Expense Check, a startup allowing businesses to compare their bills and be alerted of cheaper deals and plans with other providers as they arise, has officially launched into the market with $1 million in seed funding following a year-long beta.
The platform was founded by Nigel Fellowes-Freeman in late 2014, when he was working on another business and spending time shopping around for the best deals. The platform asks customers to link their online accounting software, with the system then scanning incoming invoices and instantly alerting users of better deals with other suppliers.
Expense Check is currently only integrated with Xero, though QuickBooks and MYOB are to come. Those not using Xero can in the meantime upload their bills to the platform manually.
The platform is free for businesses to use, while suppliers pay a flat fee for every conversion. Targeting the SMB and SME markets, Expense Check reports having more than 200 customers already on board, saving them a combined $750,000, or an average of $3,500 each.
“We really fundamentally believe that small businesses shouldn’t have to pay to get the right advice and make the right decision,” Fellowes-Freeman said.
Current suppliers are mostly centered around the energy industry, with those on board including Powershop, ERM Business Energy, and Lumo Energy.
Without a technical background, Fellowes-Freeman worked to bring both small business customers and suppliers on board manually to prove his business model, asking suppliers for information about their deals and plans and relaying the best back to customers.
A $60,000 grant from the Victorian Government through its Technology Voucher funding program allowed Fellowes-Freeman to bring on a developer to create an MVP, which he presented at XeroCon in August last year. The startup then closed the $1 million seed round, led by Industrie IT’s venture capital fund The Grid, towards the end of 2015.
“We were quite fortunate that we were speaking to a number of VCs during the fundraising and I think for us, it was about choosing a venture capital firm that didn’t just bring money; that was really, really important,” Fellowes-Freeman said.
“We wanted one that brought networks and was really willing to roll up their sleeves and get into the business early and help us grow. We even accepted a slightly lower valuation based on that, because we felt there was a huge amount of value to that.”
The startup will spend the next few months onboarding suppliers in new industries to expand its offering to customers. It is also working on an automated switching feature that will automatically switch customers to the best deal each time a new one is detected based on their preferences.
Image: Nigel Fellowes-Freeman. Source: Supplied.