"The first 12 months of any new venture is a learning curve, it is in the following years that you will see whether there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Interview with Kanchan Kamdar, Owner of APT BACS - Kanchan first started working for Automated Payment Transfer Ltd (APT), a BACS software supplier, in 2004 as a Sales and Marketing Manager. She completed the management buyout in 2007 and has been running it successfully ever since.
Kanchan has an inspirational story - Employee-turned-business-owner, she is the perfect example of an empowering woman in business "leaning in." Learn how she did it...
• Hello Kanchan, Can you explain a little about your business background. How you started doing what you are doing now, and your journey?
I first started working for APT Ltd back in 2004 as a Sales & Marketing Manager then took over the company in 2007 and have now been running it successfully for the last 10 years. I have been in the industry for over 13 years and some of my team members for over 20 years, the experience and knowledge within APT provides a considerable amount of expertise in both the Direct Debit & Credit Industry.
• What was it like in the first week or two of taking over the business?
Daunting! I was puzzled how to let my working colleagues know that now I am their boss. Would I be able to get the right balance from changing to being a friend/colleague to the decision maker and would I making the right decisions…
• How did you fund your business in the initial stages and how has that changed as time went on?
APT has been in existence since 1977, as I acquired the business through a Management Buyout. The funding of the business was through a combination of own funds and a business loan from NatWest Bank.
As I worked on the business, I was able to keep the working capital at a steady level and generate additional sales.
A business loan from NatWest Bank was obtained following the preparation of a full business plan and cashflow forecasts. My husband is a Tax Accountant and he had a very good relationship with NatWest Bank and this made the process a lot smoother to obtain business finance.
• What's the most important thing you're working on right now for APT BACS, and how are you making it happen?
There were not too many changes in UK banking industry in the last 10 years that affected us, however, customers’ and businesses now demand the fast convenience and the low error rate and this is pushing the industry forward to find new and better technological solutions to collect payments. Our goal at APT is to be one of the leaders of any new changes and represent our customers' needs in the process, hence we are expanding our team and working on a few very exciting projects.
Our team has joined Pay.UK committees. Pay.UK has taken the responsibility for the Bacs and Faster Payments systems. The move ensures the continuity of operations of the UK’s main payment systems, which are relied on every day for thousands of salaries, benefits, bills, mortgage and other internet and mobile banking payments.
Therefore, to become part of the new Pay.UK APT Ltd has registered with Open Banking and are concentrating on becoming FCA & ISO 27001 compliant to become part of the new payment structure they propose.
• Tell us about your support network - did you have the backing of your friends and family?
I am fortunate enough to have a wide diversity of friends and family that are different professions that can guide me and provide advice in the right direction.
• What gets you out of bed in the morning?
First of all, my beautiful family! Secondly, I strive for success in the professional space. I believe that with the hard work and the help of our talented team, we will be able to bring a positive change to UK’s payment industry to help our clients to have an uncompromising cashflow efficiency.
• Tell us how you got your first few clients?
Only software solutions that have passed a number of rigorous testing and approval processes are allowed to connect to Bacstel-IP for BACS Payments Processing. We were lucky enough to be one of the very few approved software providers in the UK at the time and be included in the approved software list.
I believe that our customer service promise is what retains and also gets us new customers. Customer service is the most important part of our business, once you understand your clients requirements and how your company can assist them in layman’s terms then you will find customers feel comfortable and are more likely to come on board and more importantly stay with you.
• What are your tips on getting past the first 12 months in business?
The first 12 months of any new venture is a learning curve, it is in the following years that you will see whether there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, there will be lots of opportunities that you will miss/gain and it is that experience you will find that if/when something new comes along you will be more aware and have gained that knowledge to introduce your expertise in your market.
I was very fortunate that the previous business owner supported me in- house for the first month and was available for 6 months, another woman that was very supportive throughout my journey. I was on minimum wage and hardly took money out for the business for at least 10 years.
• What is your commercial strategy and how do you plan to make even more money?
We recently did our rebranding which represents our strive for innovation and started investing in marketing to fund our new ventures. At the moment we are looking into being able to provide not only domestic but also international payments, which would greatly expand our market.
• Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years time?
APT Ltd aim is to become part of Pay.UK, we need to become part of Open Banking, to enable APT Ltd to have the ability to be a Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP) under the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). We have a strong expansion strategy and the next 5 years will be really exciting for us!
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