October 16, 2012

Maine-based Certify Simplifies Travel and Expense Reports

Back in 2006, while running an earlier software
company called Recruiternet, Bob Neveu noticed an annoyance that many managers
and executives face every month or quarter: processing paper expense reports. “We
had about 100 employees with expense reports coming in from across the U.S.
and the U.K.,” he says. “As a growing business, we were spending a large amount
of time dealing with receipts, approvals, travel issues, and policy compliance.
We really saw an opportunity to bring a new level of automation to the

Bob and his brother Alan Neveu founded Certify,
a Portland, Me.-based startup focused on automating expense reports, in 2008.
The Neveu brothers had started their previous company, Recruiternet, in 2000,
and sold it to First Advantage Corporation in 2005, so they initially funded
the new venture themselves. They
secured $1.9 million in a series A funding round in 2009

Earlier this year, Certify reached profitability and
added ReceiptParse
to its mobile and web-based platforms. “Using
the Certify mobile app, you take a picture of that receipt and ReceiptParse will
automatically extract expense data and build an expense report automatically,
all of it coded,” says Bob. “We’re literally automating the process so a CFO or
comptroller can choose from 11 different methods for capturing receipts.”

most providers in the space focus on expense reports, Certify also offers Certify Travel, a
corporate travel booking tool launched in January.
Through the online booking platform, companies can establish corporate booking
policies such as “they cannot book business class or they have to get the $89
rate at a hotel,” explains Bob. After a user books an itinerary in Certify
Travel, it automatically generates an accompanying expense report.

Another way that Certify differentiates itself from
competitors is by offering on-demand expense reporting. “You can literally go to our website as a single
user or a small business and have the product live instantly,” says Bob.  “[Other companies] still have elongated
implantation cycles. We’re a true SaaS model.”

brothers have worked together since 1998 and attribute their success to
complimentary skill sets and a willingness to stick to each one’s individual
strengths. “I see a lot of companies that are a whole bunch
of tech people trying to make a company,” says Alan, who is CTO to Bob’s CEO. “Or
you see a company that are excellent marketers. I think I read probably 15
years ago about the benefits of having both sides of the house covered by two
strong leaders.”

They may respect each other’s skills, but Alan can’t help adding,
“once in awhile Hardware Bob comes out to reconfigure a router and you’ve just
got to let him do it.”

Now with 22 employees, Certify has tripled its business year
over year for the past four years, and Bob predicts that they’ll continue to
see growth in all segments: Fortune 500 companies, mid-market and small
businesses. “We have one product that scales to all of those various marketplaces,
but the mid-market, companies with 100-5,000 employees, for us has been the
real sweet spot,” he adds.

Susan Johnston is a journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Susan on Twitter (@UrbanMuseWriter) by clicking here.