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23 June, 2016 - 16:54 By Kate Sweeney

Deloitte invests £2.5m in startups launchpad

Business advisory firm Deloitte has invested £2.5million to launch Propel by Deloitte (Propel), a cloud-based service that aims to help ambitious start-ups and SMEs to grow.

Alongside a core accounting service, Propel provides customers with a bespoke dashboard that gives a real-time view of how their business is performing, from cash position to web traffic. Deloitte’s Cambridge office has been fundamental in the development of the concept.

Customers receive a full bookkeeping and accounting service on a monthly subscription. The company’s data is then fed into a bespoke Propel dashboard to give a real-time view of their financial performance.

The dashboard allows them to monitor key metrics such as business growth, gross profit and sales by day. It also analyses non-financial data gathered through apps, ranging from web traffic to top selling products, to generate a more accurate picture of business performance.

For example, a restaurant chain owner can see how their sales have correlated to weather. The business can then use this information and the upcoming weather forecast to plan for the coming days, whether that means adjusting stock or expanding promotions.

Paul Schofield (pictured), Deloitte Cambridge senior partner, said: “We’ve built this service to help startups and SMEs grow. It is designed to deliver insight and address some of the longstanding headaches entrepreneurs and their management teams can face.

“When developing Propel we collaborated with our 20 pilot clients – including some in the Cambridge area – to understand what makes a difference to their businesses.

“As a result, we now offer additional business planning support to supplement the dashboard and core accounting service. For example, we can help with cashflow forecasting, creating budgets and attracting investment.”

Propel is funded by Deloitte’s Innovation Investments scheme, which encourages its entrepreneurial employees to turn start-up ideas into businesses.

Schofield added: “Propel is a great example of entrepreneurship in action. The Propel team has been put through its paces over the last 12 months. They’ve acted as a lean start-up to get the Propel business idea off the ground, including pitching for funding and working with a limited budget.

“To make the idea work, the team had to challenge the way we do things, incorporating automation into our everyday work. They are now exploring how we might implement robotics.”

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