In 2014, Karim Jouini (CEO) and Jihed Othmani (CTO) founded Expensya, a startup headquartered in Tunisia that provides software designed to automate expense management for businesses. At the time they started Expensya, they were working as engineers at Microsoft in France when they realized the challenges businesses face in managing their expenses.
Expense reporting, they discovered, was not only significant for businesses but important for the French government for taxation purposes. However, most of the solutions used in tracking expenses were quite ineffective.
“In 2014, when Expensya started, companies still used Excel spreadsheets or some form of bespoke data entry solution—the ‘so-called’ existing solution—to record and track their expenses,” Jouini told TechCabal.
They, therefore, founded Expensya to provide expense management tools for businesses primarily in Europe even though the company has expanded to Africa as well. The startup assists firms to manage the reimbursable expenses incurred by their employees on one single platform, according to TechCabal.
Expensya functions by allowing users to take a picture of their invoice and load it in an archive that every required stakeholder, including the government, could access. And according to the founders, this move made their startup the first legal digital invoice archive in France and even some parts of Europe.
“With Expensya, if you go to a restaurant, you can snap a photo of the receipt and throw it into the archive. Our archive is accepted by the tax authorities in Europe as a legal archive,” Jouini told TechCabal.
Today, the company operates in 90 companies and serves over 6,000 corporate businesses with about 500,000 employees altogether.
The company is also one of the most funded startups in Tunisia and the Maghreb region combined. In 2016, it raised its first funding and followed with other rounds of funding in 2017 and 2018. The company recently raised $20 million from French and German investors like Silicon Badia, MAIF Avenir, ISAI, and Seventure Partners.
Expensya has 160 employees across 20 countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, the U.S., Thailand, France, and of course Tunisia. Only 50 of the company’s employees are based outside Africa. The company opened an office in Paris in 2016 two years after starting the business in Tunisia. It subsequently opened another office in Spain and Germany, and this was aimed at building a local team in Europe.
Even though Expensya was birthed in France, it was moved to Tunisia to help build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, the founders said.
“Though a nascent ecosystem, it was an exciting time to start out in Tunisia. There were a lot of young talents but not a lot of successful startups. But it’s much cheaper to experiment in Tunisia than in other countries,” said Jouini.