I love what you’re building, I think it’s already a fantastic product with huge potential.
As a relatively new user I thought it might be helpful to summarise a few of my thoughts about the platform. I’ve watched all the webinars, read all the discussions and tried to absorb as much as I can about what you’re looking to achieve and why, but apologies if I’m repeating earlier discussions. I figured a fresh pair of eyes is never a waste of time.
Functionality is great, account setup is slick, UX has clearly been given a lot of thought. We all know that fintech banking is a crowded marketplace, so what’s different? I love that you’re an accountancy and taxation product first, I think it’s a great value proposition. Is it enough? You’ve got so much great insight into the way people are conducting business and you can really help these users, a sector of the economy that is chronically under-supported. I hope that you’re actually striving to become a complete business intelligence product. Here’s why.
The Classic, Boring One: Threat
Taxation and invoicing modules must be a relatively easy bolt-on for existing fintech business banking options. You don’t need me to tell you that! What makes Coconut stand out? Open banking is such a fantastic feature, but you have to add enough value for users to want to pay for Coconut as well as use their standard banking offer. Show users that you’re taking their banking data and really, really squeezing value out of it, not just displaying it in a different format. If someone is going to pay you £15 a month, show them how you’ll save them £150. The equivalent in personal finance is something like YNAB. It’s not a bank, it’s a personal finance Swiss Army Knife. Coconut can be the small/microbusiness finance equivalent. Yes it can help plan tax. Yes it can help save towards a pension pot. But don’t just display those events taking place for the user and instead squeeze the intelligent value out of them, show them how you’re saving time, how you’re making them more money, making life easier. Give them insight and intelligence, then write press pieces about how you save your users £100 per month on average…
Insights. Insights. Insights.
Ok, so users need strong reasons to use Coconut on top of their bank (assuming they’re not using you as the bank). Help them run a better business. The self-employed, micro businesses and freelancers are perfect clients. Categorisation of spending and income is an example of a great feature, but where’s the ‘wow’? Clients can already do that with other banks. The value you need to add is powerful, meaningful, profit boosting insight. Tax and accounting is just one of those insights. At work I have some horrible clunky expensive business intelligence package bolted on to some other superfluous accounting software that is oddly helpful at showing me who we need to target and why, or who has stopped buying. Be a brilliant, innovative 2020 version of that for microbusinesses.
You’ve already done the hard bit, you’ve got the data, now become their business assistant, be their extra member of staff. Is my average invoice value trending down? How long on average does it take my customers to pay? If my customers paid me 2 days faster what would it do to my cashflow? Are my subcontracting costs stable? What’s happening to everything over time? Have I got a customer who I invoiced every fortnight for 2 years but hasn’t bought anything for the last 2 months? Take the business dashboard that’s in the roadmap and turn it up 10 levels, that’s your killer feature. Coconut can become the heart of a business by doing the thinking on behalf of the entrepreneur. Tax and accounting is just the start, business intelligence is the endgame.
Empower Users. Then Do It In A Browser
Coconut needs to offer a feeling of empowerment, not just value. By adding the intelligence of Coconut to a business armoury there’s not just going to be better tax planning or streamlined invoicing with a nice logo on the top, there should be unparalleled visibility and ownership of every facet of business. You’re lucky that your clients won’t have layers of middle management, heaps of conflicting software and office bureaucracy, give them power and vision to improve their own little empire.
Opening a bank account or financial product as a small business owner or self employed person should bring a feeling of kudos with it. Yeah, look at me, that’s MY company. There should be a feeling of prestige and self-worth. A lack of web app will leave some feeling underwhelmed. Anyone can have a great mobile experience in their personal finance life. When it’s someone’s business don’t underestimate the effect that a feeling of professionalism can have, a web app may hit that spot for a lot of users. Sitting at a desk, typing the values into your first invoice and clicking send with a mouse can have a very different feel to doing it with a tap, however slick and modern it may be. I know it’s in the roadmap, please don’t forget it.
Apologies that the rant was almost wholly vacuous, potentially unrealistic, and at odds with much of your roadmap. You’re doing a brilliant job adding features, and you’ve come such a long way, I have great belief in what Coconut can be.