With Smapone, apps can be built without any prior programming knowledge. After his completed financing round, founder Sven Zuschlag tells us in an interview what he plans to do with the money and what's next for his start-up.
Sven Zuschlag, has every reason to be satisfied when he appears in front of his computer screen. He has just been able to collect 20 million euros in a financing round. The investors could hardly be more prominent: Paul Achleitner is among them, as are Achim Berg and Jan Klatten - and soccer star Thomas Müller has also invested in Smapone. In an interview, the founder tells us what he hopes for from the new investors and what the future holds for his start-up.
Mr. Zuschlag, you started Smapone to make it easier for companies to digitize their processes. But why should they go to you and not just SAP?
Because it makes a difference whether you buy your child a scale model car from a specialist shop or give him a Lego construction kit and he can assemble his own car. With Smapone, we want everyone in the company to be able to playfully build an app that digitizes their work. We give them the Lego parts to do this. What's more, it should be so simple that it doesn't require a nerd in the IT department, but rather the specialist department can create the app itself. 95 percent of our customers come directly from the departments.
Please give us an example.
Basically, we digitized the clipboard and that still existed and still exists far too often in the German corporate world. Vonovia, for example, is one of our customers. When they need to take delivery of a property, they used to go with a piece of paper and a pen, now they use an app that they built with our platform. Another example would be the topic of travel expense reports. For this, too, our customers can build their own app exactly according to their needs. Because even that is only standardized up to a certain percentage. Of course, they could also buy a ready-made software, but then it is usually not exactly tailored to their specific needs.
You have just announced the successful conclusion of a financing round. Why do you need the 20 million euros?
As a scale-up, we are now in a phase where the goal is to reach as many customers as possible. In Germany, we are already the market leader as a SaaS no-code platform. We want to expand our position - and at the same time remain simple enough so that in the future only IT people don't use our offer after all. That is precisely what is more expensive than you think: anyone can do complicated.
Are you also planning to go abroad?
So far, we are mainly represented in the DACH region. A good ten percent of our sales currently come from abroad. We are currently faced with the question of whether we want to expand in Europe or perhaps even venture into the USA. We want to have made a decision in the fourth quarter.
Through Nordwind Capital, you have some prominent names among your new investors, including Thomas Müller. How do you convince a football player to invest in a B2B start-up?
Basically the same way as all other investors, with a good pitch. A year ago, we thought about which investors might suit us, do we need a classic VC or perhaps a family office? In the end, we turned to Nordwind Capital, among others. Behind this is a very interesting network for us, including Paul Achleitner, Achim Berg, Olaf Berlien, Jan Klatten, Peter Löscher, Andreas Obereder and Thomas Müller. Of course Thomas Müller comes, if at all, rather from the B2C scene, he has the glasses of the user. More importantly, Thomas Müller is a unique player, unmistakable. He fits so well because he is one of the last true "gamblers" in football and does great things unconventionally. The same goes for Smapone. His gambling instinct is what sets him apart and we'll bring that to the business as well.
How intensive is the exchange with Achleitner and Co?
We wanted investors who are also our sparring partners, who have contacts and can support us in the next steps. As a scale-up, our main concern now is growth. If I talk to a Paul Achleitner or an Achim Berg, for example, they understand my problem in no time and can help solve it. With Nordwind Capital, we have found an investor who is supporting us intensively.
You have already mentioned the planned expansion. What will be the next steps for Smapone beyond that?
We want to double our team, currently consisting of 65 employees, by next year. We also want to take the next step technologically. Currently, we are still at the level of Lego, so to speak - the next one is with Lego technology. There should always be more design options for new apps for our customers. We are also working on bringing the community together. So far, only the departments in our own company share information about the apps we have developed. More than 50,000 apps have already been created on our platform. One or the other solution could also inspire another company. We are curious to see whether this will work out the way we envision.
Thank you very much for the interview.
Sven Zuschlag worked for Microsoft in Germany fora good seven years. Then he realized that his daughter was fitter on her mobile phone than he was - and that there are significantly more useful apps in the B2C world than in the B2B world. Zuschlag then founded Smapone together with Thomas Schwarz in 2013. In 2015, their platform went live. Its customers include the real estate group Vonovia and the logistics company Dachser.
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