Calling the shots and being your own boss is super empowering but managing your own bookkeeping can be one of the most challenging aspects of being self-employed. Ember is the accounting tool that is built for business owners- not accounts. Ember integrates with users’ bank accounts and automates the entire accounting process, making it super easy to directly submit VAT returns, payroll,Ember and end of year accounts. This “accountant-free” technology costs £39 per month, whereas an average accountant costs around £120 per month. Ember plans to be available to the public in January 2020.
London TechWatch spoke with Aaron Shaw to learn more about Ember’s Seed round.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Ember raised its target of £250K in a Seed round of investment led by The Startup Funding Club. A network of Angels made up the rest of the raise.
Tell us about your product or service.
Ember is accountant-free accounting software, for contractors. By automating the categorisation of their finances, accounting and tax, we make their business admin simpler, smarter, cheaper and more intuitive.
Ember was born of first-hand frustration with the business admin process. When I opened my first IT consultancy, I faced the uphill battle of managing my books without any financial training. Aside from the drain of money and time, it became painfully obvious that so much of the accounting function could be automated.
Then I met Dan, a chartered accountant who had become increasingly frustrated with financial systems, and we hatched a plan to build Ember, the first accounting software to automate the entire business administration process – from opening a business to closing it, and everything in between.
How is Ember different?
Ember is designed and built solely for the business owner first, not the accountant, as all other existing accounting software is. We also leverage Open Banking to get access to raw transactional data that drives our proprietary machine learning model in order to automate a large portion of the accounting process. In turn, making it…
- Simpler: Connect your bank account and Ember will automatically categorise all of your transactions into HMRC approved codes.
- Smarter: Know your real-time VAT and Corporation tax position to avoid month-end surprises.
- Cheaper: Save the money you’d normally spend on an accountant.
- More intuitive: See all of your important numbers in one central feed and directly submit your VAT returns, payroll, and end of year accounts, accountant-free.
…to run your business.
Can the Ember algorithm help users identify specific tax breaks?
Yes, we serve our users contractor specific corps tax tips and information based on their spending habits and patterns.
What market are you targeting and how big is it?
Initially, we are aiming to serve single person limited companies in the U.K. primarily in the Professional Services industries. This initial target market is 620K strong currently. Once we prove the model with this audience, we plan to expand to the 1.7M Micro Limited Companies in the U.K.
What’s your business model?
A monthly subscription fee of £39 per month.
What was the funding process like?
Not going to lie the funding process was challenging at times but on the whole extremely beneficial. Getting constructive feedback and in turn validation from experienced FinTech investors was invaluable.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The amount of time it took away from spending on the development of the product. Being a technical founder, it was hard to split my time between working on the product and being dragged off to presentations. That’s why I’m grateful I had Dan to do a lot of the heavy lifting in this area.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Right place, and the right time in the right space. Open Banking is one of the most important shifts in the financial technology space to happen in history. Pairing this with HMRC’s initiative Making Tax Digital and the way in which we automate the accounting process for business owners was the main factor that led investors to pull the trigger.
Open Banking is one of the most important shifts in the financial technology space to happen in history. Pairing this with HMRC’s initiative Making Tax Digital and the way in which we automate the accounting process for business owners was the main factor that led investors to pull the trigger.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months? –
What advice can you offer companies in London that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Don’t stop! Continue to believe in your idea and back your team.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Internally we are focusing on building out the development expertise on the team and externally getting a foothold in the contractor market.
Where is the best place in London to watch the sunset?
Ember HQ in Angel!