Like most Silicon Valley successes, Albert is co-founded by an engineer and a designer. The free financial management tool is specifically for the self-employed. Since its launch in 2014, the business has catapulted to the forefront on the App Store. We speak with co-founder Ivo Weevers on his start-up journey.
What does your business do?
Albert is a free mobile app that lets freelancers and self-employed people manage their invoices and money right from their phone, on-the-go. Albert helps anyone working for themselves customise and send beautiful invoices from their mobile in seconds, and automatically organises invoices in Dropbox ready to send to the accountant in a single tap.
In short, Albert makes freelancers financial lives much easier so they can focus on doing more of the things they actually want to. And just recently it was Tech City News’ App Download of the Week.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As freelancers who lived and worked away a lot, Dan (Albert’s other founder) and I were completely fed up with the hassle that comes with sorting invoices and managing money when we were away on business – which happened to be a fair bit!
The light bulb moment came over a sunny breakfast in LA. We were dreading the idea of sending off a load of invoices as soon as we got back to the UK, and at the same time wondering why the hell there wasn’t an easier, enjoyable way for people like us to create and send invoices from our phones, instantly and on-the-go.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Being freelancers ourselves we are the market, which really helps us understand the challenges faced by the 5 million people working for themselves here in the UK.
Once Dan and I had built a product prototype (on the flight home from LA incase you were wondering!), we asked all our freelancer friends for some good, honest, bullshit free feedback. They told us they loved Albert’s Instagram feel and overall simplicity. So the only thing left to do was go for it. And here we are a few years later…
How did you raise funding, and why?
We were lucky enough to get into Telefonica’s Wayra startup accelerator. This, along with our own network put us in touch with a few fantastic investors.
But investment goes far beyond funding. It’s about bringing onboard hard-to-find expertise too. Building great financial tech is pretty hard! It takes time and expert skills. So to be able to count on experienced investors for feedback and guidance along the way has been priceless.
Describe your business model in brief.
At Albert, we don’t think starting a business should cost a penny. Everyone should be able to chase their dreams and start something from nothing without needing a pile of money to kick things off. As freelancers we understand all too well the trickiness of starting a business, and we believe getting paid shouldn’t be a difficult part of starting out.
So Albert is free. No tricks. No gimmicks. You can send unlimited invoices forever. I suppose you’re wondering how we make money? Later. We’ll introduce paid features to make invoicing even simpler in time, but the free version will always be available.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
Telefonica’s top startup accelerator, Wayra, accepted us into their programme in February 2015. Looking back, that was the moment that it all became quite real!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Create or build something you completely believe in, but not without listening to others along the way.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
With a bit of luck in five year’s time, Albert will have helped thousands more people across the world work with more freedom, so they can truly make the most of freelancing and self-employment.
With over 7,000 UK users at the moment, we’re on a mission to become the super-simple, trusted friend in the pocket of every self-employed millennial.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
Still annoyed with the status quo…
What is your philosophy on business, in a nutshell?
Businesses shouldn’t be constrained by boundaries. Everyone should be able to run a business from anywhere in the world, anytime they choose. Your work and business should be flexible enough to fit into the life you want to lead, not the other way round.
If you need to drop your kids off a nursery at 10am every morning, you should be able to. If you work best in the evening, then why shouldn’t you work evenings? If you’d rather work from home, then work from home. If you’re climbing the office walls by lunchtime, then go workout, go for a walk and get some headspace.
The team at Albert works exactly like this. We work flexibly, remotely and ways that suit each of us individually. And with this comes happiness, creativity, energy and productivity. That’s how we’re able to build the best products for our users.