Klippa crosses borders thanks to renewed focus
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Klippa crosses borders thanks to renewed focus

Entrepreneurship is about making choices: a common mantra. "Focus, focus, focus. So this was the advice Bart-Jan Maatman and his Klippa associates received frequently during their funding process. A trip to Switzerland eventually brought solace. The men made a difficult but important choice. And now look back.

'Way ahead of our time'

In May 2018, the trio knocked on NOM's door for funding for their Digibon: the solution that would make paper receipts obsolete. Because paper is expensive, unsustainable and, especially for entrepreneurs, rather labor-intensive when it comes to their administration. From that frustration, Digibon was born in 2015. The software that allows receipts to be sent to a mobile device grew out of an app that the startup had previously launched: Klippa app digitizes entrepreneurs' paper receipts. Whereas Klippa was the band-aid on the wound, Digibon was supposed to heal that wound. But the national rollout turned out not to be the right timing. Bart-Jan Maatman: "We were rather ahead of our time with the idea behind Digibon. It is still our dream to replace all paper receipts and we are very happy that so many customers have already started doing so. For example, last year van der Valk was chosen as the Dutch Customer Champion 2019 by KPMG and the use of Digibon contributed to that. But it just didn't appear to be the right time to roll it out more widely.' NOM decided not to finance. Maatman and associates went back to the drawing board.

Swiss knots

'Where Digibon didn't get traction fast enough, Klippa went like a rocket. In particular, our optical character recognition (OCR) proved to be in high demand, because we are very strong in terms of quality,' Maatman said. Klippa has therefore also made this so-called 'scan and recognize' technique available as an API. External parties can thus use it in their own software. 'During a trip to Switzerland we cut the knot for ourselves: our focus would be on Klippa. Our shareholders and Advisory Board were very supportive. It helped that we had taken a break from our daily routine. Then you see the world with a little more distance. A world without receipts is still our dream, but only if the world is more ready for it and there are better preconditions.

Klippa crosses borders thanks to renewed focus


'Klippa stands like a house'

So they are not letting go of Digibon entirely. But the renewed focus on Klippa quickly paid off: with this strategy NOM decided to invest. Klaas Kooistra, Investment Manager: 'A good entrepreneur knows focus, but also flexibility and the courage to make choices. I also see this as a very strong point at Klippa: it was not an easy decision to shift the focus to Klippa. That this choice is now translating into strong growth does not surprise me: besides an excellent team, Klippa also has an excellent product, the OCR technology is the best in the market and has a lot of growth potential.' This financial space is being used to further develop the technology, but also to expand the sales team. And in this, Klippa is taking an important step: they are crossing the border.

Hot plate, no refrigerator

Says Maatman, "We deliberately started looking for international additions to our team so that it became easier to start looking for customers outside the Netherlands. We have now reaped the first fruits of this. We have clients in France, Spain, Belgium and the UK, among others. Our ambition now is to have the best OCR technology in all of Europe to become the number one document processor in Europe.

We really see the EU as one market, and we are ready in terms of technology and people to fulfill this ambition.' It secretly hurt a little, letting go of the original dream. Although Maatman likes to nuance that: 'Digibon is not in the refrigerator, rather on a hot plate. As soon as it's time, we'll throw up the heat. But for now this is smarter, we quickly agreed. Also because ultimately we all want to build a beautiful company with smart, ambitious people who can fully develop in a short period of time and from whom we also learn. And that with customers from all over Europe as far as we are concerned. We are looking forward to it.

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