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Next step for Frisian startup Tapp

Growth funding from first users Scherpenhuizen and Freshclusive for paper data loggers

A few years ago, the startup Tapp developed an alternative data logger by integrating sensors and chips with paper made from agricultural waste. Although it was a promising idea, entering the market proved challenging. "As newcomers to the industry, we discovered that our competitors were large US companies with multi-million dollar sales. To compete with them as a startup, we needed a different approach and financing. You can't succeed with just local pride; you have to think bigger."

Tapp eventually secured growth funding from Scherpenhuizen and Freshclusive, the latter also being a user of paper data loggers. "Paul Schockman of Freshclusive was our first user and has always been hugely enthusiastic. He helped improve the product by constantly asking critical questions. This is how we shaped the product together. Paul often told me that I could always come back to him if I needed anything, so that's what I did."

"We talked to many potential investors and eventually settled with Scherpenhuizen and Freshclusive. It felt like a good fit, almost like a marriage," Niels says. Financial details about the investment are not disclosed for competitive reasons, but according to Postma, they are in line with a typical seed round for a startup.

Atypical start for a startup
Since its inception, the Leeuwarden-based company has grown 40 percent annually. Tapp now has 90 customers in various sectors, including agriculture and floriculture, but finding the right target group was a challenging journey. "At the start, we had a somewhat atypical beginning for a startup. Usually, a startup comes up with a solution to a problem. We had a solution and then started looking for the best market to monetize it. Our search began somewhat broadly. We developed a working product and then looked for a suitable market. Little did we know that both the agricultural and ornamental sectors used data loggers extensively. Fortunately, the Netherlands provides an excellent business climate for this."

"I appreciate that many companies are genuinely committed to sustainability, not just using it as a buzzword. That's where our paper loggers fit in perfectly. We have embedded three elements in the paper: a sensor, a battery, and an NFC chip. We use agricultural waste, not wood fiber, as the paper's basis, making our approach nearly circular. Today, standard data loggers are discarded as electronic waste, which is disastrous for the environment. Our smart loggers can simply be recycled with waste paper, and the information is shareable on all phones."

"Initially, the paper only measured temperature, but we now also measure humidity. We have a variant that can measure temperatures down to -30ÂșC. We are also revamping the entire dashboard and hope to introduce the new version this summer," Niels says. "Eventually, we want to read 10,000 data points from the paper without needing an app. No competitor offers that."

Tapp plans to use the growth funding to obtain the necessary certifications and further develop the product. "For instance, we want the paper to send data automatically to the cloud, so you no longer need a smartphone," Niels explains. The marketing and sales organization also needs strengthening. "When you come here, you mostly see programmers who have done a fantastic job developing the product. But at the end of the day, we also need to go out into the market, which we've been doing far too little of in recent years. I would love to have a stand at Fruit Logistica, for instance. That's much easier to organize now!"

For more information:
Niels Postma
Mob: +31(0)6 4194 7785
[email protected]

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