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Michael Carter of BizEquity

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For today’s profile I have Michael Carter, CEO of BizEquity to answer our questions today.
BizEquity is the world’s largest and leading global provider of online private business valuations.

Our questions are in bold.

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Who are you and what’s your background?
I am Michael M. Carter, an entrepreneur and former venture capitalist, who founded BizEquity in 2010 with the support of a top financial institution and leaders in the accounting, finance, venture capital, and technology arenas.

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Michael Carter of BizEquity

Prior to this I was the Managing Director of the Musser Group, former CEO and co-founder of Dashboard Systems (sold to CXO Systems acquired by Cisco Systems) and former CMO of US Interactive. To date, I have co-founded or helped to create five technology companies including leaders in IT Services, Enterprise Software and Mobile Technology.

BizEquity’s two co-chairman are legendary US software investor Peter Musser, the founding investor behind Novell and Comcast, and Clarence Davies, the former COO and CFO of AICPA – America’s biggest association of accountants. One of our lead directors is one of the top private equity investors in London, Peter Brooks who has run multi-billion dollar funds over the last twenty years.

What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
I am the founder and CEO. I see my role as leading the company in our vision, keeping our great culture, rainmaking; and creating and executing on our financial goals.

Can you give us an overview of your business?
BizEquity is the world’s largest provider of business valuation. BizEquity is the first online Big Data based cloud service that can value any private company in real-time online. BizEquity is utilized by small business owners and over 120 financial institutions.

BizEquity harnesses sophisticated business valuation knowledge and big data insights to answer this question at a fraction – less than 1/10th – of the typical £5,000 cost and typical time – 2-4 weeks – it takes traditional business valuation firms to undertake the same process. Think Zoopla but for businesses.

Since launching our platform, we have tailored our offering and launched specific products including ‘Bankers Office’, ‘Advisor Office’ and ‘Accountants Office’ to refine our tools for specific users. We have also adapted our platform for different regions to ensure the most accurate business valuation data across the US, UK and APAC regions.

Tell us how you are funded.
I bootstrapped BizEquity in the early days. I acquired certain assets of the platform from Advanta, formerly a billion dollar bank, which had figured out that business value is a leading indicator of risk, and my focus was on bringing this valuation information to the masses.

We refigured and adapted the platform and built an amazing team (who you can take a look at here – https://www.bizequity.com/team). Since then we have also raised new capital from a world-class fintech private equity firm in London called Frost Brooks. That capital round has enabled us to expand into three countries and rollout our award winning Advisor Office product line tailored to the financial industry.

Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
In between selling my last company and starting BizEquity I did venture capital work, and every business owner you’d meet, you’d ask them what their business was worth, especially privately held small businesses. Anecdotally, they didn’t know.

Then I started doing more and more research and I came to find that business valuation is in fact a 20 billion dollar market, and that the traditional offline way to do it would take two to four weeks, and on average cost £5,000.This meant that in a 20 billion dollar market, less than two per cent of businesses valued their company because they couldn’t afford it, it took too much time and was too intrusive.

I realised that there are categories of software for automating mundane tasks, yet there isn’t a category of software to help business owners answer the most important question they could ever answer which is: ‘What’s your business worth?’

So that began the first steps of the journey towards forming BizEquity.

Since then we have been working to democratise business valuation knowledge for businesses across the globe – we have offices in the US, UK and Singapore and to date have pre-valued 29.4 million businesses.

We have also been working with financial institutions, including banks, accountants and financial advisors, to enhance the services they offer their business owning clients and also to improve their own prospecting through using the BizEquity platform – we now have over 120 financial institutions using our platform and have a range partnerships with industry leaders including US Metro Bank, Dynasty Financial Partners in New York and one of the UK’s largest wealth management firms.

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BizEquity website

Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our model works on a subscription basis and our customers include all entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as the financial institutions that advise them, including accountants, business advisors, financial advisors, banks and insurance companies.

If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
Businesses and the entrepreneurs and owners behind them would not solely be judged on their credit score or current income, but also on the value of their business. Across the world, the value of every private business would be transparent and there would be an uber (in the German sense of the word) exchange for private businesses like there is for public companies.

What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
Keep innovating and partnering with smaller firms and disruptors. Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan’s move to partner with online lenders is a great example of corporate innovation through partnering.

What phone are you carrying and why?
The newest iPhone. The number keeps changing, but I think it is called an 6+S or something (the names keep getting more difficult to remember with each new model). It becomes like a piece of fabric. Very easy to use and an incredibly powerful piece of technology.

Where do you get your industry news from?
The FT; The Economist; Yahoo; Business Insider.

Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
Daniel Schulman – @Dan_Schulman – CEO of paypal and one of the most innovative and inspiring big names in fintech
Gerard Grech – @GerardGrech – CEO of Tech City UK, an influential player fuelling FinTech in London
Richard Branson – @richardbranson – businessman, investor, founder of Virgin Group and great supporter of the fintech start-up scene

What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
Well, aside from BizEquity of course, Epiphyte, which is helping traditional banks deal with bitcoin accounts and other online currencies, is pretty interesting and innovative in its approach and also Banking Up, which is helping the poor and underbanked get banking facilities.

Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
• Transparency and the market of Data. Rather than the big data companies paying banks for their data, consumers and small businesses will be paid for the data they provide.
• B2B Online Lending Grows 200%. Banks around the world partner with more and more upstart P2P and B2B online lenders. The banks will leverage their new platform based technologies and Big Data capabilities. They will become the ATM like technology behind the scenes.
• The Wealth Management business continues to expand with the use of technology and a record year of sales. So called “Robo” Advisors, have taken the lead from a technology standpoint. Offline/traditional wealth managers will leverage new technology or join expanding network providers to extend capabilities and offer a high touch – robo like experience.
• Insurance gets smarter. One of the last financial services or product markets to go digital will expand dramatically. Google with their work with Coverhound and getting licensed in a large handful of states in the U.S. will lead the charge.

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Thanks to Michael for answering our questions today. You can find out more about BizEquity on their website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you’ve any suggestions for other hot FinTech companies (startup, or established ventures) that we should be profiling, I’m all ears. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note at ewan@fintechprofile.com. There’s more information on this page.

Ewan
Ewan
Ewan is Founder and Editor of FinTech Profile and Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of mobile and FinTech industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.
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