Interview with the founders of the business intelligence solution CrunchBoards

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CrunchBoards is a platform for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and its accountants. They no longer have to use excel documents to work out if their business or clients can afford to move to a new office, hire more employees or invest money in new resources or technologies. In other words – CrunchBoards aims to change the way accounting and making forecasts are done.

The startup has been founded in 2014 by best friends Amy Harris (28) and Hannah McIntyre (39). Since launching, CrunchBoards has opened offices in London, Brighton and Sydney, and was able to attract more than 10,000 customers in nearly 90 countries.

In order to learn more about their business as well as friendship and how it might have helped the startup to succeed, we arranged an interview with the two female entrepreneurs behind CrunchBoards.

How did you come up with the idea for CrunchBoards?
It came out of our own frustrations with how stuck in the past financial reporting options were for businesses like ours at the time. It’s a bit of a long story, but we previously ran a business together in the hospitality sector and, like most SMEs around the world, we had real issues with forecasting and scenario planning. We found ourselves planning with spreadsheets, databases, old scraps of paper, you name it. We knew there had to be a better way… And that’s how CrunchBoards was born.

What value does your tool bring to the customer? How does it differ from similar tools?
CrunchBoards is changing the way SMEs and accountants plan for the future. We’re taking data and using it to look into the future and presenting this financial data in a visual way. It allows SMEs to scenario plan and forecast. It almost acts as a virtual business plan – business owners can take pride in their accounts and look professional when delivering their business plan to investors and peers. One of our clients, MoneyPad – a forward thinking accountancy firm that works with SMEs – recently helped one of its clients secure £200,000 of investment using CrunchBoards. This was due to being able to present an accurate picture of the company’s future and the business goals it was likely to achieve.

Why you chose exactly those two locations – Sydney and London – for your business? How does doing business in these countries differs? How does customer’s understanding of business processes differ in both countries?
Australia and the UK are the most progressive nations in the world when it comes to accounting technology and the adoption of it. So it was a no brainer to open our first offices there. Our partners, Xero, also have a strong presence in both countries. They have invested efforts in educating businesses and accountants in cloud technology, so it made sense to be close to them too. The gorgeous Australian weather isn’t bad either.

What plans do you have for expansion? How do you plan to improve your tool in the future? Where do you get ideas for improvements?
We like to think that the sky’s the limit. We have built a platform which is extremely scalable and our customer acquisition is growing exponentially. We are continually investing in our technology and making improvements to our service. It means that we are always one step ahead of our competitors and, not only satisfying our existing customers, but also attracting new ones on a daily basis.

Ideas for improving CrunchBoards come from all over but our biggest inspiration for improvements are our customers. We put them at the heart of our business and listen to their needs, frustrations and ambitions. That frustration is usually echoed by a much larger proportion of our customers. Then it’s all about prioritising those improvements to benefit our customers and we work around the clock to bring them to life.

How do women feel in male-dominated industry? Have you experienced different attitude because of gender?
Funnily enough, we’d say it’s the reverse. We are a bit feisty and extremely determined so we can hold our own in a room-full of men. For us, it’s not so much about being in a male-dominated industry, but actually about driving that industry forward, and we just happen to be women.

How do you manage to remain friends when you have to work together? It appears to be huge challenge for many people…
It’s something we get asked a lot actually. We made a conscious decision early on to make sure we made time for our friendship – and that it wasn’t all work talk, all the time. We like to separate work and personal life as much as we can to keep a healthy balance. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t manage it 100% of the time, but it’s all about striking that balance. We also have different roles within the business and split our time between two offices in London and Brighton, which means that we are not always in the same office treading on each other’s toes. The best thing about starting a business with your closest friend is that you have someone there beside you for all the highs and lows. We also have a bit of a competitive streak that spurs each other on.