Crunch - Darren Fell headshot

Crunch is an online accountancy service for freelancers, contractors and small businesses, and recently received funding from Bebo co-founder Paul Birch and former Skype Chairman Michael van Swaaij. 

I’ve been asking Crunch MD Darren Fell about the business…

In one sentence, what is Crunch?

Crunch are expert online accountants, for freelancers, contractors and small businesses, providing the whole accountancy solution for a fixed low monthly price.

What problem does Crunch solve?

Crunch replaces the pain of dealing with traditional accountants. With everything online and expert accountants on the end of the phone, gone are the days of the annual return nightmares and the dreadfully boring and surprisingly costly meetings.

Crunch does everything including providing an account manager for only £59.50+VAT.

When and why did you launch it?

After two years of work building a banking grade system and setting up an Accountancy practice from scratch, the system launched in April 2009.

It was created to provide a true solution to small business accounting, not just a piece of software, yet still without all the pain and cost of a traditional accountant.

My experiences of being a freelancer and then a consultant, dealing with traditional accountants was enough to do this after a forward thinking Accountant approached me.

Who is your target audience?

Freelancers (28% of our customers are digital freelancers), contractors, locum doctors, oil and gas contractors, tradesmen. 

We are just launching payroll so we can now take on small businesses up to 10 employees.

What are your immediate goals?

We’ve just refurbished a 4,000 square foot office to allow us to expand as we scale up to 3,000+ customers.

Everything in our systems and continuous recruitment means our customer service with still remain at its very high levels, We’re no1 in the ASP (Accountancy Service Provider) league on

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Crunch?

By comparison, building software on it’s own is easy, I did that before at which I sold back in 2008.

Setting up a truly integrated accountancy practice and online software to change the way accountancy is delivered to small businesses was tough!

Have you received any funding?

I personally have invested around £200k (from my proceeds of Pure’s sale), the other Directors, just shy of £100k. We all worked without pay for the initial years and launched the business off our own money.

I then met Paul Birch (founder of Bebo) and later Michael Van Swaaij and they both agreed to invest, in total the external investment will be just shy of £1m.

How will the company make money?

The business is thoroughly proved, In October we operationally broke even. Way, way before we expected.

Out latest round of investment £500k is going into building the team (development, marketing) and doing a lot of marketing, advertising.

What is your pricing model?

Currently £59.50 + VAT per month for a 2x Director Limited Company business. That’s £714 + VAT per annual, A third of a traditional accountant’s cost and with the online software included,

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

We have a total of 23 staff, and intend to expand to 50 by Christmas 2011. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

in a year, we’re aiming to have 50 staff and more than 2,000 customers. In two years, we plan to expand the team to 80 – 100 staff, with a customer base of between 6,000 and 10,000. We want to be the largest small business accounting firm in the UK.