Ms. Angela Conroy, Co-founder and CEO | NOTARUM
NOTARUM is a modern due diligence workflow tool designed to reduce busywork—so you can focus on the bigger picture.
Script of Interview
Interviewee Ms. Angela Conroy (AC)
Position Co-Founder, CEO
Company name NOTARUM
Company website URL https://www.notarum.com/
Interviewer John D. Evans, CFA (JE)
Interview conducted on 18th August 2020
About Angela Conroy
JE: So, we’ll start right now, with Miss Angela Conroy, both co-founder and CEO of NOTARUM. So, let me start off let’s combine the first two bullet points. And tell us a little bit about yourself where you grew up, where you studied your professional experiences. Just a little bit of background to start off.
AC: Yeah. Well, I’m originally from Adelaide in South Australia, where I grew up. I studied international relations and law there in my undergrad before moving into the extractive industry, so I worked in mining oil and gas for quite some time. I was eventually transferred over to the UK and did a lot of work through there and Africa over the next four or five years. After that, I went to do my MBA and moved to Singapore. Once I finished my MBA, I then moved into private equity. So, I missed the extractive industry but wanted to try something different. And so, through the private equity space, I realized that you know, we had investments across multiple different countries and multiple different industries. But all our KYC process and the due diligence process was relatively similar, but it was very manual and very painful. That was the commonality He was very painful in every country that we did business in. And so that was kind of my lightbulb moment. And that’s what made me think that this is a vast amount of opportunity for improvement in this particular area.
JE: Okay, now, you you’ve introduced the term due diligence. So, I’m just going to sort of have a follow up question. What exactly is due diligence? What does it entail? What does it not entail, does it include, for example, credit risk assessment? What is due diligence?
AC: What is due diligence was a very powerful question. And I think that’s what companies and governments all are continually struggling with. So, what we’ve taken to being is that basically what happened is throughout the 2008, global financial crisis, a lot of bad practices were uncovered in terms of the fact that a lot of things, countries had legislation that said you as a business need to know who you’re doing business with. But it wasn’t really that enforced the global financial crisis in 2008 led regulators to really look at these laws and make sure there were being enforced. And so, the way they do that is through regulatory fines. And so as soon as the government started paying more attention so did the companies because they started to be issued with these big fines. So, what we’ve seen now is due diligence really is knowing who the who it is you’re doing business with the level of comfort, the level amount of documents, you need to be comfortable with that answer is really is up to the company in a lot of stages. So, there’s a couple of basic documents that you need. For example, if it’s a company, there’ll be, you know, your certificate of Corporation, the registered shareholders, register of directors, for directors, you need proof of address, and some sort of ID document like a passport. Anything beyond that, it differs industry to industry, and it depends how in depth, a company that’s doing the due diligence would like to go. So, it’s kind of how long does it take us during the office that question, but it depends on the risk appetite.
JE: So therefore, and I come from a financial banking, background, credit risk assessment would not be considered a core part of due diligence. It may be important over and above, but it’s not part of the core due diligence assessment. It’s more verification of details, individuals and facts.
AC: Exactly right. So, so when we, when we talk about due diligence, we generally refer to meeting regulatory obligations. What we’re seeing now through our customer base, and particularly because we do a lot of work in the enterprise space, is that they might not have the regulatory need to do the due diligence, but they certainly want to protect their reputation. So, when it comes to the reputation or due diligence, credit risk might play a much more prominent role.
JE: Okay. When did you move to Singapore?
AC: We have been here six years now, it has gone by like the blink of an eye.
JE: But you initially started there in private equity, where there’s obviously a need to do due diligence. So, you, you saw the need in that and you started this company.
AC: Exactly right. Well, I haven’t really had a lot to do with the due diligence phase throughout the extractive industry, because we obviously had a big team that obviously do a specific thing. But when I mentioned private equity, it’s just the general counsel and myself in the legal team. And so, I did get a very broad overview of all of these tasks that had to be done. And I remember thinking to myself, you know, is this just the way we do things? Or is this how way things are done globally? Because it seems like a really bad system. And the longer you work in the role, you realize, Oh, my God, this is a nightmare that literally every company on the planet is dealing with. Surely technology is the answer to it.
