The investment is the first time Grant Thornton, which provides assurance, tax and advisory services, has invested in a technology startup and is said to be a reflection of the firm’s “long-term commitment” to supporting growth opportunities for SMEs.
Geniac was set up by a pair of former Accenture consultants in 2014 to provide an “office-as-a-service” platform for small businesses, and the entrepreneurs behind each one. Its product combines accounting, tax, legal, HR and corporate administration tools and includes access to a range of specialists.
A previous funding round in January 2014 saw it raise $1.7m from undisclosed seed investors, since which time it has been expanding the offering.
Eduardo Martinez, who set up Geniac alongside Michael Galvin, commented: “When you’re a business founder with a big idea, the last thing you need is distraction. Many entrepreneurs don’t know what’s required in establishing and running a business and have to resort to brining in individual specialists, which is time consuming, expensive and rarely joined up.
“We created Geniac to integrate all the specialists and tools a growing business needs, giving business owners complete visibility, peace of mind and the time to get back to doing what they love.”
Martinez went on to say that Geniac’s beta service has received “brilliant feedback” from customers and will now go live as a full product. Investment from Grant Thornton, he added, will allow the business to scale up and support further small businesses.
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Going forward, Geniac will use part of the £22m to “actively hire” for its offices in London and Glasgow, with growth of £50m being targeted over the coming seven years.
Explaining why Grant Thornton decided to make its maiden investment in a technology startup, Mark Cardiff, a partner at the firm, said the co-founders have “really identified” what can hold back small companies.
“They have ambitious intentions to level the playing field between large and small businesses, in terms of the quality of support and tools available to small businesses,” Cardiff said.
“We got the Geniac idea immediately and just wanted to work with the team, because it helps create a vibrate, dynamic economy.”
The decision by Grant Thornton to make a strategic investment in a business which is largely providing the kind of services it does, but to smaller clients, extends upon a trend of large professional services firms introducing offerings for the SME market.
In October, KPMG Enterprise was launched to a suite of tools for early-stage businesses. Speaking with Real Business in June, KPMG partner Bivek Sharma said the service will act as a sort of “virtual FD” for businesses which would never invest in an actual FD.
“We’ve got a big chunk of our clients which are lifestyle businesses, not looking to buy giant yachts but to be stable and bring in enough for a good living. There are also the young entrepreneurs who are thriving to be the next Zuckerbergs, and just need a bit of support,” Sharma added.