Has Bench co-founder Ian Crosby struck gold again with Teal?

Crosby and another Bench co-founder started Teal to embed accounting into SaaS platforms

We’ve long wondered what Ian Crosby’s next move might be. Turns out, he was wondering the same thing.

Crosby co-founded Bench Accounting in 2011 and served as CEO as the Vancouver-based bookkeeping platform grew to some 600 people and raised $100 million. In 2022, though, he and the company parted ways.

“I said, Hey, let me go do something different,” says Crosby. “But I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do.”

He was replaced by J.P. Durrios. Bench is still the market leader in small and medium business  (SMB) bookkeeping services in North America.

Crosby, who had built a good relationship with Shopify, was brought on by that company to lead financial services. But it wasn’t long until the entrepreneurial seed was planted again. “The one thing I saw creating pain for customers at Shopify was their accounting, and I realized that Shopify wasn’t the only one with this problem,” he says.

Crosby points to vertical SaaS companies that engineer their platforms to specific industries, like for instance, local success stories Jane App (healthcare providers) and Clio (lawyers). “That’s the business model that’s taking off and taking over,” he says. “When you go really specific on a small business, you can help it run the whole thing in high definition.”

Also, says Crosby, there’s a growing trend of embedded finance, in which companies can offer payments inside their products. What was missing then? “Embedded accounting,” says Crosby, “which I think I know a thing or two about.”

With that, Crosby and Adam Saint, another Bench co-founder, decided to start Teal to embed those accounting abilities within B2B SaaS platforms.

“People picked up on the idea immediately,” says Crosby, who notes that his background in the subject matter didn’t hurt when he was trying to find investment dollars. The team was able to raise $11 million from a variety of funds: New York-based Torch Capital led the round which saw participation from Basis Set Ventures, General Advance and Dash Fund, as well as angel investors including executives at Service Titan, Plaid, Brex, Unit, and Gusto.

“It came together pretty quick,” says Crosby. “We were turning down quite a bit of money. [$11 million] felt like the right amount. You don’t want to take too much, but having multiple years of runway and being able to grow the team to a good size and be able to acquire top talent early was important.”

For now, the team is 11 strong and growing fast, according to Crosby, and has seen very positive feedback from the companies it’s worked with thus far, including one that saw a $300,000 increase in revenue in the first month they used Teal. “It’s so powerful to have the accounting inside your platform,” says Crosby.

He also sees his former company potentially being a partner some day: “We didn’t build [Bench] with the intention of having it be inside other platforms. What we’re building here is a software layer—we can be the portal to have accountants show up inside software… I see Bench as a future partner of that.”