FundsUp interviewed Niels Arts and Bas van Schijndel, two of the three founders of Clonable. Clonable assists companies in translating and maintaining their websites in just 5 minutes, making international expansion easier and more cost-effective.
A Dutch version of this article can be read on the website of our partner: Emerce.
How did you get started?
Bas: “Clonable originated from the online marketing company Wecommerce. My partner Niels and I often noticed that it was a huge hassle for everyone, especially our e-commerce clients, to expand internationally. Initially, you had to prepare the website and arrange translations. These translations then had to be integrated into the website. In short, it was a lot of hassle and time-consuming. Within six months, new translations were needed due to changes in product offerings. Entrepreneurs also found this challenging, so we began looking for solutions. At that time, we had a young developer working with us, Bas van den Boom, who had been programming since the age of eight. He came up with a clever solution.”
Niels: “We agreed with Bas van den Boom that if he could develop that solution effectively, and we could turn it into a separate company, he would become a co-owner. That’s how we started, initially by cloning websites from the Netherlands to Belgium to test if it worked. But soon, there were requests for expansion to Germany and France as well. When the developer made that possible, we gained a lot of attention for our tool. That’s when we decided to fully focus on Clonable.”
Do you already have customers?
“Niels: “Yes, we do. What we quickly noticed was that people didn’t just want to test our tool; they wanted to immediately deploy it in full. Especially large clients were interested because they faced the most challenges in the expansion process. We work with companies like XXL Nutrition, HP, Toppy, Mammoet, and several others.”
Do you have specific sectors you’re targeting?
Bas: “Initially, we are focusing on two sectors. The first is high-end e-commerce, as these companies often want to expand internationally to multiple European countries with different languages. The second sector includes internationally-oriented companies without e-commerce functions, with a current focus on the WordPress CMS. For this latter segment, we are actively working on new functionalities and process improvements to make it fully automated SaaS by the end of the year.”
Are there other players doing the same thing?
Niels: “Yes, there are several competitors. On one hand, we have traditional translation agencies that are still widely used. On the other hand, in the WordPress space, there is a plugin that is often used. And we have a competitor called Weglot from France, which received an investment of about $50 million last year.”
What sets you apart from them?
Bas: “Personalization, that’s where we excel and align better with e-commerce. We are also building various cross-border functionalities. We still have some work to do to become equally proficient in scalability and automatic onboarding, but we’ll make significant strides in the next 12 months.”
Where do you see Clonable in a few years?
Niels: “Now that we’ve found our Product-Market Fit, we can truly build the business. We expect to have 5% of the market and customers in all 27 European countries within 5 years. People’s initial need always revolves around translations, but our mission isn’t just about translation; we want to help companies scale more easily to other European countries. We want to add extra functionalities, such as AI-driven rewriting of translations based on user input, legal templates, and more, all to ensure that international expansion is improved and simplified in multiple ways.”
How large is the funding round, and what type of investors are you looking for?
Bas: “We aim to raise €550,000. We are primarily looking for investors who not only provide financial resources but also bring expertise. Think of angel investors with knowledge of SaaS or other relevant areas. Ideally, they can assist us with their network, as well as their experience in improving the conversion funnel, developing strategies, and utilizing their network for various purposes. That experience and knowledge are incredibly valuable to us.”
And you’re planning to expand your team as well. Could you tell us more about that?
Niels: “Certainly, we currently have a diverse team. There are three founders, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, we have about twelve people on the payroll, which translates to approximately four full-time positions. We also work with many part-timers, including smart young whizzkids who work with us on Saturdays and during holidays. With the funding, we want to attract an additional developer to implement improvements in the conversion funnel and add new functionalities to further differentiate ourselves. We also plan to focus on marketing and sales by hiring an experienced marketer to stimulate our growth.”
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Niels: “Seek help. People are willing to offer assistance if you ask the right questions because you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Bas: “Coaching is very useful for entrepreneurs to further develop themselves in various areas. It also helps in focusing on what’s truly important at any given moment.”