“We have a global ambition…we’re here to get something done and change the world”
Very few would argue that electronic invoicing is the sexiest thing in fintech. It can’t match the retail appeal of consumer payments nor does it have the rebellious disposition of virtual currencies – e-invoicing has been around for decades and its evolution has been slow and steady.
It’s this rigidity which makes invoicing a sector ready for disruption and equally one that outright refuses. Market research values the industry at €50 billion euros, with an estimated 135 billion invoices sent every year (11% of those electronic). But with government legislation around the world increasingly warming up to the benefits of electronic invoicing, now looks to be an ideal time to shake up the sector.
I spoke to Jeroen Volk, CEO and Vincent Prooij, CTO about their newest project, InvoiceSharing. It spins off from their years heading up the cloud-ERP firm TBlox in the Netherlands, and they’ve just landed in London looking for the funding and traction required for global success.
“We believe in an open and connected world – sharing makes companies successful, we believe ‘sharing is the new having’”
InvoiceSharing principally offers free electronic invoicing, but it also markets itself as a more fully-featured package. Jeroen quickly informs me that the company now presents itself as ‘The Financial Services Marketplace (with 100% free e-invoicing)’. A recent re-jigging of the company’s motto is revealing of its big ambitions but the team inform me that invoicing is just the ‘heart’ of a marketplace which offers many more tools.
Another of the tenets of InvoiceSharing is its all-encompassing, open platform.
‘We didn’t want to focus on big, big companies and then try and force the system down to all the suppliers. We don’t believe in forcing, because users don’t want that. We believe you have to build a system which everybody wants to use,’ says Jeroen.
Using InvoiceSharing requires clients to sign up and upload their invoices. With the cooperation of suppliers and customers they can soon find themselves operating in a paper-free environment. Getting everyone onboard with the same process has long been a pain point of electronic invoicing – to counter this InvoiceSharing bundles with it an invite tool to simplify the process.
The plan for growth is viral. Targeting first the firms who receive a large number of invoices and moving on to to their suppliers. By partnering with third-party firms they offer a number of premium ‘add-on’ services as well as the ability to connect with all accounting and ERP systems. Add-ons include but aren’t limited to: invoice financing, online payments and advanced reporting.
“We came from an industry where for many years we saw inefficient processes”
Vincent, 34, is the former CTO of TBlox and has a knack for creating high-performance systems. In 2002 when working for Deutsche Post/DHL he built a web application on his desktop that spawned into the first global intranet management information system.
‘I was a little rebel in the company building stuff on my computer that wasn’t allowed’ he laughs.
Jeroen, 41, has a history in finance and accounting, previously of Crucell, a biotechnology firm based in Netherlands. It was during during this position that Vincent stepped into the Crucell offices contracted to another company – after this chance meeting and a few years, they created TBlox.
‘So you won’t be working in a big office again?’ I ask.
‘That was 10 years ago.’ laughs Jeroen. ‘That’s certainly not my mission,’ agrees Vincent.
So what is the mission?
“We want to help companies, we want to help them be successful by connecting with them, sharing with them and being open,” they finish.