JE: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, is NOTARUM your whole full-time job or do you have associations with still the private equity other activities?
AC: Yes, this is my full time everything.
JE: Okay, this is it.
AC: Yeah. So, I think it’s one of those roles where you have to be all in all in because we deal I mean our product or service, any company in any industry in any location. So, you know, on a on a good day, you’re kind of taking meetings from anywhere from New Zealand to Singapore to Europe to the UK and through the States. So why don’t we maximize every awake hour possible?
JE: Okay, interesting. Okay. Okay. Well, then that’s, that’s a just brought us right into the second section, which is about the company, NOTARUM Am I pronouncing that correctly? NOTARUM.
JE: Okay. So, give us a brief history of the company when incorporated, founded, was it just you? Because I think you were the Cofounder. What was the basic starting position?
AC: Yes. with my Cofounder Jamie Soo, let me put some lights on her myself. We met through an incubator program called Entrepreneur First. It started in England but now has around eight cities in the world. The idea is they take people from different industries, when someone starts a business, they do it with a colleague, or a family member, someone in the network. But there’s quite a crossover in terms of your skill set and your experience in the network. What Entrepreneur First tries to do is take people from three different categories. So, people in the domain category like myself, but know, you know, more than the average person for that thing. I like to play with things there, the really fun stuff. The next category is the technology category, people that can actually build, do the code and build the product, as a product category. The third category is technology. And they generally are very high skilled, they’ll have even biomedical engineering or physics or AI. And the others even have in common in one of the other two categories so that you have a complementary skill set within the team.
AC: And so, for this program, I got really lucky Jamie has a management consulting background. So, she’s incredibly analytical. But she also understands a lot about the nuances of each jurisdiction. So, I think she should have an honorary law degree by this stage.
JE: Okay. Okay. So, it was the two of you who found it together. So, what is the company, do you have other staff? Do you have you got permanent facilities? What’s the situation today?
AC: So, we’ve been very lucky. So, we’re currently residing, we split up by in between the office F10 program. And then also we’re doing instead of programming but business development at E&Y, Ernst & Young. So, they have a very, very advanced digital transformation team, who see the opportunities for our product within their team, but also within their client base to see if we can help their clients with their digital transformation journey as well.
JE: Okay, so you’re sitting, so I can understand the E&Y, that’s a big global accounting firm and they’ve got lots of clients. So, but you’re also involved with F 10. So, I think I understand the EY, what does the F 10 provide that’s different from EY?
AC: F10 is a broader mandate to help within the financial services sector. Basically, be our foot in the door banks, near-banks and you know, some other kind of financial companies. Whereas E&Y can be anyone, not just financial services but anyone.
JE: Okay, thanks. Thanks. Yeah, I noticed that E&Y was on there. So, what stage of development are you at? Are you actually starting to generate revenue, or you still interested in the first start of phase?
AC: Yes, I think probably both, so we are generating revenue. We are and we’ve been in the market just a few months. We have really, really strong beta testers that we’re building strong relationships with over the last few years, which have really informed the product roadmap. So now we work with those beta testers to really transform into a more full paying customer revenue generating scenario. But we are post-revenue but with a start-up there’s a long road ahead.
JE: I know all about it. I know all about it. So, is the company owned by the two of you? Or do you have outside shareholders?
AC: Yes, the two of us and then Entrepreneur First have also invested pre-seed round as well. So, they have a small share of the company.
JE: Okay, so you you’ve gone through one round of external funding pre-seed with Entrepreneur First. Is there a need to raise any more funding in 2020, growth funding?
AC: There is always a need.
JE: Never can have enough money. Is that the right so? Are you formally? Sorry? Are you formally going through fundraising processes now?
AC: We are informally going through fund raising now and will entertain a conversation with anyone that needs to have a conversation. We probably are of the opinion that we need to, you know, focus on our revenue to really help us get to, you know, a better revenue base so we can actually really prove the worth of the company. And that helps, you know, you get better investors, you get a better terms, these sorts of things as well. So, I think where we are actively, you know, actively looking for investment, but I think we’re also going to wait a few months until we really have that, you know, some of the conversations we’re having now that we close those out, and then we can sort of have a better story in future negotiations.
