Kim McAllister: Floating along on the fintech wave

There’s a certain kudos from being there when… The Cavern in Liverpool, the iPod unveiling, Andy Murray’s primary class… they all marked the start of something that changed the world for all of us.

He might laugh when he reads this –but this was what I was thinking when Colin Hewitt told me his story this week.

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He was there in Summerhall ripping up carpets at the weekends when TechCube first launched. The next tenant to join was FanDuel.

Likewise, his company Float, the cashflow forecasting software, was one of the first to move with Jamie Coleman over to CodeBase on the condition that they could take over the suite of offices on the next floor with the view of the castle. They’ve since knocked through walls and expanded the team.

“It was a really exciting time in 2012,” he told me. “I’d just come back from a conference at MIT in Boston and I’d seen some really cool co-working spaces like Techstars. I felt the energy of those places and wished we had something similar in Edinburgh. By pure coincidence a friend told me about the guy who’d just got the keys to Summerhall – which was the beginnings of TechCube.”

For a man who’d spent nearly ten years building a web design company, it was a leap of faith to sell it and start something from scratch. Float had started as a spreadsheet Colin created to forecast earnings – with the advent of cloud accounting it suddenly had huge potential.

“When my co-founder Phil and I decided to run with it, there was an element of ‘this could be huge’ but my main feeling was ‘let’s start and see’. I’d lost a bit of the passion for the agency and I just went on my gut feeling. That’s such a defining quality in an entrepreneur – you have to trust your intuition. That will save you.”

Float works with cloud accounting software like Xero and FreeAgent – Colin did approach one of these companies in the beginning and they agreed it was a great add-on, but was not going to be their focus. Colin felt free to go ahead and create the software independently.

The company is continuing to scale up and Colin was one of the speakers at Scottish International Week this week at the Institute Of Directors, but it’s not all been plain sailing.

“Raising money is probably the hardest part, it takes you away from the product development and the work you’d rather be doing!” he joked.

“Finding staff is always hard – if you need to fire someone you need to do a lot of soul searching first. Starting a company is just a rollercoaster and the constant ups and downs can be quite exhausting. I have three kids and it can be very challenging balancing home with work.”

Float is going through another growth stage and is currently hiring for a number of roles and recently added Jennifer Given as COO. He is also in the market for a CTO. Colin is excited about the challenges ahead.

“As long as you’re not deferring your life – you know, everything will be fine when I’m making this much and the company’s this size – you’ll be happy,” he said.

“I just enjoy the journey.”

Other High Growth articles from Kim McAllister

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