How one simple idea is turning into a fast-developing fintech disrupter – which is already proving resilient and ready for a changing future

For Swansea-based fintech firm QuoteOnSite, solving other business’ problems is at the heart of their proposition.

Established by Nigerian-born TJ Amas, QuoteOnSite provides a unique suite of cloud-based quotation management software. It allows business owner-managers to develop and pitch professional quotations to grow their businesses. For SMEs and larger businesses, the software facilitates the management of teams involved in the quoting process.

Still in its early stage of growth, the business has won a range of clients and has plans to build on this success by expanding and taking on new staff.

The company has been helped in no small part by the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP), which provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Here, TJ Amas tells the story of QuoteOnSite, provides insight into what the company has done to overcome adversity and offers advice for other entrepreneurs.

 

Tell us about QuoteOnSite
Well, we’re a young business, but we’ve already achieved plenty – and we have ambitions to achieve much more.

 

A bit about me first – my family moved to Swansea from Nigeria when I was 17 so I could study for my A-levels here. It proved to be crucial because it is the starting point, and home, for my business. I couldn’t wait to get to work when I finished school, so I learned programming and software architecture on the job with a long-established firm here in Swansea.

From there I moved into consulting and started developing a simple job quoting app for self-employed people.

 

My wife, Elaine, and I decided this simple idea could be turned into a great business. But we realised we needed expert help, and investment to get us off the ground. We overcame those early hurdles and although we’re still in the early stages of growth, we have a four-strong team, have raised investment from the Development Bank of Wales and an angel investor and have won contracts with companies all over the world, some of them employing over 400 people.  

What started life as a simple tool has now been developed to provide an array of quoting management tools – from proposal generation to digital contract-signing. I’m no longer doing consulting work and Elaine and I are now putting all our energy into the business. There are some exciting times ahead for us and we’re now completely focused on turning our early success into something even bigger.

 

 

What are your proudest moments in business so far?
We’ve had plenty of wins so far, despite it being relatively early days for us. But we’re really proud of winning big clients, which proved to us that our technology works for a range of customers.

It’s not just client wins which have given us confidence in what we’re doing. When we closed the deal on £350,000 worth of investment, it meant not only securing the finance we needed to power the next stage of growth, it also meant that others believed in our vision. That felt like a real vote of confidence in our proposition.

 

Finally, our nomination as one of the top 50 Fintech disrupters in the UK in 2020 by Business Cloud was yet more confirmation that we’re making waves in our field and getting noticed.

 

What challenges have you faced in business?
Our business was gaining traction and we’d just taken on two sales staff a month before the COVID-19 lockdown was announced.

We really felt the economic crisis initially, with our sales affected as people considering using our products suddenly saw their own orders and work dry up.

 

QuoteOnSite is a service which is used at the early stages of the sales cycle, so this knock-on impact was inevitable. We decided to use the time to take stock and move forward.

Our base at Techhub Swansea closed for the duration of the lockdown, so having taken stock of our options, all staff started working from home. We also had no choice but to furlough everyone except the software developers.

 

We tried not to look at things as a crisis for our business though, instead we used it as an opportunity. It meant we had time to put more energy into the development of the product. Staff have now been brought back in and we’re pushing forward with selling. Costs remain a big consideration for us, so we’ve decided to adopt a working from home model for the rest of this year.

 

We’ve managed to get through this year without external funding, including a resilience grant, because we didn’t fit the criteria. Overcoming obstacles and viewing challenges not as a negative but a positive is something which is very much a core value for me personally, and in our business. I think if we’d approached 2020 in any other way then things would look very different for us right now.

On a more personal level, I don’t believe my Nigerian heritage has been a barrier to me in business. However, there are plenty of times when I do feel the exception in the room, and I wonder why I see so few black and brown faces in business in Wales. It’s something we as a nation need to address.

 

If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
We’d definitely spend less money on Google Ads in the early days and more time researching – speaking and listening to clients – to understand their markets better. Looking back, I think we’d have taken more time considering what staff we really needed, understanding how jobs had to be to be delivered, so we could manage those staff more effectively.

 

 

How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
We’ve been given some incredibly useful support and resources from Business Wales AGP, and it would have been much more difficult to secure some of those big wins I have mentioned without the programme.

 

Business Wales AGP helped us raise investment, which has been critical to our growth and our ability to develop and deliver our product.

We’ve also been given support to develop our brand identity for QuoteOnSite.

Linked to this is the positioning of our product and business. Working with Business Wales AGP, we’ve been able to shape our voice, and how and what we say to our customers. I don’t think you can underestimate the value of these things for a business like ours. We’re building a brand which means that personality, voice and positioning are integral to our growth and development.

And of course, being a digital company, the work which Business Wales AGP has done with us on our website and our digital presence has been immensely helpful.

What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?

  • Go out and talk to your potential customer to find out what they really want and get to know the market.
  • Focus on a few sectors first, even if you could be in all sectors.
  • Conserve cash by not taking on too many people too quickly.
  • Take advice. Don’t be afraid to listen to others.
  • Be part of something like Business Wales AGP as you know you have someone there to support you and listen to you.

To learn more about QuoteOnSite visit here.

Further information on the Business Wales 
Accelerated Growth Programme
 

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