What does it take to win a My Business Award? We talk with Charlotte Petris, CEO and co-founder of Timelio, the winner of the Optus Overall Award for Outstanding Excellence and the Game Changer of the Year.
My Business: Why did you start your own business?
Charlotte Petris: I grew up working in my parent’s family business from a young age. It is here where my first experiences with business began and I developed a strong desire to one day start my own. I also experienced first-hand the constraints many people face in trying to grow a business without access to adequate finance.
I see Timelio as an opportunity to utilise my finance knowledge, together with my experience advising SMEs, to help businesses achieve their growth ambitions. I’m an enthusiastic entrepreneur and contrarian, obsessed with ‘doing it differently’ in the world of finance.
MB: How has your business evolved since its inception?
CP: Our initial business plan has not changed in terms of our vision and goals. The early days of a business are all about finding product-market fit. What has changed is reflective of the stage of growth we are at. Our product and processes have adapted as we have moved from the start-up phase to enabling growth and scale.
Our objective is to rapidly grow the platform, achieve a size and scale that enables it to be used by thousands of businesses across Australia.
MB: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
CP: Changing the way in which businesses access finance through the use of technology is key to our success.
Education of business owners and advisers to overcome fears and concerns surrounding online companies that aren’t traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ establishments is one of our key challenges. Building trust and confidence in our ability to fund our customers is paramount.
We have been able to achieve growth via referrals and recommendations, which has helped us overcome the trust challenge. To stand out from the crowd, we have put a lot of effort into aligning the brand with our values and focusing on what is important to our customer.
MB: What’s the best business decision you’ve ever made?
CP: Bringing on the right investors, who share our vision, are passionate about fintech and disrupting traditional lending models.
MB: What has it meant for you to be recognised as a My Business Award winner in 2015?
CP: The focus in our first year of business has been on achieving credibility, raising awareness and building trust and confidence with our customers. Winning two awards has certainly helped with achieving this.
It is fantastic to get recognition for the work we have been doing with Australian businesses to give them easier and faster access to finance. It’s a huge honour to receive these awards, especially given the amazing companies that we were up against!
MB: Share with us some of your biggest successes.
CP: When starting out, finding your first customer should certainly be something to celebrate! For us, 12 months on we’ve exceeded expectations, not only in terms of the volume of funding and the number of businesses we have helped, but also the overwhelmingly positive feedback that we have received from customers. Our customers are calling us just to say thank you for such a pleasant experience. This is unheard of in the financial services sector and so this feedback has been better than we could have imagined.
MB: Do you have a business motto?
CP: It’s all about the customer!