In the latest in our #GrowSolo series we speak to Founder and entrepreneur Aarish Shah. In his own words Aarish has been around the startup ecosystem for nearly 20 years working in a variety of roles and founding a number of his own businesses.
Tell us how you got to founding Projected?
Having worked as a leader in start-ups, scaleups and SMEs for close to 2 decades in sales, finance and operations, I couldn’t help feel how little innovation there has been in strategic finance. There’s been a lot of effort in solving the transactional end of the finance stack – high volume, but low value – and so little at the strategic end where the most value sits.
All of that time spent muddling across multiple excel spreadsheets and putting together reports for non-finance business leaders culminated in deciding to build Projected!
What does Projected do?
At it’s simplest, we are trying to turn your Numbers into a Narrative. Providing predictive and prescriptive insight into your data through the lens of finance, ultimately automating strategic finance for start-ups, scaleups and SMEs, supporting and supplementing time poor CFOs to deliver better information to inform better decisions.
What motivated the leap to start your own business?
I come from an entrepreneurial family, however after close to a decade working in Papua New Guinea, I returned to the UK without much to my name. That was when I first started working in the tech sector as founding CFO in an edtech venture which was part of the first cohort in Founders Factory, the West London based accelerator founded by Brent Hoberman. Not long after that, I launched my first business, a consultancy providing CFO support to venture backed tech businesses and a few years later I founded Projected.
I love helping people and am fascinated by the potential of tech to change how we live and work – I’m not a big fan of consumption for consumption’s sake (or tech for tech’s sake!) and, knowing how difficult it is to scale people, especially in the knowledge economy, I wanted to build something that could reach as many people as possible and help them succeed.
What kind of company set-up do you have?
We’re a UK based Ltd remote first company. As you would expect, we use a lot of modern cloud based tools to run our operation, whether that hosting on GCP, Sendgrid for our outbound email comms, Hubspot for our CRM, Slack for internal comms or Xero for our accounting.
We hold multiple bank accounts with traditional as well as modern (challenger) banks, because I’m a finance guy, I know the value in having relationships across the banking world, you never know when you might need one of them to support!
How does modern banking, mobile enabled etc benefit you?
Mobile enabled banking has clearly been a game changer. It means my distributed finance team (based in the UK and S E Asia) can all access and transact from our accounts at any time, but more importantly, as I am not always sat behind a computer, I can make or approve payments whilst I’m on the move.
I was never someone that went into the bank branch often so knowing that costs have been reduced by the lack of physical infrastructure is great.
What does the future hold?
We’re living in a world of rising inflation, depreciating currencies and a tight funding environment so it’s never been more important to be on top of your numbers. Businesses will embrace more and more tools like Projected to give themselves the edge against their competitors.
As machine learning continues to develop at pace, we’ll see more of the knowledge economy being augmented by these technologies meaning that the nature and cadence of the roles we do will naturally change, I think this is hugely exciting as it allows humanity to move towards more creativity which in turn leads to more innovation!
Any advice for those thinking of going out on their own or founding their own business?
Don’t be inflexible. Very rarely does someone or a team have all the answers before they win customers. There is nearly always some kind of pivot down the line once you’ve got things figured out. Of course there are also the obvious, surround yourself with good people, build relationships without expecting anything in return and spend time really understanding your customers, who they are and their problems.