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Four frustrated colleagues started this tech start-up to bring professional service businesses out of the 1980s

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AffinityLive creates integrated, cloud-based business-automation software for professional service businesses, its tools are meant to help better manage client relationships, sales, projects, team utilization and time billing.

The company recently secured an impressive $2 million round of funding from Australian VC firm Blackbird Ventures, as well as Silicon Valley’s Rothenberg Ventures and a handful of private investors with deep industry experience and connections.

Anthill went on to interview CEO Geoff McQueen (pictured) about the story behind the impressive tech start-up and below is what he had to share.

Who are the people behind AffinityLive?

AffinityLive was founded by four former colleagues who together had spent years working in and building a successful digital agency – Christine Higgins, Eamonn Bell, Glenn Fowler and I.

What brought us all together was the University of Wollongong, where we all studied computer science – while Eamonn and I grew up in the Wollongong area, Glenn was from the mid-north coast of NSW and Christine from much further away – Wisconsin in the US!

What inspired you to start AffinityLive?

It was our first hand experience in building a successful professional service business.

We were super frustrated with having a bunch of systems that didn’t talk to each other (even products from the same company didn’t integrate!).

We were frustrated with having so many error prone and manual things we had to do each day – from tracking our time to doing client billing.

And finally, we were frustrated with the chaos that comes from not having a handle on what’s going on with client proposals, projects and contracts.

We saw that other industries had been revolutionized by powerful but complicated and expensive technology (eg, SAP, Oracle), and we thought it would be awesome if there was a cloud-based solution that could give smaller companies like ours the power to run their business better – so the vision AffinityLive was born.

What problem did you set out to solve with AffinityLive?

The main problem is that running a professional service business sucks.

Whether it is an accounting practice, design agency, consulting firm, architecture business or one of the thousands of other professions out there, the principals rarely take vacations because a lack of systems to run the business means the business runs on their shoulders.

While other industries have been revolutionized by technology, professional service business are basically still being run the same way as it was in the 1980s, just with email replacing faxes.

We were crazy enough to imagine we could create a system to run a professional service business, make it easy enough to use that it doesn’t take an army of consultants to customise it and affordable enough for millions of small and medium professional service businesses to afford it – and that’s what we’ve done with AffinityLive.

AffinityLive runs all of the client work in a professional service business.

By combining technology that normally lives in separate systems (CRM, project management, timesheets, billing and more) into a single, automated system, AffinityLive frees up professionals to focus on doing what they do best – whether that means being an awesome accountant, incredible architect, amazing designer, kick-ass consultant or one of the dozens of other awesome things our clients are professionals at doing.

What sets you apart from the other players in your niche?

There are two things that really set AffinityLive apart.

The first is that AffinityLive is focused solely on the professional services sector – these businesses have common but particular needs that more general CRM, project management and service software doesn’t do well.

The second is that AffinityLive is built from the ground up to run a business. This means understanding profitability, utilization and business processes out of the box – AffinityLive is more like a modern, easy to use and affordable SAP than yet another CRM, project management or timesheet tool.

How is AffinityLive doing so far?

The business has tripled in the last 12 months, and we now have over 40 people on our team based in either Wollongong and San Francisco offices.

We are still very focused on making the product better every single day – which is why more than half our team are designers and developers – and the new funding is allowing us to reach even more clients through investments in sales, marketing and client success.

One other thing we’re really proud of is how much our users love our product – three quarters of our monthly active users are also daily active users, and two thirds of those use the product more than 100 times a month.

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