In today‘s world, the ability to change the logo in the document header is not enough, Tanel Tahepold, head of Actual Reports, is convinced and the core of “his rapidly expanding is based namely on this observation – the company provides document customization and generation tools for software companies to turn digitized data, for example, an invoice, into a nice-looking, printable PDF.” With the business taking off, Actual Reports invites everyone a be part of it – tokens of Actual Reports have recently started trading on Funderbeam, a global crowdfunding and trading platform that connects startups and small-to-medium-sized high growth companies. The Baltic Times Magazine spoke to Tanel Tahepold.
If you were to introduce Actual Reports/ PDF Generator API in an understandable language to Silicon Valley-based startups and mom-and-pop businesses in the Baltics, how would you describe your products?
Business documents like invoices, packing slips, proposals and contracts are an essential, everyday part of any business. Although many software solutions digitalize physical documents and provide an in-app view of a document, a PDF is still the most used document format in the business world today. On the other hand, every business wants to stand out and to do so, needs to personalize the document layout to match their unique business processes, legal requirements, and most importantly – their visual identity. In today's world, the ability to change the logo in the document header is not enough!
We provide document customization and generation tools for software companies to turn digitized data, for example, an invoice, into a digital printable document in the form of a PDF. Software companies can use our solutions to reduce development and support costs by enabling their users to create and manage their document templates using a browser-based drag-and-drop document editor. Instead of developing a document customization and generation solution in-house, they can take advantage of the world-class tool, available as a SaaS product.
Where do you have the edge over your competitors?
Our main competitive advantage is the embedded browser-based document editor that can be embedded into any software solution to provide a seamless user experience for the end-user. Most of our competitors either require HTML coding skills to create templates, or you need to upload your Word document as a template. Our document editor allows the end-user to create and modify document templates, use barcodes, repeatable content areas, conditional formatting and other complex logic without any coding. Just by dragging and dropping elements onto the canvas.
Which sectors are particularly keen on your products? Why?
Most of our customers are what we call document-heavy software providers, for example from the e-commerce, accounting, ERP/MRP and logistics sectors. These companies usually have thousands of customers who generate different documents and printouts as part of their daily business. Their customers need to personalize the document layout to match their business processes, legal requirements or visual identity. Due to this, customization requests make up a large proportion of their support requests.
Building a flexible document editor in-house is expensive, so in most cases, customization requests go through the development cycle, which is even more costly and time-consuming. As a result, the customer waits days or weeks for a small change, and at the same time, a software company needs to allocate the resources they need to develop their core features.
We also serve more traditional sectors like banking, airlines or train operators that need to generate thousands of contracts, boarding passes or tickets, and they require a very reliable solution.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the use of your services?
We also provide document generation solutions for e-commerce retailers to automate their invoice, packing slip and label generation and speed up the fulfilment process. In March 2020, we started seeing an increase in signups, and in April and May, we already saw 200 percent growth compared to January and February of the same year.
The exciting discovery for us was that most new customers were brick and mortar businesses who started moving into digital sales channels. We saw restaurants, grocery stores, corner shops and coffee houses – all trying to cope with the new reality while still providing services to their customers. These new types of customers also challenged us to improve the existing solutions. For example, a grocery store receipt can have hundreds of line items instead of 2 to 3, which is the average number of items bought online at once.
I'm very proud of our team as we were able to help hundreds of companies to automate their order fulfilment process and reduce human errors, which are imminent when manually processing orders.
Who are the people on your team?
We are multinational (Estonian, Slovak, Brazilian) with a fully remote team working from different cities (Tallinn, Tartu, Brno), and therefore, COVID didn't change our day-to-day operations. For example, our developer Bruno, who is from Brazil, but lives in Estonia, spent a couple of months back home and worked from there. However, we have small offices in Tartu, Estonia, and Brno, Czech Republic, to have face-to-face meetings whenever needed.
In the last seven years, the team has become industry experts in document generation, and there is a lot more we can achieve together. Within the next few months, we expect to grow the team and are looking for experienced developers and a technical sales executive to join our incredible team. If this sounds interesting, feel free to contact me at [email protected]
Where do you see room for growth and expansion?
We see massive potential in low-code platforms, which allow business owners to automate their processes without coding. As the generation of various documents is an essential part of any business, we wish to enable every company to automate its document generation with ease. Therefore, making PDF Generator API available on low-code platforms is our main focus in 2021.
What is next for Actual Reports? Any breaking news in the offing?
Indeed, the last eight months have been very busy for us as we rebuilt our entire infrastructure to provide scalable and robust service to our customers. Our solution is used in mission-critical software by banks, airlines and logistics companies and we need to deliver a world-class service.
Maybe the most exciting news for the readers is that it is now possible for everyone to take part in our growth. Tokens of Actual Reports have recently started trading on Funderbeam, a global crowdfunding and trading platform that connects startups and small-to-medium-sized high growth companies looking for funding from investors. You can also find other successful companies to invest in on Funderbeam, including Ampler Bikes, Silen, Xolo. Just to name a few.