Home' acuity : Acuity Feb 15 Contents JENNIFER BLACK is the deputy editor of Acuity.
“So instead of engaging
someone locally if you
live on the Eastern
seaboard, why can’t you
get somebody in regional
Australia, where the cost
centres are a lot lower.”
FEBRUARY 2015 | acuity
They submit the job which then goes out to everyone in
SuitBids’ directory who is looking for that type of work.
The professional service providers then have 24 hours
to place a bid. Seeto says this differs from some other
connector sites, whereby speed is the decider, and the first
three quotes received get sent to the client.
Then Seeto and Chiarelli personally check every bid.
As chartered accountants they have a good understanding
of what is required for a job in terms of timing and cost.
Checks include the suitability of the professional’s
experience and the price being charged. They then select
the top three bids and present those to the client.
The client can request further bids if they are unhappy
with the results. Once a match is made, contact details are
exchanged and SuitBids steps out of the process.
SuitBids vets the professionals prior to them signing up,
checking qualifications and registrations. But they also
vet clients now, after receiving a number of fake bids from
what Seeto calls “peripheral competitors” who focus on
Initially jobs were automatically posted when they were
received, but now they go into a “quarantine process” whereby
SuitBids confirm with a client whether the job is genuine.
The team has become good at identifying fake jobs, or
people who are trying to undercut prices initially, to get
client contact details or to re-quote at a higher price once
the breadth of the job is known.
“We disregard the guy who’s going for the bottom of the barrel
– the ‘we’ll do a tax return for $20’ sort of thing – because you
know in reality the client’s not going to get a good job.”
SuitBids says compliance work is their “low hanging
fruit”, but the types of jobs have been varied – from simple
tax returns to a school in regional Victoria looking for help
with an audit.
Clients have also included start-ups needing advice
around structures along with some bookkeeping work.
“It comes back to being able to get a regional service
provider to do a job without reducing any quality of
service but at a much cheaper price.”
Tax compliance work is ideal for this connector service,
rather than business development work which needs face-
“Where you have a business and you need ongoing
advice, we acknowledge that there’s probably still a great
deal of benefit in having someone locally that you can
touch base with and go and have a coffee with.”
Currently SuitBids is a free service while the business
“ The initial phase is about collecting clients and seeing
how we can optimise this and make it better before we
actually turn on our payment system,” Seeto says.
He says they’re working towards establishing a commercial
product people would be happy to pay for and he hopes it will
be fully operational by the start of the next financial year.
While there is a pipeline of development they want to
complete, the current offering is the “minimal viable product”
to launch and get users on board, and get more funding, he says.
SuitBids is eyeing up the US and UK markets. “If we
can validate the Australian market then it’s a simple case
of just dropping that website overseas. So we’ve got the
domain names for the US and the UK sorted out – we’ve
had that from day one.”
SuitBids hopes to be in those markets in two years.
Meanwhile, both men are still working fulltime elsewhere
Chiarelli is a CFO of a tech company and Seeto has his
own chartered accountancy practice. This has allowed him
flexibility to work on SuitBids and given him a safety net
financially, helping mitigate the risk of start-up.
“I’ve found a way that I can pursue this [SuitBids] but
also have enough income stream to pay the bills and feed
SuitBids is Seeto’s first real entrepreneurial endeavour.
“I wouldn’t say people who know me are too shocked I’m
doing this. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit I guess
I’ve had a number of business ideas, but this is the first
one I’ve pursued seriously.”
Digital entrepreneurship will be discussed further at the Corporate Sector
Conference, held by Chartered Accountants ANZ on 18 March at SKYCITY
Auckland Convention Centre. Visit charteredaccountantsanz.com/corpconf
for more information and to register.
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