From time to time on FinTech Profile, we like to catch up with some of the founders we have previously interviewed and hear how they are getting on.
In January last year, we interviewed Michael Carter of BizEquity. One year on, we invited him to give us an update of what they’ve been up to since we last spoke to them.
Over to Michael:
FinTech enjoyed another banner year in 2016 as it moved beyond “buzzword” status and into the mainstream lives of consumers and businesses, demonstrating its capabilities in challenging traditional models, helping business and consumers secure better value, and providing faster, more streamlined processes and tools. Significant developments and milestones were accomplished across the sector, and BizEquity, the world’s largest provider of online business valuations for business owners and their advisors, shared in this success. Most notably, we reported excellent domestic growth in our home market in the US, moved our domestic HQ to a leading tech hub and continued our international expansion with the opening of an India office.
BizEquity – the year in review
Every business in the world has value, yet only 2% of companies regularly carry out valuations to ascertain this worth. Our company was founded with the mission to democratise business valuation. We are disrupting the market; challenging misconceptions that business valuation is an expensive process, and showing through our patented products and services that it can be obtained at a fraction of the typical cost and time it takes with traditional methods. To help ensure the accuracy of our systems and our valuation algorithms, we have valued 33,186,175 companies to date worldwide.
Our three key products, Banker Office, Advisor Office and Accountant Office help business owners and key advisers answer the question of what a business is worth, which drives every major financial decision a business owner can make. These products are used by a global client base, including individuals and firms from start-ups to corporate giants and business and financial advisers to help leverage tech and big data to help them compete in today’s fast-moving markets.
Our products help businesses make better informed decisions by giving them clearer insight into their firm and the resources it needs to match their growth opportunities. Advisors can prospect better, capture and convert new leads while re-engaging an established client base with dynamic new offerings.
Where are we now?
To respond to the fast-pace growth we experienced in 2016, we invested significantly in our people and relocated our headquarters, placing us in close proximity to such FinTech giants as Vanguard and eMoney (Fidelity). The larger offices accommodated the doubling of our headcount in the past year, and we strengthened our senior executive leadership team most notably with the appointment of Michael Zebrowski as our new Chief Operating Officer. Our technology and engineering team was spearheaded by our award winning CTO Semyon Fishman and our VP of Engineering Amir Tahvildaran who will continue to add top talent to their team of data and application engineers.
We experienced particularly strong demand for all our products and recorded particularly strong growth in the financial advisor market, which is a core focus for BizEquity. In 2016 we reported a 455% year-on-year increase in new financial advisor partnerships in the US alone and successfully expanded our domestic presence to 40 US states. We saw success with insurance advisors through the introduction of an Insurance Value Report & Service™ tool within our business valuation platform. This tool allows advisors to provide clients with realistic and accurate protection recommendations and background data for eight key insurance needs, including buy/sell, key person, life, disability and property and casualty. This is one of the many ways we’re equipping our clients with new and modern capabilities to help business owners receive adequate support and so they understand their value. This new service alongside our core Advisor Office service helped advisors protect their clients with over $156 million dollars in new life insurance policies alone (and this is only 8% of our population of advisors sampled!).
We built on our domestic success and expanded internationally, opening our Asia-Pacific region HQ in Singapore and, earlier this year, opening an office in Delhi, India, the world’s fastest growing tech hub.
FinTech is as much as about collaboration as invention, and we have been delighted to pair our products with those of other leaders in the FinTech and Financial Services arenas. This enables us to enhance our service offering, improve our business valuation tool to help financial professionals prospect more effectively and small business owners better understand their business’ worth. This past year saw us announce partnerships with Sawtooth Solutions and Equifax, which help individuals discover, monitor and optimise their business value to achieve new levels of performance. Our partnerships enable us to provide integrated, holistic financial advice across all sectors, and we expect to announce more high-profile partnerships in 2017.
The future is Biz-y
As we move into the New Year, we are well on track to meet our ambitious objectives and goal of partnering with over 400,000 small businesses and for 30,000 financial advisors to be using our platform by the end of 2019. We believe this can be done in part by focusing on a number of key areas: growing domestically in the US, aiding wealth managers against automated rivals such as robo-advisers, helping banks to protect and grow their small business franchise and expanding geographically.
As the first mover in a $10 billion dollar software market, we plan to continue driving the democratization of the data revolution through new product innovation. We will launch a new feature to help business owners and their advisors “optimize” their business value outcomes using new artificial intelligence based technologies. We will use voice adoption to help our clients better understand our reporting methods as well as services and we will continue to develop a powerful new interface for consuming big data insights to help our clients.
Domestically, we will continue to offer our core market of financial advisors the best possible product that will enable them to attract new clients and retain existing ones. Our clients do not stand still and their changing and sophisticated needs push us to adapt to the market and evolve our offerings. With a client centric approach in mind, we will continue to strive towards being the fastest, lowest cost and most reliable source for our clients to optimize their ability to capitalize on the business valuation knowledge that is fundamental to their growth.
Finally, we plan to continue to enhance our international operations, with a focus on Asia and Europe. Our Singapore HQ now has over 30 financial advisor partnerships while our Delhi office represents an exciting opportunity for us to enable India’s 40 million small and medium sized businesses owners to answer the fundamental question of what their business is worth. We will also look to build up our business in Europe, with a likely partnership with a major accounting and consulting firm in the UK, an excellent starting point. By the end of 2017 we expect to have a “Bizestimate” value on over 70 million global small businesses.