This week I sat down with the remarkable Charlotte Petris, CEO and co-founder of Timelio. Timelio is an online marketplace connecting growing businesses directly with investors. Investors gain access to a new asset class offering diversified returns and businesses gain access to fast, flexible and lower cost finance. The company has facilitated over $70 million in funding for small businesses since its inception in April 2015 & is growing 30% month on month.
How did you develop the idea for Timelio and what drew you to this problem?
Timelio was established because financial services firms aren’t serving customers very well. Borrowers are being charged very high rates, returns have been weak for investors, customer experience was poor and the intermediaries are not very efficient. Finance is an industry that had not kept pace with technology and I could see a huge opportunity to use technology to do give customers a better deal.
How did you find your first few hires for the company?
The first few hires can certainly be challenging! Finding others as passionate as you are about the business and the ambitious change you want to bring about AND who are also able and willing to roll their sleeves up across all function of the business is critical to your growth. Not always easy to find but my experience is certainly seeking people through your networks or referral is key. People you know you can trust and rely on and who believe in the vision!
What are some of your strengths that really helped you build the company?
Resilience, perseverance, finding a way to “smash through brick walls”! Also being able to communicate and convince others to share and support what you are doing.
What was the catalyst that made you take the plunge and start Timelio? What would you be doing if you hadn’t started it?
It was all I wanted to do and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I had no Plan B, no back up plan, no idea what I would do if this didn’t work out!
How did you get your initial funding to get Timelio off the ground?
We self-funded the business to get it launched with first customers before going out to ask external investors to participate in funding. It’s makes a difference to show your commitment and prove the business first and this puts you in a much stronger position down the track.
What resources have been most helpful to you in starting up?
One of the most inspiring sources of information for me when I was in the “thinking about taking the leap” stage is a website called Escape the City. Their tagline is: “Life is short. Do work that matters to you.” It’s a great community where you can access programmes (“tribes”), interesting opportunities and share inspirational stories about people doing work they love.
What has been the most surprising part of running your own company? What were you not expecting?
You can never predict the twists and turns that come at you when launching and running a company. With a fast growing business, it moves, changes and develops very quickly. I hadn’t appreciated how my role as founder would change with every new hire and from day to day as the business grows. However, starting a business doing something you are passionate about will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.
Who have been your greatest mentors in this journey and what are the key things you’ve learnt from them?
It’s so important to surround yourself with like-minded people. I have been active in various networks and communities where it’s been beneficial to share experiences and stories. I’m so grateful for the overwhelming support that has been offered. From other entrepreneurs, organisations like Springboard, local Government, friends, family and even customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.