JE: Yeah, the value you can raise funds will be directly proportional to the growth of your revenue, revenue keeps going up, the price keeps going up. It’s a very, very strong relationship. Very good.
AC: Very early on in the journey someone said that revenue will bring investors, but investors won’t bring you revenue. So, focus all your energy on revenue.
JE: Exactly. Yeah. I think up until about a year ago, when the markets were booming, I certainly noticed it in mainland China, people thought new business was just raising new capital and revenue generation and profitability. It seems like didn’t even think about it. It’s sort of like we’d raise this, it’ll last a year, then we’ll raise some more. And it’s sort of like, but I think the difficult market is going to refocus people back to basics, which means you’ve got to demonstrate there’s a viable model, which means at least first generate revenue. Okay.
AC: Yeah, I think it’s the pre WeWork and post WeWork world.
JE: Yes, yes. Very much so. So how do you define your market in terms of geography? It’s, it’s, it’s presumably a virtual business. So, can you take a client and do assessments on someone anywhere in the world? What is somewhere it doesn’t provide the sort of data you need to do the analysis? How broad is your market?
AC: Absolutely. In terms of two segments, there is country so the jurisdiction. Yeah, but the other one is by industry, as well. You can break it down the way. I think, when you’re talking about jurisdiction, in terms of countries we service, so there’s around about 150 countries that we have, you know, data sources. So, in Singapore, it’s called ACRA, in Australia, ASIC and UK, Companies House. Now data we can get each of those different sources, it’s slightly different. So, you know, the UK is the gold standard. And if you think about something like Delaware, or BVI, for example, they’re intentionally opaque, less available. So, you have to get more creative in terms of asking for information in different places to meet regulatory requirements. It’s not a trivial, you know dealing with jurisdictions that are not forth coming, kind of trying to equate those two fundamental, fundamentally opposed thought processes.
JE: Well, it’s interesting that you give the example of BVI which I’ve had example, which I’ve had experience, bad experiences with, for investors who put a holding company there to sort of protect the ID, the assets they really add, couldn’t get disclosure from the BVI regulatory authorities. So how do you deal with doing due diligence in BVI or some jurisdictions, you just can’t effectively do it.
AC: So, it’s a bit more of a manual process. So, the way we do it in most jurisdictions is that you have to rely on a third party. So, you rely on a law firm or local law firm to say, you know, for example, if I was doing due diligence on a company in BVI, I would rely on local third party to give me an assurance that they have done KYC checks on the people in that structure. So, I can’t do them myself, but I would rely on a local third party that has that kind of visibility. And unfortunately, that’s just the way things have to be done for now. But I think, you know, the way we’ve designed the platform is that we can plug in as many different data sources as we like. So, what we’re doing is we can see where the world’s going the world is definitely heading towards transparency and so we’re sitting there waiting for these additional data sources to come on board and will just plug them into our system.
JE: Now, my second jurisdiction I’m going to ask about is, what is the information like for China, Mainland China?
AC: So, China, we officially don’t provide provenance, but it’s very high on our product roadmap. So, we know and it’s one of the reasons we’re looking for local partners to help with this. Because we know that there’s a variety of different data sources in terms of apps and things that are available, you know, some for free others paid. And so, we’re trying to figure out how we can configure that with our platform to, you know, extract the data and process it through our workflow. But it is something we would need a lot of time for.
JE: Okay, so China, not surprisingly, is still a little bit of a difficult jurisdiction. There. There have been over two years and one of them is headquartered in Suzhou, just a few blocks from where I live. Three of these companies that just specialize in doing due diligence. Basically, they have a lot of Python scrapers from looking at all of the SAIC sites. And interestingly, they were interested in international partners so that that may be a separate conversation we could have. They were at this point a year ago. I don’t know if that’s still the case. But they were very keen because they had the in-China resources, but very little of the outside China resources.
AC: Perfect, we would love to have a conversation.
