Meet the MD: Darren Fell of Crunch Accountancy
PUBLISHED: 12:10 01 February 2012 | UPDATED: 20:59 20 February 2013
Darren Fell, Managing Director of Crunch Accountancy, lives in Hove Park. Crunch operates online, using cloud-based software, and the core service costs £59.50 per month, which includes unlimited access to online tools and the accounting team.
I set up Crunch specifically for freelancers and contractors, and for small businesses of up to 10 employees. I started on the Crunch idea in August 2007 when I was still at my previous business, Pure360. I really wanted to help small businesses, and I sold Pure in February 2008.
I perfected remote selling at Pure360. We would do everything on the phone and at the end of the conversation a quote would literally drop into your inbox for the topic youd just discussed. When I wanted to shake up the world of accountancy, I wanted the experience to be fast and instantaneous. When I had a question I wanted to be able to pick up the phone or send someone an email, and thats exactly what we have achieved.
What makes Crunch so unique is that everything is online, its bright, its colourful and theres no jargon. You have your own team on the end of the phone, email or Skype. Customers absolutely love this modern approach of interacting.
I set up both of my businesses in the midst of a recession, and funnily enough its the best time to do it, because things are cheaper. The recession kicked in and corporates started dumping loads of people onto the streets. These people either didnt get work, or didnt ever want to go back to being just a number, and they wanted to use their talent to do something different. It was the perfect time to launch Crunch.
I put together freelanceadvisor.co.uk in 2008. That now has thousands of articles on how to network, how to drum up business, how to improve your brand. The intention was not to make any money, nor was it a lead generator for Crunch, but the side effect of offering help is the goodwill it generates. Freelanceadvisor.co.uk now has 50,000 monthly visitors.
On the back of its success, we launched contractadvisor.co.uk earlier this year to cater specifically to the contractor market. Im passionate about making more people their own boss without all the rip-off costs, so we put together golimited.co, which enables users to set up a limited company in about 6-10 minutes, for 4.50. Thats been online for about four weeks, and many thousands of people are going to the site now we have even undercut the Companies House price.
Already thats completely disrupted the formations market. Im not very well liked by accountants because of Crunch, and now theres another industry that doesnt like me very much!
Getting to know you
Whats the best advice youve ever been given?
I think the best lesson, from my own experience, has been to only work with people you like. The rule now is that we check everyone out carefully, and I only work with people I like. That includes investors, and I am so lucky to have Michael van der Swaaij and Paul Birch.
You cant be too choosy with your first set-up, but once you have a track record, its a fantastic rule.
Blackberry or iPhone?
iPhone I am so Apple mad. I went and bought a Mac Air a few years ago and that was the turning point for me. Everything has gone Mac I have the iPad, I have the latest 4GS, I have the iMac in the office and I even have a Mac Mini in the kitchen. I do absolutely love my gadgets!
Facebook, Twitter or Google+?
I dont have too much time for it personally, but Twitter is a very good medium. We are so transparent to the customer community, customers can literally vote for the next service offering. Twitter also counts as our fourth most successful lead generator, out of everything we do.