The founder of Crunch - Darren Fell explains his successful start-up journey.

I came up with the idea behind Crunch back in 2007. An accountant I knew, Steve Crouch, came to me with the plan of creating simple, easy-to-use accounting software. Having had truly awful experiences with traditional accountants in the past, I was immediately on board. However, what I really wanted was to provide people with a complete accounting service that combined the best of both worlds: online accountancy software and expert accountancy support. And so Crunch was born.

I’m passionate about helping people realise their dreams and become their own boss. I did it myself in 2001. Having previously spent a long stretch working for a corporate telecoms company in London, I started up my own email marketing company. It was incredibly liberating. I had a business idea and went for it. And I want to enable as many people as possible to do the same. 

Rapid growth

One of the biggest challenges I face is dealing with our rapid growth. From the outset, Crunch was all about providing a professional service at a fraction of the cost of traditional accountants. We put a few noses out of joint, but that’s the role of a disruptor. And this ethos still rings true, with our complete accountancy service starting at just £29.50+VAT per month.

With a low price point and unique offering, we were inundated with new clients right from the outset. We soon outgrew our small basement office, moving into office space in Hove in 2010 and eventually filled three floors. And the growth hasn’t stopped. Our client base has now surpassed the 10,000 mark and we’ve been listed in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 for the past two years. And late last year, we moved into brand new offices in central Brighton. 

As we enter new markets, the growth is set to continue.  

Crunch Community

With such a large client base, Crunch has unique insight into the challenges faced by the UK’s self-employed and small businesses. We see first hand how Government policy is adversely affecting the self-employed and small businesses. All too often this vital cog in the UK economy is forgotten, but with nearly 9 million people working in this sector it’s one of the most important. 

I decided this group needed to have a voice, so began setting up our Crunch community. Together, we campaign for our sector and be heard in the halls of power. Crucially, the community isn’t just about our clients - it’s free to join for all freelancers, contractors, and small business owners.

We now have over 24,000 members and have been mentioned in parliament on numerous occasions. We also recently worked with the RSA to produce the Entrepreneurial Audit - 20 policy ideas to strengthen self-employment and micro businesses in the UK. 

Diversification and collaboration

I’m hugely ambitious when it comes to the future of Crunch. The business is built on our accountancy offering, but last year we began adding new products and services.

The first was a mortgage service. I know what it’s like trying to secure a mortgage as a small business owner - it took me almost a year to sort my last mortgage! If they get the slightest whiff of a non-standard applicant, high-street banks and mainstream brokers tend to turn their noses up or offer outrageously uncompetitive deals.

I’m a big fan of collaborating with like-minded businesses, and to provide our mortgages service we turned to a local firm we knew and trusted. Crucially, they were in it for the same reason we were: to help the UK’s self-employed secure the mortgages they deserve. The service is nearly at its first year anniversary, and we’ve almost passed the £40 million mark in offered loans.

Following the same mortgages model, we now offer business insurance, financial planning, debt collection, and much more. Every new service we provide is tailored to the self-employed, which means we can keep our prices low and provide our clients with exactly what they need. 

Expanding into new markets

In my drive to continue the growth of Crunch, I’m always looking to enter new, untapped markets. I therefore couldn’t have been more pleased with our latest partnership with global recruitment giant SThree. The deal sees us listed on SThree’s approved supplier list for accountancy. Thanks to our complete accountancy package, comprising sole trader, limited company, and umbrella, we’re ideally placed to offer SThree’s candidates an expert accountancy package no matter how they want to operated.

To be chosen by a market-leader such as SThree is testament to just how far we’ve come and the great work we’re doing. And with a host of new product launches planned, the future’s looking bright!

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here