In our latest interview we chat with George Bevis – founder of Tide, a business current account launched at the beginning of last year and counting 30,000+ members already – making it the fastest growing new B2B fintech in the UK ever.
Tell us about Tide
Tide is a next-generation banking service for business owners, but it’s really about doing what you love, and having more time for it. The problem we solve, is that banking and admin tend to soak up a huge amount of time for business owners and that’s something they rightly loathe. We’re here so that business owners can spend as little time on banking as possible.
Signing up for a bank’s current account typically takes weeks – while with Tide you can do it on your mobile in 5 minutes. Applying for credit usually takes weeks of trudging around and presenting business plans. With us, the application process takes mere minutes and the money’s in your account straight away. We see the problem as broader than banking, though, and we automate other admin like paying and issuing invoices too.
Describe the lightbulb moment
Tide was born from my own unusual combination of experiences.
I started out with Capital One, an American lender, and I’ve worked with Barclaycard, fintech innovator Zopa, WorldPay, RBS – fair to say that I’ve done my time in banking.
I’ve also been an entrepreneur, starting a number of businesses – both for and not-for profit. I experienced a lot of the frustration that comes with the admin of running a business.
Thirdly, I’m very interested in public policy relating to small business. In 2012 I wrote a book on small business policy for a political party and created a network of digital professionals.
Those three things together made it obvious and inevitable that I’d start Tide: as an entrepreneur I experienced all the issues with starting a business, as a banker I’d know how to fix the banking problems, and from a public policy point of view I had clear sense that someone needed to address this need this both nationally and internationally.
What were the biggest ‘pain points’ when starting up?
Awareness – nobody had heard of us until fairly recently. There’s a lot (a “tide”) of excellent financial technology now available that small businesses should make use of, but actually still many people don’t know about.
High point so far
Launching Tide, with what in retrospect was a small team and relatively meagre resources, was a real achievement and we stole a march on the old banks pretty much straight away. Since then, It’s got easier and easier. We’ve got significantly more resources and recognition and a lot of things have started falling into place.
You need a banking partner to get going and it’s difficult to secure investment before you’ve got one. It was a real mission to get this into place. In the beginning, we didn’t even know if there’d be someone in the UK who could do it for us. We eventually found a little-known company called PPS – who are actually part of a gigantic multi-billion dollar group and we’re still partners today.
Did you get any support along the way?
After launching last year, we’ve become one of the best-financed startups out there. We have the good fortune to have some excellent investors – such as Eileen Burbidge from Passion Capital, Robin Klein from LocalGlobe and Spotify’s first VC investors Creandum. We’ve also had the backing of some great founders like Alex Chesterman (founder of Zoopla, Lovefilm), William Reeve (co-founder of Lovefilm) and Greg Marsh (founder of One Fine Stay).
Biggest change to your life since starting Tide?
I’ve stopped taking mobile calls at daytime – they’re almost always sales calls from random vendors.
Best thing about being your own boss
I get to choose the people, both at board and investor level, and in the company, that I work with.
Advice to someone thinking about starting up
Something I learned the hard way, with my first business, is that you need to be in a space where each customer could be worth at least three times as much to your business as you paid to acquire them. If you don’t believe that could happen, give up. The business will just be too hard.
One thing you wish you knew in the beginning
The way you measure your own productivity when you have 50+ staff has to be totally different to how you did it when you had 5 staff. If you only think of productivity as getting things done – you’ll be frustrated, as you start spending lots of time on HR and keeping people happy. And if you embrace all that as a key part of your role, you start feeling productive again.
Plans for the future
A year after launching in the UK, we are now preparing to share Tide with as many businesses around the world as we can. Within a year we’re going enter many more countries and serve an international member base.
Tide is a business current account that gives time back to small business owners. They can get an account number and sort code in 5 minutes. With powerful features like instant credit, card control and invoice scanning straight from Tide’s app, opening an account may be the best step you can take to save time, and focus more on your business. Learn more about Tide now.
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