Four years ago Flow was founded by Daan van Klinken, Niels Mulder and Danny Wilson. Now there is a well-functioning app, a talented team and enough money to continue developing Flow. But how did the idea for Flow actually come about? And what do carpooling, an alpaca farm and Alexander Klöpping have to do with it?
It all started when Daan and Niels were studying Communication and Multimedia Design in Rotterdam. They were not in the same class, so they did not do projects together, but instead competed with each other. Niels: "We were a bit like each other's rivals, and knew about each other: he's a good one.
After his studies, Daan went to work for an Amsterdam design agency, and not much later asked Niels if he would like to become his colleague. And so it happened. Together they did many design projects, for apps like Philips, Buienradar and Liberty Global (Ziggo).
Every day the two of them carpooled from Rotterdam to Amsterdam. Being real design nerds, they had developed a web app that kept track of who was driving when. During these trips, they brainstormed a lot about developing their own idea. Daan: "We always came up with something, and then six months later it was there, and someone else had made it. At a certain point we were so fed up with it, we thought: there's no shortage of good ideas, we should just do it."
Fantasizing about fintech
They had built an app in just about every category on the Appstore, but not yet in fintech. "In the financial sector it remained a bit quiet anyway, because all those banks don't come up with new things that quickly. So there was room for us there," says Niels.
They had the drive, but not the experience in the financial sector. And so they decided to look for a job in precisely that sector. They worked as a duo again, this time leading the product team of Yolt, ING's digital checkbook. As freelancers, they earned a lot more than in their previous jobs. Niels: "But we agreed: we'll pay ourselves our old salary, and all the money we have left over we'll put aside for our company." Not knowing what kind of company that would be, by the way. But their idea came together not much later.
As freelancers, Daan and Niels experienced what a financial drag working for yourself entails. "VAT, costs, profit, salary and all sorts of regulations. Quite a lot of hassle. And we saw around us that other freelancers didn't like this and often didn't have it properly arranged either," says Daan.
Tackling money habits
"At the same time, we noticed that household book apps don't do enough. They give you insight into what you've already spent, but they don't help you do things differently in the future," adds Niels. So the two came to the conclusion that they missed an app that not only lets you divide your money between jars, but also helps you tackle your money habits. An app that looks ahead with you and makes sure you have everything arranged for when you have expenses or receive money, such as municipal taxes or child benefit. Daan: "Flow is a future plan for your money."
The seed that had been planted germinated during a hackathon with like-minded friends at an alpaca farm in Friesland. Within a weekend, there was a working prototype. Daan decided to tweet about it, and that tweet was picked up by Blendle founder Alexander Klöpping. Niels: "Then suddenly the number of registrations went really fast and we thought: we want to continue with this!"
Control over money
They quit their jobs at ING - Flow was too much in the same league as Yolt - and went to work part-time as freelancers at Schiphol Airport. That way they had enough time to invest in their new business. And now Flow is one Chamber of Commerce registration, a successful PSD2 application, two investment rounds and a whole lot of old versions of the app ahead of them.
What has remained unchanged in those few years: the two men's mission to change the relationship people have with money by giving them control. Daan: "Money should make your life easier, instead of more complicated. With Flow, you divide your money between all kinds of jars, which saves you time, gives you peace of mind and allows you to focus on the things that are important to you."