Owing to unnecessary paperwork and data entry duplication, the launch of Luscheyne Mellon’s first venture with Andy Giles was a drawn out, time-consuming task. Although it was a frustrating experience for the business partners, it sparked the idea for their sophomore business, which launched in October, last year. Based in Surry Hills, Sydney, Veromo is a digital platform that seeks to streamline the set-up process for new business owners so they can get to market sooner.
According to Mellon – a digital strategist and children’s fiction author with IT experience – the process of registering and starting a business in Australia can take up to seven days. With Veromo, however, she claims this process is reduced to a twenty-minute undertaking, on average, for sole traders and partnerships, and thirty minutes of work for people wanting to get a company off the ground.
“Our ‘NameFinder’ tool helps you choose a business name, then does an instant availability check – not just for the name itself, but web domains and social media accounts too, so you save hours of research time,” she told Dynamic Business. “If you’re good to go, you simply select the entity type you wish to operate under, then enter your details into our ‘OnceForm’ which collapses several registrations into one, and everything you need is registered at once: your ACN, ABN, business name, domain name and other relevant taxes. Our platform then takes care of the rest. Once their registrations have been completed, our ‘Adminimiser’ stores all business registrations documents in a digital document wallet.
“At this point, we don’t just process your fee and vanish– whether you’re a first-time sole trader or a seasoned company owner, you can count on us for ongoing advice, help and support because we recognise that entrepreneurship can sometimes be a lonely journey. When it’s time to renew your domain name, ASIC company renewal, or business name registration, Veromo’s reminder service ensures they do not expire and you don’t have to pay any pesky ASIC late fees.”
“We lost countless hours to a fragmented process”
Mellon said she met Giles, a commercial litigator from the UK, when he volunteered to coach her all-women football team, the Dunbar Rovers FC. The two soon formed a strong friendship off the field and when Mellon began looking for someone to help her launch and run a digital agency, it quickly dawned on her that Giles would be an ideal teammate: “Giles wanted a change of scenery from litigation and I knew his many years of experience working within company law would complement the fifteen years I had under my belt in digital strategy and brand development.”
With ‘The Virtual Collective’, Mellon and Giles – together with a third partner – wanted a flexible business that could, by dispensing with traditional agency dynamics and having a virtual talent pool, lower its overheads and offer clients more affordable digital products. Despite their collective wisdom and extensive network of contacts, Mellon said it ‘took an eternity’ to get it up and running. She explained, “I’d first gone out on my own in 2005. Fast forward to 2012, when we were setting up the agency, and the process of starting a business was still fragmented – there were still heaps of forms to complete and we lost track of how many hours we lost to entering in the exact same data over and over again.”
“We knew there had to be a smarter way to get started”
Mellon said Veromo – her second business with Giles – was born out of their frustration with the red tape and bureaucracy that plagued the launch of The Virtual Collective, which they departed in March 2015. “We knew that there had to be a smarter way to start a small business and that it involved automation,” she said. ‘With all the buzz around ‘digital disruption’, there was still a gap in the market for a fully-integrated, one-stop digital solution for new business owners. To get the ball rolling, they have to make decisions around business type, model and name as well as financial forecasts, operational processes and brand identity.
“Giles and I saw an opportunity with Veromo to create an affordable self-serve platform that would reduce the amount of data entry required when establishing a business and so help people get to market faster… at a fraction of the cost. Based on research we conducted a few months ago, it costs $469 to register a company in Australia, making our country the most expensive in the world in terms of registration costs. Hong Kong ($299.90) and Singapore ($289.86) are also amongst the most expensive. Meanwhile, our neighbours in New Zealand only pay $142.30 and the going rate of registration is $71.64 in Ireland and $20.11 in the UK”.
“We can pull numerous levers to generate revenue”
Last year, Veromo raised $935,000 from key investors including its own director James Henderson (executive chairman, Transocean) as well as digital media entrepreneur Mark Dalgleish and Thomas Fussell, a private equity investor and start-up founder whose focus is technology. Family and friends also contributed. The funding helped Veromo get its MVP to market and accelerate the development of new products. What attracted the investors to Veromo, Mellon believes, was the company’s large addressable market plus the potential to generate income from diversified revenue streams: “If you look at our product ecosystem and roadmap, there are numerous levers we could pull to generate revenue.”
Mellon said she and Giles, ‘knowing full well’ their strengths and weaknesses, established an advisory board around seven months ago. It includes Dalgleish and Fussell plus Ron Bowler (managing partner, Northbridge Consulting) and David Kenney (senior partner, Hall Chadwick).
“Having an advisory board lends us credibility but the true value has come from securing the right mix of expertise to help steer Veromo in the right direction in every sense,” Mellon said. “We worked closely with each advisor, holding 1:1 deep dive sessions to ensure they understood our product roadmap, how we prioritise our development efforts, the risks to our business, and the business model. Collectively, the board has zeroed in on areas where we require the most support and guidance. Individually, they’ve worked with us – we’re now an eight-person strong team – to fine-tune our investment strategy and technology roadmap and sense-check major platform decisions.”
“Our utopia is a one-stop solution for people, globally”
Mellon is certain 2017 is Veromo’s ‘growth year’, noting recent and forthcoming product releases as well as the company’s latest funding round, now being finalised.
“We’re seeking further investment to progress our product ecosystem, including a number of products we have waiting in the wings that are driven by machine learning and AI technology,” she said. “Ultimately, business registrations are just the beginning for Veromo. Our utopia is a fully integrated, one-stop digital solution for people to launch SMEs from anywhere in the world.”