Monspire Meets David Tuck
David Tuck is a serial entrepreneur in the accounting tech and fintech space, having founded Chaser in 2014, now a multi-million pound company and winner of Xero’s prestigious App Partner of the Year award. He’s since gone on to build his second company Mayday, and consults for a number of growing tech businesses in the accountancy space.
In this Monspire Meets interview, David tells us about his journey and provides advice on overcoming major challenges as a business owner.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m now 15 years into my career, having trained as an accountant with Deloitte. After my time there, I went on to work for a few SME startup companies in the finance space, before founding Chaser. The company offers accounts receivable credit control software for SMEs.
I had a lot of success with the company, raising £3.3million of investment and helping hundreds of small businesses chase down invoices. I lead the company for seven years, leaving in 2020 to provide consultancy for businesses in the accounting tech/fintech space at the SME level.
Now, I’m on to my next business venture: Mayday. This company helps groups of companies automate their inter-company recharges.
I’m really excited to be working on my next big project. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial disposition. I started at Deloitte after falling into the ‘respectable career’ trap, but quickly realised that running my own business was the way forward. I now can’t imagine doing anything else.
What are the biggest challenges small business face?
The main problem I’ve seen within small businesses is that there is usually a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between profit and cashflow. As a result, business owners can often tie themselves up in knots, getting stuck in a working capital straitjacket.
They operate under the belief of being a profitable business without fully understanding the working capital cycle and credit risk involved in delayed payments, which can pose a real challenge. This, in my view, is why cashflow kills small businesses.
What is your advice to other founders?
More than anything else, I would advise other founders to fall in love with a problem. Get really inspired by a problem and go from there, rather than getting obsessed with your idea for something that can be built. When operating from the latter’s perspective, your ego tends to get attached, which is usually counter-productive.
When you obsess over a problem that needs fixing, it inherently belongs to someone else – your target audience – so it stops the ego from having a say.
Linked to that is the importance of self-awareness. Know what you’re good at and use it your advantage. Equally, understand what you’re not good at and find the right support to complement you on your weaknesses.
Finally, just make sure you have a basic understanding of accounting and financials. I’ve been fortunate to have always had a grasp on this given my background, but I’ve encountered so many founders that don’t have this understanding.
Not knowing what state your company is in from a financial perspective is like being a doctor and not being able to read the charts or vital signs to understand your patient’s health.
Your business is your patient and if you can’t understand it’s vital signs, then you’re rolling the dice as to whether it’s going to survive or not.
What is the future of accountancy?
First and foremost, I’m expecting an emancipation of expert knowledge; it’s my raison d'être for founding Mayday, and it’s something that I think will help an immeasurable amount of small businesses.
Aside from that, my view on the future of accountancy has shifted quite drastically. A couple of years ago, if you’d have asked the same question, my response would’ve just have been ‘more of the same.’ Not long ago, I thought the big revolutions in accountancy had already occurred with the advent of cloud accounting and automation. But from today’s perspective, it’s clear that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Cloud accounting and automation have brought real benefits, giving businesses the ability to benefit from a virtual finance function delivered by their accountant with real-time information. This was never possible before. But that hasn’t really had an effect on the organisational model or nature of accounting in any major way. We’re still operating through the legacy of guilds of the industrial revolution, supersized by globalisation.
I think the future of accountancy will be unrecognisably different, where knowledge is democratised allowing for far greater strategic insight for business owners. The amount of information at their fingertips has, quite literally, never been greater.