We caught up with Nicolette Maury, CEO of financial services app Asto, to hear all about how they’re helping SMEs automate their finances and better manage their cash flow…
How did you come up with the idea for Asto?
Asto is built on the belief that no good business should fail for want of time, support, or access to finance. As a start-up set up and backed by Santander, the team saw an opportunity with the move of Open Banking to bring together technology and insight to build something that can transform the way small businesses run.
Our aim is to do this by bringing together the financial and non-financial tools that have been created, but haven’t yet been applied to fixing the very real pressures business owners experience when running a business and hosting them all on one accessible platform.
Cashflow is the number one pain point for small business owners worldwide. Asto’s vision is to support the UK’s 5.4m self-employed and micro-businesses by automating time-consuming admin, providing bespoke insights, offering new financing options, and building a supportive community. We want to help small businesses stay in business by providing smart tools and products that enable them to understand and access the finances they need to grow.
What advice would you give to small businesses that manage their cash flow through technology?
My advice to entrepreneurs and business owners is to utilise technology. Speaking with business owners, we discover that many are still manually managing their business admin and tasks and creating a lot of paperwork, despite the fact that there are tools out there that they can use. Automation is useful, and will undoubtedly play a vital part in how SMEs work in the future, but it’s also key that business owners and freelancers make sure they have the tools that are right for them. Automation can support them and give them back time, it’s not a shortcut.
Why should people use an app like Asto rather than a traditional bank?
Asto isn’t a bank, but we aim to offer simple financial service solutions to business owners and freelancers that will help support them manage their business and finances efficiently. As an SME specialist, our products are based on extensive research undertaken to ensure we’re providing the services our customers need the most. Alongside flexible financing options, we provide free invoice creation and expense tracking, because we know that these are areas that founders and entrepreneurs in the UK need help with. We’re designed to complement business banking because we understand many business owners have a close relationship with high street banks and enjoy the services they provide. Our goal is to provide useful supplementary services that can help put a stop to the cash flow issues we know many business owners face.
What can we expect to see from Asto in the future?
We have a brilliant team of people, some of whom have been or still are founders and business owners, who are passionate about helping SMEs to grow. In the long-term, our aim is to give entrepreneurs and freelancers simple, smart products and services that will help their businesses thrive. We’ve recently partnered with the likes of eBay and Funding Options to provide flexible loans for small business owners. We’re constantly looking to improve, and are continuously working on developing and launching new products and features aimed at helping business owners improve their cash flow.