Deloitte, the business advisory firm, has invested £2.5m to launch Propel by Deloitte (Propel), a cloud-based service that aims to help ambitious start-ups and SMEs to grow.
Alongside a core accounting service, Deloitte say Propel provides customers with a bespoke dashboard that gives a real-time view of how their business is performing, from cash position to web traffic. It also analyses non-financial data gathered through apps, ranging from web traffic to top selling products, to generate a more accurate picture of business performance. For example, a restaurant chain owner can see how their sales have correlated to weather. The business can then use this information and the upcoming weather forecast to plan for the coming days, whether that means adjusting stock or expanding promotions.
Katie Houldsworth, Deloitte’s innovation partner for audit, said: “We’ve built this service to help start-ups and SMEs grow. It is designed to deliver insight and address some of the longstanding headaches entrepreneurs and their management teams can face. When developing Propel, we collaborated with our 20 pilot clients to understand what makes a difference to their businesses. As a result, we now offer additional business planning support to supplement the dashboard and core accounting service. For example, we can help with cashflow forecasting, creating budgets and attracting investment.”
Nimesh Thakrar is the co-founder of Banneya London, which uses 3D printing for bespoke fine jewellery and Propel’s first ever pilot client. Nimesh has now been using the service for nine months and in that time has raised significant angel investment backing.
Nimesh Thakrar said: “Like any busy entrepreneur, I used to spend a lot of my spare time desperately trying to keep on top of the company’s finances. As well as getting my accounts into shape, the bookkeeping service provided by Propel has given me my Sundays back. I need a robust and real-time accountancy service so I know exactly how much I can re-invest into growing my business at any one time. Propel has given me invaluable advice, from introductions to potential investors to helping me identify and claim a tax rebate. The fact that Banneya London was working with Propel provided additional reassurance for investors.”
Propel is funded by Deloitte’s Innovation Investments scheme, which encourages its entrepreneurial employees to turn start-up ideas into businesses.
Houldsworth added: “Propel is a great example of intrapreneurship in action. The Propel team has been put through its paces over the last 12 months. They’ve acted as a lean start-up to get the Propel business idea off the ground, including pitching for funding and working with a limited budget. To make the idea work, the team had to challenge the way we do things, incorporating automation into our everyday work. They are now exploring how we might implement robotics.”