APositive Workforce Finance Co-Founder and CEO, Danny Marlow, shares how a career move from accounting to finance led him to identify an opportunity for a more efficient and tech-integrated approach to cash flow for Recruitment & Labour Hire businesses. From start-up to an AFR Fast 100 growing company, Danny also explores the vital role tech has played for APositive and improving the entire cash flow experience.
Q) Tell us about your career journey and how APositive Workforce Finance came to be?
My career kicked off straight out of school where I completed an accounting degree, which I found a little boring, so I decided to change direction. I then found myself in a graduate finance role with AGC Limited where I started my career in finance. AGC was the pioneer of Debtor Finance in Australia and the experience was a great grounding for learning the importance of cash flow to businesses.
Following a role managing the client relationship team for AGC’s Invoice Finance product and further roles in sales and marketing for a range of bank and non-bank providers, I soon saw an opportunity to improve the experience for Recruitment and Labour Hire businesses. The disconnect between cash flow and technology was inhibiting many and stunting growth opportunities. Co-founder, Errol Katz and I decided to build APositive Workforce Finance to create a more efficient and tech-integrated option for agencies to cover payroll with confidence and achieve their growth aspirations.
Q) Have you always had an interest in finance and recruitment?
Finance was my preferred career pathway after an accounting degree but a later qualification in marketing opened my eyes to the importance of meeting customer needs. Whilst in a sales role having provided financing options to many SME’s, including many recruitment agencies, I became frustrated by the inefficiencies in these agencies accessing funding. It became a passion of mine to bring more efficient cash flow funding to Recruitment and Labour Hire businesses.
Q) It’s no secret technology is evolving faster than ever. How vital has technology been to helping you start APositive?
It was the foundation of the idea. I was selling cumbersome finance solutions to an industry that was embracing technology to improve their workflows. Cash Flow Funding is critical to Recruitment and Labour Hire businesses, especially those who hire out people and need to meet the payroll commitments. Integrating funding into the operational workflows and tech applications just made sense.
Q) What were some of the challenges you faced in your start-up period and how did you overcome them?
Building a reputable company brand was difficult. I had to leverage off my personal brand until I could build knowledge and trust in the business. I had many years of helping recruitment businesses in varying roles so building a list of testimonials on LinkedIn helped support the brand journey. Finding great staff is probably the most challenging. Through networks in prior roles, I was able to find some early staff but then growth comes with trial and error. We’ve been able to attract and keep some brilliant staff and I put that down to belief and passion in the journey and the positive outcomes we bring to our clients.
Q) With technology impacting virtually every aspect of life, including the finance and recruitment industries, we’ve seen the RecTech industry come into a life of its own. How have advances in technology benefited RecTech?
There’s a continually evolving availability of tech to help with all aspects of recruitment. Our special focus is on the back office, where electronic timesheets, invoicing and payroll systems can integrate to minimise error, risk and cost. This is where APositive integrates to ensure funding is an enabler not an inhibitor of the business process.
Q) What’s the most common feedback you receive from clients who turn to finance solutions like Invoice Finance and Payroll Funding, for the first time?
It’s easier than they thought. Invoice Finance is traditionally quite clunky and the take up rate in Australia is quite low as a result. We’ve removed a lot of the administration and imposing client tasks by sourcing data electronically via API integrations. This means access to funding is seamless. Users can be a little surprised by it.
Q) The current climate has been deeply challenging for many businesses. In general, what do you most enjoy about being able to help clients get their businesses on the right track whether related to cash flow, or growing profitably?
Finance can be seen as a last resort or necessary evil. Many try to grow businesses without external funding as they see it as failure if they have to borrow money. We provide funding arrangements that allow businesses to grow. When you have to pay your staff before you get paid by your clients, you need to manage a negative cash cycle. This means you need cash to grow. Being able to provide funding lines that support and encourage clients to reach their aspirational growth targets is super rewarding.
Q) Where do you see APositive Workforce Finance in 10 years’ time?
Embedded in most recruitment tech applications and helping solve cash flow constraints in more ways leveraging off the growing and evolving landscape of labour supply, including contingent workforce models, marketplaces, etc.
Q) What’s one piece of great advice you’ve received in your career and one piece of ‘not so great’ advice you’ve received?
Great advice – don’t sweat the small stuff.
Not so great – pay off your mortgage as quick as you can.
Q) If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you likely be doing?
Probably similar somewhere else. I love what I do.