With his new startup Countingup, Tim Fouracre aims to merge the worlds of accounting and banking
If you tell anyone even remotely familiar with the UK startup scene that London is world-leading in fintech, they’ll probably reply with a blank stare and something along the lines of ‘yeah, and in other news, rain’s wet.’ From challenger banks disrupting traditional financial services to machine-learning tech dealing with high-level economic calculations, technology is changing the way money is handled around the world much thanks to The City’s startups. Now, joining the metropolis’ fantastic fintech forces, Tim Fouracre has launched Countingup to use tech to bridge the worlds of banking and accountancy.
Having been a chartered accountant for the better part of the last decade, he was ideally placed to become the founder and CEO of the startup. “It seemed crazy to me that with today’s technology, accounting and banking were still two very separate systems,” he says to Elite Business. “Your bank statement is the ‘what’ i.e. the actual transactions happening in real time, and your accounting software is the ‘why’ i.e. the interpretation of those bank transactions for tax, compliance and understanding how your business is performing.” And speaking with thousands of clients over the years, Fouracre knew he was hardly the only one thinking it was odd that these two worlds remained separate. “If these two systems were one, then businesses could get on with their banking and we could automate the tax and compliance bit with huge benefits in terms of increased productivity and insights gained,” he says. And with the launch of Countingup in 2017, that’s exactly what he set out to do.
Fortunately, Fouracre isn’t new to the startup game. In fact, he’d previously served as the founder and CEO of Clear Books, a cloud accounting and payroll software company. Now, he’s using the insights learned during his tenure to speed up the growth of Countingup. “It taught me a huge amount because, as with any startup, there are many challenges and obstacles to overcome,” he says. “While no two startups are the same, the lessons on how to attract and hire talent, how to manage your time effectively, put in place a clear vision for the team and a focused strategy to achieve that vision are applicable across many industries.” For instance, this experience had taught him the importance of having a brand style guide. “[It] was one of the first things I put in place at Countingup but is not something I even considered when I started my first business,” Fouracre says. “A brand style guide meant we had a consistent look and feel on our marketing website, in our presentations and in the banking app, right from the start.”
Having crowdsourced thoughts and opinions from people he trusted, Fouracre, he then began sourcing talent for his venture. “[I] roped in an old classmate from sixth form college, Mike Moate, to take on the role of CTO,” he says. Together they used the style guide to create a presentation deck, set up a marketing website and other small but essential bits needed to begin the life of a startup.
Following these initial efforts, the team set out to find people willing to invest in their budding business. “Having been in the accounting software industry for a number of years, I was fortunate enough to have built up a level of credibility,” says Fouracre. This trust in his expertise provided the pivotal platform they needed to convince angel investors to bet on their success in a venture-backed pre-seed round. “When investors are putting in money to fund an idea, really they are backing you,” he says. “Your passion and commitment to the idea must shine through [and] you also need a good idea.” No wonder then that he was able to raise $750,000 last year alone.
With this influx of capital in the bank, the pair had everything needed to recruit an excellent product team to build the minimum viable product (MVP). “It was very important that we kept control of the user experience from the beginning and did not outsource any development,” he says. “This meant we had a small, tight-knit team who worked closely together to get the MVP built in a very short space of time, while maintaining a very high quality.” In six months since they’ve launched their product, Countingup first provided it to sole traders before expanding it to limited companies. “We are currently serving hundreds of customers on our platform and adding new customers every day,” says Fouracre.
When asked why he thinks the fintech sector has attracted so many entrepreneurs over the past decade, he says it’s been a long time coming. “Traditional banks used to have an untouchable position with high barriers to entry and huge costs associated with starting up,” Fouracre details. “With the technology of today, the costs are much lower and the barriers to entry have been removed. This has led to challenger banks coming into space and focusing on providing what the big banks have lacked – an excellent customer experience.”
Given these insights and his business acumen, it’s easy to see why he’s bullish about Countingup’s future. “We believe that every small business could have their accounting and banking in one place – it’s the simple way to run a business,” he says. “We’re on a mission to make that happen.” That’s why the company is now actively working on perfecting its offerings to SMEs. “Coming soon to Countingup will be invoicing and [Making Tax Digital] features,” Fouracre concludes.