This is the third post in a series about the Thankyou Payroll journey, which will cover their story from founding to philanthropy to their future (hint: it involves equity crowdfunding) and further. We’ve heard the Founding Story from Hugh, the Foundation Story with Lani, and now we’ve got the Future Story from Christina Bellis, the CEO of Thankyou Payroll:
Kia ora koutou!
Over 10 years ago, I swooped into the fine South Island charm of New Zealand for a 6 month traveling holiday. A number of factors led me to stay, and one of them is the change-making abilities abundant in Aotearoa New Zealand. From the perspective of a Canadian, growing up in a city with a population the size of this entire country, the proximity we have to our government representatives, both local and national, and the ability to influence and make change happen by setting the best example we can, seems within an easier reach.
I’ve worked with social enterprises for the better part of 13 years. Prior to Thankyou Payroll, I worked with Sustainability Trust for 6 ½ years, building a number of their community programmes, and always looking for the sweet spot that combines social and environmental well-being alongside economic sustainability, both for the business and for those we served.
I’ve been CEO of Thankyou Payroll since 2015. I got involved because Thankyou Payroll were in a position that I’d worked through with the Sustainability Trust — growing, building teams, and getting better processes and foundations in place to secure and sustain future growth. I thought my skills would be complementary.
And, they have been. We’ve grown over 220% in revenue and 700% in client base in the last three years. We’ve more than doubled our team in the last 18 months, and now we’re preparing for our next stage of growth.
Over the next two years, IRD is making significant changes to the PAYE and payroll landscape in which business owners operate. The IRD’s new rules will require most businesses to submit payroll data after every pay cycle, instead of just once per month, and only through their online portal — no more paper copies. There are many employers who will find these changes cumbersome, and challenging to navigate, and the business admin involved will cost more time and money. From our calculations, in the next two years we’re expecting between 50–60,000 employers to be looking for a simpler way of doing payroll. That’s where we come in. We believe we’re in the position to pick-up up to 8,000 of these new clients by March 2019.
IRD is also removing their subsidy in April 2018, which we’ve used to run our business and offer our payroll service free of charge. Our business model will be changing to a monthly user-pays subscription model, which will be competitive with the market, but we believe will still offer the best value for money. We will keep our software free for all registered charities, and still be giving a percentage to Thankyou Charitable Trust, making every dollar go further into the community because social good, and its impact, will always be a strong component of our business model.
We’ve been doubling our client base year on year, and our earlier forecasts had us continuing to grow at a rapid pace and turning a good profit at the end of this financial year. We now predict that with IRD’s changes, that we are in a position to triple our client base over the next couple of years. We also plan to increase what we currently give to community activities via Thankyou Charitable Trust.
In order to realise those goals, we’ve just launched our equity crowdfunding campaign where we’re offering almost 10% of the company’s shareholdings. To be ready for the current opportunity, we need capital ahead of schedule to invest in good marketing so we can increase our name recognition, and be in the forefront when employers are looking for a solution to their payroll headaches. We also want to bring forward the release of our newest software, which will have a number of new client-requested features, and offer a seamless experience across our mobile devices and the web.
Because we’re no longer in start up mode, but more expansion, we’re aiming to offer financial returns to our shareholders via dividends within the next 2–3 years. So our crowdfunding crowd (and our current shareholders) should get ROI that packs a punch of social impact and goodness along with it. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. We’re already almost 20% funded after just three days:
What I love about the Thankyou Payroll model is that it shares the wealth around, and everyone benefits. Investors could get a financial return for taking a risk with their hard earned savings; the philanthropic grant model builds stronger communities via a number of facets; businesses and charities get an excellent, user-friendly software that takes away the time and the complexities of payroll; and the environment doesn’t pay for it because we’ve got environmental ethics in place. Lastly, our clients, our investors, and grant recipients all become part of the wider community impact, and a more holistic way of doing business now, and for our future.
In the next blog post, you’ll learn more about one of Thankyou Payroll’s investors and directors, with Steve’s Investor Story.
If you’d like to invest, check out our equity crowdfunding campaign here.