N.B. Software Helps Startups Navigate Tricky Financial Waters
Huddle on Profitual's platform launch!
Huddle on Profitual's platform launch!
“Most businesses aren’t started by accountants,” says Raymond Fitzpatrick, CEO and co-founder of Profitual. “They’re started by engineers and computer science grads… Really anybody that doesn’t have a financial background that can be the inventor of a new idea. And then the world almost forces them to be accountants.”
Profitual is a Fredericton-based financial intelligence startup that saw a need that existed in the space for affordable software that does basic accounting functions for small businesses without costing a small company tens of thousands of dollars per year.
The goal is for small companies to have solid answers when it comes to questions like: Where are your projections? What’s your three-year plan?
“We think of it a lot like legal work. No one should try to be their own lawyer, no one should try to be their own financial planner….. Be financially literate – don’t become [your own] accountant,” Fitzpatrick says.
The product, Profitual’s startup-tier financial software, is a simple budgeting and forecasting platform available on the company’s website.
The idea came about when Fitzpatrick, after having worked with large accounting teams at companies like McCain and Irving Oil, had his eyes opened to the lack of accounting resources available for the businesses he was working with at NBIF (New Brunswick Innovation Foundation).
“Oh, small businesses don’t get the level of support that I would have saw from my career at Irving,” he recalls. “Is there a way to provide a level of support to small, startup companies that can help them down this path?”
Working with co-founder Daniel Hoyles, Profitual was born. From consultancy grew the idea that even a fairly basic platform accessible via internet, could help companies create professional, useful financial information for their companies.
“It’s really a budgeting, forecasting platform because that was one of the things that we noticed at NBIF,” he says. “A lot of companies didn’t get funding because their financial projections didn’t look the way they needed to. They weren’t done correctly.”
It’s the first version of the software, and the company has plans to build more tiers to address more complex financial needs.
“We will bring the intelligence piece,” Fitzpatrick says. “Benchmarking analysis, market intelligence, and really tie the whole thing together.”
One of the big competitive advantages Fitzpatrick hopes Profitual will have over its competition is price.
“Our first tier is $50 per month,” he says. “We look at our competitors and there’s really not anybody that’s going this early for a company. Usually [these products] are about $1000/month. We really wanted to provide some level of intelligence at the very early beginning.”
Fitzpatrick says Profitual will continue doing the consultancy work that got it started in the first place, as well as partnerships and collaborations with organizations like ACOA.
“Opportunities New Brunswick was fantastic… we’re running a pilot program to work with eight startup companies to help get them investor ready. So not only do they help us with funding, I think even more importantly, they became a customer for us. Being one of the early customers, jumping on board was really instrumental in helping get credibility for us.”
He says the consultancy revolves around more mature companies, ones that have their accounting basics in place and that have a CRM platform for their pipeline, and that insight will form the basis for the next levels of the finance software.
“We’re going to keep doing the consultancy work with those customers because they’re really informing that tier two and tier three of our platform. We’re trying to see what issues they are coming up with and how are we solving them?”
But for now, helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams is the main motivation behind Profitual.
“There are really great companies that … never got funding because they didn’t have this piece of the equation. That’s really why we get up in the morning,” Fitzpatrick says. “We hope it spurs innovation all across Canada.”
Alex Graham is a Huddle reporter in Saint John. Send her your feedback and story ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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