JE: Okay. Very good. So, we’ve talked about different jurisdictions, so wherever directly or indirectly you can do due diligence jurisdictions, and I think you said you cover effectively about 150 countries.
AC: Exactly, right. So that’s, that’s due diligence in terms of the company. When it comes to due diligence on individuals, we can cover almost any country in the world.
JE: Oh, is that right? Okay, so the access to information is greater on individuals than on companies?
AC: Yeah, yeah provided the individuals have been listed in the database, because they have been listed for something previously, or they put on a watch list of sanctions lists, or pamphlets, for example, we can access that data.
JE: Now, a moment ago, you broke down into two categories, countries, which we talked a lot, but also about industries. So, what is the specific focus on industries? Is it some all or?
AC: Yes, I think this is, um, this is one of the challenges of being a startup is that you have, obviously, you want to take the marketplace as big as possible to keep investors interested in what is possible. But you have a limited marketing spend. And so, it’s trying to figure out where to allocate those resources. So, we’ve effectively divided out the market into 5 segments. So, the asset management is target one. So, private equity, venture capital. Stage Two is digital first. So, companies obviously, you know, have invoice factoring online databases, apps, those kinds of things. Three is professional services sector so law firms, accounting first, the fourth is enterprise, segment five is financial institutions.
JE: Okay, well, I don’t really touch on the financial institutions, but I certainly, and in this particular platform, we’re going to be quite involved with the VC/PE industry, both inside of China and outside and also SMEs and startup companies, which I guess falls under your fourth category of, of enterprises. So those are all different segments, presumably the financial institutions are the biggest, but I’m very interested in sort of the private equity and the enterprise solution. Can you talk just a little bit about the enterprise solution in a general sense? I mean, is this something that startups and SMEs can use for their general business?
AC: Yeah, absolutely. So, I think just like on financial institutions for a moment, they are the biggest opportunity, but they are. It’s not without, you know, significant input or significant integrations, I think that relationship, when you are looking at more of the private equity or the enterprise, they might not have enough legacy infrastructure that you have to do the integrations with. So actually, it would be a much better opportunity for a startup that does have on it, finite resources to do just more of a plug and play or just even the web interface, you know, negotiations with just those kind of enterprise companies. That’s why we’re interested in that space. So, I think there’s two sides of the point as I mentioned earlier, so one is the regulatory requirements. The other one is reputational management. And so, companies have varying degrees of regulatory requirements, but all of them need to manage their reputation. As I said, I worked in extractors for a long time. And they, they always talked about, talked about us as being a risk company with a mining problem, rather than the other way around, about trying to help these companies, you know, manage their vendors. But also, you know, there’s some scope for these organizations have it a lot, you know, hundreds of thousands of staff all around the world. And it’s trying to make sure their staff and their performance teams don’t have any public criticism happening, as well as family members, all sorts of things. So, the way our platforms designed is that we have unlimited integrations so we can log on as many data sources as we like and then we can compare the results from those data sources. So, one of the key benefits of the platform is that rather than having, you know huge amounts of different agreements with different platforms, it all filters up to one continuous workflow.
JE: Now the relationship as a service contract between yourself and say, a single enterprise, they’re not really sort of buying your systems that you’re sort of like a consultant, a service provider, and they go to you periodically to do due diligence on companies, individuals, is that how it works?
AC: That’s one way. Honestly, our bread and butter and our you know, much preferred solution of doing business is that they log into the platform, or they integrate our platform with their system. So, we are SaaS first organization, okay, for a variety of reasons, you know, obviously risk and liability, you want to sit with a client that’s actually doing the work because the less the less people you have in the chain, the more assured you are the chain works as it should as it should work. So ideally, if join our platform first but you know, being a startup we’re pretty flexible to meet the client’s needs however that might be and a lot of these companies you know, they’re not they’re not risk they’re not legal due diligence companies, you know, they shipping or they’re, you know, So you can provide some, you know, with wisdom and knowledge of what’s the best practice and help them transform their internal processes so that it’s a win for everyone.
JE: So, if they want to take your first option and have one of their own persons logging on in their office, then presumably you need to provide them basic training. Along with that, that’s probably an important part of the offering.
