As part of our partnership with the ICAEW we hosted a webinar on how ACA accountants can get the most from their career, which you can view here.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing entrepreneur David Tuck, who shared with me his journey of becoming a FinTech founder and also gave us a great insight into his business, Chaser, in this article here.
Please introduce yourself
My name is David Tuck, I am the CEO & Founder of Chaser. We are an accounting-related technology company transforming how businesses carry out credit control, helping them avoid risk and get their invoices paid earlier. For more information on Chaser click here.
How did you enter the industry?
I joined the Deloitte graduate scheme straight out of university almost 10 years ago to the day! I was drawn to the ACA as a great starting point to my career and to Deloitte in particular for the Entrepreneurial Business Division. I spent 3 years studying the ACA program and then the CTA (Chartered Tax Advisor). This provided me with a good overview of general business taxation issues and you never know when it will come in handy!
Why the Entrepreneurial Business division at Deloitte?
The Entrepreneurial Business division provides a great opportunity to work with start ups and young companies, really seeing a broad range of issues that they were facing alongside the bigger more technical challenges. It was a personal choice to join this area of Deloitte as I was excited by the diverse mix of work it would provide at the start of my career, plus it was coupled with my personal interests.
How did you find your search for your first industry role? How was the transition?
After finishing my CTA, I looked at the next step for me within Deloitte and continuing along the partner route was really not for me. Regarding my search, it was really extensive – I was looking for the best part of 6 months, kissing a lot of frogs and trying to work out exactly what I was looking for. I saw a wide range of specs and met with a variety of recruiters, trying to filter down further. I worked for three great but very different businesses where I gained a lot of varied, invaluable skills and experience.
My first move at Fever-Tree was heading up a finance team as Financial Controller, which was a fantastic hands-on first role. Managing a finance function was very different to my days in the Big 4, so it was a very steep learning curve, but a fantastic one. My time at WAYN as Finance Director provided me with greater commercial responsibilities and also my first move into tech, which was always a goal of mine. Finally I worked as Interim Finance Director at Idio, which allowed for building – finance teams, systems (Xero), and investment. That interim role helped to fund the early development of Chaser.
After 2+ years in industry you decided to set up a FinTech start up – What was the inspiration for this?
I’d always dreamt of being an entrepreneur and always had a passion for business. The inspiration for Chaser was a bi-product of having experienced the problem first hand, which I think has been a huge benefit looking back on it. Both Fever-Tree and WAYN were companies that sold on payment terms, so it was undertaking that process and managing it first hand, thinking there must be a better way of doing this. This was in conjunction with understanding more about software. At WAYN I was introduced to Code Academy and I took an introduction to Computer Science course on Udacity (massive open online course), plus it was my first experience of cloud accounting. Everything just really came together.
What are the biggest challenges to do this?
I find this whole start up area really fascination having gone from a huge corporate at Deloitte through to entrepreneur. The biggest challenge for me has been what I call “unlearning” – Don’t get me wrong, the technical knowhow of accounting and tax is really useful; it’s the mentality that is very different. As an accountant, in the larger sense of things you are taught how not to be wrong. Where I am now is such a different environment, in that making mistakes are good, as long as you are learning from them each time. We do a lot of things where we have no idea in advance if it will succeed, and it’s about prototyping that and experimenting in the pursuit of whether we can build successfully around it.
I think it’s the shift of mentality from risk aversion and mitigation to a frontier, discoverer, exploratory mind-set that is required to do this successfully.
What advice would you give anyone looking to do the same?
My best piece of advice for a newly qualified ACA with aspirations to become an entrepreneur would be to quit practice now! I feel like I left it a bit too late. You think “Oh great, cool salary increase which is amazing”, when actually it’s really tough because you expand to that level of income. In terms of the skillset you have it’s really valuable, however your opportunities are at their greatest when you’re not requiring salary parity. It’s a great foundation to do the ACA but move before you start earning too much money as this naturally becomes a constraint.
The broader and more flexible the role, the better, as you’ll learn so much more from the point of view of eventually becoming an entrepreneur yourself.
Know what you want to do and do interesting, different things. I didn’t know that Chaser was going to be the business I wanted to start specifically but I knew I wanted to start something.
David also provided us great insight into his business Chaser; who they are, how they were formed, their partners and what the future holds for the business. Read ‘David Tuck explains Chaser’ here.
David is the Founder and CEO of Chaser. Chaser provides transformative credit control software for businesses who are exposed to the risk of selling on credit. Their online software enables businesses to automatically carry out the polite persistent chasing of customers that gets invoices paid on time. As well as providing important information about your customers, to help you make better credit control decisions. Chaser was recently named Xero’s Add-On Partner of the Year, from the 550+ add-ons available on the Xero marketplace.
David started his career at Deloitte, going on to lead the finance team at Fever Tree. He then went on to become Finance Director first at wayn.com, then at Idio. It was this experience which led David to found Chaser.
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