Simplicate recently landed a €1 million investment to conquer the rest of the world with their easy to use SaaS platform for small and medium businesses. And even though the startup was able to get funding within six months, landing investors proved to be an art in and of itself.
Simple and smart software that seamlessly works with the way you run your business. Customer contact, project management, billing and hours, it doesn’t have to be boring or overly complicated. In fact, it should be be the exact opposite of complicated. That’s the philosophy founders Peter Hager and Gerard Loode were going for when they came up with their software.
“With a lot of software, it’s like buying a car and then having to build everything yourself”, Gerard explains. “So we thought, let’s just offer companies a great and affordable car that’s ready to go the moment they buy it.”
Gerard and Peter were working with a consultancy firm before founding Simplicate. “I got the idea when I noticed all these companies really struggled with finding good software. You’d be surprised how many of them were manually adding data in Excel for something like client contact, and then having to do exactly the same thing over and over again every step of the way, all the way up to invoicing”, Peter explains. “That’s so much extra work and a lot of data getting lost in the process.”
They started Simplicate as a side project in 2013. “Really nothing romantic or intriguing about our story”, Peter laughs. “We just worked everything out in our spare time and decided to work on it fulltime about a year ago.”
The art of finding investors
After six months of talking to several investors, they teamed up with the Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM). “The NOM was a great match really”, says Peter. “We want to think big. That sounds like a big cliché, but it’s far easier said than done. Especially if you’re a startup in need of investors.”
“We were actually lucky to find investors in six months. I think on average, really promising startups easily spend over a year and a half finding the right investors”, Peter continues. “It’s an art in and of itself, and you’ll need to learn a lot. Sometimes finding investors feels like a paradox, you know? Investors want to bet on a sure thing, so as a startup, you already need to be pretty successful to be considered and you might not need funding at that point anymore.”
So what’s the trick? “It’s not just about being able to show traction and profit”, Peter explains. It’s far more important that you can prove to them that you’ve fully mastered all the different aspects of running a business. And that’s also vitally important for yourself. Otherwise, when you get funding, all you’re doing is postponing your problems for maybe another year or two.”
“You also need to really read up on what kind of investments there are and what kind you need”, Peter continues. “There’s Seed Funding, Series A, Late Stage, Early Stage, enough to give you a headache just thinking about it!” He laughs. “We really learned a lot by talking to so many different investors, caught up pretty quickly and figured out what was right for us.”
So what will their recently acquired million Big Ones be used for? “We want to take Simplicate to the international market, but, first things first, our software has to work like a charm, with nothing but super satisfied people using our software. We want to grow explosively right here in the Netherlands before we start taking things across the border.”