AC: Absolutely, yeah. So, we do that initial onboarding process. We also have sort of a bank of tools as well. So, you know, video tutorials and some documentation that we can provide as well to do a little bit of their own troubleshooting. And then if they need sort of stage two help, then they can come back to us and we can provide that that level of service.
JE: Okay, okay. Very interesting. Now, that that covers all of the talking points in the second section, about the company, but we’ve also gone into a little bit about the industry, which was going to be a third section. So let me come back and go back to what you were talking about in terms of geographies and industries. In terms of developing your business, do you have sort of any initial focus like you’re focusing on Singapore or ASEAN? How are you going to build the business from a client perspective?
AC: Have you focus on APAC at the moment? Because we’re here? I think it is kind of an underserved region at the moment for this industry. And also, you know, we want to be the Asia specialists. So, I think because, you know, if you’re looking at three, five years down the track, attendance and acquisition targets, if we can get one of the big European or the big American companies interested in us, because we are an APAC service provider then that’s a good that’s a you know, that’s a good position.
JE: Okay, now, ASEAN. I know that’s a definition of 10 countries in the Asian community. So, when you say APAC, that sort of AZEAN, Japan, Korea, down to Australia and New Zealand, is that sort of that whole north to south, broader group, that’s that thing. So, to deliver your industry, you know, you’re working with E&Y and F10 now, but as you grow and get more established, will you be sort of an independent business or will there always be some key strategic partners or outsourcing that are necessary for your business.
AC: We have a strategic partner in terms of, you know, some of our data providers that we do. So, for example, we use Worldcheck One, which is a globally recognized gold standard data source. So, there will always be that, but we obviously want to stand on our own two feet, and we do stand on our own two feet as well. So, we could be fully independent as we are, but there’s a huge amount of value to be found in these corporate relationships. Firstly, because we’ve been through to work with them, we have to go through a really rigorous IT security and safety audits and so that really has put in a really strong stamp on our business that will help support our customer development down the track. But I think there’s also a kind of a level of, um, brand association that really helps give you that, you know, that recognition that you wouldn’t ordinarily get, there’s just been, you know, someone banging on doors on the street and making cold calls.
JE: Now, I remember when I was in the financial market, I mean, in larger companies, you work with credit rating agencies, but I had a very small amount of time at the very beginning of my career working in a commercial branch. And this was in North America, but there were sort of business due diligence providers back then and I remember one was Dun and Bradstreet. So, I mean, are there sort of established brands maybe they, you know, used to be paper and stuff, but are there established brands in this industry that that you compete with?
AC: They compete with and then there’s complimentary as well. So, a lot of times people mistakenly assume that Worldcheck is in some way competing with us, but actually they are a data source for us. So, what we’ve done is built a suite of tools on top of these traditional data sources, that we didn’t leverage the power of these data sources but add additional functionality. So, for example, if you were to do a due diligence check now, there’s on average, eight different tools you as an organization need to use for saying that will help you just with our platform, you have one monthly or annual fee for that platform. We connect all the data sources, we manage all these relationships. And on top of that, we give you a very secure audit trail, we give you a very plausible workflow. But we also give you some insight into how your teams operating. So, one of our enterprise offerings is that we have the ability to see who’s in your team, where the cases are, where the hotspots are, who’s doing the work, who’s not doing their work, and then find where the bottlenecks. That really helps some of these large enterprise organizations say hey, we’ve got 50 people doing onboarding globally, why does it take three weeks to get some of these checks done. So, it really brings this process out of the back office and adds a lot more transparency to the whole structure.
JE: Okay. Now, I’m interested about another application. Because I gather you have good access to data for most of the countries in Europe, I would assume that’s, that’s the case. Now, I took a delegation from Ningbo with a local accounting firm to Frankfurt last year. And what we found for a variety of reasons, the Great Firewall, language, that all of these industrialists were going there to try to find business partners, but they really had almost no sources of research. You know, you can’t even use the Google search engine there for them and so they were really in the dark and the local providers Like Qichacha don’t have international access. So, you’re in APAC, and China’s a big blob of APAC. What about helping foreign investment, say China outbound investment to do due diligence on Europe or other countries? Is that a possibility?
