Hot four under 40: Drew Broadley, Paperkut

To celebrate our 40th issue, we found four smarties under 40 each doing their own thing. Here's how they did it and why they're choice.

To celebrate our 40th issue, we found four smarties under 40 each doing their own thing. Here's how they did it and why they're choice.

Paperkut founder Drew Broadley envisions less dead trees and more efficiency – starting with paperless receipts to help free your wallet.

We wrapped Broadley in more than a few rolls of paper for his photo shoot, but so far in his drive for paperless receipts, he’s created more than enough to offset what we used. (And recycled, of course.)

Broadley stumbled upon the idea of Paperkut when he was a contractor and trying to reassure his wife that he’d remember all his receipts when it came to tax time.

“I’m well-known for losing things,” Broadley says. “Things stewed for a while, and then an opportunity to put that idea to the test arose on seeing a Wellington Council-funded initiative in 2010 called Bright Ideas Challenge.”

He made it to the finals and then won a scholarship for a business course to take the idea further, and started spending his nights at networking events talking to others with the same interest.

Some TechNZ funding helped get the ball rolling, but the arrival of a baby, coupled with his nine-to-five job, slowed things down. Then business partner Nick Harley came on board and the rest, says Broadley, is history.

He’s also built a showcase product called Free Your Wallet, which gives customers a place to automatically get a digital copy of their purchase receipts.

“Free Your Wallet is where a shopper would go to view their receipts, tag and file them away for later use or just visit on a need to basis when a product is faulty or they need a receipt for an expense claim when they shop at a retailer enabled with our product.

“One of the main features is where the receipt can be automatically forwarded to an elected email address depending on how the purchase was made, and other facets – for example, forwarding to your company’s accountant when a purchase is made on the company card.”

Broadley says there are indeed others out there with the same idea – and the first enemy is the DIYers:

“The people who already take photos of receipts and have meticulous filing habits that would put the IRD to shame.”

Technology is catching up and as it does so, the notion of paperless receipts is becoming achievable, although there are speed bumps such as low adoption rates, privacy concerns and behaviour changes.

“The key with Paperkut is that we understand shoppers and we’re not wanting them to change a single thing about their spending habits – except spending more at our participating retailers. Same goes for retailers – a new product usually means additional staff training, staff behaviour changes and potential downtime while kinks are worked out. We offer a product that plugs in, and works in the background without a single change in behaviour when shopping online or instore while maintaining the utmost privacy of data collected.”

Where to now? Broadley says they’ve got a working product and are finishing off some integrations with vital industry partners. Last month they launched their beta in tandem with hosting a stand at the Retail Australasia Expo at the Aotea Centre in Auckland. From that point people have been able to use the Free Your Wallet service developed upon the Paperkut Paperless Receipts platform.

“When I think about business success, I have a phrase I recall: ‘It’s only ever a hobby, until you turn a profit’,” he says.

Here’s to profit, then.

Don’t try to do everything yourself
"Learn your weaknesses and get someone on board who can complement them with strengths. Build a team, because they will be your foundation when your company hits a pivot point that needs a clear and decisive action when you don’t know what to do. Don’t read too much on the internet, it’s good to keep a pulse on the competition and market. Time is mostly best spent doing, rather than talking or reading about it.

"One thing at a time. You aren’t superhuman, no matter how many Superman/Batman T-shirts you own – or bat suits and black Lamborghinis. You have people relying on you, both business and personal, so burning your candle low doesn’t make you a very reliable support post when others need you. This usually ends up with you turning into a grumpy, easily frustrated, short-tempered fool and it only burns bridges (trust me on that).”

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).