When it comes to freelancing, tracking and organising heap of invoices, spreadsheets and receipts, it can be really daunting. Undoubtedly, it is a tiring and time-consuming process while running your business. And you may want to outsource the task as it helps you manage accounting, payroll, expenses, and more.
While there are lots of account keeping services available online, one of them which is excelling in the field is Edinburgh-based software accounting firm, FreeAgent. It is one of the UK’s largest and most popular online accounting services and Silicon Canals recently got an opportunity to meet the chief executive and co-founder of the company, Ed Molyneux. Speaking to him, we got to know a lot about the accounting software, the company’s roadmap for 2019, and more.
Ed Molyneux, who is a former RAF fighter pilot, co-founded FreeAgent in 2017 with Olly Headey and Roan Lavery, when they realised there were not many good online accounting softwares available in the market, especially for freelancers.
Before Freeagent, he had set up his business as a defence technology consultant in 2003 as a freelancer, but struggled on the financial administration side and ran into difficulties keeping up with the tax deadlines. He says, “I wasn’t very good at managing my money and planning for taxes and staying up to date with things and there were no decent options to outsource our work too.” Thus, we decided to put their heads together and concluded that there must be a better way to deal with their accounts.
Cloud-based accounting system
FreeAgent is a provider of cloud-based ‘Software-as-a-Service’ accounting software solutions and mobile applications designed specifically for UK micro-businesses – sole traders and companies with fewer than 10 employees and their accountants.
The British fintech startup follows a subscription model. “Everyone gets a 30-day free trial, post that users need to pay either monthly or annually to continue to use the products.”
According to Molyneux, the Freeagent platform is continuously updated and improved since the tax legislation is changing all the time.
What about competition?
At present, the company is focusing purely on the UK and have no plans of expansions outside the UK. “We are doing a specific job, and we’d rather spend our time getting those right.” FreeAgent is currently nearing 100,000 active users and focuses on micro-businesses, which account for 95% of the UK’s 5.5 million businesses.
Talking about the competition, Molyneux mentioned Quickbooks (a small business financial software that tracks, organises, and manage finances), Xero (a suite of online accounting software for small businesses, and accountants that enables its users to track and manage cash flow processes, invoicing, payments, and more.), The Sage (a platform that provides small and medium-sized organisations with a range of easy-to-use, secure and efficient business management software and services). He further added, “They are there more for slightly bigger businesses, and not so many freelancers.”
Future of accountants!
The future is here, so does the fear of losing jobs to automation and artificial intelligence. Ed Molyneux indicated that some are keen on the platform and the way it helps their clients, while others are more sceptical and worried about losing their jobs to robots. However, he cleared the air immediately by affirming nothing of this sort would ever happen.
With this platform, the company aims to ease the workload of accountants having to chase their clients for information, thus freeing up time for providing other value-added services. “Accountants should be spending more time doing the interesting thing and less time doing boring things.”
Teaming up with RBS in 2018!
One of the leading banks in the UK for business banking, Royal Bank of Scotland Group acquired FreeAgent for around €60.5 million, last year. While the company runs as an operationally independent entity, Molyneux says, “We are part of the RBS group, and they helped us build more things and grow faster.” The company has now grown from three employees to over 200.
Molyneux also hinted at adding new features, including banking functionality and building a whole bunch of different propositions. Furthermore, he advised not to create a solution before identifying the problem. The first thing, according to Molyneux, is to find the problem to solve.
FreeAgent won the Best Small Business Accounting Software category at the 2018 AccountingWEB Software Excellence Awards and is a former winner at the British Accountancy Awards. The company is an FCSA partner and has been listed twice on the Deloitte Fast 50, as well as being named “one to watch” in the Tech Track 100.
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