AC: Yeah, absolutely.
JE: Therefore, the question that falls out of that, because language is always a big issue in China, are all your systems or how you connect in available in other languages? is it available?
AC: It isn’t yet, but it’s certainly on our roadmap. So, Jamie has multiple languages. She’s actually from Malaysia originally. And so, we are looking at that localization of the platform as well. But you know, getting back to the minute resources that startups have to make sure we are only doing this work when we have a customer that wants it, and the work materializes and then we’ll start some of this work.
JE: Okay, okay, very interesting. So, two, two potential areas of expansion, but that would need a bit of work and investment but certainly worth thinking about. Okay, because I really noticed that with it with a group from China, they, they didn’t have the resources, actions to, to really make the trip valuable to do research ahead of time. Okay. Okay. Now you’re in Singapore and Singapore is the most developed locale. Is it a city or country? What do you call Singapore? Or is it both?
AC: Yeah. A city-state I think is the official term.
JE: Okay. Okay. So, you’re in Singapore. I mean, is that just because that’s the best most convenient place to be in APAC? I mean, I guess maybe two years ago, you might have considered Hong Kong but not anymore. So, I guess Singapore, sort of, the center of the whole APAC region in a sense.
AC: Exactly right. So, the business here, the government here is incredibly supportive and also in terms of our access to capital here is pretty strong. And there is a lot of focus on APAC as well. And, and from, from a personal point of view, it’s close to home. So, I’m from Australia and it’s much shorter flight than say, you know, the UK or San Francisco. So, for us it’s a no brainer.
JE: Oh, hang on a second. I’ve lost sound. Okay. Yeah, my back. Okay, you’re back. I just lost you for five seconds. You were just saying it’s much easier to get to then UK or San Francisco. And I just lost you for a moment.
AC: Okay. And my point of view, I mean, Asia is booming. So, I think from Singapore, within a three hour flat three-and-a-half-hour flight, you can reach 3.5 billion people, the opportunity, you know is inherent with the growing middle class, and you know, the stability that Singapore provides within this region is pretty impressive. So, I think it’s a perfect place to start a business from.
JE: Will you ever need to open other offices? Or is this a business that can just always be run virtually just from Singapore?
AC: Yeah, we’re looking at both options, so, we’ve established the business from day one to be remote. So, you know, our developers are in Vietnam, my co-founder was from Malaysia, I’m based here, our UX person in Melbourne. So, I mean, the good thing about that is that you can run anywhere and when COVID hits, it’s not such an imposition on the business. But I think when we start to branch out a little bit, we need to do more of a hub and spoke model. So, we can either have you know, a core team based here and then a few people based you know, primarily in the BD sales team based in market as well so they can go and do the meetings and be you know, be at the events do the face to face but I think for our ops team will probably be remote for good.
JE: Why is the team in Vietnam was that just because of people you knew there?
AC: A bit of both. We had a good lead in there with a with a good company, good development company. Just value for money. I mean, the tech talent in Vietnam is so impressive. And it’s still reasonably priced. So, for, you know, for startups, and you get really good value for money with a really capable team.
JE: Okay, that’s interesting. And the hub and spoke model, would that be hiring your own staff and other locales, or might it be sort of strategic partnerships with or heard some sort of third parties that you would work with in these areas?
AC: Yeah, absolutely. So, we’re looking at that option at the moment with our, with our mentors and our business advisors. So, resellers and software implementation companies are something we’re looking very closely at to, I think it’s good because they obviously they have the relationships established with something already, but also, they know the market and it’s a good way to test whether You’ve spent a year with these companies working in tech, whether it really getting traction in their market or not, rather than investing in building and firing a whole internal team because the market did not take-off for whatever reason.
JE: Okay, very interesting. Okay. Okay, so um, I think we’ve touched upon it, and you’ve mentioned it in your one page from the F10 incubator. But tell us a little bit. Who is your biggest competition, say in APAC, who are you competing against?
