Almost a year after winning the Innov865 Week’s Startup Day 2018 pitch competition, Smart RIA is on the brink of international expansion, thanks to partnerships forged through that program.
While CEO Mac Bartine stood on stage accepting a $10,000 check for Smart RIA at the Sept. 2017 event, he noticed a man in the audience trying to get his attention.
That man was Paul Folta, a semi-retired business development executive with a specialty in international business. He told Bartine Smart RIA was a good candidate for international expansion.
Smart RIA’s software streamlines the regulatory process for registered investment advisors. Most of their clients are independent business owners.
“Even though they’re independent business owners who have no more capability of moving the financial markets than I have of picking up a semi(trailer) and throwing it, they are still regulated as though they can do that,” Bartine said. “It’s a serious burden, it’s in many cases the scariest part of their business for them.”
Doubled RIA customers in last year
Bartine said the company worked with 2 consulting firms and had 400 RIA client firms in Sept. 2017.
As of late July, Smart RIA has strategic partnerships with 14 consulting firms and more than 950 RIA firms as clients.
“We have more than doubled (customers) in the last year,” Bartine said. They’ve tripled revenue in the last year.
Building partnerships with consultants is a quick way to scale the company, as the software trickles down through their clients. The software doesn’t eliminate the need for consultants, Folta said, rather it adds value to what the consultant offers client RIAs.
In the next year, Bartine estimated they will triple business and then double business again the year after.
The team will hire more developers, customer service reps and sales people.
The company plans to stay headquartered in Knoxville, Bartine said.
“People know us,” he said. “Locally, people are interested in coming to work with us.”