FinTech, UK

Hydr is a simple invoice financing solution for small businesses. Launched in May 2021, it helps SMEs by improving the cash-flow, and removing some of the risk, for their business. Launched by Nicola Weedall and Hector Macandrew, Hydr (pronounced hi-der) is already helping businesses to focus on their core activities rather than worry about payments at a difficult time. 

Invoicing is often considered a downside of small business — no-one starts a business because of their passion for writing and chasing invoices. However, long waits for payment are, increasingly, becoming the norm. This leaves small businesses suffering from cashflow problems while they wait for income. During the Covid-19 pandemic the Federation of Small Business found 62% of SMEs had experienced longer delays or even frozen payments when invoicing corporate clients. 

How Hydr helps SMEs  

Nicola Weedall, one of Hydr’s co-founders, believes their product is unique. Integrating seamlessly with Xero, the popular accounting package, Hydr offers clients 100% of the invoice value, less a small, transparent, fee. A decision and payment will be made within 24 hours. 

The service is entirely digital, with onboarding, integration and decisions all done online. Hydr also take full ownership of the invoice, so they manage any disputes and collections. An SME, using Hydr, can therefore get payment almost immediately after invoicing, allowing them to better manage their cash flow and focus on their business. 

Built on experience 

Weedall started in the fintech industry in 2017 after over a decade in the corporate world and says she “absolutely fell in love with the sector,” adding, with a hint to the foundations of Hydr, “more importantly I fell in love with the power the industry can have on SMEs.” Hydr developed over two-and-a-half years as Weedall worked with her partner, Macandrew, developing and testing the concept and addressing the challenges of bringing invoice financing to SMEs at scale. 

A mould-breaking startup 

As well as being a unique offer for SME invoice financing, Hydr is unusual in the tech startup world. It is proudly based in Manchester, away from the sometimes dominant London tech scene, and it is founded by a woman, when tech is still a long way away from being a representative industry. 

Weedall is evangelical about having Manchester as a base. Part of that, she says, is down to the city’s culture, “the ecosystem is amazing. There’s a huge community of businesses, media, PR, and press people that are all rooting for one another. When anything does happen in Manchester, you get to hear about it.” But she also highlights a growing tech scene, and while tech in London is in competition with almost every other sector, she believes that Manchester is placed to promote itself to be Britain’s tech hub. 

Weedall, is, however, perhaps surprising when it comes to gender equality in tech. “I’m passionate about women in FinTech,” she says, “but I don’t believe there are any challenges for women; if you are a credible candidate, then you will be put front and centre for any opportunities.” However, despite not having encountered discrimination on her journey, she notes that being a woman in tech presents challenges because of the other roles women often combine with their professional lives. “My challenges came in a different form as a mother of three. Balancing work and home life, all the stuff that you would expect as a mother.” 

Indeed, one advantage that Weedall believes women have in tech — and elsewhere — is the supportive network they form. “Women are very, very good at supporting one another, offering praise and help, and that makes them stand out from men,” she says. 

Hydr’s next steps 

Having just launched, Hydr is currently focused on developing its customer base among the 600,000 users of Xero in the UK, around half of which Weedall believes would benefit from Hydr. The next phase of growth would be expanding their team to increase their technical and customer service team; despite being a 100% digital platform, Weedall believes that sometimes, “when it’s as important as customers and money, there is nothing better than being able to pick up the phone and speak to somebody.” 

The next step will be to integrate with other popular platforms as well as developing a stand-alone option of their service. After the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic Weedall is seeing businesses, including SMEs, start to pick up. Weedall says the impact of technology in handling the pandemic mirrors what Hydr can offer businesses, “we’re embracing technology in its finest. Technology has been accelerated to support everything that’s happened in the last 18 months in a really positive way, and Hydr is designed for small businesses to be able to accelerate their growth and focus on the things that matter for SMEs.” 

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