This week I caught up with Inga Rudzitis, Operations Manager at Float. Float have been a stalwart part of the tech scene in Edinburgh, and have been a key player since the early days. They've tackled a problem close to the heart of every company whether they're starting out or scaleing up: cashflow. They are also are fans of rubber ducks.
What is it that Float does?
In a nutshell, Float does cashflow forecasting for SMEs, making it more accessible and easier to understand. You can manage your cash, so it doesn’t manage you.
Tell us a bit about the founders and where the idea came from.
The idea came from when Colin [Hewitt, founder] was running a previous business - he was looking at his own finances, and realised there should be a better way to manage cashflow. He built a beast of a spreadsheet that turned into the Float MVP. It was all about visibility, and making things clearer - having a graph makes understanding the figures far more intuitive.
What benefits to being based in Edinburgh do Float get?
Edinburgh is a really great city - it’s a good size, with lots of atmosphere but small enough to have a strong, non-amorphous community, especially in the tech scene. CodeBase is amazing [shucks - Oli], and the ecosystem there is really important - there’s a ready made network of peers, some are further ahead, some behind - you can learn and help others equally. It’s also quite a creative city which really helps with innovation and new ways of thinking.
What are some of the biggest challenges you're facing?
Retaining culture and identity while being a growing company... you can’t take things for granted when you get to a certain size. You need to spend more time working out who your customer is and what to prioritise in the product, instead of just getting it out there. Challenges are about opportunities too, that’s what startups are all about. We spend more time thinking about jobs our customers are trying to do with our product and customer personas, which we didn’t do in such detail when we were smaller. There’s also more tension between getting updates out there and making sure they’re done really well - more customers means that there are more demands on the product too.
What's it like working with a big partner like Xero?
It’s different for each of the teams at Float - in terms of engineering, it does mean we have to think about the integrations as well as what our own product is doing, but we’re still our own company, we’re not beholden to them. It’s very much a mutual relationship - we wouldn’t be here without them but we’re bringing a lot of value to them. Xero have been clear that their model isn’t to offer absolutely everything, and these niches can be filled by having add-ons. They have a great digital ecosystem, but also the events/conferences they put on give access to customers that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to reach otherwise.
Integrations are on the rise... what advice do you have for a company looking to create an add-on for an established product?
Give it a go! Being an add-on removes a lot of barriers - it gives you immediate access to customers as well as a framework to work on. Having a starting point makes things much easier, and removes some of the excuses not to get going! Building an add-on is great because you can zone in on the problem you’re interested in solving, and doing that really well, without having to also build the wider technology.
Float's been involved in the current tech scene in Edinburgh since it's early days.. what changed in the last 5 years?
Edinburgh’s always been a good place for tech in Scotland, but now we’ve had IPOs, big mergers etc. so the success stories are really putting Edinburgh on the map, which also means we have more stories to inspire us and learn from. We’re not all early stage any more, we’ve got the full spectrum of experience. We’re seeing more investors coming from London to Edinburgh in a way they weren’t five years ago which will be really beneficial for a lot of companies.
You regularly win awards (such as recently at the Software Excellence Awards), and Colin often speaks at events.. are there tangible benefits to both of these?
With the awards, it’s great for our reputation, and great to have on the website. They give Float credibility and legitimise us in the eyes of potential customers/investors. It’s also a really nice morale booster for the team - we get plenty of recognition internally but it’s great to hear it from outside too! In terms of talks, it’s really important to Colin to be out there making connections, giving back, getting feedback and getting inspiration. They’re a chance to be open and be part of the bigger picture. It’s great for PR too!
Investment raised £795k