Klipit is digitising receipts to help users leave a paperless trail

Generation Start-up: The Dubai company aims to help people keep all invoices and manage finances under one platform

Venkat Reddy, founder and chief executive of Dubai start-up Klipit. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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While waiting at Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport, Venkat Reddy saw many people leaving a shop and then throwing their receipts into a nearby rubbish bin.

What he saw that day in 2016 may be a common occurrence, but it was only at that very moment when it struck him that he could play an important role in curbing the wasteful practice.

It dawned on him that he was part of the problem that most of us also routinely ignore.

"That's what even I do. I would walk into a store, I would either tell the staff I don't want the receipt, or I would take it and trash it wherever I could. If I put it in my pocket, it'll anyway just go to the bin when I do the laundry," Mr Reddy, the founder and chief executive of Klipit, tells The National.

"That's when the concept came to me: how can we manage receipts differently and why should we do it differently? They're probably going into a landfill anyway."

Mr Reddy says he kept asking himself those questions until 2022, when he and his partners and co-founders – including Mohammed Al Bulooki, former chief operating officer of Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways – came together to form Klipit.

The Dubai-based start-up's proposition is "digitising your receipts for a clutter-free, eco-friendly and financially smart tomorrow", a multi-pronged approach that Mr Reddy says started with a different name.

Indeed, the issuance of digital receipts isn't new; a good number of retailers and banks give you the option to send their receipts to your registered e-mail accounts. But Klipit aims to provide more than that.

The drill is simple: instead of keeping paper receipts, Klipit provides an all-in-one system that stores them digitally, while enabling users to manage their expenses and keep track of their budgets – all on a blockchain-protected system.

And don't forget about the coupons, which can be used to avail anything from discounts to freebies, and the convenience of having all your receipts and vouchers in one app, instead of having to deal with each app of the retailers you've transacted with.

"I love coupons. Anything that you're getting for a better price, I think everybody would love that."

The first name was clipped

The first iteration of his brainchild was called mBills, short for mobile bills, but something seemed amiss with the name, says Mr Reddy, who before forming Klipit was involved in call centres and back offices in his native country India, and then in distribution houses and retail in Dubai.

"Hearing 'mBills' is like something that would remind you that you need to make payments – phone, credit cards and what-not – which, yes, sounds kind of negative," he says.

"We wanted to make it sound not just more positive but also more relevant to people for them to understand."

The name Klipit was then born, a play on "clip it" and a term Mr Reddy says is popular in the US, where people would collect coupons and vouchers and keep them clipped together.

In the UAE, retail major Carrefour famously had coupons printed on the back of their receipts, something Mr Reddy's former interns were fond of, and which he took notice of.

"They would go to Carrefour and buy just a bottle of water, but in return, they'd avail a Dh15 ($4) meal from Burger King," he says.

There's also a health element into Klipit's drive to promote paperless transactions. Studies have shown that thermal paper, normally used for printing receipts, contains Bisphenol A, an endocrine disrupting chemical that is also used in a wide range of consumer products.

More than 100 epidemiology studies suggest associations between BPA exposures and an increased risk of adverse health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sexual dysfunction and others, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

"That is harmful ... and there's no harm and doing something to prevent it," Mr Reddy says.

Digital receipts, on the other hand are "neither susceptible to getting lost or causing pollution like paper receipts", according to Klipit's Apple App Store page.

A sustainable goal

While the digitalisation of services has become commonplace, there is still a huge dependence on paper by a very good number of organisations. Mr Reddy believes going paperless will help drive home the sustainability message and can serve as an important starting point for people who wish to support and promote this global agenda.

"Everybody understands that taking a sustainable route is easy, but where it gets important is ensuring that these sustainable changes are convenient for consumers," he says.

"Everybody has done some sort of lifestyle change to ensure the reduction of carbon footprints. But for products like us, which is at the entry level of the spectrum of sustainability, change per se would require a lot of knowledge – the gap of which we try to fill."

Klipit's paperless mission also resonated with the Dubai Paperless Strategy, launched in 2018, which set out to completely end paper use by the government by December 12, 2021.

The goal was achieved achieved a day before that deadline, as all 45 public entities went paperless to make the Dubai government the first in the world to become fully paperless.

"We want consumers to understand its benefits, so it helps them take the right choice and decision," Mr Reddy says.

In terms of funding, the start-up has technically not raised any investments, although its co-founders, which includes angel investors, have set aside $4 million in capital to develop its product.

Klipit is currently concentrating on developing its service, on-boarding retailers and getting users to download the platform in preparation for a general consumer launch in August. Mr Reddy declined to provide target retailer and user numbers.

The company declined to identify the major retailers it will be signing agreements with, but says it will make an announcement soon.

But once "successfully making the product a market fit", the company is open to having discussions to attract more funding, most likely towards the end of 2024.

"The more people are talking about it, the more it's an advantage for us," Mr Reddy says.

"What we're talking about right now is probably just 2 per cent of what Klipit can do from a potential point of view."

Q&A with Venkat Reddy, chief executive and founder of Klipit

What challenges are you seeing in the start-up sector?

It's understanding if the product is relevant in today's times. That's the most important question one has to ask. And going from my experience, I asked that question from 2016 until 2022, and then we jumped into building it. So we were very, very sure that a market like this requires it.

Second is strategies involved around awareness of your product. If you're able to crack that, then your product would automatically become extremely popular.

And look for funds, not when you are out of it, but when you have enough and you can decide whose you want and don't want. Having the right partners is very, very critical.

How different would it have been if you started during the pandemic?


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

It would've been a lot more different because people would not meet you during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, so it would've been a lot more difficult to convince people as to what the product is all about.

But again, from a certain point of view, everybody had gone to and most people started doing e-commerce. At that point in time, we probably would've not been as relevant as what we are today from a receipt point of view because everybody was doing online purchases, which technically means you were getting digital receipts, but not in an extremely efficient format.

What was Klipit's most interesting moment?

We are still going through it, which is product awareness. Even as co-founders, we didn't know so much about digital receipts being so impactful to the market. We didn't know about a paper receipt being that harmful for the environment. So that was awareness that we got through research and through just reading about what happens with paper receipts.

So our challenge even today is product awareness where people don't realise how impactful these can be if you stop using paper and start going digital.

What would you have set up if you did not create Klipit?

I would still be around the entire innovation and customer-centric module itself. It just comes back to Klipit; I can't think of anything else.

I always dream – I dream in terms of what all I could do with the product and how we can make it customer centric. I'm a daydreamer day in and day out.

What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs?

Dream, chase, conquer. That's it.

And, as Mr Al Bulooki insists, keep the product simple as possible – so it will work.

Updated: April 16, 2024, 11:51 AM

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded