4 min read19 December 2019
It’s been another busy year for us at iwoca. Thanks to all our customers and colleagues for helping us reach new heights, win a major industry grant and build ambitious new products.19 December 2019
What a year. It feels like just a few months ago we were penning the 2018 round-up, but though the past 12 months have gone in a flash, we certainly made the most of them at iwoca HQ.
Since our last end-of-year review we’ve given the brand a stylish redesign, laid the groundwork for new products and tools to serve our customers better, grown faster than ever before, opened new offices and even launched our own podcast and a cycling initiative.
It goes without saying 2019 has been a rollercoaster ride but our year certainly wouldn’t have been so successful without the support, feedback and engagement of our customers. We owe a big thank you to every business we’ve funded in the past 12 months – it’s been a pleasure to help power your journeys.
“The past year has been another really exciting one for us,” says iwoca CEO Christoph Reiche. “Since incorporating iwoca in 2011 I have experienced first-hand how hard and rewarding it is to build and run a business, so I have a huge portion of respect for all of you for choosing this path.”
So, in no particular order, here are some of our highlights of our year.
iwoca got a fresh new look in April, as head of design Avi Ashkenazi unveiled our brand redesign. The bold colour palette, new typeface and updated company logo – a stylised set of open doors – were created to represent how iwoca can help businesses access what’s previously been out of reach.
“The process of designing a new brand starts with us understanding what the company stands for,” said Avi. “But doing a rebrand is just the beginning of the process. After you’ve established the strategy and you’ve created the design itself, it’s time for our designers to take it to the next level and bring it across all of our digital products.”
You can see more of Avi’s thoughts in this video.
In August we had some big news when iwoca was awarded a £10 million grant from the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF). The award, issued by The Banking Competition Remedies Ltd (BCR), came after our pledge to help fund more businesses than ever before, at least 150,000, while making £5 billion in finance available by 2023 through new and existing products.
“Winning this grant is a huge milestone for us,” Christoph Rieche, our CEO and co-founder, said at the time. “iwoca is the only SME lender in the UK with the scale, level of experience and technology to dramatically expand and transform access to finance for small businesses. Winning the grant enables us to accelerate our mission to make finance available to one million SMEs.”
The CIF award will help iwoca create and launch new finance products designed just for small businesses. Our first project is OpenLending – a customisable self-serve or “plug & play” platform we'll roll out to lending partners.
A big part of our OpenLending commitment is a new partnership with our friends at Xero, the UK’s leading online accounting platform. The BCR grant will help us work with them to find creative solutions to small business finance problems. The aim is to make our funding options more accessible to Xero’s UK subscriber base of more than 450,000.
Thanks to the funding from BCR we can also commit to creating a ‘no PG loan’ – an unsecured business loan that won't require a personal guarantee. We’ve also pledged to bring finance to where business owners need it most – at the point of invoice – by launching iwocaPay. Designed to help solve the problem of late payments, iwocaPay will fund both sides of the invoice (buyer and seller) to ensure prompt payment every time.
In November we reached a major company milestone, surpassing the £1 billion mark in issued funds. The achievement came after a record-breaking few years, with £330 million issued in 2018 alone – representing a year-on-year increase of 90% from 2017.
The landmark gave us a good opportunity to look back on the past eight years to the very first iwoca loan of £5,250, which was put in place on 1 March 2012. Since then we’ve grown steadily, becoming profitable in 2018 and reaching a staff headcount of 315 in the final quarter of 2019. But we're not stopping there – we're continuing to on-board awesome people to help us make finance a superpower for small businesses. Find out more on our careers page.
At the end of November we announced a partnership with Kendal Cycle Club in the Lake District. The sponsorship gives small business owners and their staff a year’s free membership to the club, as well as providing an injection of funds to help KCC promote cycling in Kendal and the surrounding area.
We believe cycling can help business owners and their staff live healthier, happier and more socially active lives. The Kendal partnership is our first venture into the sport and we can’t wait to see where 2020 will take the project. Join our digital club on Strava to follow the journey, hear about our plans and get your hands on exclusive iwoca kit.
9 to when? is the podcast we launched in July. It was built by co-hosts Jamie and Mat for the captains of small business-shaped ships – those people “braving the squalls and showers that come with being the master of your own destiny.” Listen each week for a sideways look at small business news, industry guests, fiendishly tricky quizzes and a whole range of chitchat – from Hamlet to disappearing banks.
Thanks for being a part of iwoca’s 2019. In 2020 you’ll see us roll out some of those exciting new products, continue to grow our customer base and work hard to expand opportunities for small businesses. Visit our Insights hub for updates, or subscribe to our newsletter below for the latest announcements and articles – sent straight to your inbox.
From everyone at iwoca, we wish you a very happy new year.
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