Pleo launches ‘Bills’ and gets ready for series C funding: Q&A with Luke Richardson
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Luke Richardson, Brand and Comms Director at the Danish fintech Pleo, reveals some behind-the-scenes insights about the company’s new product launch in the UK and its forthcoming series C funding round this summer.
Fintech scale-up and expense management provider Pleo has recently launched a new invoice management product feature called ‘Bills’. Available to its UK customer segment, Bills allows SMEs to forward their invoices to a Pleo Bills email address where they get processed by its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and prepared for payment. To avoid any duplicates and discrepancies, each bill is also cross-referenced and validated for authenticity before being approved for payment via the Pleo platform.
What is OCR?
Optical Character Recognition or OCR is a widespread technology that is used to read text inside images, such as scanned documents and photos. OCR technology lets you convert virtually any kind of image containing written text (typed, handwritten, or printed) into machine-readable text data.
“Since the Pandemic hit, Pleo has accelerated its product pipeline to activate vital financial technology features in its journey to become a central hub for companies to manage cash flow - and Bills is an example of this...When nearly 70% of admins told us that they spent half their time on processing bills as well as authenticating the validity of them, it became our mission to simplify this complicated process and provide an end-to-end overview of it." Jeppe Rindom, CEO and co-founder of Pleo
In addition to invoice automation, Pleo is also introducing a free domestic (GBP to GBP) transfer solution that will significantly benefit businesses who have multiple supplier relationships at stake and are still managing and authorising invoices manually.
But ‘Bills’ is not the only exciting thing happening at Pleo at the moment. Following a major demand spike over the past few months, Pleo has decided to seek a new capital injection and is now getting ready for a Series C funding round in the summer.
To sneak peek behind the scenes of Pleo’s new product launch and upcoming capital-raising campaigns, we spoke to Luke Richardson. Luke is a Brand and Comms Director at Pleo. Earlier this year, he was also recognised as one of the top 30 most influential fintech marketers on our annual list.
Read Luke’s complete interview below.
Can you give us a glimpse into Pleo’s new product launch campaign?
With ‘Bills’ – as with every product launch here at Pleo – we start with a problem statement: what are we trying to achieve? With that answered, it helps dictate the level of resources, time and effort required to make that launch land successfully.
For Bills, in particular, we actively utilised our pre-existing network of 16+ customers already using and loving our core product functionality (cards, expense management, simple spending). It was key for us to get early adoption from them ahead of launching, to increase the momentum for when we went live to the entire market.
Asset-wise, we went big on this one, with demand gen content like whitepapers on the death of manual spending processes, webinars, sponsorships with Sifted and a series of high-production-value brand videos to spread the word as broadly as possible.
Have you faced any challenges during the campaign development process? If yes, what were they and how you tackled them?
A classic challenge is a constant interplay between product and product marketing. We're a highly ambitious, entrepreneurial scale-up, which is code for "we have lots of moving parts to consider". Typically, our bills handling product was evolving and improving right up until the launch date, which meant product marketing and sales enablement really had to be on their toes and up-to-speed with the ongoing changes. The key to it all is consistent (over)communication – particularly during these asynchronous, remote working times.
The decision to create Pleo’s new product, ‘Bills', was driven by some primary customer research. Do you use primary consumer research in your marketing too? If yes, how? And how important is it?
In short, yes! We have a wonderful, newish initiative in our Product Marketing team, called Pleo Insights. It's effectively our customer intelligence and community network whereby we ask Pleo users, old and new, for input on how we can improve the product we have today, and develop the service further to incorporate more aspects of their spend tomorrow. Through one of these recent surveys, we discovered that 66% of UK-based Pleo admins say that invoice payments make up for more than half of their company spend. That's huge! We want Pleo to be ubiquitous with all spend within a company, so it was a no-brainer for us to get to work on a product that caters to this significant use case.
In a recent story on TechCrunch, Pleo’s CEO mentioned that Pleo’s facing an increasing inbound interest. Where is this interest mostly coming from?
I think it's fair to say that a majority of our company growth has been marketing-led, with strong results and most inbound leads generated from our tactical performance marketing initiatives on social media channels. However, with new data privacy rulings coming from Apple – and an increasing effort to go more upmarket – we acknowledge the need to diversify if we really want to hit our Northstar goal of 1mil. empowered users by 2025. So, we're diversifying. We've seen strong early results building out hyper-localised, demand gen initiatives, plus ramping up outbound.
Pleo has also just announced that it is preparing for a new series C funding round this summer. How will Pleo’s marketing support the process?
A great and exciting question! This potential new funding round coincides with our six markets (hopefully!) coming out of the COVID fog. With over a year of varying lockdown regulations, we think there will be an appetite for brand-building efforts – out there in the real world. So, we're getting back to basics and starting to consider more above-the-line campaigns, from your billboards to your guerrilla marketing efforts. These initiatives are big, audacious, and expensive, but we believe they can have an exponential impact on our growth.
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