Women in Tech: Caroline Plumb
Hi Caroline, tell me a bit about yourself and your business.
Hi Emily, I’m Caroline Plumb, Founder and CEO of Fluidly – a VC-backed fintech that helps businesses better manage their finances – specifically cashflow forecasting and management. We use advanced statistical techniques and machine learning to predict and optimise business finances – making sure they get paid faster, spot opportunities to save money and provide confidence and certainty around cashflow.
What were you doing before you decided to launch your business?
I’m a serial entrepreneur – before Fluidly I co-founded and scaled Freshminds so I know what it’s like to build a business and was familiar with the highs and lows of financing it! The pain points of chasing debtors, figuring out finances to make a VAT bill or identifying unusual spend were pains I knew only too well! I wanted to build software that would mean others didn’t have to deal with this too and was convinced that with all the data now available in cloud accounting systems and bank accounts that AI should be able to solve it.
Getting involved in tech is still a hot topic for women, what was the motivation for you?
I’ve always loved technology – as a kid I used to take broken things apart – hoovers, microwaves, TVs, computers – once it was dead it was mine to investigate with a screwdriver (& hammer!). I love figuring out how things work and how to make them work better, so it was natural to want to become an engineer. I studied Engineering at Oxford and was a sponsored software engineer for GCHQ – coding every summer for 3 years. It’s great to be able to be involved in tech again with Fluidly, especially with our focus on data and artificial intelligence.
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
Running any business is a rollercoaster of highs and lows – you have to enjoy the ride. I was thrilled to receive an OBE in the 90th Birthday Honours in 2016 for services to Business and Charity.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Building the brilliant team we have at Fluidly, especially the technical team. We all know that technical skills are in short supply and at Fluidly we’re also committed to creating a diverse team which combines smarts with curiosity, humbleness and execution at speed. We firmly believe that software development is a team sport, it’s not just a collection of brilliant individuals. Finding the right people is always challenging but I’m hugely proud of the team we have. We’re currently one-third female in the engineering team – now to make it 50:50… I’d love to hear from more female software engineers!
Who are your target audience?
Businesses who care about optimising their finances – from those looking to invest in people, assets or growth, to those using external finance to those having sleepless nights about getting paid. Our cashflow engine is like an autopilot for finances – monitoring all aspects and helping to navigate past threats to get you where you want to be.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?
Stop theorising and over-thinking an idea, get out there and talk to potential customers. Ask lots and lots of open questions and listen hard for needs and pain points, then figure out how to solve them. It’s an iterative process – you’ve got to keep trying things with customers and learning – you’ll find the right direction as long as you keep moving.
What plans do you have for your business in the coming 12 months?
Growth - so we can reach tens of thousands of businesses and make a meaningful difference to their finances. We’re on a mission to deliver cashflow control, certainty and confidence so they can sleep soundly knowing their financial situation is secure.