In this Case Study we look at how Sparkybit developed a virtual CFO solution for business investment decision-making, implemented Salesforce, and integrated the product with Open Banking (UK).
Swoop is a leading financial provider in the United Kingdom, that offers access to loans, grants, and equity funding for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Since 2018, the company has been enabling businesses to reach advantageous funding solutions across loans, equity, and grants. Trusted by 7 investors, Swoop has raised $16.8M in investment and completed £426,404,963 funding for 78,207 customers so far.
Client’s challenge: scaling of the financial consulting expertise
Becoming a proficient consulter requires years of disciplined effort. However, gaining an impressive client portfolio is not the only summit a consulter may want to reach. Significant expansion is. Because it’s no secret, that each business either grows or slowly sinks to oblivion. And most commonly, no growth is possible without scaling a client base.
So here a personal consulting practice comes to a natural bottleneck. Each highly-demanded professional once comes to the point, where the world’s physical properties establish limitations. We mean no expert has more than 24 hours a day, and cannot be in more than one place at the same time. So when it comes to scaling one’s personal consulting practice, it may seem only magic can help. Or is there anything else?
Of course, there is. Technology has the power to transform ways of delivering value without losing human connection.
Knowing this, Swoop stakeholders, who are advanced financial consulters, had chosen an elegant move. They made a bet on a digital solution, serving as an extension of their profound, yearly-sharpened consulting expertise.
Such an approach would allow them to cover more requests and deliver more value to their customers.
But how can growth be both extensive and intensive simultaneously, you may ask? Let's answer this question by looking under the hood of a technical solution that embodied the stakeholders' vision. As you can guess, Sparkybit was in charge of making it live, so that the story will be exclusively firsthand.
Sparkybit develops Virtual CFO for investment decision-making
Whether you run a shop, build houses, or write code, it all starts with the key questions: who are Clients, and which needs are to be covered? Only keeping real needs in focus provides truly meaningful solutions that improve lives.
Swoop team was crystal clear about what needs to be done: small and medium enterprises should have gained easy access to funds to grow their business. And the key customer persona was a business owner or key executive with a limited understanding of how to get funding to boost their company’s growth. In addition, such a Client would rather not have a professional CFO on their side or at least a CFO with decades of funding experience.
So the idea was to create a platform that would perform as a virtual CFO for business owners in search of grants, loans, equity, or saving opportunities.
The solution creation consisted of two strategic parts: Swoop stakeholders provided their competencies and expertise, and Sparkybit engineers embodied them into algorithms, easy to use by the end customer.
So how it actually worked in practice? A customer applied their business to the Swoop platform. The application basically meant the request to see all possible options of funding, loans, mortgages, equity, etc, available for a particular business. This availability was the point: a business owner was meant to see only matching and relevant opportunities, proposed on the basis of their business financial indicators like revenue, EBITDA, EVA, Gross Margin, etc.
To get and analyze this data, and then find matching options, Sparkybit developed the product on .NET and integrated it with a range of accounting systems like XERO.
The custom-made algorithm provided outputs based on the estimated financial health of a particular enterprise, and recommended precise investment scenarios, as a proficient CFO would do.
The next step was to proceed with receiving the pre-chosen investment, and here Swoop team guided customers manually. They ensured customers make all the needed steps and get the investment.
A new level of transparency for SMEs: Swoop integration with Open Banking
Wise businessmen always keep an eye on the source and quality of data they use to conduct analysis for strategic business decisions. Getting funding of any type or choosing a saving opportunity belongs to the type of these strategic decisions. And Swoop was very conscious of it. The platform, developed by Sparkybit, allowed to analyze tons of accounting data with a custom-made algorithm. And the outputs provided by the solution led hundreds of businesses to successful financial solutions.
But business would not be business if it didn't strive to make a bigger difference and deliver more value for end customers. But what about offering businesses an opportunity to choose their bank, based on precise analytics of which bank provides the best rates and services?
Open Banking enables consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to share their bank and credit card transaction data securely with trusted third parties who are then able to provide them with applications and services which save time and money.
Open banking was (and still is) regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Only companies authorized by the FCA could use open banking APIs to access banks’ financial information. For Sparkybit as a key technical partner, it meant taking the Swoop solution through this highly secured and complicated authorization, and then a range of needed API integrations with authorized banks.
Getting access to open banking meant having an additional, brand new algorithm that analyzed tonnes of financial information about customers’ companies and banks in order to “match a pair”. Sparkybit had also to update the product’s interface to provide the end customers with access to the new features.
And it all was worth it. When the integration was successfully completed, Swoop end customers had even more than access to a virtual CFO. They also could easily decide which bank to work with, based on profound analytics and financial forecasts for their particular case, but not promising advertising brochures in fancy bank receptions.
Sparkybit implements Salesforce for advanced management of customer relationship
During this amazing four-year journey, we at Sparkybit were always impressed by the way Swoop maintained its people-centric approach. Even despite rising impressive investments, getting awards, ambitious platform scaling, and drastic growth of the client base, they still managed to build a deeply individual connection with each customer.
However, it wasn't as easy as it may sound. Individual, truly empathetic service required the customer care team to the highest endeavor. As the number of customers grew, passing to an advanced CRM became an inevitable and evolutionally right decision.
Salesforce was chosen among other options due to its enhanced capabilities to manage interactions with customers at each step without losing the human trust and connection behind the automated processes.
In order to implement Swoop approach to customer care in CRM, Sparkybit not just implemented Salesforce Sales Cloud, but also modified standard Salesforce processes. It required Sparkybit engineers to run several development sprints to adjust Salesforce CRM entities, flows and components to make them fit Swoop's vision. It was of utmost importance not to lose this secret ingredient of the customer care approach, studiously cultivated over the years and had already become Swoop's operational advantage in the market. Moreover, as the company operated in the financial services industry, it also required some processes to be compliant with a range of legal requirements.
Product technology strategy of the Swoop funding platform and its development from scratch
Successful platform integration with Open Banking (UK) and creation of the analytical algorithm which allowed Swoop customers to make profitable decisions about choosing a bank;
Successful Salesforce Sales Cloud implementation for Swoop to manage relationships with hundreds of customers;
Successful third-party integrations with Salesforce for the Swoop team to cover the full customer journey and build fruitful relationships with customers.
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