Building a business from scratch is a daunting challenge; just ask Eduardo Martinez and Michael Galvin, the founders of Geniac. Their product was in development for more than 6 months before going live in October this year, and the two met over 8 years ago, at Accenture, both management consultants working with multi-nationals including BSKYB, BP and Telefonica, as well as smaller SME clients.
When the 2 decided to start their own small business consultancy, Olivo, in 2009, providing innovative strategic advisory services for SME’s including investment firms, they knew from their consultancy days that the administrative side of the business can take up far more of a founder’s time than they would like, but were still astonished by the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that results from trying to manage the legal, accounting, and HR side of the business.
“It was our biggest nightmare”, says Michael, a Floridian by birth but who has spent the majority of his professional career in the UK, “we hired accountants, lawyers, HR consultants, you name it, but somehow I always seemed to end up doing all the work including the book keeping and VAT returns. I became completely convinced that there had to be a better way.”
He turned to his co-founder Eduardo, a techy par excellence, and together they came up with the idea for GENIAC, an integrated software platform from which you, in conjunction with a dedicated GENIAC manager, can administer all of your management responsibilities, from arranging maternity leave, to hiring and firing, to making sure that all of your legal documentation and policy requirements are met and understood.
“We’ve worked with some absolutely top professionals, people whose ability to develop and grow a business is exceptional and inspiring”, Michael explains, “but at the end of the day, that can count for nothing if you don’t manage your business properly right from the outset”. “And most people, especially if they have worked at large corporations, have no idea how to do this when they try to go it alone”, adds Eduardo; “most people’s favourite lawyer is Google search!”
“Taking on an employee is a risky business move in the first place, but if you are not getting the basics right it can prove to be very costly. Have you done a right to work check, a background check, do you have a written agreement? All this needs to be done before you can put your new employee to work. You have to do it thoroughly, you have to have records, but it’s the last thing you want to be spending your time doing with your new employee, it’s certainly not what you’re hiring them for”.
Michael sums up: “Geniac takes the pain out of these processes and helps companies stay on top of their management responsibilities, meaning businesses can concentrate on what they do best, developing their product and growing their customer base.” This is certainly consistent with a recent survey carried out by Yougov, which suggests that SMEs currently allocate almost 36% of their time to administration, compared to 13% on sales and 8% on planning. When the survey asked founders which 2 aspects of their business they wished their employees would spend most of their time on? You guessed it: sales, and planning.
The platform is intuitive and easy to use; it can prompt staff when something requires their attention, and allows you to initiate processes that help you manage day to day business task like payroll runs. Accounts, insurance, tax, legal, payroll, financial reporting and employee management are all covered, and the USP is that the product offering grows with the business. Keeping pace with a business model like GENIAC’s, however, may not be quite as straightforward.
Michael and Eduardo have completed an initial funding round of £750k and expect to complete a further round of at least £750k, of which £250k has already been committed. They now have 4 full time staff in London, 2 part time, and have recently opened a Centre of Excellence in Glasgow. So far, they have 30 businesses on board, but, now that their admin is well and truly covered by their own product(!), they expect to be bringing on board 10-15 new businesses every week, with the aim of acquiring 100-150 new businesses by January 2015, the Company’s first birthday.
GENIAC are collaborating with Scottish Law Firm Harper Macleod and UK outsourcing business Webhelp UK and plan to create 350 jobs in Glasgow over the next 3 years. “Partnering with a legal firm gives our customers extra peace of mind as, in the event that a sacked employee takes your company to a tribunal, GENIAC’s insurance policies guarantee you legal representation from a highly reputable firm”, explains Michael. “Provided you’ve followed GENIAC’s recommendations, and not abused the service, that is very powerful protection to have”.
Both Eduardo and Michael cut their start-up teeth in Shoreditch, and although Geniac’s pricing structure, starting at £119 per month for a sole trader or start-up, and rising to £429 pm for a business with 10+ employees, may be out of the average lean start-ups reach, the two have shown what executing a business plan under the spotlight of the world’s fastest growing Tech hub is all about.
“Our product is aimed at more traditional small businesses who have grown weary of the overhead and overpaying for these services as well as high growth new businesses who are starting to hire their first employees and need to get more serious about their business”, say’s Eduardo, Shoreditch is our home and we love it here. We don’t doubt it’s potential. We want to make the area proud of our achievements.” Their local knowledge is impeccable, by the way, we met in Dirty Coffee, one of Old Street’s finest and trendiest café’s, right down to the old school wooden desks I managed to wedge myself into during the course of the interview.
Now that the government is demanding that “start-ups” start to “scale-up”, GENIAC could not have got itself up and running at a better time. Eduardo and Michael look ready to deliver, and they have their own product to thank for that. GENIAC is a big deal, and the future looks bright.