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Meet the Midlands startup that wants to be the ‘Bloomberg of financial analytics’
The Birmingham-based fintech startup has developed a cross-sector platform that analyses data to compare businesses performance across lenders’ portfolios. This helps financial lenders predict the impact of future business decisions and make more informed decisions on who to lend to.
The company pitched at Tech Nation’s Rising Stars semi-final in Manchester earlier this year. We spoke to Joel Blake OBE, founder and CEO of the company, to find out more about its tech and time in the pitch competition.
How did the company start?
Joel Blake: In my previous finance business we were lending money to entrepreneurs, and the time it took us to process the financial data just to extract the insight we needed to make a decision on who we wanted to lend to was taking forever.
I thought that we could use tech to solve that problem, giving us the insight we needed to not only make more informed lending decisions, but also to track and monitor business performance after funding.
After speaking to other financial peers in the sector and our networks we discovered that we all had the same issue. We also found that we could use our tech to help them with their own post-funding compliance challenges; the larger the organisation, the more complex they are. The answer lied in using AI, tech and data analytics to make it work.
Can you explain more about how you use AI and data analytics?
We use data analytics and apply our secret algorithms within the platform. For us it’s about making sure that we get the insight that our clients want, ensuring that the decision trees and algorithms are flexible to the individual need of each business. As an organisation it’s about making sure that we get the overall insight that we can use.
Because we anonymise all the data in our system, every single business can use it how they wish. We see the overall patterns of what’s happening, which allows us to build a new marketplace of information that we own. AI for us is about making sure that we are owning the insight and can help our clients do whatever they need to better help them in their business.
“Birmingham is such a vibrant place right now. I think many people see it as a heavy manufacturing area, but over the last three or four years there’s been an explosion in the tech space.”
What’s your revenue model?
We charge an annual license fee for our partners, so they can receive deeper insights tailored to their needs, as a financial lender.
We also operate a very simple monthly subscription model which is wrapped into the actual loan repayment that our clients generate with their particular customers. Every single monthly subscription fee is locked in for an average minimum loan term of 3.5 years, so it’s a good sustainable revenue model.
Have you had any investment?
We raised some small investment to get started, which allowed us to build the first version of the product, in addition to branding, marketing and going out there in the market to test the MVP. Since then we’ve iterated with the platform twice, with no additional funding. That’s allowed us to be lean, and we’re getting to a point where we can get into the enterprise market.
For that to happen we would need to seek investment moving forward – seeking approx £400k – for us to invest heavily in staffing and marketing to get the message out there about what we’re doing, directing people to our platform and using our data in the best way possible.
How did you find pitching at Rising Stars?
We’ve been working with organisations through pilots, but for a pre-revenue company to be seen as one of the top 33 most innovative Rising Stars startups in the space is awesome for us. It really stamped the fact that over the last two and a half years we’ve spent time doing hard work building relationships and contracts, doing the testing, iterating and listening to our customers. That’s better than going out there as a tech company and putting a load of resource behind it without giving our customers what they need.
What’s it like being based in the Midlands?
Birmingham is such a vibrant place right now. I think many people see it as a heavy manufacturing area, but over the last three or four years there’s been an explosion in the tech space. More organisations are seeing the relevance of tech, not just wanting to be a ‘tech company’ but also seeing how they can use tech in their business.
What are your plans for the future?
To grow the business as quick as possible and hone in on the fact that we’re building a global marketplace of insightful data that everyone can own and use. Our vision is to become the ‘Bloomberg of financial analytics’, helping the financial space to really get the insight they need to make better decisions, helping us to meet our true purpose of building stronger UK businesses.