- Small businesses spend an average of 5 hours each week paying invoices and managing related admin – adding up to 500 years a week
- Apron’s platform lets business owners and accountants sort, pay and reconcile invoices in seconds – flipping commercial payments from a barrier to a booster
- Founded by a Revolut product leader, Apron puts users’ needs at the center of their product and allows for effortless collaboration by all parties to payments
- The $15 million Series A was led by Index Ventures
By Jan Hammer
Precisely no-one starts a company so they can spend hours every week paying and reconciling invoices. Yet that’s the reality for small business-owners the world over.
Apron, the transformative payments start-up that recently joined the Index family, is here to change that. In just a few clicks, Apron meshes effortlessly with SMBs’ existing financial tools, compressing the work of hours into minutes.
What makes them stand out? For one, Apron don’t see payments as point-to-point transactions. Instead, they understand that money moves through a network of connected players, including businesses, their accountants and suppliers. This perspective has helped Apron to holistically reimagine the whole workflow around invoices so that it’s smooth, swift and satisfying everyone – not just another inelegant, bolted-on solution. For example, an Apron customer doesn’t need to open a wallet or new bank account – instead, Apron slots seamlessly into her existing workflows and behavior. Apron’s relational view of payments also allow the company to benefit from multi-dimensional network effects, such as when one category of user (say, accountants) serves as an advocate and sales channel for another (say, SMBs).
Secondly, Apron’s CEO and founder, Bogdan, has a strong belief in product-led growth, forged in his days at Revolut. This relies on both a superior technical payments architecture under the hood, as well as a finely honed user experience layered on top. As a result, Apron has been able to find its customers solely by word of mouth so far, powered by its intrinsic excellence and usability. The product spreads of its own accord, an evolutionary adaptation that improves the invoicing experience for everyone.
Finally, Apron have tapped into the appetite for user-centric business software, baking in the kind of delight you typically find in consumer apps. This demand is especially pronounced in the small business community, which has been historically neglected in favor of consumers and corporates, who are perceived as ‘easier to reach’. But in this and so many other ways, Apron are unafraid to rewrite the rules of the game. We’re thrilled to be at their side as they tackle the next frontier for business payments.
Apron, the intuitive fintech platform that slashes the time small businesses spend processing invoices, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures. The funding is a sign of the growing appetite for consumer-grade experiences in B2B software, and of the commercial potential in addressing the under-served small and medium business (SMB) community.
Founded by Revolut product leader Bogdan Uzbekov and soft-launched just six months ago, Apron is already processing millions of pounds of transactions every month, working with hundreds of client companies and thousands of payment recipients.
In their day-to-day lives, users have come to expect delightful, seamless payment experiences. Yet when they start their own business, they’re often shocked to discover the manual, messy and unattractive financial tools they’re forced to rely on.
The pain is particularly marked when it comes to paying suppliers. Companies need to sort invoices, get approvals, reconcile and maintain their books, and keep accountants in the loop. This typically involves a flurry of emails and logins across multiple apps and services, wasting hours of everyone’s time each week. The average UK small business owner spends 5 hours a week paying invoices, and £1.5 trillion flows through this process every year in the UK alone.
Apron’s unique approach is to holistically redesign how payments flow through a network of users. Their powerful, industry-leading platform for SMBs and accountants supports virtually any payment scenario, and layers a user-centric, delightful experience on top. Rather than creating another wallet or replacement piece of software, Apron fits in seamlessly to existing workflows and behavior. Business owners can sign up to Apron in minutes, and with a few clicks can manage invoices, pay multiple suppliers at once, get fast approvals and automatically reconcile.
‘What providers forget is that the people behind businesses are, well, people – and they want the same quality they’re familiar with in their consumer apps,’ says Bogdan Uzbekov, founder and CEO of Apron. ‘Instead of trying to solve business payments from just one perspective, we create a town square where everyone can come together to move money as smoothly as possible – flipping payments from being a blocker to being a booster.’
Dani Reid and Agnes Potter, friends and founders of the neighborhood cafe Potter & Reid in Spitalfields, London, were one of Apron’s first customers. The hours they’ve saved with Apron have opened up the space for the pair to expand to new sites and develop their catering business. ‘To a lot of small business owners, accounting is the last thing we’re thinking about,’ they say. ‘We’re thinking about increasing sales to become profitable and striving for this every day.’ They continue: ‘Apron saves time and money, which helps you focus on the bigger picture.’
With the Series A funding, Apron will grow its 20-strong team, which includes talent from Meta, Revolut, Square and Yandex, and significantly expand its offering for accountants – a major sales channel for the product.
Jan Hammer, the Index partner who joins the board, says: ‘The needs of SMBs have been ignored for too long. Bogdan’s team have realized that if you build an amazing product, it will spread organically and at speed. Apron have not just built a technically exceptional back-end payments platform: combined with their unique focus on the product experience, they have the potential to redefine how people pay invoices everywhere.’
Uzbekov is originally from Ukraine and studied Physics and Maths in Moscow and at Imperial in London. He joined Revolut in 2017 and was part of the early team responsible for expanding outside of the UK, ultimately leading the creation of Revolut Bank in Europe. Uzbekov saw the potential behind Apron while working at Square as European Operations lead, where he was surprised by the gap between the consumer and merchant offerings for managing payments.
Uzbekov continues: ‘In consumer electronics, you need to understand the hardware as well as the software – that’s why Apple have been so successful. For Apron, you can think of our payments platform as the hardware, and our carefully designed workflows as the software. We’re not just a slick app, but a critical cog in the business machine that keeps small businesses moving forward.’
Published — Sept. 28, 2023