From Crowdfunding to Company Takeover - The Success Story of Declaree

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At the end of 2013 Declaree was one of the first startups at the Symbid platform that launched a crowdfunding-campaign. A small crowdfunding of  €40.000,- with a huge end result: Fortino Capital Partners invested in the company and so Declaree exceeded their goal and multiplied the value of the shares. Time to celebrate for Declaree and the shareholders that co-invested during the crowdfunding! 

I talked with one of the founders, Bas Janssen, about the start of Declaree, the growth after the crowdfunding, thinking in terms of bigger goals, focus and being the best at what you do.  


Within the customer’s needs lies the potential of growth

Declaree, the app for digital expense-management, started from the frustration about the process of expense-management: the recording, submitting, and paperwork involved could be done in an easier way. The Entrepreneurs were determined that it should be easy since everybody already owned a smartphone with a camera. The three entrepreneurs quit their jobs and started Declaree in the apartment of Bas from where it started to grow into this huge success. 

Customers' needs have always been a source of inspiration for the growth of Declaree. “Always listen to your customers needs”, according to Bas that’s where the potential of growth is to keep your game in the market. From the first day on, it was our main goal to offer a expense-management app that perfectly fits the customers’ needs. Expense-managing apps already did exist back then, but were mediocre solutions. Declaree specifically focused on the most user-friendly solution in the market: and that makes the difference. Recently, for example, this has been translated into the special functionality developed for the automatically reading of receipts (OCR), the interception of credit card transactions and the automatic calculation of daily allowances. 


Now they are establishing their next step on to international growth. Together with Fortino Capital Partners, an experienced partner in the field of international expansion, Declaree will expand further on the European market. 


Think in terms of larger goals 

When I ask Bas whether he had ever even dreamed of a success like this, he tells me that it was a goal on itself. It was a goal from the start on, to offer an exit within 4 years and double the value of the shares. That goal has been multiplied and exceeded largely. He advises entrepreneurs: “When determining goals entrepreneurs usually look at what they think they are capable of doing in a day to decide what they can realise in the coming year, or on longer terms. But my advice is to start with a larger goal, en translate this back into steps you should take to get there. In that way you will accomplish more. For example, looking back on our crowdfunding-campaign, we could have raised a larger sum of money. You are modest at the beginning, but challenge and allow yourself to think in larger goals. That’s what we have learned.”


Focus on one goal & being the best at what you do

According to Bas focus is as well one of the Keys to be a successful entrepreneur. The successful crowdfunding at the beginning of 2014 kicked off the commercial start of Declaree, since then the focus was all on growth. Before, the entrepreneurs had several other ideas, but soon those were off the table. “It’s about focus on one goal, and aiming to be the best at what you do. Total commitment, especially in regards to the time you spend. A lot of people have great ideas, but eventually it’s about executing those ideas.” 

During the first period after the crowdfunding the founders would often meetup with one of the involved investors, Jeroen van Eijndhoven, to talk about how to be the best in what you do. Jeroen shared his knowledge about strategy and business development. “Once in a while I would aks them critical questions to stay sharp, for example about focus. A lot of (starting) companies are prone to being very wide oriented, but focus is important.  

A strong team 

The commitment to focus and being the best really shows in one of the predictors of success: a team of experts. One of the engineers mentions: “It’s unique that as an employee I have the space and support at Declaree to keep on developing my skills and knowledge. Because of this we were able to create the space to keep on growing as a company.”

For people that would like to invest successfully in business, one of the most important aspects to take into account according to investor Jeroen van Eijndhoven, is the team. He gives investors the tip to invest in businesses with “A dedicated team that has the drive and qualities to be successful.” 

Success is created together, to be passed on to others 

The target amounts that are raised in the current investing rounds have become larger. Declaree is an example of a crowdfunding-campaign with a relatively small target amount that has grown out to a huge success. Entrepreneurs that dare to follow their heart and ambition like the founders of Declaree can make big goals come true! One of the investors toasts on the success of Declaree: “I will definitely use this whole investing experience and dividend again for future other investing possibilities!”  Success is created together, to be passed on to others. 

This blog is written by: Daisy Lake, BSc Social Psychology and master student Economic Psychology at Tilburg University.