AC: You know, we get this question form investors quite a lot. And honestly, when I when I wake up in the morning, it’s not a specific company that I’m that I’m concerned about or that I’m thinking about, our biggest competitor is existing process. So, companies are doing this process, this check, sometimes thousands of times a day for a large organization. They have a system that they think works. But it’s broken though there are so many issues with the current system. First of all, it’s really, really slow because it’s all manual, it’s all completely fragmented. So, each of these nine databases you need to use are separate. So, you have to enter the same information time and time and time again. Quite often, when you’re doing a check on a company, you’ll send them an email and say, Can I take your due diligence document, they’ll email the documents back. And then you also have to email back a Word document with the same information in there. It’s a really bad customer experience. Because you’re asking for the information from a particular company. It’s open to fraud as well, because they can send you know, the shareholders, directors or shareholders, list of their shareholders. And the only way you know that is correct as a certified sample there, but nobody bothers to check the certification of a certifier. The only way you can be guaranteed your information is authentic if I go into the company registry, which is exactly what we do. So, we’re not part of the whole middleman and just go directly to the primary source.
JE: I was going to say if you’re using data sources from many areas around the world what level of independent verification of the data are you able to do? How big a risk is that? Are there are there some jurisdictions that are notoriously got bad data or…
AC: They’re all slightly different, but we connect it directly to government sources so it’s 100% guaranteed of the authenticity of the document. When you start to get into trouble is when you start to request the documents from the people you’re doing checks on and they can provide you, you know, whatever it is that they want to provide you. And then it’s up to you to go and check the information. So, what we try and do where possible is relying 100% on the primary source of the data.
JE: Okay, okay. No, that’s interesting. Now, the last question about the industry before we get
into the final point about the case study is, you know, there, there may be a big demand for the
service in a certain area. I’ll just say for example, SMEs, but then the second question has to be from, from your business perspective, do you think that is a profitable segment to go into? So, for example, if we were looking at SMEs in the ASEAN region, and we were able to instill a culture and increase their level of interest in due diligence, do you think that that business segment would be a profitable one for you? Or do you need to focus on slightly larger companies that perhaps have more financial resources
AC: We have built of own pricing structure, so we can adjust our pricing for a smaller company, if you have, like less users and you doing less checks per month, we can obviously have a more economical and economical pricing structure for you. So, I think some of the benefits of dealing with SMEs are that they don’t have the established infrastructure that you then need to come and overturn, move in to and they can also very clearly see the link between not having to hire a full-time person to do this, but been able to replace it with a piece of technology. Yeah, that’s a very clear value prop. And also, SMEs generally have decision makers closer, you know, less of them in the in the pile. So, it’s sometimes much easier shorter discussion than it is for some of the bigger organizations. So, six of one half levels of government, the other I think, is definitely opportunity within the SME segment.
JE: Okay, that’s interesting, because I not knowing the economics, but I can certainly see, you know, in China, and a few other places there, there has been so many attempts at fraud and other things that, you know, I don’t know about the economics, but I know there’s a screaming need for that. So, I’m just trying to see if that’s a viable area to explore and I’m sensing from you it probably is because you can scale down a version that’s profitable for you and cost effective for them.
AC: Yeah, We have a variety of modules available. So, we have the bells and whistles. But if you don’t want to pay for the bells and whistles, you don’t pay for the bells and whistles we can provide you, you know, the really bare bones platform with the data providers, but then we won’t you won’t have any of the inputs or the automated templates or the E-signing or the you know, all those bells and whistles that enterprise needs, but maybe an SME doesn’t.
JE: Okay, okay. So, getting to the last section, and then getting close to closing up a case study. You may want to give a case study I’m interested to know about sort of the nature of the
contract, how long it is what you provide, or alternatively, and it’s your choice, because you’ve just talked about different levels of contract, maybe you just want to specify the different options for small, medium or large companies. I’ll let you decide what you think could be more illustrative.
