Since 2014, Fleximize has been changing the world of business funding by offering alternative flexible loans to SMEs in the UK. Co-founder and managing director Peter Tuvey talks about his career to date and the future of his latest business venture
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As managing director of Fleximize, I oversee the development of all departments and key processes that enable our business to thrive, from risk and compliance to collections and marketing. I am the primary point of contact for our key investors and directors, and also head up our efforts to raise additional funding for the business, which will allow it to help even more of the UK’s SMEs. My position on the company’s credit committee means I have an important role in the approvals process, and I am constantly looking for new ways to improve our offering to small businesses.
What is it that the company does?
Fleximize is an alternative business lender, offering loans of up to £500,000 to SMEs that require a fast and flexible finance solution. Combining innovative technology with established underwriting techniques, we regularly fund businesses that have been rejected by the bank or have grown tired of waiting for a decision.
We were the first company in the UK to offer a Revenue Advance, an innovative repayment option that allows companies to repay a loan in line with their monthly revenue. All of our loans come with top-ups, repayment holidays and penalty-free early repayments as standard – not an expensive add-on – and we can typically approve and deposit funds in as little as 48 hours.
To date, Fleximize has lent over £60m to thousands of UK SMEs, and we’re well on our way to hitting the £100m mark by the close of 2019.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
At the age of 16 I left education and took on a sales role at Homebase in Bury St Edmunds. I then joined Phones 4U, becoming the company’s youngest ever store manager at the age of 17. By 19, I was working as Vodafone’s area manager for Norfolk and Suffolk.
I have never regretted leaving education when I did, and those early jobs were invaluable experiences that undoubtedly shaped me personally and professionally. I grew up with a family that worked in finance, but it was my first direct experience of the sector – as a call centre manager for an insurance firm – that triggered my interest in consumer finance.
Having helped set up the Fortress Group, I went on to establish Ariste Holding after the banks pulled back on consumer lending in the wake of the recession. I sold the company for an eight-figure sum in 2012 and launched Fleximize with my co-founder Max Chmyshuk in 2014.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
To be a great leader, you need to have a clear vision for your company and be able to communicate this ambition effectively to your employees. As my businesses have developed, I have realised that it is important to spend more time listening and less time talking – that way you don’t prevent brilliant ideas getting lost.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
For any entrepreneur setting up and running their own business, one of the greatest challenges will always be raising the funds that allow the company to reach its potential. Fleximize is no exception to this: despite the success of our funding rounds to date, none of them have been a walk in the park.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I try to make a conscious effort to keep my body healthy in order to mitigate the effects of working within a stressful environment, but I do also switch off completely sometimes. Whether that is through spending time with the kids, getting lost for an hour in an episode of Suits, or relaxing on the beach in Tenerife, your brain cannot be working 24/7. It needs a break sometimes.
When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like a lot of young boys, I wanted to be a footballer, specifically for Arsenal – the team I still support to this day. #WengerIn
Any pet hates in the work place? What do you do about them?
It does irritate me when people become complacent in their role. I am a strong believer that hard work and determination will get you a long way in life, so I find it frustrating when people expect things to be handed to them. Often, complacency is a result of job dissatisfaction, so if I sense somebody isn’t giving 100%, I’ll ask them if there are any parts of the job that they aren’t enjoying, or if they feel they’re not being challenged enough.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I’d like to think that Fleximize will have a £250m portfolio of funded businesses, with a minimum of five new finance products for SMEs. Our focus so far has been establishing and growing the business within the UK, but I would like to see Fleximize being launched in at least two additional countries. There are currently multiple countries in Europe where SMEs face restricted access to funding for SMEs, so there is definitely a market for us to expand overseas.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
One of the most important things to remember is that first impressions matter with potential investors, clients and employees alike. At the end of the day, irrespective of the sector, businesses survive and thrive on their reputation, so this needs to be safeguarded from day one.
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