Today is a big day for us – we have received the funding! A lot has happened since our first days with elopage. Some of our community knows the struggles we have experienced. Today we want to take the chance and take you back to the beginnings of elopage.
This is how the long journey began! – From a simple checkout page to a SaaS platform
Today, elopage offers more than 40,000 businesses a sales platform and the option of simple payment processing. The goals of expanding in the DACH region and the European market have been set. But how did it all begin?
It all started with the two founders Özkan and Tolga and their shared vision to create something new and groundbreaking. The beginnings of elopage were anything but straightforward. There were many hurdles to overcome in order to turn elopage into one of the fastest-growing SaaS platforms in Europe.
A good idea alone does not guarantee success.
All of us probably know that not everything in life always goes smoothly. In the first few years, we have also experienced setbacks time and again. It all started with an idea from Özkan: he wanted to bring restaurant owners and guests together and develop an app for a simple ordering and payment system. In 2013, he founded Elopay GmbH. After the initial vision was in place, Özkan met Tolga through a mutual friend.
Özkan’s initial idea turned into a shared vision: an app for easy money transfer. Not only for restaurants, but for private individuals. This is how elopay.me was born, a web version of the app that enabled instant payments. With his technical background, Tolga was able to further develop the original app. Full of drive, the two worked on their business model and tried to win over investors.
But the successes failed to materialise. At the beginning of 2015, the account showed 0 euros. Friends, family, acquaintances – they all repeatedly advised them to abandon their joint venture. However, instead of burying their heads in the sand, Özkan and Tolga stuck to their vision. They wanted to launch a completely new payment system on the market with elopay.me. The search for investors was put on hold
The next setback was not long in coming. In mid-2015, Paypal launched a new payment system – paypal.me. The extreme similarities between paypal.me and elopay.me forced the team to rethink yet again.
5, 6 or even 7 pivots? Going door to door was the order of the day!
The two founders remained convinced of the basic idea of enabling payments entirely without technical integration and without exchanging sensitive data. The solution was there and offered an incredible amount of potential. But for which user group was it most valuable? To define that, Özkan and Tolga tried to convince different markets to go digital. The goal was to finally earn money for the first time!
Giving up was not an option. We worked on the product-market fit constantly and kept turning the ‘pivots’.Tolga Önal, Co-Founder of elopage
From now on, door-to-door canvassing was the new order of business! The two founders approached local restaurateurs – who could sell restaurant vouchers to their regular guests. Unfortunately, the restaurateurs were not very willing. Additional equipment for payments was not desired and the need for digitalisation was not yet great enough.
The two founders also saw potential for use among taxi drivers. They could offer their passengers a cashless payment method. To realise this idea, elopage developed a completely new technology: taxi drivers should authorise payments with a stamp. But here, too, there was little willingness, because: Taxi drivers wanted to avoid credit card payments as much as possible to avoid the high fees.
Audio tracks and professional photos sold for download also combined well with elopage’s original payment solution. This approach brought in hundreds of interested parties. But there were no takers; marketplaces like Gettyimages and Spotify had already conquered the market at that point. Therefore, elopage was not able to turn over a single euro even with this seemingly promising approach.
But: There were users who discovered the platform for themselves. Freelancers offered their services via elopage – the instant payment enabled immediate order processing, even on weekends. Other users sold ZIP folders with several files as downloads.
This is how elopay finally became elopage. The basic idea of the platform united the former FinTech company with a SaaS approach. On October 2, 2015, a guitar course that used to be delivered to buyers on CD generated the first transaction via elopage – and with it, the first turnover the company made in its three-year career to date.
Our USP: Focus on community & service obsession
The search for the right business model for elopage was over for the time being with this milestone. And with that, things started to happen in quick succession: every penny, every spare minute was invested in order to concentrate fully on the development of the FinTech-SaaS platform and to steadily increase the software’s potential.
Additional digital products such as online courses and memberships were created and the infrastructure of the software was constantly optimised to offer users the best possible start for their own business. Inspiration and ideas for new features often came directly from the community. To this day, we rely on the input of our users to make elopage better and better and to optimise it for realistic use cases.
With 15 employees at the time, elopage was in the black for the first time in 2018. EPX19, a two-day conference for digital entrepreneurs, marked another milestone for the team. In April 2020, two years after reaching breakeven, elopage already had 40 team members.
When the pandemic had us all firmly in its grip in May 2020, there was another jolt in the history of elopage. Suddenly, even those entrepreneurs who had previously only offered local services had to rethink. Whether it was a local gym or 1:1 coaching sessions in the office – all entrepreneurs were now forced to digitalise their products. For this need, elopage offers the perfect platform and enables online courses, downloads and webinars for the typical mainstream topics as well as for niche industries. Over the last year, the team has grown considerably to support new entrepreneurs on their way to digital business and to constantly expand the platform and services.
The next milestone? A real business boost for elopage!
Be it through EPX19, our award as one of the fastest growing start-ups in Germany or through renowned entrepreneurs who use elopage for their business – over the years we have repeatedly been able to attract a lot of attention in the entrepreneurial world. elopage was interesting for large corporations as well as investors, and the two founders have turned down several purchase and financing offers in the past. Nevertheless, the enquiries caused the two to rethink: after the initial, failed requests for financing, Özkan and Tolga decided to take the topic of financing into their own hands once again. They wanted to find suitable investors who would support elopage’s vision and philosophy.
With Target Global, Partech Ventures and Avid Ventures, they succeeded in doing just that: The investors pursue the elopage vision with the same dedication as the two founders Özkan and Tolga. The financing amount gives us a turbo for further growth. This will enable us to offer our customers even more services and exciting features for their own success story in the future. What exactly this investment means for us and for the elopage community, can be found in our blog.
Team first. Customers follow.
The journey of elopage would not have been possible without the team and the community. We are grateful to have built such a strong team and look forward to continuing to grow. This allows us to always take our services to the next level.
Only a strong and positive team can properly support and advance our customers’ businesses.Özkan Akkilic, Co-Founder von elopage
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the elopagers who have shaped and designed elopage!
Of course we don’t want to leave the community unmentioned either: A big thank you goes to our 40,000 customers who have always stood by us, believed in us and helped us get the most out of elopage!
Together, we empower entrepreneurs!