Fractal: We are working to create the ultimate artificial intelligence for financial decision making.
Please present yourself and your FinTech company Fractal for our readers!
I’m Nick, one of the founders and CEO of Fractal. I’m originally from Canada but I’ve been living in Europe for over a decade. I’ve held leadership roles at Google in Business Development and Partnerships. I have also worked in media at Viacom; built an early e-commerce platform as Founder of Degrees of Separation; and been a trader at RBC Capital Markets. I serve on the board of several companies and am a trustee at SVC2UK. One of my passions is mentoring startups at early-stage incubators like Seedcamp, Level39 and Founders4Schools. Fractalis an automated financial assistant for SMEs. Fractal essentially codifies the brains of CFOs into an app, leading to smarter financial decisions for startups, and small and medium-sized businesses. We are working to create the ultimate artificial intelligence for financial decision making. We are using technology to give people access to sophisticated financial analysis, transforming the way businesses manage their cashflow and capital requirements.
How did the idea for Fractal come about and how did you meet the other founders?
Working closely with startups and entrepreneurs in my previous roles, I realized that one of the main growing pains for small businesses is having to make strategic financial decisions when they don’t yet have the means to employ a financial expert on staff. Because of this, many financial decisions are made in haste, and without understanding the impact on the business. That’s what prompted me to launch Fractal in 2014.
The founding team has known each other for over a decade. The CTO and I used work together at Google, where he was a tech lead and senior engineer; the financial gurus in the business have known each other attending lycée Louis-le-Grand and business school at HEC, and the head of design have been friends since he attended Central Saint Martins and the LSE in London. We’ve all been entrepreneurs before, and now want to use our knowledge and expertise to give back to the community.
From the idea to the actual launch, what were the biggest challenges so far and how do you finance yourself?
Scaling is one of the biggest challenges. In Europe the linguistic barrier and cultural specificities of each country require careful localization work, from translating the app into each local language, to adjusting our product to the legal environment of each country. Fractal was founded in 2014 and we bootstrapped for over a year. In 2015, we received £800,000 in seed funding from Lifeline Ventures, Seedcamp, iHorizon and Ace & Company. We are also incredibly fortunate to have some of the best advisors in the technology and fintech industries, including Google’s former VP of Engineering Nelson Mattos, former CMO of Sage, Amanda Jobbins, and Ebay’s former Chief Strategy Officer Michael van Swaaij.
Who is the target group of Fractal?
Our target customers are SMEs that don’t have a financially qualified person on staff and who often rely on their accountants and relationship managers at banks to help them manage their finances. In the UK alone, that’s around 5.2 million small businesses. So far, product uptake has been strongest among growth businesses earning £500k per annum and up.
How does your service work?
Fractal is a platform for managing private company data. It’s for business owners, their investors and advisors, helping them aggregate, analyze and predict financial outcomes. The platform allows users to compare different data sets over different time period. Fractal offers several functionalities that slice and dice the data in ways that provide users with relevant information. Our revenue model is subscription based and we offer a unique sliding scale to help businesses at every stage. The monthly fee starts at £50.00 for a small business.
What are the main advantages for your user?
Fractal levels the playing field for SMEs who don’t have a financially qualified person on staff giving them the right tools to analyze their data and make better decisions. In two years, we’ve grown faster than we expected : We have over 300 clients signed up in four markets -the UK, US, Australia and Canada.
Fractal, what is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
We have ambitious goals when it comes to growth. We’re working on developing new features and functionalities to offer even smarter business simulations to our users. We are looking to scale our technology to serve more SMEs in more markets.
What 3 advices would you give to potential founders?
Having a clear vision of what you are offering: your mission and overall goal needs to be very clear before you start. Many entrepreneurs have an idea and run with it without checking the fundamentals: what is the demand for my product or service? How big is the market? How important is the pain point that I am fixing, what is the value add that this is bringing? Is anyone doing this already? If so, who are the competitors?
Fleshing out a clear action plan to achieve that : converting an idea into action takes some strategic thinking. Asking yourself questions such as “Why hasn’t anyone done this before, are there obvious caveats and roadblocks? How scalable is my idea?” is key to going from a concept to implementation.
Remaining flexible along the way: growing a business is not a straight line. Remaining flexible, listening to the market and responding or adjusting accordingly is essential. A good entrepreneur listens to the market, turns that into feedback and makes swift decisions and adjustments. At Fractal, for example we have worked with our early users and channel partners to better understand how we can improve our UX, and what features are most important. Ultimately, it’s about solving problems, at 10x scale.
More information you will find here
Thank you Nicholas Heller for the Interview
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