Zerocopy interview: A chat with Maxime Carpentier – Part 3

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Article 3 and the final part of our Zerocopy interview with Maxime Carpentier, CEO of Zerocopy. Today we will talk with Maxime about his achievements, finances and things we can expect for the future. enjoy!

1.    Which achievement are you most proud of?

That Zerocopy is doing something good in the world, lowering the financial barriers of education since 2012! and that we do this with a for  profit business model!

2.    How did you finance the development of your company?

When Zerocopy was launched, it was chosen to be a BVBA with an initial capital investment of 18 600 euros. If you start a company, you open an account to put that money on an account and it becomes the company’s money.

I joined Zerocopy in 2013 and invested all my private assets and even took a loan to buy a part of the company. When I started working, I immediately started saving as much as possible for the day I would start as an entrepreneur. Every euro was more than welcome!

One of the first things I did when joining the company, was making a financial plan. We had some investors that wanted to invest in Zerocopy in return for shares, but in the end we decided to take a loan for the bank. With that loan, we could rebuild the software system to scale up our service for Belgium.

3. Did the bank loan suffice for the development of the company?

Based on the agreed bank loan, we hired an IT agency to work on the software. We expected the money of the bank in August, but it only arrived in November. Those months were a very difficult period in which we were continuously out of cash. I was personally broke, because all my money was invested in the company. The company itself was also broke because we were paying every dime to the IT agency working on the IT system.

Even with the money from the loan and the clients paying their bills, we didn’t want to pay ourselves a salary. We wanted to keep as much money in the company as possible. This way we could make sure that we would survive.

It was only halfway through the second year, that we could pay ourselves a salary of a mere 850 euros a month. As a starting entrepreneur, you should always pay yourselves at least that amount of money, because that is the amount to which you don’t pay taxes. The money still goes out of the company but you can immediately put it back on the current account. When you are making enough profit, you can then first take the money from the current account, without paying taxes.

Although we were cash flow positive from day one, it was only in our third year that we became profitable. Still, we invested all our profits in future growth.

In the beginning, we never tried to get subsidised, because we saw it as a lot of work with little chance of success. Yet, in our current transformation of shifting from installing our own printers towards working with copy shops, universities and libraries, we acquired funds from the Brussels Innoviris and an SME-Growth Subsidy from the the Flemish government. We are really bootstrapping the company as much as possible.

4.    What are your expectations for the future?

Make the company as big as possible, and let the whole world print for free.

We hope you enjoyed the interview with our CEO and make sure to read our next post on the beauty of Memizan and the story of Christophe, founder of Flowtrack!

Haven’t heard of Flowtrack? They offer awesome trips for students, you can win a lot of tickets by adding your friends, wanna go surfing for free this Summer? Find out how, here

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