Meet the MD: Colin Hewitt of FLOAT

Meet the MD: Colin Hewitt of FLOAT

Colin Hewitt is CEO and co-founder of cloud-based cash management and forecasting tool FLOAT. Based in Edinburgh, the business helps users with their finances, updating them on how much money they currently have and how much they are predicted to have in the future. Inspired by his own cash flow and finance headaches when running his own digital agency, Colin decided to set up FLOAT in 2010. He caught up with BQ to tell us more…

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

I lead on product development and strategy, working with the engineering, marketing and customer support team to continually improve Float. We’ve already integrated with three major accountancy software packages; it’s my job to decide what our next target is for maximum results.

Float is a small but growing company, so I personally oversee all recruitment: having the best team around me is critical, and I like having people to learn from. 

I’m also responsible for keeping us in the black. A cash flow company must lead by example, after all.



What is it the company does?

Float is an automated cloud-based cash management and forecasting tool that helps businesses keep on top of their cash flow. Float can tell you what you have in the bank today, what you’ll have in three months’ time and six months’ time. It integrates with popular cloud accounting packages like Xero and Quickbooks, so it’s an easy add on.

The joy is you don’t have to be a numbers person to use it; it’s easy to use.



Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

From the mid to late 2000s, I was running a digital agency with a team of five people, and I struggled to manage our cash flow each month. At the same time, I wanted to move from being a service provider to being a product company. Cash flow and financial reporting were my biggest headaches, so I decided to design a solution. That was 2010, when the idea for Float was born.




What do you believe makes a great leader?

Humility, awareness of limits and team dynamics, and a commitment to bringing others along with you are key.  Personally, I try to keep energy levels  high, renewed, and communicate as clear a vision as possible.  Belief against the odds is a huge part of it, especially if you’re a startup.



What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

There are moments in business when the financial realities can be daunting. However, the biggest challenge I’ve faced while running Float has been changes in the team.

Saying goodbye to great colleagues who had also become great friends hasn’t been easy. In a small team you feel every departure, and arrival,  keenly. That’s why I place great importance on hiring the best people and keeping them.



How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

We’ve simplified our workflow by using cloud-based technology, so the more tedious parts of running a business are much less labour intensive. We work on google docs and dropbox, we use Expensify for all receipts and payments and Trello for project management. Anything that saves times and minimises administration will always get a look in from me.

Outside of work I play golf when I can, and listen to podcasts.



When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was at schooI, I loved anything that got me out of the classroom, I don’t think I’m cut out for normal day to day tasks; I’m much more of a visionary and a starter.  I’m a terrible finisher.  My wife always has to put the final bolts in the Ikea furniture that I’ve started building at 11pm night.



Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

People who have the clicking sound on their phones turned on. Who needs that? In what possible way is it helpful or required?



Where do you see the company in five years time?

A team of 50 people, at least one office in the USA and our own table tennis table. Currently we have to share one.



What advice would you give to an aspiringbusiness leader?

Each year, review the progress you’ve made and congratulate yourself. Remember this progress during any difficult periods - it will put things in perspective and is really helpful.

Get a mentor, or have a regular meeting with someone you can be 100% honest with. My best friend and I have been meeting for a coffee every Friday morning for over 10 years and he gives me direct, unfiltered advice and feedback on anything that is on my mind. Often just having someone to listen to you makes the path ahead much clearer.