Automating Financial Admin for Small Businesses
Listen to this episode here: Automating Financial Admin for Small Businesses
Welcome to our blog for TALKING NUMBERS with Paul Jansz! In this episode, we share our conversation with Michael Nuciforo, the Founder and CEO of Thrive, a new app working as your automated financial admin for small businesses and sole traders. At Thrive, everything is about making businesses thrive.
Michael has been busy since graduating from university. He feels lucky to be involved in the digital and mobile banking area, and he launched the first mobile banking service at ANZ in 2009. After that, Michael went to the UK, working as the Head of Mobile at RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) for two years. Lloyds Bank was his next stop for three years, where he witnessed the evolution of mobile banking services and the changes in the dynamic of how customers interacted with banks.
With years of first-hand experience, Michael noticed the huge number of opportunities to help small to medium businesses manage their finances. When he started his first start-up, a business called Parkour, he took the Airbnb model and applied it to parking. It has been growing significantly, with 100,000 members and over 20,000 parking spaces, most of which were not available to the public before Parkour’s launching. Parkour was a big success and was later acquired by a firm in Sydney called Spicer at the end of 2017. It fulfilled Michael’s lifelong ambition.
After that, Michael moved to New York. He worked for the third biggest online travel business in the US, selling flights, hotels, rental cars, and the turnover was about 40,000 tickets a day. Michael is now very happy to be back in Australia, the lucky country, with his family.
‘A CFO in Your Poject’
Michael says most people start a business because they have a particular passion or skill to take advantage of. Just like himself, when they start, they always have to wear a few different hats, such as: marketing; customer support, and CFO – managing all the finances of the business. For most small to medium businesses, the business owner is essentially the head of finance, which takes up a lot of time, at least five to six hours a week, to manage sales, reconcile the expense, pay the invoice and wages.
Time is the most precious commodity to these businesses, and good financial management is critical to success. Thrive is designed to change the paradigm of how businesses manage their money. Thrive tries to simplify and amalgamate the financial management aspects of the business. By partnering with a registered Australian bank and MasterCard, Thrive can issue a business account with a BSB, account number, and debit card. As the clients are transacting on their account, Thrive can utilise AI to take all the transaction information, reconcile it and categorise it, augment it with receipts and invoices in terms of PDFs and photos. The information is pulled out and integrated to provide a solution for customers to do their banking while fulfilling the accounting, tax, payments, and other financial admin functions. Thrive is designed to do a CFO’s work, so Michael and his team like to call it ‘a CFO in your pocket’.
Thrive will launch early in the second half of the year. The team is hoping to get to around 30,000 accountholders within the first 12 months. They are also looking to expand exponentially both locally and internationally.
Big Win in Raising to Begin
Thrive initially had 800+ investors wanting the invest and raised $3 million in three days. Michael says it was an incredible opportunity, and they were able to get a mixture of large wholesale investors alongside customers who want to use that product. The funds will be used to drive forward with their mission – help businesses to thrive. By engaging with future customers, they already have 8000 businesses on the waitlist to join. Michael says they hope to have 14k to 16k businesses by the time of launching.
Unique Approach with Accounting
Michael introduces that Thrive is a bank account, plus Xero and PayPal, in one place. Thrive has been interacting with accountants and is fortunate to sign up a number of accounting firms to try its accounting function.
Thrive will push all transaction information in the form of a bank feed to Xero or other platforms. For any accountants that are already leveraging those platforms, that information will be available. Thrive will also allow customers to provide direct access to their accountants or bookkeepers, through the form of a secure login, so that they can view the information and support the business.
Michael says many accountants had the experience of clients coming in with a shoebox full of receipts, with not much in the way of financial records. Thrive will help with that by scanning receipts and invoices, making digital recordings, organising, and automatically reconciling.
Thrive will support both the business and the key advisors, such as accountants and bookkeepers. Thrive will open up information, share open data, and allow accountants to see how their business clients are performing in real-time.
Michael thinks MasterCard has been incredible for Thrive from day one. As a huge brand, MasterCard is very open to FinTech space; and their mission is to help small to medium businesses as well, which align with Thrive. After taking a long time to do due diligence on each other, Thrive runs a competitive process and finally has MasterCard on board.
Thrive will also have a unique Customer Advisory Board, put together, as a group of business owners, to help to assess Thrive’s performance monthly. Self-nominate members are welcome. Michael says customer performance and satisfaction metrics are critical to them and they need direct feedback.
Piece of Advice
Michael thinks the key thing he learned gradually over time is to not to be afraid of failure. Ultimately, when you’re doing things, there’s always the chance that won’t work out. Keep pushing yourself, if you fall, pick yourself up, then you gain more confidence, and good things will happen. Don’t care about failing, just looking forward to the future.