JD Drapeau (38)
CEO and founder of SnapAP, a cloud-based software platform that automates and streamlines the procure-to-pay process for businesses.
Hometown: Kedgwick, N.B.
Alma mater: Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) – Bathurst (Computer Programming)
Headquarters: Moncton, N.B.
What does SnapAP do?
SnapAP optimizes the way companies purchase and pay for goods and services from their suppliers. The platform automates the entire process with electronic purchase orders, invoices and payments.
A decade in the making
SnapAP grew out of the consulting work Drapeau and his partner did for more than 10 years helping companies fix their purchasing and accounts payable problems. “We ended up finding that procure-to-pay was an area that required more than what was available on the market, so we started to build a platform.” After his partner retired in 2019, Drapeau decided to reincorporate the company and build it around the technology. That’s when SnapAP was born.
How did you know you were on to something?
“Mostly through experimenting, trying little things in the market, getting feedback from customers and seeing what is the best fit for our technology with the demand out there.” Drapeau says hearing from both customers and their suppliers was key. “Getting the validation from a customer is great but getting validation from a customer’s customer or supplier, to me, that was the ‘Aha!’ moment.”
How big can this get?
“This is a trillion-dollar market. There’s competition in it, and there are others that are doing stuff that is either complementary or similar to what we’re doing. But we believe the way companies are going to behave in the future is going to be through a process of automation from procurement to payment.”
Biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome
“There are many obstacles and they seem to be changing all the time. The biggest challenge that I had to overcome in all of the companies I had before SnapAP was running out of funds, running out of work and having to let go of good employees. Getting rid of good staff is very, very difficult.”
Funding path so far
Up until now, SnapAP has been supported by a loan and a mix of sales and owner financing. The company may consider venture capital down the road if it needs to scale quickly.
What does growth look like now?
“It’s healthy and it’s growing. We’re in the process of establishing new partnerships and new sales channels.”
Recognition opens doors and boosts morale
Winning gold at the national Channel Innovation Awards in September 2019 gave the company a lot of exposure and a chance to meet key industry contacts. The win was also a great morale booster. “Being a founder, you have a love-hate relationship with a company. You love what you do, you love the product but all your headaches and all your pain seem to come from it as well. So to win an award and to have a community tell you, ‘This is a good idea and what you’re doing is good,’ it just reinforces that and it’s easier on the mind to know that there’s actual recognition for what you’re doing.”
The company also made important connections in the fintech and financial services world at an industry event in Las Vegas last October. SnapAP was one of 10 Atlantic Canadian tech startups to attend the Money20/20 conference as part of a trade mission led by the New Brunswick tech support organization Venn Innovation.
“We recently established a major new partnership with BAASS Business Solutions, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) reseller. We also have a partnership in the works with a credit card company that will give us another boost.”
Biggest risk you took with this venture
“I invested my savings in it. It’s the biggest risk but it’s also a calculated risk.”
Best advice you received
“To know when to not give up and to know when to give up. Also, experimenting before making a decision and experimenting in a way that’s not risking everything, not gambling.”
Tip for would-be founders
“First try to validate at the idea stage, find a mentor or mentoring group or people who know more than you and be willing to be wrong and to listen and to change and be able to adapt to change. Adaptability is what will make a company succeed.”
Is there anything interesting or quirky about your office?
“It doesn’t exist. We do most of our business using virtual tools like Zoom and Slack and things like that and I don’t know if we’ll ever have one. I’m a fan of no office space.” •