A new app has launched that looks to make it easier for creative freelancers and small businesses to manage their finances.
ANNA, which stands for Absolutely No-Nonsense Admin, is a start-up financial tech (fintech) company that will help freelancers and small and medium-sized business (SMEs) owners complete tasks such as pay and receive invoices, manage company balances and expenses, chase payments through automated emails, predict their business’ cash-flow, see company information, and more.
The app is a subscription service, and comes with a business bank account, a physical Mastercard debit card and a virtual assistant, which combines artificial intelligence (AI) and human customer support.
Its main feature is currently to send and pay invoices autonomously – it analyses emails to learn how much someone is owed and by whom, and can automatically send emails to chase up late payments.
It can also speed up the payment of invoices, by automatically filling out payment information on forms with the aim of paying people more efficiently.
It uses a chat engine and search function to help users find what they need, then is based on an alerts system that notifies the user when something needs to be completed and prompts them to allow the app to do it.
Creatives should “focus on what they’re good at”
“SMEs need more time to focus on what they’re good at,” says Daljit Singh, chief creative officer at ANNA. “This is our way of creating something that takes away all that admin, which is so difficult to manage.
“We think that small businesses and start-ups are under-served,” he adds. “Traditional business methods, like setting up a bank account, take a long time, and for these businesses, getting paid is critical to survival. With ANNA, you can sign up within four hours so it’s very instant. Business doesn’t just happen in offices, it happens everywhere, and this way you can get paid and pay people from your pocket.”
The new service also aims to help tackle the problem of late or outstanding payments in the creative industries, which Singh says is a “huge issue”.
“Having a support team and an AI bot that chases those payments for people is at the heart of what we believe,” he says. “We want to ensure we can manage those situations for you, while offering tips and advice for members on how they can get paid sooner or how they can manage their business financially. That’s really what ANNA is all about.”
App updates will use customer feedback
Singh says that the ANNA team, which is made up of roughly 50 employees encompassing a support team based in Cardiff and a design and marketing team based in London, will invite members into the London office every month to discuss the service’s features and offer feedback on how it could be improved.
Branding by Michael Wolff and NB Studio
Graphic designer Michael Wolff alongside NB Studio were commissioned to create the visual identity for the new business. In turn, they commissioned illustrator Alice Bowsher to create an illustrative, graphic look for the start-up.
The main logo is made up of the acronym brand-name ANNA set in a hand-drawn typeface in a terracotta orange shade. This colour features prominently throughout the identity, accompanied by Bowsher’s various illustrations, which include animals, people and symbols.
The branding aims to break the mold of finance brands by being “light and simple”, and “make people smile”, while avoiding clichés of “masculine shades of blue and black”, says Singh.
“We wanted something that felt more universal,” he says. “The name of the brand is female, also linking back to the female names often used for AI bots. We wanted it to feel entirely different to other financial brands.”
Nick Finney, creative director at NB Studio, adds that the brand aims to be “charming and playful”, and therefore “approachable and relatable”.
“Traditionally, there’s no place for emotion in finance,” he says. “We wanted the visual identity to embody the opposite of that. As a small business owner, you’re there to do something you love.”
ANNA has now launched, and is currently available to download on iOS and Android devices. Some of its features are yet to roll out as it is in the beta phase of testing. It is offering the first 2,000 members who sign up a three-year free membership. After this, membership costs between £11 and £99 per month, depending on the income of the business. For more information on pricing and app features, head here.