Interview on contract management Classic FM South Africa

Business Classic FM South Africa/ Radio interview, Michael Avery

In a recent interview, co-founder Angelique Schouten explained the story behind the development of Cloudtract’s contract management platform and its benefits for SMEs and entrepreneurs, to business anchor Michael Avery in his weekday program Classic Business. Classic Business is the weekday radio program on Classic FM South Africa, where presenter Avery looks at current business news making headlines and interviews the captains of industries and government. This segment will cover the effect of business administration and contract management and what contract management can deliver for businesses.

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Most entrepreneurs and startups rightfully focus on running their day-to-day businesses. And don’t, or should I say, to a much lesser extent, pay attention to managing their contract admin. Let’s face it: it’s the admin and clerical side of business that remains distinctly unsexy and burdensome. But so often, this can have a disproportionate effect and impact on the success or failure of the business. Now thank goodness for the technology revolution, because a Dutch-based startup has developed a neat solution to the problem of contract administration. Angelique Schouten, co-founder of Cloudtract, welcome to the Classic Business SME Feature.

Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Now you’re a Dutch-based startup and you’ve developed a free online contract management platform for SMEs, called Cloudtract. Tell me how it works.

How it works, is that a business can open an account on the website, very easily by entering their email address and they can set alerts for each and every contract they have. And they can also add all the contract details and the related material they want to keep in storage, related to this specific contract. And they can authorize certain people to have access to the contracts. For example, if you have an accountant which you want to review the contracts, you can authorize them. So it’s really simple and easy to do. Just open the account, set the alert and if you want, you can add all the related documents to the platform.

And what about safety here? Because very often, when one hears about online or ‘the cloud’, one gets a bit itchy about storing one’s rather important contracts or intellectual property in spaces such as that.

A very good question and I can completely can understand that. What we did is: we used the same technology we use for financial service companies, and we encrypt all of the data. So even us, at Cloudtract, we don’t even have access to those documents, because they are completely encrypted and not accessible. You can only access these documents when entering your own password.

Well, it sounds fascinating. But at the end of the day, it is one of those kinds of boring business processes. What led you to develop a solution in the area of contract storage and reminders? Which are so key.

To be completely honest: pure and pure frustration. When I started working, in 2010 I think it was, I started working at an insurance company. And I asked my team, what kind of contracts they signed and which bills we were paying. And it took me two weeks, two months in total, to gather all the different contracts. And I found out they had been paying for a contract for three years, they didn’t even use. That was a relatively small contract. But our IT department reviewed their license software as well, and we had a choice that we would go for another contract supplier. And what did all the IT guys do? They just jumped on the new contract and forgot all about the existing contract and to cancel it. And usually when you sign a contract you have a certain notice period, and if you don’t cancel the contract in that period, it gets renewed automatically. So that’s what happened with our contract. And we wasted 40.000 euro. Well, you can imagine that as a small- or medium sized company, that’s unacceptable and it’s a really big loss. So what we did is, we looked at all the current software solutions and we found out that: either they are part of a large ERP-software package, or they are very expensive and over-engineered. So, as our sister company is a software company, we said: ‘Well, we can’t do that. Just develop a simple application which does two things: send out alerts and has a storage functionality.’ So that’s what we did. We developed this for ourselves and our sister companies, and we said: ‘Well, we have to help other companies and just provide it to all of them.’

Well I think it is an excellent example of turning a hard lesson learned into a profitable venture. I have been on the website. It’s extremely clear and user-friendly. And one of those that I think can help a lot of small businesses here in South Africa. Thanks so much for your time, Angelique.

Thank you so much. Thanks.

That was Angelique Schouten, co-founder of Cloudtract. With what small businesses can do to oversee the possibility of rising taxes in this week’s budget. Because really, one doesn’t really want to make a 40.000 euro mistake, because you forgot a contract date. You are listening to Classic Business, and this National Budget Speech Week is brought to NedBank Business, Make things happen. NedBank.”