Meet Sonni Christine Jakobse- Founder and CEO at Bill Kill AS, a payment gateway that gives rewards for every purchase made.
Sonni is a founder with a special interest in innovation and digitalisation. Her 15 years of experience in banking/finance and debt collection include a degree in organizational psychology and a Master’s degree in strategic business development & innovation.
Before she founded Bill Kill, she worked in a large company and had a very good position that she enjoyed with no stress, a steady income and no challenges. The idea behind her venture was related to the same industry she had her job in. “I saw an opportunity where companies could save large costs and consumers could get a better overview of everyday life when it came to the invoice payment. I also saw that many of today’s manual processes could be digitised, which could save a lot of time in a hectic everyday life. There was no glorification with startups when we founded the company in 2016, and many people thought it was daring. But, we could not leave the idea untouched and did it anyway,” she says.
When she and the other co-founders got this business idea and got to the point where they could not let it go and move on without trying, they knew they had to do something about it. She says, “We knew it would work technically and it was about coming up with a good business model that also generated a high revenue.”
Bill Kill combines useful payment tools and rewards programs to give you an opportunity to earn points for your invoice payments with well-known bonus programs like Amex, Mastercard and BK Zen. For many, money can be tough, complicated and stressful in a hectic everyday life; lack of knowledge of one’s rights and opportunities when they face financial difficulties often lead to bad decisions. BK’s app contains useful tools that can help you to avoid reminder fees and debt collection cases. lt is not like the other payment apps: Sonni and her team do not profit from late payments, interest on credit cards and debt; they only benefit when their users achieve healthy personal finances.
According to Sonni, the first years are always the toughest- building something that does not exist in the market from scratch is tough, especially in a male-dominated industry. Her team has faced many challenges along the way and have been close to bankruptcy several times in the first few years. She believes to overcome such issues, it’s important to stay focused on what you believe in and what you want to build- after all, in the end, it is what gets you through all the difficult times.
Apart from this, they have faced many other challenges- everything from running out of money, having too little time, failing at the business model, laying off employees and even having the wrong investor. “If you enter this industry with an attitude that challenges are a one-time event, you will get many surprises. Many people do not like to talk about the challenges they face and say that they displace them and move on quickly. I q,” she says.
Sonni and the team launched Bill Kill in March 2020 and the same year the venture saved their consumers’ $ 36K in reminder fees. In May 2021, they launched a new product- Master Bill Kill. The response was huge and they received over 620 paying subscribers in only 18 days and tripled the payment volume in a few days. Everything happened without any kind of marketing and only through organic distribution and they are confident that they will break their own record when they start spending money on actual marketing.
Looking back at her life, Sonni has had to make some changes when I founded her company. She says, “The biggest change is probably in my private life and in my social life. Suddenly I had less time per day and I have to prioritize how/who I spend my hours with. The transition from an 8-4 job to 12-15 hours is great, but the difference is that now I do not feel that I ‘work’. With time, I have become better at prioritizing people/things that give me energy and knowledge.”
She believes if she can do this, so can other aspiring women. As long as we do something we believe in and love to do, there are perhaps a few things that can actually stop us. For this, it is important to be sceptical of other people’s opinions, even if they mean well. Everyone knows best what they do, and focusing on what they want to achieve should be the only goal. “Have faith in yourself, because when you do, others will do the same. Good luck!” she exclaims.