#FounderFriday: Marlon van Dijk

Female Angels | Money Raised | Ep. 3
1st February 2019
Article: Leadership Belongs to Those Who Take it
6th February 2019

Marlon van Dijk has been involved with Sinzer since the early start of the company in 2008. Since 2012, she is appointed director and co-owner of the business. The company is specialized in consultancy focused on a) impact strategy, b) impact research and c) impact management. Sinzer was taken over by Grant Thornton in January 2019 ánd has joint TheNextWomen’s pitch competition in 2015. We’re therefore happy to feature them in this edition of #FounderFriday.

What milestones have you reached & lessons have you learnt ever since participating in TheNextWomen Pitch Competition?

Sinzer (formally known as social e-valuator™) was launched in 2008. We introduced the first online tool for social impact measurement (using the Social Return on Investment methodology). Since measuring and managing social impact was (and perhaps still is) still in it’s early days, we’ve learned a lot in the first five years and tried to incorporate all new lessons learned into a new product that would allow users to adapt to new methodologies and metrics for social impact measurement using our tool.

We launched Sinzer in 2014 as the integrated solution for impact management with launching customers ABN 

AMRO Social Impact Fund, Cordaid Investments, Ecorys and VSB Foundation. In 2017/2018 we repositioned Sinzer as a consultancy firm – using various supportive tools, not only our own solution – and noticed an enormous growth in our turnover. Being adaptive is my main lesson learned. Looking backwards, the investments in our product can rather be seen as a an investment in marketing which enabled us to become an international thought leader on this topic.

How did the acquisition of Sinzer by Grant Thornton come about?

We presented our services and products for impact management at an event late 2017. An advisor of the Board of Directors of Grant Thornton Netherlands was present at this presentation. His job was to scout new fast growing businesses on several strategic themes in which Grant Thornton wanted to expand, one of these themes is ‘sustainability’. He made an appointment with us and not much later (January 2018) we had our first meeting with one of the board members of Grant Thornton. There was a natural ‘click’ and we decided to organize a ‘business match’ meeting, in which we presented our strategy, services, products and main clients to two members of the board of Grant Thornton and they did the same. We noticed a lot of synergy, since Grant Thornton has the knowledge around managing and accounting for financial value and at Sinzer we have the same only then for non-financial value. We firmly believe that businesses should be ‘accountable’ for the both the financial and non-financial value they create (or destroy).

Not much later, I’ve decided to take 2 months off and walk the Camino – 1.100 km from Le Puy en Velay (FR) to Santiago de Compostela (ESP) – to think about this potential acquisition. Once I got back, we started the negotiations with our other shareholders and came to an agreement. The due diligence took place and after that we’ve signed the SPA and closed the deal!

Where do you hope to be in 5 years from now?

Currently I am a partner at Grant Thornton and we want to successfully integrate Sinzer within Grant Thornton. I firmly believe that having GT as our shareholder helps us to professionalize the social and environmental impact management industry and that we can have a bigger impact under their wings. Our BHAG in 2018 was “all organizations have a ‘social and environmental impact management and accounting system’ in place. We might get there one day! I think 5 years might not be enough though.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

“Hope is not a strategy” , that’s what my business coach (Erik Seppenwoolde) once said to me.

What’s the best advice you can give our members? 

Never give up.