We live in the age of digital clutter, with messages overloading our email inboxes, smartphones, and web browsers. But this only adds to paper-based clutter like receipts, warranties and contracts that are still very much present in our lives. Sydney-based entrepreneur Benjamin Fischer decided it was time to intervene, startup-style. Founded in August 2013, Keepr is an an online storage and notification platform which stores records such as receipts, warranties, contracts, insurance policies, assets and documents online, to enable worldwide access to vital information when needed.
The idea for an application like Keepr actually emerged at a family dinner. Fischer was at his parent’s house when they were faced with the inconvenience of the electric carving knife not working. His parents were convinced they’d only bought the knife recently, and so it would have still been covered under warranty. After rummaging through documentation, they found the original receipt and realised the knife was years old, and well-past its warranty period. This incident prompted the idea for Keepr.
In November 2013, Fischer came across an article on The Sydney Morning Herald, which reported on an 11-year-old boy who lost his home in the bush fires being told by an insurance company to list every toy and treasured belonging in his destroyed bedroom before it would consider a payout. In another article in The Guardian, a woman reportedly lost almost everything due to a house fire, but her chosen insurance company refused to process the claim unless she could provide receipts or photographs of the destroyed items. In such circumstances, the best she could do is provided ashes as evidence. These stories validated the need for a product like Keepr, according to Fischer.
Fischer acknowledges that there are other applications in the marketplace that allows people to store records, like Shoeboxed (business expenses), OneReceipt (consumer receipts), Deductibles (business and consumer expenses) and Pocketbook (transaction records), but explains that these are all geared to specific uses. Whereas Keepr allows people to store virtually any type of record.
In addition to storing records online, Keepr automatically emails the user when a record is approaching its expiry or end date, thus allowing (depending on the type of the record) the user to take action, review or in the case of an insurance policy, shop around for a better offer. Records can also be exported to CSV, depending on the filtering options used. With one click users can export their records for an insurance claim, whether it’s home or travel, tax time or simply for peace of mind.
The exact steps to using Keepr is as follows: create a record type, fill in details and an expiry/end date, attach up to three files per record (such as an image of the receipt, the warranty card, or an image of the item itself), and that’s about it.
Although Fischer had a clear vision of design and functionality of Keepr, as a business consultant by trade, articulating his vision wasn’t easy. This is where Fischer’s former colleague, Tony Chan comes into the picture. He developed the technology and was able to translate Fischer’s vision into the product it is today – though Fischer admits Keepr will always remain a work in progress.
“Being a startup we practise lean development and everything is constantly evolving. I don’t think we’ll ever stop improving or adding new functionality,” he says.
Keepr has a broad target market including individual consumers, home owners and small business owners. At the moment, the marketing is being targeted towards consumers and business owners – particular accountants and personal organisers. Social media has been the primary marketing strategy for Fischer, who makes sure to remain active across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, and regularly posting on the company’s blog.
There are three account subscriptions – free, individual and business. On the free subscription, users can only have 10 active records and there are restrictions preventing the exporting of data and marking records as ‘Tax Related’. On the individual subscription, which is priced at $5 per month or $30 per year, users can have 100 active records and unrestricted functionality. The business subscription is priced at $50 per month or $300 per year, and offers 300 active records, unrestricted functionality and sub-user accounts so that access can be delegated.
Keepr was in its beta phase for six months, and launched officially at the back-end of last month. It has since gained 120 users.
At the moment, Keepr is available as a mobile-friendly website. Fischer explains the reasoning: “small business does not want to manage their records off a phone or a tablet. They need it to be available from a computer at any time.”
But in hindsight, he realises that creating iOS and Android apps first would have provided more exposure to the consumer market.
The biggest challenge as a startup founder to date has been learning how to wear multiple hats. Fischer explains, “When working for a large company, you have departments for finance, marketing, admin, legal and you. As a startup with limited funds, you have to learn how to do as much as possible and naturally it takes you longer.”
Fischer also alludes to the fact that people aren’t particularly helpful when you’re under-resourced. In fact, he jokes that he doesn’t want to hear the term ‘Mates Rates’ ever again, which translates to ‘I will give you an amazing rate, but only when I have the time, if I have the time after all my full paying clients are satisfied’.
Like many other humble startup founders, Fischer’s proudest achievement to date has been reaching the launch phase. “It has been a long and stressful 12 months to get to this point!” he admits.
Keepr will be available on iTunes around Christmas time, with an Android app soon to follow. Fischer says that in the next 12 months or so, they plan on integrating with Gmail so that users can automatically store their electronic receipts and OCR (Option Character Recognition) to minimise the use input. One of the startup’s growth strategies is to open up APIs to allow CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems and other customer platforms to utilise Keepr’s notification platform.
Early 2015, Keepr will be launching its Referral Rewards programme for individual accounts, which is currently only available to small businesses.
“This allows accountants and personal organisers to refer Keepr to their clients which in turn streamline their business and be rewarded with commission for the referral. Referral Rewards for business accounts is currently 50% of the first year subscription,” Fischer says.