“We are approaching an era in which users expect automation”: Interview with Bokio’s CEO Viktor Stensson

It all started in 2015 when Viktor Stensson and Mikael Eliasson were thinking of automating the traditional way of bookkeeping. Under their leadership, Bokio, the Gothenburg-born fintech behind an AI-driven accounting software for SMEs and self-employed has come a long way since then, facilitating accounting and offering an all-in-one solution to help people run their business smoothly.

The company has recently announced a €7.4 million investment (which comes on the back of its €4 million investment in Nov 2019) and has joined forces with competitor Red Flag, to create the leading accountancy and business administration platform for European SMEs and self-employed.

To learn more about Bokio’s impressive journey to disrupt one of the oldest industries and to get some tips on getting funding and staying afloat at a time of a financial crisis, we spoke with Viktor Stensson, CEO and co-founder of Bokio, who believes it is important to dare to do business also in turbulent times.

Hi Viktor, it’s a pleasure to have you here. To start off, could you brief us on the story of Bokio? What makes your approach to accounting unique?

Filing a tax return at the last minute is stressful. In fact, it was through finding ourselves in that very situation that inspired us to develop Bokio.

Bokio was founded in Sweden, in 2015, by myself and Mikael Eliasson, our CTO. It all started when I helped Mikael, a freelance engineer at the time, fulfil various accounting tasks he was struggling with. Together, we realised how intricate the tax filing system was, and saw a substantial opportunity to modernise the accounting industry by automating the bookkeeping process.

At Bokio, our primary focus is on helping people run their businesses smoothly by offering an all-in-one solution. Bokio has lots of great features for managing one’s own accounting, including bookkeeping, invoices, tracking expenses, and importing transactions with bank feeds, all of which are available for free. There’s no trial period, paywall, or hidden costs. Bokio is, and always will be, free for our customers to use. Meanwhile, Bokio’s premium add-on services are available to Swedish users at a competitive price, enabling them to receive round-the-clock support and/or be connected with a professional accountant.

You recently landed new investment. How will that help the company’s growth – any exciting upgrades on the way?

The money will help us to develop our product, and also scale the business internationally by offering next-generation automated and AI-driven services for business owners across the globe. We provide them with the most accessible and advanced software, to enable the successful running and expansion of their companies. 

Could you tell us a bit more about the team behind the investment? What made them believe this was a golden opportunity?

The team behind the investment consists mainly of previous investors, who believe in our vision and the progress we’ve made so far. I am very pleased to have the continued support of our investors, and we’re delighted to welcome new ones on board to join us on our journey.  

Why does the fintech industry need this new Bokio, merged with Red Flag? 

Red Flag’s portfolio of business administration products completes our current offering, to make it easier and more efficient for all company owners and the self-employed to run their businesses. We are looking forward to joining forces with Red Flag, and combining our respective industry expertise to deliver the best possible service to our customers.

Bokio, like many startups, is using AI to drive its services. How do you see AI changing the accounting and business administration services in the next 5 years? 

We are approaching an era in which users and customers will expect automation as a default, that includes bookkeeping and accounting, essentially because it makes the task more time-efficient and manageable. We will see AI disrupt even the biggest and oldest industries in the future. 

Seeing as we are in the middle of a global crisis, do you have any tips for founders on raising at this time?

A lot of venture capital firms are trying to figure out how to boost their portfolio companies right now, and so I strongly recommend working primarily with your existing investors to secure funding. On another note, I believe investors are rewarding companies that can demonstrate that they can make a decent turnover, so my advice would be to focus on revenues right now since that actually is the best form of funding.

With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy being evident, fintech companies are becoming increasingly important. How do you see this trend evolving in the future? 

If we look back to the financial crisis of 2008, it is evident that a number of large companies were able to arise from the ashes, in part, due to their versatile nature and ability to adapt. Examples include Slack, Venmo, Uber and WhatsApp, to name just a few. Companies that survive periods of financial turmoil are often in a great position to keep growing when the economy recovers. 

Finally, you are based in Gothenburg. What is your opinion on the environment for creating a startup there?

It’s certainly an up and coming tech scene with more and more investors looking towards Gothenburg than in previous years. I think the city will soon be seen as home to one of the key startup scenes not only in Scandinavia but in Europe too.