Online valuation services have become indispensable tools for consumers when house-hunting or checking their credit scores, and now the service is being used to help small and medium-sized enterprises work out their value.
Consumers on the hunt for a decent credit card deal or mortgage have long since been able to access their credit scores using services such as Experian for as little as £15 ($20) per month, but for an unlisted business, fees of around £5,000 along with a six-week wait are the norm when looking for a valuation.
Experian, one of the largest credit scoring agencies in the world, has seen its share price climb around 10 percent in the last year,but the group said it was demand from corporate customers, not consumers that is pushing growth as the stabilizing economy has helped customers in their search for personal finance products.
Newly launched in the U.K. this week at finance technology event Finovate, online business valuation service Bizequity aims to crack the U.K. small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) valuation market in the next two years, building on its 200,000 strong user base worldwide.
Launched in the U.S. by venture capitalist Michael Carter in July 2010, the online valuation platform allows company owners to work out the value of their business, with monthly fees starting at £40 ($60) per month.
"There are around 1.8 million small businesses in the U.K. Wewould love 10,000 SMEs using our product in the next 24 months," Carter told CNBC.
Carter said he was also in talks with credit scoring agencies on using BizEquity's tools to deliver a business to business (B2B) version of a risk and credit score, in an effort to "repurpose the credit score for the B2B market".
Another competitor in the business space is recently launched DueDil, which is now the largest source of private company information in the U.K. and Ireland and has attracted attention for a large number of FTSE 100 listed companies as well as private firms.
The U.K. start-up launched in 2011 raised $17 million last year, led by U.S. based Oak Investment Partners, bringing the total invested in the company to around $23 million in the last year.
DueDil founder Damian Kimmelman said he plans to keep offering much of the service free of charge, with the company introducing premium services such as document printouts, but the vast majority of users still use its data for free.
"Imagine if in the real estate market in London there was no value put on any property, it would be mass chaos," said entrepreneur and author Daniel Priestley.
"That is what has happened for hundreds of years for actual businesses and their owners. The 99 percent and 1 percent problem for entrepreneurs has been around knowledge of what their business is worth," he said.
BizEquity, while smaller has recently secured £3 million in investment from private equity group Frost Brooks, which is helping fuel the firm's expansion into the U.K.