AC: I guess for us the gold standard, you know, the ticket that we’re really we’re really focused on our high value tickets are a company that signed up for 12 months that has, you know, over 50 daily users, integrates our platform with their existing platform. So, our platform plugs into their CRM, extracts the key data points that we need to start the value chain processes out in our platform, and then the audit trail back by our API into their existing CRM. So that’s a, that’s a gold scenario for us, because it’s obviously a lot of users high ticket price. And then very sticky, because we have that integration with their existing platform. What we’ve seen with COVID is companies that are a lot less willing to make those big decisions where you integrate software, and they’re much more likely to want to go on sort of like a three month or six-month contracts, using just the web interface without any integration. And we’ve recognized that, and we’ve pivoted to provide exactly that. So, what people can do is just create their own log on log into the platform. Use the platform, use the videos do their own self onboarding. And then process however many cases they need to do per month, and then everything’s stored on the platform. So, you input three pieces of data in the beginning, that extract all the information, you need both processes and our workflow. A finding tool is done via the platform and the audit trail is stored on the platform. So that’s another really good use case of our platform as well.
JE: Okay. And when you mentioned the first case, where you said that there were 50 users, five zero in house, is that typically a big bank is that how many users a big bank has.
AC: That’s a pretty, you know, a large a large enterprise would have that, then this is every enterprise is structured slightly differently. So, some of them do their division by jurisdiction. So, you’ll have the APAC onboarding team or the European onboarding team, but others will do it by segments. So, you might have transaction and advisory onboarding team in an audit onboarding team. So, part of our job in the sales process is to really unpeel the layers of the onion to find out how that organization operates, and the providers of the use case for that specific organization. And helping you know, me as a representative of a company, I’m trying to figure out how to find that process out so I am not reinventing the wheel every time.
JE: Yes, having worked for big banks in my life like UBS and others, there can be dozens of sorts of this quasi-independent operating entities within an organization. And when you approach a big bank, the first thing you do is, you know, how was this bank structured? How many areas are then you know, who do I need to talk to maybe there’s 12 or 14 different people. So, what I can understand. Yeah, that’s and I guess, there’s a lot of very big organizations today. Okay. Well, that’s been very interesting. So, my, my last question is, which I ask everyone, how has COVID impacted your development? I mean, is it good because people need to do more of this virtually has it slowed thing? what’s been the net impact on a NOTARUM from COVID?
AC: Yeah, I think it’s very much short-term pain, long term gain. So, March, April, May, I think the entire world just stopped, everyone was really unsure of what was happening. And people were just in that real survival mode. And so, a lot of the conversations that we had lined up were paused and paused until kind of now. So now what we’re seeing is, people are renewing this digital transformation journey with absolute vigor, which is which is really great to see. I saw a meme the other day on the internet that said, who’s leading your digital transformation journey within your organization, and had a box for CEO, a box for CTO and then a box for COVID? That was box of COVID that was ticked. And it is absolutely true I think. I read a report the other day that says, the next 12 months, we’ll see five years of transformation within a 12-month period. And so, for us, because our platform is cloud based, you can do it from home, we have special collaboration tools that come with teams to work together very easily. We’ve built the platform to be a remote platform. So, there’s no need to be in an office to be doing this. So, we know we’ll build a platform for the future. It’s just in companies catch up to realize that that’s what they need and their manual process that they thought were a lot more protected, affected because they don’t rely on primary source data, and they do require much more human invention than what our AI model does.
JE: Okay, and can people sort of freely visit Singapore now or is the border closed to non-residents?
AC: Very closed. Yeah, very, very closed. The government here is fiercely protective of the island, which you know, is great for us, but again, the COVID situation is very much under control here. Much like China is very custom sensitive and people here where masks and hasn’t really been that much of the culture change within this part of the world. And as my friends in Australia and you know, are struggling a little bit more with the transition. Yeah. I think the government here, you know, they’re very well resourced and provide a lot of help to companies and offerings.
JE: Yeah. See, ever since my early days in the 1980s, Singapore has been sort of thought of as a success story, and it still is, it seems to be quite a, I guess when you’re small, it’s a little bit easier. But you know, there’s a lot of small countries have messed up but they’ve, they’ve done quite a good job down there.
AC: They have done a great article the other day that spoke about the reignite redirection of world leaders and Singapore government are among the highest paid in the world. And I think that really shows that means you get incredibly talented individuals making the big decisions but that’s really you know, you can see the overall positive impact that has.