DueCourse: Paul Haydock, Jon Grove and Tim Borden

Serial entrepreneur Paul Haydock on how his start-up will help small firms tackle late payments, and overcoming funding and hiring challenges

Name: Paul Haydock
Company name: DueCourse
Location: North West
Date launched: 01/07/15 
Website: www.DueCourse.com

Tell us what your business does:

DueCourse is a free service for small businesses that helps them to get paid faster by creating and sending ‘smart’ digital invoices to their customers in seconds.

We also aim to help businesses manage any outstanding invoices therefore empowering firms to take control of their cashflow.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

We all used to run a small business and getting paid on time was a constant headache. We would creat PDF invoices and send them out to our customers, however once the invoice had left our system we had no idea how it was progressing. Inevitably the due date would come and go, and we would be left wondering when we were going to get paid. The task of chasing payment was always a painful experience, and cashflow really suffered as a result of these late payments.

With DueCourse, small business users can fully customise their invoices and are able to see exactly when their invoices have been received and viewed by their customers. The software also makes it easy for customers to pay invoices, by allowing online card payment for all users.

If customers haven’t paid the invoice by the time it’s due then businesses can choose to schedule automatic email reminders to the customer advising them to pay.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Research has shown that 51% of small and medium enterprises are still using paper, Word or Excel to send their invoices. In the UK alone, this equals £275bn per year being billed in this insufficient way, which can often result in businesses experiencing late payments.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was previously co-founder & CEO of myParcelDelivery.com (winner of Startups 100 in 2013). I successfully exited that business in September 2013.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes; I started my first business after leaving university in 2006. DueCourse is my third venture.

How did you raise the money?

From an angel investor who I knew through a previous venture. He’s been fantastically supportive and a real asset to our business.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The invoicing software is free to use, and businesses only pay a small transaction fee when invoices are paid by debit/credit card.

In the future, we plan to give billing businesses the ability to ‘cash in’ any outstanding invoices at any time. This will empower businesses to take back full control of their cashflow. We will charge a percentage of the invoice value for this facility.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Raising our first round of finance was one of the first challenges we faced. We found the angel investors in Manchester (where we are based) to be very ‘conservative’ and cold on tech/fintech. In the end we have raised all our funding from London-based investors.

Finding good technical talent at the right price has also been a constant challenge. We require further development and design resources to continue to innovate and evolve our product, and such skills are hard to find. We have found recent graduates who have a hunger to work for a fast-growing startup a good source of talent so far.

In a start-up you face a hundred different challenges a week, half the fun is overcoming them.

What was your first big breakthrough?

We built two previous versions of the product, which we thought were what our customers wanted. It was only through testing our products out in the market and listening to feedback that we realised what customers actually needed.

When we finally built this version, it was great to see customers really love our product.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

First off, just make something people want and that they will use.

If there is one thing to plan for, it’s that nothing will go to plan. You have to keep trying things, keep iterating the product and tweaking the business model until you land on something that works.

Hire people that are better than you in each area of the business: it will make your life easier as a founder and provide you with a strong team that is ready for growth.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I want the business to be in at least 15 countries worldwide and to see small enterprises using DueCourse to get paid on time.

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