A Sydney-based start-up that’s raised close to $1 million in funds wants to make it easier for Aussie entrepreneurs to harness the Ideas Boom by reducing the amount of necessary paperwork to start a business.
Called Veromo, the business was born out of its co-founders’ first-hand experience of knowing how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to set up a small business. A recent NAB survey found red tape was one of the main things stopping wannabe entrepreneurs from starting a business, with 60 per cent of would-be entrepreneurs saying it was holding them back from getting started.
Co-founder Luscheyne Mellon has worked in IT at News Corp, as a children’s book author (“Born To Race”), at an experiential marketing agency, and as a freelance digital strategist. She co-founded Veromo with Andy Giles, a commercial litigator from the UK who also happened to be her soccer coach.
The registration process for starting a business in Australia can currently take up to 7 days. If you lodge online using Veromo, it takes just 20 minutes on average for Sole Trader and Partnerships registration and about 30 minutes for a full company package.
Which investors have backed Veromo?
Veromo recently raised $935,000 from key investors including James Henderson, Thomas Fussell and Mark Dalgleish. Friends and family also contributed.
James Henderson is executive chairman of Transocean Group and also a Veromo director. His specialisation is in advising emerging companies across a number of industry sectors. He has expertise in corporate strategy and structure, capital-raising and commercial negotiation. He has over 25 years in equities and advisory services.
Thomas Fussell is a private equity investor who is a founder or early round investor in a range of tech start-ups in data search, biosecurity, polymer technology, and notably Fast Search & Transfer, which went on to be acquired by Microsoft in June 2008.
Mark Dalgleish is a former reporter and producer for Channel 7 Melbourne, Channel 9 Brisbane and BBC London who then started a leading London-based video and digital agency which was acquired by the NYSE-listed advertising company Interpublic Group in 2000. He was also co-founder and CEO of C4 Digital, one of Australia’s largest web development businesses in the 2000s.
How exactly does Veromo work?
Veromo gets your business off to a flying start by streamlining and automating most of the setup process of starting a business. Its “NameFinder” tool helps you choose a business name, then does an instant availability check – not just for the name itself, but web domains and social media accounts too. If you’re good to go, you simply enter your details into its “OnceForm”, and everything you need is registered at once: your ACN, ABN, business name, domain name and other relevant taxes. Within an hour, you’ve officially started a business.
At launch, Veromo condenses three business registration forms and one domain name registration process into one using its “OnceForm”. In the future, Veromo plans to condense into one form not only 14 different types of forms businesses typically need to get started (think setting up bank accounts, insurance and more), but also provide business owners with powerful, time-saving productivity tools and educational resources to help lighten their business loads.
There are three packages available for purchase at launch: $799 for a company registration, $299 for a partnership and $249 for a sole trader.
Veromo doesn’t just process your fee and vanish though – whether you’re a first-time sole trader or a seasoned company owner, you can count on it for ongoing advice, help and support. When it’s time to renew your domain name, ASIC company renewal, or business name registration, Veromo’s reminder service ensures they do not expire and you don’t have to pay any pesky ASIC late fees.
Upon purchase of a Veromo package, the company provides every customer with education resources, such as a welcome pack containing a startup guide, in addition to a business companion guide to help them navigate managing their new business.
What is the story behind Veromo?
The idea for Veromo came about when the two co-founders formed a company called The Virtual Collective in 2012 after a ski trip. Veromo was founded April 2015 and is located in Surry Hills, Australia. It has 11 staff.
Co-founder Luscheyne Mellon shared more with us about Veromo in the interview below.
Why did you start Veromo?
At the very heart of it, I want to help people realise their dreams. I believe the world’s a better place if more people are starting something that matters to them and doing what they love. I want to use my time and energy to contribute to creating a more accessible entrepreneurial ecosystem for small business owners.
The idea for Veromo was born out of our frustration with all of the red tape and bureaucracy. Then the realisation that good professional advice was not only expensive but hard to find.
There are a series of blockers to getting a new business off the ground; each of them are not insurmountable but when piled on top of each other they can certainly take the wind out of the sails of most new business owners. I’ve seen far too many people waste time on low value tasks, burn through their cash reserves and spend money on things their business does not actually need at the get go. So we’ve created an affordable self-serve platform that helps new business owners start their business in the right way, in a fraction of the time.
What problem are you are trying to tackle?
We’re creating an efficient, frictionless and low-cost way for people to start a business and realise their dreams. But we don’t just stop there, we continue the journey with them, providing ongoing education and support because we recognise that entrepreneurship can sometimes be a lonely journey.
If it was easier to start a business, do you think more people would do it? What currently holds businesses back?
Yes, absolutely. I believe that any passion can be turned into a viable enterprise and that everyone has the potential to become their own boss and create an honest, solid business.
But we need to go beyond just the “ease” factor. If more people were exposed to entrepreneurship at a younger age I believe more would start businesses. In fact, 3 per cent of entrepreneurs in Australia under the age of 30 have been exposed to some form of entrepreneurial education. We need to move the needle on these stats. I see education as a key ingredient in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and Veromo playing a pivotal role in helping new business owners expand their knowledge and entrepreneurial skills.
With respect to what holds businesses back: we’ve spoken to hundreds of people over the past few years about their blockers and the consistent theme has been a lack of knowledge about how to start and a fear of failure.
At launch, how much time on average will you be able to save businesses?
Starting a new business involves a number of steps including research, finding professional advice, completing business and web domain name searches and the requisite paperwork and business registrations. This can result in two to three weeks of effort. The key driver for Veromo is the reduction in the amount of data entry required by new business owners in order to get to market faster. It’s also about ensuring potential entrepreneurs aren’t turned off of their idea by all of the hoops and red tape, which can be overwhelming when first starting out.
How did you manage to raise the $935,000 in funds to date? Who was key to raising this?
We initially applied for funding for the early-stage proof of concept via a number of Australian accelerators / incubators and never made it past the first round of submissions. We tried our hand at a few government grants, but qualifying proved both challenging and time consuming. After spending weeks on various applications, I have to admit that I thought it would be harder to raise our funding requirements than what ended up transpiring
In terms of raising the initial funding, we first met with Jamie Henderson, of Transocean Group, in late 2014 when Andy and I were seeking advice on how to raise capital and for some input on our pitch deck, the business model and financial projections.
Jamie understood the problem and space all to well and became one of our first cornerstone investors. Through Jamie’s extensive investor network and our own personal networks we managed to raise the $935,000 in funding.
How big (dollar wise) is this industry you are targeting in Australia?
In 2015 there were 242,620 company registrations, 124,048 business name registrations, 400,321 ABN registrations and 480,000 .au domain registrations.
ASIC revenue from company registrations in 2015 alone was $113 million and $4.2 million from business name registrations respectively. The average fee for an accountant to set up a company ranges between $1200 to $3000.
We have conservatively estimated that this industry (dollar wise) to be in the region of $400 million, whereas others have estimated that it is a billion dollar industry.