Start-Up „sproof“ from Salzburg wants to replace DocuSign in Europe

The Salzburg startup sproof.io, a spin-off of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, was able to win prominent major customers and thousands of private customers shortly after its founding in 2020. The European Super Angels Club and the renowned business angel Michael Repnik recently invested and want to replace the market leader DocuSign on the European market with the Salzburg founders.

The founders of sproof.io, Fabian Knirsch and Clemens Brunner. Photo: Florian Dorn

The spin-off of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, around the founders Clemens Brunner, Fabian Knirsch and Erich Höpoldseder, has set itself the task of making the handwritten signature disappear from everyday business life. For small businesses, medium-sized companies, large corporations and public institutions, daily signatures and contract signatures are part of everyday life. Although the qualified electronic signature has been legally equivalent to the handwritten signature since the early 2000s, many organizations are not yet taking advantage of this digitization opportunity. “It has failed so far due to questions of data protection, complexity and the quality of the digital signature, which must be guaranteed electronically via a trust service provider registered with the RTR,” explains Clemens Brunner, founder and CEO of sproof.io.

Handwritten signatures will soon be history

In addition to the Federal Accounting Agency, the Chamber of Commerce and Sony DADC, the Vienna City Business Agency has recently started using sproof.io to make signature runs DSGVO-compliant, digital, legally valid and efficient. For the issuing of certificates within universities and universities of applied sciences, sproof is used, as well as at the renowned law firm Binder Grösswang or at the legal software provider ADVOKAT.

The founders of sproof.io have noticed a growing interest in legally valid digital signatures, especially in the human resources sector, the real estate industry and public administration. “Currently, there are countless providers for digital signatures, especially in the American market. The problem is that many of these providers do not meet the high European data protection standards. In practice, disputes can ultimately end up in court due to the lack of legal certainty and lead to high costs,” says Fabian Knirsch, co-founder of sproof.io.

Without capital no growth

Startups usually need larger sums of venture capital, but this problem has also been solved for sproof.io for the time being. President of the European Super Angels Club and founder of Venionaire Capital, Berthold Baurek-Karlic recently invested a high six-figure sum as lead investor, but this is said to be just the beginning. “We used sproof.io ourselves and thus also got into talks about a possible investment. The founders are technically very strong, were able to convince institutional customers early on – our investment is a start, but certainly not everything. With the company we have a chance to replace the market leader DocuSign in Europe and for this we will invest a few more times”, says the investor Berthold Baurek-Karlic.

In addition to the European Super Angels Club and their business angel, the startup was also able to win the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) for a grant. “With the European Super Angels Club, we have a strong partner on our side, which means that nothing stands in the way of further growth. We see the first completed financing round as an important step towards our goal – to become the largest digital signature provider in Europe,” the founders are convinced.


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