In order to keep employees at a company, there is often a company car or a fancy office. Florian Gottschaller, however, believes that at the end of the month there should also be more money in the employees’ bank accounts. He is the founder of app Lunchit, which gives employees about 100 euros more a month – and tax-free.
Gottschaller founded Spendit AG together with Ralph Meyer. The Munich-based company with 27 employees operates the prepaid MasterCard Spendit, in addition to the lunch-app Lunchit. Gottschaller previously worked as the CEO of luggage shipper Autoloader and as an investment banker at Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley among others. Gründerszene interviewed the founder.
Florian, how did you become an entrepreneur?
I always wanted to make something of my own. As a high school student I sold bicycles. In university I had a bar. Later I ended up in investment banking. After the financial crisis, I founded a company that manufactures robots for baggage handling. The company was then shut down and since 2013 I have built the current business.
Why did you start Lunchit?
Every company wants to facilitate lunch for their employees, normally with a canteen or vouchers. You can use these meal vouchers nationwide with 30,000 partners. However in total there are about 400,000 sites where you could buy lunch. Thus vouchers are very inflexible and outdated and they are mostly used on weekends – but this is tax evasion. We have invented a digital solution for these coupons.
What is the solution?
With the app you can scan the receipt from the restaurant and then get a refund from the company of up to 6.20 Euro per day with the next payroll. That is about 100 euros tax free per month.
Why should a company do this for its employees?
Employees feel well cared for with a range of additional services such as childcare, a company car, holiday pay or a canteen. The overall compensation seems more to them than it costs the employer actually. And all of these measures keep employees in the company.
You rely on tax beneficiaries. How exactly does it work?
We use the same scheme that applies to canteens. Food has a tax privilege in Germany. Therefore employers can give lunch to their employees tax free up to a value of 6.20 euros a day. But only under certain conditions: If it really is food and it is a working day. With our app you can’t, for example, pay for weekend purchases or alcohol and cigarettes.
Is this recognized by the app?
We can read and see everything. When an employee buys cigarettes for example then we advise him of the rules. There is a documented process, but the responsibility always lies with the employee. This has been clarified with the authorities – we got a release from the Ministry of Finance and the tax office in Munich.
Does every employee get the 6.20 Euro per meal reimbursed?
That depends what the employer is reimburses. The employer can set an amount from zero to 6.20 euros for each employee on our management platform.
And what does the employer pay for this service?
The first nine employees are free permanently. From the tenth staff member we take 14.90 euros per employee per month for smaller companies, or 149 euros per year.
Is it worth it then for the employer or are the tax benefits void that way?
With us you can give the employee some 1,200 euros (net) more. If an employer would want to do this as a raise, they would need a budget of about 2800-3000 euros. So we take about ten percent of the savings.
You have accumulated a lot of data, some of which is personal. What are you doing with it?
So far, nothing. But we know when you go eat, how much you spend on average, what you like and do not like. This is offline data, which Google doesn’t even have. But the most exciting thing is to have an app that is used almost every day. And it is positive that we teach people that the scanning of documents directly brings them cash and increases the net wage. Of course we are one hundred percent privacy compliant.
Where do you want to go in the future?
We want to be a digital hub for the HR department. There are other processes in administration which we want to digitize, for example, the control of the license for the office vehicle. In the Lunchit app there could be an additional tab, where the employee scans his license. We thus solve a problem, that currently keeps the HR department from doing their real work – namely to ensure that employees are happy and how to keep the best of them.
This interview was originally published on Gründerszene.