Fintech Thrive has become the fastest Aussie startup to raise $1 million through an equity crowdfunding campaign, hitting the milestone — and its minimum target — in just two hours and 29 minutes.
Previously, that record was held by medicinal cannabis business Montu, which raised its first $1 million in 36 hours.
Thrive is an AI-enabled tool designed to automate financial admin for small business owners.
It collates data within business accounts and debit cards, to understand what GST is owned, for example, and automate banking and tax obligations.
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It was intended to save business owners time, co-founder and chief Michael Nuciforo tells SmartCompany.
But, it can also increase compliance and help reduce stress and anxiety about business finances.
Good financial management is one of the most important parts of running a business, he explains.
“But for most people, it’s the most despised part.”
Instead of managing this alongside their many other responsibilities, and instead of having to pay accountants and bookkeepers, Thrive is designed to provide “a CFO in your pocket”, he says.
At the time of writing, the Birchal campaign has attracted just over $1.4 million in investment — almost half of its $3 million maximum target — from 289 investors.
And it still has 22 days to go.
Nuciforo says he expected to hit the $1 million mark quickly, based on the number of expressions of interest received.
But, the actual result “blew our expectations”, he says.
“We were gobsmacked. We literally couldn’t believe it.”
Now, he’s fairly confident the campaign will raise the full $3 million, allowing Thrive to bring in some additional employees and to invest in marketing and building the brand, to continue growing the waitlist.
The founding team will also be able to start taking a salary, Nuciforo notes.
“We can move forward with a clear path.”
Customers come first
The product has clearly already resonated with the small business community. There are already more than 7,500 people on the waiting list, ahead of the planned launch in the second half of this year.
And, it was that early interest that led Nuciforo down the equity crowdfunding route.
He and the team have been engaging with the business community right from day one, he explains, inviting those on the waitlist to test the product and offer feedback, to help shape the final product.
Many of those customers enquired as to Thrive’s fundraising plans, and expressed an interest in investing themselves.
Nuciforo ran a survey of the waitlist, to gauge customers’ interest in investing in an equity crowdfunding round.
More than 300 people said they would be very interested, he recalls.
“That kicked us into gear,” he says.
“Not only are these people supporters in the fact they want to use our product, if we can get them as investors as well, that’s huge.”
That focus on customer engagement is something Nuciforo is committed to continuing. In fact, he has set up a customer advisory board, made up of a select group of customers on the waitlist, who will each receive equity in the business.
The team will present to that board monthly, laying out the roadmap and strategy, and key customer satisfaction and performance metrics.
“We will use that to hold ourselves to account to our own vision of putting customers at the heart of our business.”