If your service-based business still collects paper checks and only knows customers by first name, Finli has an app for you.
After developing mobile technology for fintechs and payment companies for the past 20 years, Lori Shao, CEO of Finli, started the first mobile payment management company almost 3 years ago when she noticed that she was around technology all day but still used a checkbook to manage household services, like landscaping and after-school programs.
The San Marino, Calif.-based company focuses on micro-businesses, which according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Advocacy Office, 9.9% of U.S. businesses are small businesses.
These are businesses that often use five or more services, like QuickBooks, to manage billing and payments for their customers. Shao believes that many business owners end up abandoning these services because they are complicated, expensive, and heavily dependent on owners knowing a lot of information about their customers, in addition to a first name and cell phone number. .
“You don’t have to settle into a QuickBooks box or a Square box; you can continue to operate in your own way, on your own terms and we meet you where you are,” Shao told TechCrunch. “Finli means ‘financial lift’, so it’s in our DNA to raise communities financially, and we can do it one small micro-enterprise at a time.”
Finli’s platform was developed for owners to send invoices, look up customer information and check the status of payments between gigs. Users can create an account and send their first invoice via email, SMS or other messaging app in minutes. There is also a customer relationship manager feature so they can digitize their customer base if they want.
Shao said some competitors take a discount on incoming payments, so it was important to her that there were no merchant transaction fees for bank-to-bank business transfers. Owners can also continue to accept cash and check payments, which are automatically reconciled in the app, and manage collections via automated emails and SMS.
Currently, Finli has a freemium model for sending invoices and receiving payments. There’s also a Pro plan with a flat monthly fee, starting at $25 per month, which provides access to advanced tools, like setting up recurring payments and ACH direct debits, all tools Shao says they would otherwise need a bank to supply.
The company, which has 11 employees, ended 2021 with 500 business accounts on the platform, and 6 months later it grew to 3,000, or around 500%.
Shao secured $6 million in seed funding to help grow the team and continue to develop business banking features. The investment was led by the Urban Innovation Fund and included Motley Fool Ventures, M13, Alumni Ventures and all existing investors including Mac Venture Capital, Slauson and Co., Core Innovation Capital, Techstars and Muse Capital. This gives Finli total funding of $9.5 million.
“I started the business with just me and my laptop and recognized that I needed to surround myself with talented people who can help me improve and take Finli to the next level,” said- she added. “We are able to do so much with very little and ultimately, with this capital, we are able to do so much more. We have a lot of ideas, there are a lot of opportunities that we want to pursue, but we’ve been like so many other early-stage startups, just resource constrained, that have had a limited acceleration in our growth.
Finli is not alone in helping business owners manage their processes digitally. Earlier this year, Zuper, a provider of productivity tools for field service management and customer engagement, raised $13 million. Prior to that, Fuzey raised $4.5m in seed funding for its “digital one-stop-shop” for small businesses and independent entrepreneurs, while Puls Technologies raised $15m for its mobile app connecting merchants to on-demand home repair services.