With all the technological disruption taking place around the globe, traditional business models are being challenged wherever you look. The financial services industry is no exception.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Charlotte Petris, CEO of Melbourne-based startup Timelio. Timelio is a peer-to-peer platform that enables business owners to sell their outstanding debtor invoices to investors for cash, thus freeing up valuable capital to help them grow.
If that doesn’t sound impressive enough, Charlotte is also a startup mum, having founded Timelio with husband Andrew Petris…with two children in tow!
What was the original inspiration behind starting Timelio?
Timelio was founded by myself and Andrew Petris, a husband-wife team! We are both Chartered Accountants and previously worked together at RBS in London. I worked in corporate finance advising businesses on finance and strategy and Andrew worked in asset management.
I noticed how tough it was for SMEs trying to grow a business without access to adequate finance. It was also very clear that the industry has not kept pace with changes in technology. So we created Timelio to bring together SMEs directly with investors. It’s a win-win in that business owners get working capital to grow their business and investors have direct access to new investment opportunities. We saw a huge opportunity to use technology to give SMEs a better deal.
While we were building the technology I spoke with many business owners. They were having the same problems I had seen before and were saying, “When you launch, can we use it”?
What has been the biggest challenge?
As a start up, you talk to many service providers from lawyers to banks to freelancers. They will all say “Yep, sure, I can do it” then months pass and you realise either they can’t, or it’s going to cost you a lot more than you thought. It’s an expensive mistake to make but if you get it wrong, you have to learn fast, quickly cut it and do it a different way.
You mentioned that your co-founder at Timelio is also your husband (Andrew). I understand that you have two children together. How do you balance life as a ‘Startup Mum’?
Very poorly! I am sure if you ask any working mum, they will agree that it feels like you are spread so thinly. But I think it is a unique, yet wonderful experience for children to be exposed to running a business from a young age. They gain an appreciation of a different type of work ethic, one that is required to get a startup off the ground. Although, my daughter’s knowledge of invoice finance is somewhat disturbing for a seven year old!
You were recently selected as one of 10 participants in the 2015 Springboard Enterprises Australia Accelerator Program (congratulations!). What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I have just finished a week in Sydney participating in the Springboard “bootcamp”. Springboard is a community of innovators, influencers and investors that help female entrepreneurs build high growth technology companies. It was an amazing experience and one that I continue to reflect upon. One of the highlights was the “Dolphin Tank” which involved pitching to a panel of VC’s and a room full of investors, with the purpose of receiving feedback with an interactive discussion. The program going forward consists of a period of mentorship with the support of a personal advisory team to help drive strong growth for the business and gain important connections for expansion.
What is next for Timelio?
We are excited to have recently announced our new brand and name, Timelio (formerly InvoiceBid). This change reflects a focus on the key benefits of “Money today. Growth tomorrow” and kicks off the start of our marketing campaign that continues to build awareness of our product. Many businesses believe that traditional financing routes offer the only options, unaware that there are innovative and new approaches to funding.
We are investing significantly in our platform to concentrate on further integrating processes and improving the end user experience. We are working towards having applications approved within minutes and integrating our platform into cloud accounting software.
Like many startups that are growing fast, our focus at the moment is also on building a great team. We are actively recruiting across many areas of the business and keen to hear from anyone who is passionate about joining a disruptive and rapidly growing fintech startup!