Every week we feature a new startup at Fundsup that forces a radical breakthrough. This time we chat with Lisa Dimitrowa, co-founder and CEO of Sharesquare.co Read the Dutch version on Emerce.
Lisa, what is your product?
We have developed a SaaS solution that enables companies to create and manage a Virtual Equity Plan. Such a plan is an incentive scheme that mimics the economic benefits of shares, yet bypasses the traditional hurdles associated with equity (notary, cash investment, voting etc).
It’s a great tool for attracting – and especially retaining – employees because it allows them to profit from the value increase or the dividends of the company without the need to buy and own shares. So, it aligns interest with shareholders but it’s risk-free and very flexible.
Traditionally, you could set up and deploy something like that through a lawyer, but it takes much time and money, resulting in boring paperwork and complex spreadsheets that end up in drawers and folders. Our solution makes this much easier, more fun, and affordable. Even more important: it keeps such a plan alive among participants because they have personalized dashboards and a legal helpdesk.
How did you come up with this?
Well… it came out of our own experience and frustration! My co-founder Sander Kooijman (left on the picture) is a lawyer who was dealing with employee incentive schemes for many years. He was a partner at De Roos Advocaten and they had the idea to create an online tool for equity plans. I happened to be a customer who was freshly involved in the relevant subject and who totally understood the struggle companies and employees go through when entering the labyrinth of choices and implications. We had an immediate click when it came to solving this problem.
It got even better when Riccardo Vincelli (right in the picture) joined us. He is the typical geek that wants to work on exciting technologies. And I’m convinced that it is exactly the mix of business aspects, legal matters and tech innovation that makes our product so nice and essentially helps companies to achieve a true win-win with their remuneration policy. Stay tuned, there is more to come from Sharesquare!
Where do you see its main application?
Any business that has employees or freelancers can greatly benefit from our solution. The beauty of Virtual Shares is their accessible nature. You can grant Virtual Shares to anyone that actively contributes to your company – without hassle. Payment to participants comes with results only, so what’s the risk of trying it?
Our customers so far gave us a great opportunity to learn from their feedback and to discover patterns and best practices. We work with start-ups, scale-ups and established companies. Among them are many tech companies but we also serve businesses within the media industry, manufacturing, consultancy, retail, hospitality, research, recruitment and so on. Our target group is large. Last but not least, the timing is right.
At this moment in the Netherlands, there are 126 open vacancies for every 100 unemployed people. The War for Talent is more present than ever.
Having a Virtual Equity Plan helps companies to stay ahead.
What is the impact of your business?
The more companies use our product, the more people have a healthy and fair incentive to work towards achieving great results. We believe that this is essential for economic growth, long-term stability, and more equal wealth distribution. It’s my dream to read in the future about such positive changes and to be able to conclude that part of it is due to smart remuneration powered by Sharesquare. I am very proud to see our clients deal with their employees in such a modern and sustainable manner, allowing them to expand their businesses day by day.
Also, we are convinced that such incentive plans help people to grow on a personal level. When employees have a clear reason to work towards higher stock value, they automatically shift their mindset into what makes a company successful and how their own set of skills can contribute to it. Moreover, it motivates them to stick longer with a company and to be more persistent in reaching their goals. In short: it makes people ambitious.
Where are you right now?
We have started in 2020 and launched our MVP by the end of that year. 2021 was a year of learning, validating, and adjusting. It was a period in which we properly formed our team and established a clear formula. In 2022 we want to get investor-ready so we can take a bigger leap forward in our road map and business development.
When are you planning to go to the market?
We already have a significant amount of paying customers in The Netherlands. An important step ahead is to go international. We have learned a lot locally and we are confident that our product is perfect for companies in other counties too. We will be focusing on the necessary steps for establishing a network and a customer base abroad.
Who has invested in you and what kind of investors are you looking for?
We do not have investors on board yet. So far, we have fully bootstrapped the making of Sharesquare. We have financed everything by our own means and by the income that we started generating relatively early on. We are now looking for an investor who will help us expand across Europe.
Best of luck with everything!
Thanks, check out our pitch deck in the Fundsup app: https://api.fundsup.co/go/IOPoPmQMzz