Andrea Reynolds, founder and CEO of Swoop, wants to give SMEs and start-ups a ‘finance buddy’ to help navigate the world of fundraising.
Starting a new business can be daunting at the best of times, and especially when you’re trying to get the financial side up and running. First and foremost: how do I get the financing I need and where do I look?
Spotting a gap in the market, Andrea Reynolds – founder and CEO of Swoop – decided that she would create her own company that would provide a resource for SMEs and start-ups to help make the process a bit easier.
Since its launch in 2019, the company has served more than 40,000 customers and has licensed its technology to banks in the UK and Ireland.
Prior to Swoop, Reynolds led a corporate finance firm. She qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG and is currently an audit chair and board member of Berkshire Hathaway European Insurance and a member of the Ireland for Finance committee.
Speaking as part of Future Human in October, Reynolds said that she saw how many small businesses would not have the resources available to seek the financial advisers that other, larger companies would.
Now, with the introduction of PSD2 and open banking, Reynolds said Swoop’s platform allows businesses to have their own virtual CFO, of sorts.
“All of the banks have built a framework where third-party providers, like ourselves, you can give us access to [your financial] data in a secure way and we do all of the calculations for you,” she said.
“So [Swoop is] like having a finance buddy next to you, a virtual one, that essentially does all these calculations and then scours the market for you and matches your data to the right products for you, personalised for you.”
Not knowing your lender
She went on to say that open banking has helped usher in an age where you may no longer need to go through the traditional approach of contacting your bank manager and hoping you get lucky and your loan is approved.
“The future is that you won’t need to know who the lender is,” Reynolds said.
“All decisions will be made through your data and you’ll get those decisions instantly. So you could have a lender in Barcelona lending to a business in Ballyjamesduff, for example. It won’t matter where you are. It’s what your profile is and does it match to their algorithm.
“This means it’ll open up opportunities. It’ll democratise finance further because businesses, regardless of where they’re located, will not be disadvantaged. Everybody will have this at their fingertips.”
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has sped up the adoption of platforms such as Swoop.
“What we have noticed also is, throughout this pandemic, that we’ve seen a 30pc increase in businesses moving online,” she said.
“And not just online to sell their products, but online in terms of finding finance and banking. So I think Covid has accelerated usage of platforms like ourselves and usage of data to help serve businesses. That can only help moving forward.”