The challenges facing start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs are legion. From cash flow to SEO, chasing clients and filing accounts, one in nine small businesses are likely to fail straight out of the gate and all suffer from a common malady: too much to do and not enough.
Enter Smarty. The company has developed software that automates a raft of daily tasks so small businesses are free to focus time and resources where it matters. How do they do it? CEO and Founder, Dr. Farhad Reyazad, explains all.
What’s the inspiration behind Smarty?
Smarty was designed by a group of entrepreneurs who know first-hand the challenges facing start-ups.
A business with 3,000 clients and just a few employees still has to provide customer service, do upselling and follow up payments, and these activities take a lot of time.
After years of listening to small business owners’ needs, and combining my academic background with professional experience in business development, my business partners and I came up with an idea: what if we could develop an integrated software to solve these issues?
How will start-ups benefit from using it?
The Smarty platform covers a plethora of areas for businesses, doing the job of a PA, accountant, sales manager and web marketing expert. It allows individuals to focus on growing their business and shrinking their workload. Incorporating multiple platforms into one, Smarty analyses vital parts of businesses and summarises performance in simple to understand reports.
If a start-up can deliver an outstanding service they can compete with their larger rivals. Smarty aids in accounts and payments, tracking sales, managing contacts and sending out automated emails and keeping an eye on a website’s SEO – all areas to which start-ups struggle to attend.
Is Smarty software affordable for small businesses that are both time and cash poor? We have designated software that helps micro businesses operate their sales, marketing and business operations. We also offer a subscriptions-based service where users pay an ongoing monthly fee starting at just £50 and going up to £200+.
The minimum contract is three months; afterwards, our clients can cancel anytime.
Our aim is to provide the best service so that the drop-out rate from the software is very low. We also pride ourselves in providing some free features which could be used by start-ups.
What in your opinion are the main challenges that start-ups and small businesses must content with? According to figures, one in nine small businesses fail, but in an era of economic uncertainty it is no wonder that start-ups are on the rise. At the start of 2015, small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private businesses while 99.9% were SMEs.
Small businesses remain the engine of the British economy. According to the FSB Small business confidence, business revenue and profitability growth have all declined across the UK.
Managers need to be multi-skilled across numerous aspects of the business. For someone inexperienced, it can be a disaster. A good manager needs to be able to encourage productivity, delegate effectively and think strategically; he or she should be able to look at the ‘bigger picture’ for the business.
What made you decide to base Smarty in a shared office?
The shared economy trend has been so important over the past few years – everything from Uber, to AirBnB, to coworking proves it works. We wanted all the advantages a shared office space could offer. Our team loves meeting new people and being part of a community, which is why having permanent desks is important.
We put an emphasis on building successful, long-term professional relationships and have found that to be the most rewarding networking experience. Co-working has found us friends, colleagues, partners. There is so much to learn from our ‘neighbours’.
What do you like about Le Bureau?
We love the space – the design is innovative, as are the businesses who work here. Initially, we joined because it is available 24/7 and very flexible but it has become so much more than a practical choice.
We love the Friday cakes and always try and attend the events. Now, we’re hosting our own events and have benefitted so much from the great management team who are always willing to help!
Do you think face-to-face networking could negate some of the challenges that start-ups incur? It can get overlooked in today’s world but face-to-face interaction is still a leading factor of success. That’s how you find investors, mentors and customers, especially in a city like London where there are so many events going on every day, for every industry.
If you don’t have time to attend conferences, co-working spaces can be crucial to success as you never know who you might meet in the shared kitchen on your coffee break. You invest your time as much as you invest your money and that’s why face-to-face networking is so important.
What does the future hold for Smarty?
We have been just nominated as best customer relationship management (CRM) product by the Network Computing Awards. We are humbled that we have been selected for the short-list, so we are awaiting that outcome with crossed fingers!
Smarty is already looking to the future by continually monitoring usage, trends and feedback from users. We are preparing to raise $1m in series A funding at the end of this year to be able to further develop our software in response to these.
Small businesses who don’t see the benefit of embracing the digital age risk falling behind those that do take the digital plunge. We have to work together as a collective to make sure that small businesses don’t fall behind. We are also planning to take our business globally by end of 2018, so now is an incredibly exciting time for the company.
Smarty treated Le Bureau members to a Wine & Learn evening on Thursday 23rd February. Smarty’s Agnes gave a fascinating insight into the software and in true Le Bureau tradition, there was plenty of wine…Back to Blog