Emburse provides expense management and AP automation solutions for companies ranging from SMBs to multinationals like BASF, Bosch, and Exxon Mobil. We have more than 16,000 customers worldwide, with about 9 million users. We’ve had a presence in the UK for about six years, and you may know us by our Chrome River and Certify solutions. Our mission is to humanize work by automating manual tasks so users can save time and money and focus on what matters most – whether that’s more rewarding work, their families or their community.
Despite the slowdown in business travel, 2020 was a great year for us and 2021 has also started strongly. We’ve been investing heavily in invoice and B2B payments automation over the past few years, and this strategy proved very prescient.
Companies continued to get paper invoices, and finance teams working from home simply couldn’t process and pay these in a timely manner using the old manual approach. Lots of companies also needed to reimburse their home-based employees for things like monitors and mobile phone bills. Without moving these processes to the cloud things pretty much ground to a halt, so we saw lots of companies really accelerate their finance transformation initiatives.
What is the idea and drive behind Emburse and what role did you play in this?
Emburse humanises work for business travellers, finance teams and any employee who needs to submit an expense claim or a vendor invoice for approval. We’re all about taking away the burden of arduous manual tasks whilst at the same time reducing risk of fraud, ensuring compliance, and delivering deep spend insights.
We empower businesses with trusted expense management and AP automation solutions so they can focus on what matters most. We give finance teams and businesses the oversight they need to manage spend more effectively and efficiently. On top of that, for all employees it’s a blessing to not have to spend hours manually counting up expenses when time could be better spent doing more strategic work or spending that time with family!
I oversee growth in the EMEA region, which means it’s my job to connect customers to the solutions that best fit the needs of their organisation’s requirements. We know that every single business is unique, which means their expense management should be too – a large enterprise with thousands of employees around the world needs a much different solution to a small business that only operates in the UK, for example.
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What advice would you give to other aspiring business leaders?
Do something that you believe in and that matches your passion and personal values. It’s easy to just say, “well here’s something that I could do that could make lots of money,” but if it’s not your passion, and your only motivation is money, the chances are it won’t be fulfilling. If you believe in your company and your solution, you’ll be motivated and committed to bringing it to fruition. It doesn’t mean you have to save the planet or cure cancer, but you do need to solve a problem, make an impact, or fill a need in a way that nothing else can.
This ethos flows through the organisation and its customers as well. It’s much easier to motivate your team and attract new hires if you genuinely think that what you’re doing makes a difference. People will want to work with you not just for their pay packet but because they believe in the mission. It’s easy to get wrapped up in terms like “mission statement” and “core values” but they are essential in assessing if a role or company aligns with what you believe in and stand for.
What can we hope to see from Emburse in the future?
Business-wise, Europe is a huge focus for us. We’ve already built a strong customer base across the UK and Germany, as well as Spain and Portugal with our Captio solutions. We’re starting to make inroads into France, Italy and Central Europe, so as the economies open up post-Covid, there is a lot of opportunity for us.
We’re innovating in a number of areas, so there’s some really exciting stuff that’s coming both in the near term and farther out. One of the big things we’re working towards that will make end-users’ lives easier is real-time, fully-automated expense. As an example, I arrange a lunch meeting and have “Lunch with John Smith” on my Outlook calendar. When I pay the bill using my company card, I’ll get an immediate message saying, “It looks like you just spent £100 at this restaurant, meeting with John Smith – is this correct?” I just hit ok, and then everything else is done in the background. Matching the card transaction to the receipt, creating an expense item, confirming it’s in policy and then adding it to the general ledger. This is our future vision and we already have lots of the building blocks in place to deliver on this.
On the back end, analytics is a big focus. Coming out of Covid, companies have a major need to better understand their spend, so they make smarter, timely, data-based decisions. Giving companies the ability to look across both their employee expenses as well as their invoices, to spot areas where spend could be more efficient, could be a huge cost-saver.
On the back of the BLM movement, we also realized that we need to be part of the solution in creating greater equity in the business world. We recently launched Project Rise – a grassroots effort to develop solutions that can promote social and economic fairness in the Black community – as a great first step. This initiative is incredibly important to us and we’re constantly thinking about how we can do more.
At the moment we are gearing up to release solutions that can help companies track and spend more purposefully in areas such as minority-owned and sustainable businesses, with the Roadmap and DVI acquisitions accelerating those efforts. This is something we’re really passionate about.