An Aussie fintech company co-founded by Lewis Romano of SpotJobs fame has launched a $10 million Series A fundraising round to help expand the business overseas.
Credit Clear was founded in 18 months ago by Romano and prominent property developer Mark Casey to act as an online, on-demand debt payment service for individuals and businesses. The company has not raised a seed round and to date has been largely funded initially by Casey.
Romano co-founded SpotJobs — one of Australia’s largest job board websites — in 2012 with Jake Williams, before exiting the business in October last year.
A switch into fintech from the recruitment industry might not seem intuitive but speaking to StartupSmart, Romano says the concept for Credit Clear had been “bubbling” in his mind for years and exiting SpotJobs gave him the opportunity to pursue it.
“I’ve always been aware of the acutely poor experience for consumers when it comes to debt and missed payments, screwing around with nine-digit registration numbers and BPAY codes and all that sort of stuff,” Romano says.
“It was an experience that gave me heartburn. Internet banking made sense to me 20 years ago but nothing’s really evolved in the payment space since.”
Credit Clear’s platform is aimed at large enterprise customers that have numerous users needing to facilitate payments, and the startup wants to provide communication and facilitation of payments at “all stages of the debt cycle”. The system uses everyday mobile offerings such as instant messaging and text messaging — and even a touch of artificial intelligence — to improve the experience for customers.
For Romano, working in a new area after the success of SpotJobs wasn’t too much of a system shock; he says the skills that pulled him through the early days of the job listing company “easily translated” across to building Credit Clear
“Forming a development team, getting key personalities on board, and the proceeding to test it and bring it to market, the early phase was very similar,” he says.
“I had to learn about an industry I knew nothing about, but I knew nothing about jobs when I started SpotJobs. Fresh eyes and ideas are often where the best innovation stems from; there’s no inertia or fear of change involved.”
One of the key personalities the Credit Clear team has roped in is former Openpay chief executive Simon Scalzo, who will serve as managing director and will be leading the platform’s global expansion into the US, UK, and Asia.
Credit Clear currently employs 26 staff members and the founders say revenue is doubling every month, with profit forecasted for “early next year”.
The $10 million the team is looking to raise will be almost entirely used to fuel international expansion, with Scalzo saying Australia is a fantastic proving ground for the platform, but it is a “small market”.
“We’ve done a lot of research here and we know our product is unique globally, so we see huge benefits in replicating what we’ve done here in key markets like the US, UK, and Asia,” Scalzo says.
“We’re also putting money into expanding our technical resources to keep our tech ahead of the evolving market.”
The team has had a lot of interest from investors already, they say, but plan to keep their cards close to their chest until they can ensure they find the right partner to help with international expansion.
However, despite admitting it’s a “short timeline”, the startup wants to have the raise finalised by Christmas.
With both Romano and Scalzo moving to Credit Clear from other successful startups, their advice for other startup founders who may be considering other ventures is to commit to your idea.
“It’s really exciting to believe in a product and where it can go, and to be part of that. You need to have the focus and belief in what you’re pursuing to make it work,” Scalzo says.
“Don’t be the one who says, ‘oh I had that idea’, when you see someone make it happen. Go and make it happen yourself” says Romano.
“Lots of people with ideas out there, so be the one who goes and does it.”