Investly Plans to Raise 2M GBP on Seedrs – Interview with CEO Siim Maivel

Investly is currently pitching on Seedrs to raise between 500K and 2M GBP in a crowdfunding for equity campaign. To become a shareholder, the required minium investment amount is 13 GBP.

What is Investly about?

Investly is an invoice financing platform which helps businesses from the UK and Estonia release cash from their long payment term invoices. We’re a marketplace that connects investors to companies that need short term capital, which we issue against their receivables. We have offices in London and Tallinn.

What are the three main advantages when investing in the invoices?

Liquidity – Investly is quite different compared to most platforms because the investment period is only 30 to 40 days on average. This means you can convert your investments into cash within a month by simply halting further investments.

Return – Historically investors have earned 11-12% annually on invoices. I believe every investor should have a portion of their funds allocated to P2P investing because of the higher return and additional diversification.

Added value – Invoice finance is helping small businesses who are growing fast but fail to get the support they need from local banks. The direct impact is clear – invoice finance has helped our customers grow faster and create more jobs. This would not be possible without investors.

What are the three main advantages for companies selling the invoices?

Most of all, faster business growth. We discovered that Estonian customers who are leveraging access to working capital are able to grow their turnover by 18.3%, while turnover growth benchmark equals 7.6% (Investly internal analysis, growth benchmark from Statistics Estonia report 2017)
But access to working capital is not just numbers in spreadsheet, but most of all it’s opportunities that business can take: hire more staff and win new contracts, get better supplier payment terms by offering early or up-front payment, ensure prompt payment for employees and subcontractors.

What ROI have investors made on average on the platform in the past?

On average investors have earned double digit returns in both markets. The net return on Estonian invoices has been 11.2% annually and in the UK it’s been 12.6% annually.

What is the procedure, if a company is late in repaying the invoice?

To ensure collection is as fast as possible, we rely on early action and automating notifications to debtors. If the debtor doesn’t pay within 30 days of the due date, we have the right to ask the seller to repurchase the invoice from investors. We also ask for a personal guarantee from one or several of the directors of the seller company. This means that if the company cannot pay, we can ask for payment from the directors.

Investly is the biggest p2p lending marketplace for invoice financing in Estonia. How did you achieve this position?

We use personal approach and always try to find the best solution for our customers and investors. That professional customer service constantly provides us a leverage over banks and competitors. Also, quick decision – we present an offer within one working day. This is something that many of small businesses can’t expect from traditional lenders. On top of that, we have flexible pricing, which we’re able to use thanks to loyal and engaged investors community.

Investly is also operating in the UK. Is it complicated to operate in two different markets simultaneously and which of the two markets is more attractive for future growth?

UK is the largest factoring market in Europe with €327b worth of invoices financed every year. For comparison, France is second with €268b/year and Germany is third with €217b/year. This is where the biggest potential is. However, traditional sales and marketing channels towards our target customers are extremely crowded with thousands of B2B service providers trying to sell them products. We have to be more clever about acquiring customers there. Open Banking enables us to do that.

Estonian businesses finance only €2.5b/year, but due to the connected infrastructure of public and private registries, we can reach our customers much more easily. Also, there’s fewer providers in Estonia and we’re creating a lot of the market ourselves as factoring hasn’t been available for them in the past.

Having built Investly for four years, what do you deem the biggest assets of the company?

We have gained a detailed understanding about the problem we’re solving. It’s not specific to any geography. Businesses across Europe and elsewhere in the world are struggling with the lack of working capital. It seems that our product offering helps to solve that problem more simply than traditional lenders.

Four years is typically a good time to become an expert at something. We have also build a strong team to execute our mission. We’re experts at invoice financing.

Also, we’ve managed to get a good set of advisors on board to help us build the marketplace and secure future rounds of financing if needed.

What role does ‘Open Banking’ play in the near future for Investly’s further development?

Open Banking is a technical enabler. Businesses can now choose freely between their bank and 3rd party providers to solve their specific financial needs. It’s done in a secure and easy-to-use way.

This has gotten banks looking into how they can continue to be profitable in this new environment. Completely new types of business models are emerging and we’re proud that Investly is one of the early pioneers to set the path for others. Being part of the Open Banking sandbox in UK helped us to be one of the first ones to integrate with banks like Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and Santander.

We’re going to use these integrations to form partnerships with traditional lenders so we can serve our customer without them necessarily having to change their provider.

You want to raise new funding on Seedrs. Why did you decide to use crowdfunding for equity rather than traditional routes?

Throughout the years we’ve received multiple requests from our marketplace investors to participate in our equity financing round. They’ve been giving us a lot of valuable feedback when we’ve developed our product and directed our credit model. We’d like them to get a chance to be part of Investly mission as we continue to grow.

With traditional equity financing, we’d be overwhelmed by administrative work to get the round closed and to manage those relationships later on. Seedrs has provided a good platform on which we can do that efficiently.

What is the value proposition for investors? Do you aim for a stock market listing? What is the likely time horizon?

Get to participate in our valuation growth. The interest you earn on the marketplace is quite stable, but the potential upside on the equity investment is much higher.

UK based investors can take advantage of the EIS scheme. It’s quite a big incentive on the tax side.

Seedrs provides a secondary market, which helps to create liquidity for our shareholders. This way, you don’t have to wait for years until the startup makes an exit or files for IPO.

Is Investly profitable? If not, when do you expect to reach breakeven on cash flow.

Operationally, we’re quite close to breakeven. The target is to get profitable in core activities in the next 6 months after fundraising round closes. But on a company level we will still be investing heavily into building out the integrations with banks to execute the momentum we’ve managed to build up.

For which activities does Investly intend to raise the used funds?

Partnerships and further automation. Few years ago, all the banks would turn us down when we approached them with suggestion of cooperation. But with Open Banking, this is window of opportunity for both of us: Investly provides working solution with better experience and price for customers, banks acquire competitive leverage on the market and are part of this fintech revolution. Therefore, funds from this round will be used on product developments which will allow us integrate with banks infrastructure and automate our processes even more with the increase in volume.

Where do you see Investly in 3 years?

Investly will be the major provider of invoice finance to businesses across Europe. It’ll be partly through partnerships (invoice finance powered by Investly) and partly through building out our own brand by continuing to deliver superior customer experience.

With that scale, we will have had enough data to build up a narrow AI for credit decisions. We have followed our roadmap for getting there. We’ll be better able to score companies and collect payments than competitors.

Investors will have access to debtors across Europe, which enables them to achieve a good diversification of currencies, countries and sectors.

Once we’ve received that scale, we will be able to deliver the best financing rate to businesses with our marketplace model, where banks are lending alongside with our investor community.

P2P-Banking thanks Siim Maivel for the interview.

Updated Jan. 23rd: A previous version of this article stated 2.5M as upper limit of the fundraise. That figure was incorrect.

Investly pitch video on Seedrs

 

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