Last week i had the pleasure of sitting down with Charlotte Petris, Founder and CEO of Timelio - the extremely successful invoice and supply chain finance marketplace. I was delighted to learn the reason that Charlotte was (very apologetically) late for our interview was that she was on a call with an SME customer who was talking her through their challenges. As we will come to see, this transparency and genuine care for customer is what really sets Timelio apart.
But don’t take that from me - let’s hear what Charlotte has to say:
Matthew Parker: There have been a few invoice financing platforms emerge globally over the past 5 years, why is this happening now? What has created the right circumstance for this to occur?
Charlotte Petris: Ultimately it’s a reflection of the opportunity that has emerged following the GFC and the increased regulation imposed upon banks, making it more difficult for them to lend to SME businesses. Invoice financing is also a very smart product that doesn’t need to be secured against real estate. Invoice finance isn’t a new concept, it’s been around for many years in different forms, but the technology is now at a place that makes it easier for businesses to use and offers much more flexibility.
MP: What inspiration do you get from businesses such as MarketInvoice when you see their success in the UK?
CP: What they have shown is that this is a very scalable product. However, there are some key differences between the UK and Australia in this market, such as the regulatory and competitive environment.
The marketplace (or peer-to-peer) business model means that we can bring a new funding distribution model to the market. Globally, there are many investors who have excess capital that are seeking access to a new asset class offering diversified returns. This has enabled us to grow quickly, without relying on traditional funding sources. We have funded over $100 million to date and in our first 3 months we funded $1 million. This shows that Australia is really ready for a product like this, but for us this is just the beginning!
MP: You’ve written about building a high-performance culture, how have you been able to do that at Timelio and what do you see as attributes of high performers?
CP: It’s about an alignment of values, passion and purpose. We hire people who are aligned to our values and who see the long-term potential of the product. Ultimately, everyone in our business has to understand the customer’s needs, and be able to empathise and listen to our customers. If they can do that, they’ll get behind our purpose and enjoy solving their problems!
Also, with a business at this stage that’s growing so fast, you must be the type of person who thrives on ambiguity and change. If you can’t adapt and grow your experience alongside the rapid evolution of business, then your skills may become redundant quite quickly.
MP: In an article recently, you spoke about values, what are Timelio’s values and why is it important to set values for a business early on?
CP: We have three core values - respect, nurture and connect. There is a strong connection between values and brand. Nurture for example, is what our ethos is all about, helping businesses grow. This value also spreads across the entire company, so that we all support and encourage each other to develop. If you’re the leader of the company you have to behave in a way that reflects those values and people will follow in the same way. Respect and offering flexibility is not just how we work internally but also how we treat our customers.
MP: This year Timelio won the Diversity in FinTech award, why do you think you won this award, and why is diversity important to the growth of a business?
CP: It’s not just about ticking boxes, it’s a genuine desire to hear diversity of thought from different perspectives and respect other people’s views. We think differently as a company because in our industry (traditional invoice financing) there is a very clear lack of diversity. It’s a key differentiator for us.
MP: What’s on the cards for Timelio in the next 6-12 months? What are the key drivers for growth in your business and how will you be looking to achieve this?
CP: Our recent focus has been on building foundations for scale. We’re exploring various expansion opportunities that align with our growth strategy. Building out the team is of course really important and we’re always looking for awesome people to join us. We’re in a great position now for growth.
MP: You’ve mentioned you’re going to be hiring quite extensively over the next 6-12 months, what are some of the biggest challenges for you when it comes to growing your team? Where are some of the most difficult areas for you to hire in?
CP: We’re currently hiring across marketing, relationship management, and operations. My focus in hiring is finding people who have real grit and determination to succeed in a fast changing environment and who can think differently. As the business changes, grows and develops, it’s also important to have a relevant board or advisory board and we’re also looking at bringing in new people here who understand the transition we’re going through.
If you’d like to learn more about Timelio, check out their website here.
If you’d like to have a chat with me about transitioning into the FinTech industry or perhaps even having a chat with Timelio, please feel free to email me on [email protected]