In our latest Founder Feature, we’re talking to Glen Morgan, CEO & co-founder of isettled.
Chasing late payments can be a real headache for businesses, not to mention time-consuming and costly. Glen Morgan and isettled are on a mission to ensure that every business in the UK has the tools to chase their debts and get paid on time.
Read on to learn more about Glen’s founder journey below.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
Research has shown that UK small and medium businesses are owed as much as £50bn in late payments at any one time, with the situation only likely to get worse in the current climate.
It’s absolutely shameful that small and medium businesses, who make up over 90% of all businesses and represent three fifths of the employment in the UK private sector, are failing because they’re not getting paid for work they have completed. This has to stop and we’re on a mission to do something about it.
itsettled is a credit control app that allows SMEs to automatically collect payment on invoices, making the process professional, quick and stress-free. We provide a legally compliant collections process for a fraction of the cost of employing someone. Available in three different packages, it can be integrated into accounts software or used as a stand alone system.
The goal is to help over 30,000 businesses to get paid over the next five years. And we want to halve the outstanding amount owed to UK small and medium businesses at any one time from £50bn to £25bn.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
After working in credit management for a number of large blue chip companies I decided to set up my first business, Credebt, in 2009. Credebt grew quickly to become one of the leading providers of receivables and risk management to the Invoice Finance and Insolvency industries.
Whilst running Credebt, I realised that a huge amount of business insolvencies were caused by poor cash flow management and, in particular, by inadequate credit control and collections processes. I wanted to do something about it, so in 2016 I set up the Credebt Club, which provided SME’s with a collections process that they could follow. The process was the same one that had been so successful for Credebt, as well as various corporates that I’d worked at. The Credebt Club members also got access to the correct letters to send to chase payment, as well as other tools they might need.
It became apparent quite quickly that SMEs really valued this service. It also became clear that businesses would prefer to be guided through an effective process and not just be given the resources to act themselves.
After two years of research and development I contacted my co-founder, Jonny, to look at how the process could be automated and opened up to the entire business community. We’d been friends for more than 20 years, and I recognised that Jonny might be able to apply some marketing and design experience to help. This is how itsettled came into existence.
Q: Tell us about some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
Without doubt the biggest obstacle so far has been getting the product to how we’d envisioned it. And this led to us having to make a really difficult decision before we’d even launched. We’d gone through a lot of pain to get an early stage version of the app together last year. We’d started to get a few customers signed up, with more in the pipeline. But it just wasn’t what we wanted it to be. The partners we were working with just didn’t “get it”. And the whole thing was becoming rather frustrating. So we took the painful decision to go back to square one.
At the time this felt like a failure, but now we’re in a much better place because of that.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
I’d say that one of the most exciting things that’s happened so far is the partnerships we’re beginning to develop. The backing we’ve had from NatWest since being part of their Entrepreneur Accelerator has helped us to gain confidence and open doors which led to us securing interest from major banks, invoice finance providers and accounting software firms. We’ve always been confident in the value of itsettled, but having this validated by other organisations has been rewarding. We’re already engaged with two large Chambers of Commerce to offer the product to their members. We’re also working on integrations with the most popular accountancy software solutions being used by our customers.
Q: Do you see yourself as an underdog?
Yes, very much so. We’ve learned a LOT of lessons, but probably the most valuable has been that we can’t do it all by ourselves. We were just two men taking on a nationwide problem. That’s why the partnerships we’ve established are so important.
This is a huge issue, and one that’s been affecting SME’s for a number of years. On average, 660,000 new companies are registered in the UK every year. Figures suggest that 60 percent of those new businesses will go-under within three years, and 20 per cent will close their doors within just 12 months. There are a myriad of different reasons for this, but one of the most typical is a failure to maintain positive cash flow.
There’s never been a fully automated credit control app in the UK until ours. We are very confident in saying that what we are doing has never been done before. Our app can also provide bespoke solutions to the invoice finance industry along with intelligent management information. We really are the first to offer this.
Our product is probably a good example of how this industry is going to evolve. Using technology to simplify processes and allow businesses to maintain their focus is a trend which will continue. Whether that means an entire revolution in the business finance industry remains to be seen, but in the short term it certainly feels like a positive change.
Q: How many hours of sleep do you get and what is your morning/evening routine?
I’m not a bad sleeper. As soon as the alarm goes, I’m up, out and straight to the gym. I run to my session with a PT and run back again – straight to the breakfast table with my family. I drop my children to school, head back to shower and get straight on with my day. Without that exercise, I just can’t seem to wake up. I need it to get going and definitely feel this on a Sunday when I’m not at the gym and spend most of the day feeling really lethargic.
Q: How do you manage the duality between driving new business and overseeing daily operations?
The true answer at the moment is I’m not really sure I do manage it. As a start-up in the current climate it really is all hands to the pump. I’d like to think I’m not averse to getting involved in the daily operations of the business, whatever that might look like.
I take it upon myself to take the lead in driving the company forward. I’m responsible for formulating and agreeing partnerships, managing the finances and ensuring we remain true to our goal of helping as many businesses as possible.
I think that one of the most valuable things I have to offer to the business is my experience, and the relationships I’ve established over 25 years. So I do try to bring this to bear wherever I can to drive new business. I’ve even recently conducted my first Facebook Live, so am not averse to adding a few new strings to my bow for the good of the business.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
Don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s easy to dilute the vision as your idea gets closer to becoming reality. With all the moving parts, investors to keep onside, deadlines to meet it’s not uncommon to make a few ‘sacrifices’ here and there. But you just have to keep bringing yourself back to the original purpose. Believe in what you do, the product and service you’ve developed but most importantly focus on how it will help people.
Find out more about Glen Morgan and isettled here: www.isettled.co.uk