The next time you go to your favorite restaurant or cocktail bar, talk with the manager about bookkeeping. Chances are that they’ll tell you that they waste a ton of time collecting and recording various documents. German startup Zeitgold wants to automate this pesky process so that you can spend more time on your actual business.
The startup was founded by two of the co-founders behind SumUp Stefan Jeschonnek and Jan Deepen who left the mobile payment company in 2014. Kobi Eldar is the third co-founder. Zeitgold just raised $4.5 million from Battery Ventures and Holtzbrinck Ventures Invest (€4.2 million).
So what is Zeitgold exactly? It’s an all-in-one financial solution for small shop owners. The company sends you a physical box. You can put all your receipts, bills and invoices in this box. Somebody will come and pick up the box every week. The startup then scans and archives all these documents to process them — Zeitgold also accepts digital documents.
This way, Zeitgold can build a structured database of all this paperwork and provide you actionable information. For instance, you can then open the Zeitgold app and accept all payment requests from your suppliers. The startup can also help you when it comes to invoice collection, payroll and everything your tax advisor will need.
You can also use the app as your one-stop shop to search for that one document you’re looking for. Thanks to OCR, you can just type keywords. Zeitgold also tells you if there are missing documents.
Eventually, Zeitgold wants to automate most of it with optical character recognition, text analytics and a bunch of algorithms. It’s not there yet, and a lot of work is still done by humans. But the startup’s team of accounting experts will train Zeitgold’s algorithms over time so that it relies less on humans.
“We spent the last 18 months on R&D. Now, our AI is able to create clean data sets out of unsorted physical documents,” Jeschonnek told me.
The company also didn’t just want to tackle one aspect of the financial paperwork. This is an interesting approach and I’m curious to see if it can scale indeed.
The startup is launching in Germany first, but Zeitgold is already thinking about expanding to other countries around Germany as all shop owners face the same issues.