The former Campbell College pupil has created a tax solution business
A former software engineer from Bangor has said he is “overjoyed” after his start-up financial tech company achieved huge success in its first two years.
Aaron Shaw (29), a past pupil of Campbell College, moved to London in 2018 to set up his own business after working in Belfast.
When he ran into problems filing and processing invoices and financial information, he realised the process could be made simpler.
And so Ember, the self-described “all-in-one tax solution for your business”, was born.
“It was about a year prior to setting up Ember, I had moved to London to set up my own company,” he explained.
“But I was constantly stumbling across problems like invoicing, how do I pay myself, accounting, tax, bringing on employees, basically all the things when starting a company you are faced with.
“After about a year, patterns started to connect and it became painfully obvious to me how this could be made so much easier for people like myself, and I started doing some digging around to see what I could do.”
Mr Shaw said changes in government legislation allowed Ember’s creation, such as the launch of ‘Open Banking’ in 2017.
‘Open Banking’ is defined by the Government as enabling “consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises to share their bank and credit card transaction data securely with trusted third parties who are then able to provide them with applications and services which save time and money.”
Under this definition, Ember acts as the third party which helps customers calculate and save money on tax by operating their administration work.
“It became obvious to me this was one of the first times in the industry that it was possible to actually solve these problems for people like myself,” he said.
Mr Shaw later moved into a co-working space and started working on Ember full time.
In the co-working space, he met his co-founder, Daniel Hogan, an Australian accountant by trade, who was also having difficulties working in the sector. The two then combined their experience in the software and financial industries and their app ‘Ember’ was born.
Ember then entered into funding rounds and was presented to potential investors, where it saw early success and was valued at £260,000 when it launched in April 2020, at the height of the pandemic.
Mr Shaw said it wasn’t all smooth despite raising over a quarter of a million in its first year, noting Ember encountered some pushback from investors.
He added: “It is always inevitable, but our general trajectory has been as planned, but of course like anything there have been hiccups along the way, changes to business plans and stuff that was positively received that we had to pull back.”
Once launched, the company, which during its first funding round only had three employees, went from strength to strength in a time when most new businesses had stalled because of the pandemic.
“When we first got the 260k, our product wasn’t live, but now we were able to show the potential of the company and knew we had to raise the capital to get where we wanted,” he added.
“What really is the stand out thing about Ember is the quality of our reviews and how much customers love the product and that is because it’s solving a massive pain point for them.”