companies, as if it were the Trojan horse, acquiring these companies shortly after was smooth sailing.
2006 - Fast, fast, fast!
In 2006, we had our debut as one of the 50 fastest growing tech companies in the Netherlands. This listing called the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 is based on percentual growth in revenue over the past 5 years (2001-2005). But ClubMessage didn't only enter the National listing, we even were listed in the EMEA FAST 500. And this debut was definitely not a one-time thing, as we became a recurring name through the years. Gilbert: "The first year, we rented tuxedos for the award ceremony, but once we realised we would become a regular on the list, it was time to buy our own tuxes!"
2007 - I'll race you for it!
“Do you remember the Dakar race in 2007?” They used ClubMessage’s SMS services to send out race updates to large groups of race fans. Reporters, called the DakarPress team joined the ‘roughest race in the world’ with one press jeep, to keep up with all the latest updates. Fans could send an SMS to a dedicated short code of ClubMessage to receive those updates on their mobile phone. Using this service, one single SMS could reach people all over the world who wanted to follow this race in Lisbon, Portugal.
2008 – Never again!
One evening, back in 2008, Jeroen van Glabbeek rushed to Amsterdam in the middle of the night. Jeroen: “That’s where the ClubMessage servers were stationed at the time.” It’s a good thing Jeroen and Jan always take their laptops with them, day and night. Otherwise, they might not have noticed the outage. The server went down, and that of course needed immediate resolution. After 24 hours of uninterrupted work, the solution was almost solved. Almost. Because a final test took them back to square one. 24 hours turned into 36 hours. But the problem was fixed. Jeroen: “To ensure this never happens again, we had the most advanced server space built in Breda. Everything is redundant. So whenever a server were to fail, another server immediately takes over. And over the years, our server park always remained a key priority.”
2009 – What do you mean, we don’t give massages?
Jeroen: “For the first 10 years, our company went by the name ClubMessage. But after 10 years, the name ClubMessage did no longer cut it.” The time where only clubs used our services was long gone. “At one moment when some new carpets could not be delivered because ‘this doesn't seem to be a massage parlor’, it became clear as can be. We need a new name! We’re changing it to CM Telecom”.
2010 - “I need to go feed the chickens!”
This is what Gilbert jokingly said after leaving court back in 2010. Gilbert: “CM Telecom had just won a tender, becoming the SMS partner for 63 Dutch Government entities, including the Police, Burgernet and the general Government. The competition wasn’t happy about this, and tried getting on my nerves by claiming our servers were ‘housed in a henhouse’. Time to start feeding the chickens then!”
2011 – It’s for a good cause
“In 2011, CM Telecom got to do what is so close to its core value, making life more beautiful”, Jeroen explains. “Our SMS solution was used by 3FM Serious Request, a national fund raising event in the Netherlands, organized by the Dutch Red Cross and radio station 3FM.” SMS was used to request songs on 3FM for a small donation for that year’s cause: ‘This one’s for Mama’. The funds were used to help mothers affected by war with essentials such as housing, medical aid, food and water. ‘Because by helping a mother, you can save a family.’ This was a first dive into the world of fund raising for CM Telecom. Since then, this expanded to specialized solutions for the fundraising sector, and a partnership with UNICEF.
2012 – Winning with SMS
By this time, many companies were convinced of SMS’s value to inform customers. But that’s just one of the use cases for mobile messaging. That’s why CM Telecom introduced Mobile Marketing via SMS. Jeroen: “Big brands used our platform for SMS & WIN. Later, this would become a common feature for many brands and media, with TV Voting as one of the most widely adopted ones.”
2013 – Smarty-pants
“In its lifetime, CM.com is a proud winner of multiple of awards, each of which we value a lot'. However, one award we would like to highlight”, Gilbert said. “In 2013, CM Telecom was named ‘Smartest Company of the Netherlands’. Back then, we had 115 people working at CM Telecom; all highly intelligent, skilled people who came to us via friends, family, customers or suppliers.” At the time of writing this article, this number has almost tripled, making innovation and development move even faster!
2014 – This is CM calling
A memorable moment in 2014: CM celebrated its 15th ‘birthday’. Jeroen: “By this time, a lot was happening each day, with new products for Messaging, Voice, Payments, and Authentication being added to the platform, new offices around the world and many memorable campaigns. But the campaign that stands out most may have been the one we did with DJ Nicky Romero.” DJ and producer Nicky Romero’s marketing campaign used CM Telecom’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform and scalable webhosting to win votes for the DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list, using our IVR platform to call millions of fans to vote!
2015 – Score!
Gilbert: “In 2015, we launched a partnership that continued to grow stronger over the years. We became main sponsor of Dutch soccer team NAC Breda. More specifically, our Payments branch called CM Payments became main sponsor.” This not only allowed for us to support the club from our ‘hometown’, but together with NAC, we got to pioneer new solutions for Payments, Messaging, Voice, and Ticketing. From this ‘playground’, numerous innovations emerged!
2016 – MoCo Moments
In succession of our six successful Mobile Convention (MoCo) events in Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Paris and Frankfurt, we launched MoCo Moments in 2016. MoCo Moments is a cross-media platform, an online and offline stage for all mobile experts in the world. Besides MoCo Meetups around the world, our MoCo Moments brought online video content where mobile innovators and industry experts shared their latest insights. Gilbert: “To pick our favourite topic would be a challenge, as there were so many! But let’s not forget how far we got since then,” referring to MoCo’s successor CM Inspires.
2017 – Teaming up with Google
Strategic partnerships have become an important part of our growth and development. In 2017, the start of our partnership with Google, can be seen as the beginning of important partnerships with tech giants from Silicon Valley. Jeroen: “In April, CM joined Google’s Early Access Program for RCS Business Messaging, an initiative which enables businesses to send richer, more useful messages to their customers.”
2018 – Makeover time!
It may be clear, CM Telecom was getting foot on the ground all over the world. With our HQ still in the Netherlands, our international offices and international partnerships, kicked of a great re-branding. “Telecom no longer covers the load of our offerings”, Gilbert says, “That’s when CM Telecom became CM.com. A global brand, with global presence! This re-branding was so much more than just a name. From website to look and feel, we got a total makeover.” And as a cherry on top, CM Inspires was born: our quarterly in-house event where we get enterprises ready for the future of mobile!
2019 – Dutch Grand Prix
Our favorite moment of 2019? Jeroen and Gilbert: “That has to be the moment the Dutch Grand Prix announced the return of the Formula 1 races to the Netherlands” Jeroen and Gilbert were there for the announcement. Why? Because CM.com was announced as one of the main sponsors and the technology partner for the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix. This means CM.com provides the tech behind ticket sales and fan engagement for the Dutch Grand Prix through Conversational Commerce. And with our partnerships with WhatsApp/Facebook, Apple and Google, our vision on Conversational Commerce will become reality in 2020!
We believe this is just the beginning! Want to help build the tech behind inspiring brands such as Dutch Grand Prix? Tell us about your talents and passions, and join us in making a lot more memories together!