Having previously worked side by side developing p2p inside apps for rbs and natwest, co-founders Ivo and Dan’s frustration as freelancers lead them towards creating Albert – a solution for managing finances for freelancers. Travelling for work between L.A and London, they realised that there was no simple way to calculate their freelancer finances all in one place. Luckily, that 11 hour flight was just enough time to prototype the first version of Albert!
For Ivo, “fintech is when you help people in a new way with their finances”. Albert is merging the “bookkeeping and financial world” into one easy to use, free app which is helping freelancers “who typically have very little knowledge of accounting and finance.” Managing finance for many is often very complex and around “75% of freelancers are not using any dedicated financial software.”
From Ivo’s personal experience as a freelancer, “you are constantly worried about money… when setting up a business, the first questions people have are, how do I get a client and how do I get paid? To get paid they need to be able to send an invoice…” This is where Albert comes in, “Albert helps you with your first few steps, helps with basic tasks such as invoicing, and grows with you after that. The core of the process is extremely simple.” Albert has now over 20,000 clients, as a platform it is designed to grow with them.
Ivo thinks that the issue with the main players in accounting is that they “offer a product and a pricing model which are quite complicated, and often perceived as scary and alienating.” Ivo says that Albert aren’t competing with services such as Xero, as they are, “helping a different group of people.”
When it comes to the future technology Ivo has very strong views:
“Mobile, mobile, mobile. Moving around the world has never been easier. It changes how people interact with others and with services. It changes how you experience sports, religion, and of course your finances. There’s a whole new generation that lives and breathes their mobiles, and is quite likely to continue doing do throughout their whole life. Some are saying that apps are dead. But that’s absolute rubbish. As apps combine with newer mobile interactions they generate more and more ways of connecting with people. Sure, mobile economics is changing – as is the way we need to approach building apps – it is a very different ballgame today compared to the early days of the iPhone. But one thing’s for sure – that there’s still an overwhelming number of opportunities out there for apps to help people’s lifestyles.
For Ivo disruption is about creating value in a superior way. “I’m surprised how many industries are still relatively archaic in their business thinking. Think accounting and insurance products – it’s crazy that most people still don’t feel comfortable using them, and these are the basic aspects of our lives that are supposed to be made easy!”
I ask whether there is a formula for disruption… “MAYA. It stands for Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable. It was first coined by designer Raymond Loewy. It means that a new solution will be most successful when you create it for the future, while still being close enough to the current norms and values of most people. Disruption in itself is not the purpose. Creating new value that people adopt is.
That’s what we do at Albert. Every freelancer needs to invoice, expense and monitor cash flow. We do it from your favourite device, we try to do it better than anyone else and most importantly providing a whole new and simple experience. This brings great benefits to every self-employed person, as well as to those that feel finance management is alien to them. Every week we have people telling us how Albert takes away the fear associated with the most frequently carried-out actions and transactions for selfemployed people. That impacts a core emotion toward something people deeply worry about. That is change.
Disruption in finance is about using ingredients to come up with a whole new recipe. Just a new bank account (or prepaid account) on a mobile is not disruption. It has to be about creating new tangible value.
Finding new finance recipes is often a longer-term move (due to the nature of the industry) to create new, sustainable value for users, investors and stakeholders. However, this has to be based on a model where customer lifetime value and acquisition costs add up, or else it runs the risk of becoming a leaky bucket. Disruption in finance will come from the companies that manage to master this.” Ivo is not afraid of change: “Listen, learn and respond to the people around you. But don’t forget the reasons that got you in the game in the first place.”
Ivo Weevers, Co-Founder, Albert https://getalbert.com/
Originally printed in the 15th edition of The FintechTimes