Since we recently relocated to Barcelona, we just had the opportunity to talk to Juan Zamora, the founder and CEO of Signaturit – one of the city’s hottest startups right now! Founded in 2013, Signaturit provides an easy and secure way to sign documents from your mobile device, with legal validity and without installing additional applications. We talked to Juan about the beginnings of Signaturit, challenges, and future plans. Enjoy the interview:
How did you and your co-founders come up with the idea for Signaturit and how did it all start?
My background is in finance and before launching Signaturit I worked for the IT departments of several Spanish banks. In those positions I realized how big multinationals and SMEs are being dragged into the 21st century while some of its processes are still rooted in anachronistic and highly inefficient systems.
This rings particularly true for signing processes, in which a wide range of companies still rely on their clients to print a document, sign it, scan it and send it back –a dreadful process that on top of that offers little to no legal protection to all parties involved.
When I realized that, and after doing a comprehensive benchmark study of our competitors, myself and the rest of the founding team thought that there was room for a easy-to-use electronic signature solution, which had to be more legally binding than those already available in the market at the same time.
What were the main stumbling blocks in the first 2-3 years after founding Signaturit and how did you overcome them?
Rather than stumbling blocks, I like to think we faced a number of challenges which made us stronger in each coming iteration.
The first one revolved around coming up with a compelling user experience while creating the most legally sound solution in the market, because regulation compliance sometimes gets on the way of an easy-to-use, intuitive interface.
Other than that, once we grew beyond our early-stage status we faced the financing challenges typically associated with the Spanish market, in which there are a lot of instruments to finance the first steps of an entrepreneurial project but a lack of support for medium to large-sized initiatives.
Luckily for us, we overcame that hurdle thanks to the committed support of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program and to our other investors: Banco Sabadell, ESADE BAN, Nero Ventures and Faraday Venture Partners.
What would you say are Signaturit’s biggest competitors and what is the unique value proposition of your solution?
The leading players in the electronic signature space get enough promotion as it is for us to contribute to word-of-mouth, but we strongly believe that our value proposition is significantly better than theirs for two reasons.
First, we are the only solution in the market which streamlines the process to request and send electronic signatures through your email account (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail…) and that allows the signer to sign using his/her fingertip or mouse in any device (laptop, tablet, smartphone…).
Second and most important, our legal compliance is unparalleled, as we are the only solution in the market which offers the advanced electronic signature combined with the collection of biometric data from the signer.
The advanced electronic signature is defined by the Regulation (EU) Nº 910/2014, know as eIDAS, as that signature that is capable to identifying the signer. This is the main difference with respect to the simple signature.
And the advantage of advanced eSignatures with respect to the qualified ones is usability: for using the qualified electronic signature in Europe, signers must have a specific device, which must meet the requirements also defined in the Annex II of the eIDAS Regulation.
Aside of raising venture capital, Signaturit received funding from Horizon2020 program of the European Union. Can you explain briefly how that worked for Signaturit and what it means for the company’s further progress?
With Europe being not only our backyard but also the market in which we want to grow before bidding on our global expansion, the endorsement of the EU works both as a financial bump and a seal of approval by the very same bodies that regulate our activity.
In that regard, our involvement with the Horizon 2020 program will help us stand on more solid ground from a financial standpoint, but also boost our reputation as a reliable partner Europe-wide.
We couldn’t be happier, the whole process was very efficient and we felt we were in good hand from its very early stages and all the way through to completion.
What are the the next milestones for Signaturit and how do you think will the market develop in the near future?
Now that we have closed our second financing round at €2.8 million, our challenge is to correspond the trust of our investors by delivering even more solid results moving forward.
Our key market will continue to be Europe, although our 10,000 clients are spread across more than 40 countries worldwide. We will also invest in increasing our sales and marketing headcount, and product improvement will continue to be paramount, as we are only as good as our solution is.
You’re currently on a hiring sprint. With such a fast growing team, how do you make sure everybody stays motivated and how do you support the corporate culture?
Signaturit’s biggest accomplishment so far has been establishing a highly motivated, proactive, hardworking and creative team of professionals with a wide range of backgrounds and a shared sense of purpose. With such a strong team, we are confident that our new hires will bring excitement and new skills to the table, but also embrace that spirit and reinforce that preexisting corporate culture.
What is your experience with Barcelona as a location to start and scale an tech company?
Barcelona offers many advantages to startups. First, it has a strong transport infrastructure which connects us to the world. Second, and thanks to the success of events such as the Mobile World Congress, it has established itself as a recognizable and reliable brand for all things tech, and its ecosystem is thriving with good ideas, great talent and a network of universities and public bodies which bind everything together.
Last but not least, the quality of living is so high that the city is becoming more and more attractive for the tech industry at large, which brings not only big players but also an unlimited pool of talent in which companies like us can find and groom high achievers.
Could you recommend our readers one or two books that helped you during your entrepreneurial endeavors?
It’s quite difficult to choose only two books that helped me during my entrepreneurial endeavors, but if I had to select two of the most important ones, I’d strongly recommend:
“Predictable Revenue” by Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler, a must for SaaS sales; and “The hard thing about hard things” by Ben Horowitz, specially focused on the CEO journey, how to face problems and the “lonely feeling” of the CEO.