Alexis Prenn On The Real Meaning Behind 250,000 Businesses

This year, Receipt Bank met two milestones.

The number of businesses that trust us to help them go paperless and spin their invoices and receipts into actionable data reached 250,000 worldwide. We also announced the appointment of Receipt Bank’s new CEO, Adrian Blair, to lead our next stage of growth. After nine years of leading Receipt Bank as Co-Founder and CEO, Alexis Prenn will become Chairman.

Here, Alexis reflects on the past nine years and what reaching 250,000 businesses means for the company.


Receipt Bank’s Chief Product Officer, John Connolly, talks about the lifecycle of our products and capabilities having similarities with our own development as human beings. The baby, the child, the awkward teenager, the young adult. In many ways, companies are no different in the way that they evolve – starting with total dependence to independence.

At the very beginning of Receipt Bank the business was totally dependent on Michael Wood, Co-Founder, Sophie Hossack, currently Director of Strategic Partnerships, and Hristo Dokov, current Team Lead within our core productivity engineering team. The embryo Receipt Bank was entirely dependent. Dependent on us for its energy source, curiosity and imagination and (perhaps stretching this analogy) its (financial) nutrition. At the time, it was a helpless child with no sense of destiny or identity. Gradually, as we shared our experiences and energy, as people joined to work on its challenges, the business began to have a heartbeat of its own. It started to develop awareness, a sense of self and possibly even a sense of destiny. Just like a child, Receipt Bank started to grow up and gain independence

Now, Receipt Bank is a full fledged adult. The energy and momentum of the business is no longer dependent on the co-founders. There is instead a greater premium on organisation, consistency and structure to gathering and focusing energy and imagination to maintain the momentum. You might be interested to learn that the Receipt Bank of today has far exceeded all parental expectations!


At the beginning, there were no customers. A quarter of a million would have been unimaginable. However, today it feels like a milestone. Merely a stone on the roadside to be passed on the way to the next and the next… 250,000 businesses is merely the sum total of everyone’s input over the last nine years. That’s everyone that’s ever worked at Receipt Bank, made a decision, completed a line of code, written a press release, designed a graphic, performed a penetration test or perhaps made a cup of tea (it goes well with cake) for their colleagues. That’s the sum total of those collective activities combined with relentless consistency to do it all over again but … just a little bit better.

250,000 is not really the number. Perhaps, it’s more the accelerating rate of adoption. In 2018, our partner numbers exploded. In the last quarter alone, we added more partners than in the first five years of Receipt Bank. Crucially, this momentum continues to accelerate in 2019 and beyond. Our challenge is now to raise our game in design and client experience, to reimagine what small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers can do with their data. The challenge will also be finding new ways of adding value to small businesses around the world.

Ultimately, 250,000 businesses is the wrong way to look at it. Rather than a vanity metric it’s a barometer of our input – decisions made months, perhaps even years ago. For example 5 years ago we started to migrate our customer services onto Zendesk, two years ago years ago we moved to Amazon Web Services (AWS), launched a new mobile experience and hired a creative director. Our net promoter score has doubled over the course of 2.5 years to consistently exceed 50 while the turnaround of processing has moved from 72 hours to average 9 minutes. All of these activities and many more is reflected in the 250,000. Interestingly, I have a note in my calendar (sometime in 2020) when I expect Receipt Bank to reach the 1,000,000 milestone on the road to…


In many ways, I am proudest of the internal role review process that we started from day one. I believe it is thoughtful, original and perhaps a little innovative. Only with practice can we get good at review appraisal and indeed asking for help. In the years to come, this will evolve. But I believe it has been an essential part of the development of so many people at Receipt Bank, who have in turn powered our culture and growth, and taken their careers seriously. We do reviews every three months, and try as individuals to encourage others to think about their futures. Every 12 weeks, we reflect on what we’ve learned and what we need to learn. Do I think we can do better? Absolutely, I do. Yet, it seems to me that the approach is right for us, and ties into the company as a whole. The reviews are good benchmarks to see where you are and where you need to be.

It’s also reflective of our journey. When Insight [Venture Partners] announced investment into Receipt Bank, it posed a question. What did they invest in? Receipt Bank does not exist without its people. You can’t invest into an empty office, or a line of code. You invest in the people. And the challenges ahead, in terms of how we organise ourselves to make the most of our people, will be crucial.

With technology, our aim is not to repeat what’s already been done. Our aim is to find a way of using the speed, cost, simplicity, helpfulness and tools available to do things we could not do before, or only with a lot of effort and training.

Our challenge now is to turn what we’ve done, make it even more relevant and perhaps a little exciting for those 250,000 businesses and the millions of business-owners around the world. How do we master data and technology for your benefit? That is the question, and that is what we will be striving for in the years and businesses ahead.

Related posts