Written by David Silverberg
Let's say you're a freelancer or entrepreneur and you collate all your expenses every year through paper receipts and a Microsoft Excel file. It works fine, but you have folders upon folders of receipts, and you've done this for years, so you have piles of folders stashed in your basement. If you were ever audited, you'd pull your hair out just trying to find every receipt for every expense.
That's where Sensibill wants to sweep in to ease that anxiety. Its app allows you to take photos of your receipt and its machine-learning-backed system automatically finds the relevant details, such as date and amount and business name, and enters that information into the app. Finding those now-digital receipts is simple – just search for the item, the business name, the date or the amount.
Electronic receipts can also be added to the app's database.
“Sensibill provides you with organizational tools you need to automatically to identify spendings categorically,” says Corey Gross, the Toronto company's co-founder and CEO. “Entrepreneurs are more likely to be audited by the CRA [compared to larger organiztions] so they want to make sure all their receipts are captured in our system.”
But every receipt is formatted differently, right? How can Sensibill find a date, say, if it's placed in a spot on the paper receipt that isn't where dates are usually placed? Gross replies that the app has been “given millions of data points to work off, and the AI in our system helps solve that problem.”
With millions of downloads so far (Gross won't offer specific figures), Sensibill's business model is based on its enterprise model used by various banks across the world. Scotiabank and the Royal Bank of Scotland are two of the more notable banks using Sensibill for its clients.
In 2017, the startup raised a $17.3 million Series A in a round led by Information Venture Partners and OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund. Also, in that year, Sensibill was the first winner of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)’s Ingenious Spark award.
Sensibill isn't the first company Gross has founded. In fact, he tread down the fin-tech path before, having launched Smartslips in 2010, which focused on allowing retailers to issue electronic receipts to customers. “Everyone can relate to document management,” says Gross on why he focused on this market. “It can be annoying to keep receipts safe, and we want to make people's lives easier.”
Gross says partnering banks, which include banks in the UK, have promoted Sensibill on their own via TV commercials. “That tells me banks see us as solving a real problem their customers face,” Gross adds.
The company's growth is indicative in its staffing numbers: In 2013, when the company launched, Sensibill was at 10 people. Now, Gross says, the staff count is expected to reach 80 by July.
Running a startup can be overwhelming for many executives, but Gross recognizes the importance of downtime. “We have to set boundaries on replying to emails, say. We can't be available 24/7. We have to find ways to disconnect ourselves from work sometimes. Otherwise we can end up burning out.”
Another piece of advice from Gross is integral for the worriers out there: “Don't be anxious about stuff that isn't happening yet, because you expend all that emotional energy and that can be draining.”
Photo credit Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real