Eindhoven may be known to the outside world for its emphasis on high-tech hardware, but a wide range of webtech startups is also part of the Brainport community. Companies that are focused on software rather than complicated hardware. One of them, Klets, is on its way to show the world a product that might just win a place in between whatsapp, slack and email.
Klets – Dutch for “small talk” – offers a solution for companies that need to communicate regularly with their clients. A field previously covered by phone and mail, now increasingly enabled by messaging: chat. Not only because chat is more convenient, but also because of the financial benefits. Klets founders Egbert Teeselink (engineer) and Joshua Schoenaker (designer) have turned that concept into a startup. After an intensive program at Rockstart in Amsterdam, the two and their team moved into BounceSpace in Eindhoven.
“We all know company-chat in its function as help desk, but if you do it right there’s much more to be gained, for companies as well as for their customers,” says Teeselink. “Klets is in fact both messaging and e-commerce. Companies that work with it, stop seeing their customer contacts as expenses, and start using this as a profit centre. Moreover, during a conversation with your client, you can do much more than just answering questions. Offer new services for example. Or retain customers who might otherwise drop out.”
Of course any conversation could be held by phone or email. But both methods have disadvantages, says Teeselink. “Messaging is easy and convenient, many companies have begun to see that. But a chat through a pop-up, as is often the case, that’s actually a thing of a previous generation. There are smarter ways, and we show them in Klets. Mark my words, within the next five years, all companies have become much more informal and personal with their customers, and we offer the means to get there. It’s also much more efficient: you can only start your next phone call after you finished your previous one, while it’s quite easy to be in four chats at the same time.”
Another great advantage in comparison to the phone is that you don’t depend on the presence of the other person. “You just drop your question whenever you like and get a signal when the answer is in,” says Teeselink. “And this really works. We recently received a nice example from a company that sells table tennis tables. A client of theirs was looking for a table that could stay outside, was foldable and on which some people might sit without the table falling apart. Not any ordinary table, you might say. They could not find one in the brochure, so they dropped the demand at the company’s Klets. An hour later the company returned three suggestions, after which the deal was clinched in a few minutes. Just great.”
Klets is always accessible and well designed, two essential factors in the choice of the customers, according to Schoenaker. “For example, you do not need a phone number to participate, as is the case with whatsapp. Moreover, you don’t need to download any app, everything is web-based. When a chat is quiet for some time and is picked up again, the other person gets an alert and a link in his mail. On both ends of the line, the same people who conducted the conversation before will still be the ones present, even if there were weeks in between. And all this in the familiar and recognizable design of the company.”
Teeselink and Schoenaker see the Eindhoven focus is on high-tech hardware and on design. “But we also see that it is difficult to connect the two nicely,” says Schoenaker. He laughs: “Something is needed between the High Tech Campus and Strijp-S and I do not mean De Hurk. No seriously, I think the connection could come from webtech. Eindhoven also needs a serious software cluster.”
Hosting Company Digital Ocean (founded in New York but now active worldwide) is one of the larger companies that have embraced Klets. “This is a client to be proud of. They have a team of eight people for customer contacts and they operate 24/7. And they chose Klets. Wonderful!”
Teeselink and Schoenaker both have been entrepreneurs since their teens, and they continued to do business during their education. Currently the two devote their time to the development of Klets and finding new investors. “We have a pre-seed investment of about €100,000, thanks to the network around Rockstart. But now it’s important to collect seed funding. We have spoken with investors in Portugal, Belgium and France and this feels good. But especially because we feel so at home in Eindhoven, it would be nice if we could also find local investors.”
Interested in funding Klets? Contact the founders directly through – of course – klets.com/klets.
Klets uses the freemium model. There is a (limited) free version and an enhanced version for $49 per month. In addition, there are several tailor made options.