This is the short story of how Crunch online accounting came about, the disruption it’s caused and the benefits it brings.

Internet entrepreneur Darren Fell was approached by two friends in 2007; an owner of a web agency and an accountant who’d run a successful practice since 1991.

The pitch was to develop a new way of offering accountancy services to freelancers, contractors and micro-businesses. It would be radical.

An online software system would allow customers to easily invoice and record expenses. It would automate almost everything, yet have the benefit of expert accountants and a dedicated account manager at the end of the phone.

The considerable saving in back office staff compared to a normal accountancy practice would allow big savings to be passed onto Crunch’s customers. From a normal high street price for Limited Company accounts of between £2,000 and £2,500, Crunch would be able to offer a far better customer service at only £714 per year. A significant price shift.

Fast forward to 2009 and Crunch launched its revolutionary service in April. Little did we ever guess the impact we would have…

Six weeks after launch, Fell got a call he’d never expected – he was invited to speak on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 drive time show about Crunch. The expected audience was around five million people.

Following Fell’s interview, Crunch’s website traffic peaked 700% higher and the phones rang again and again. What followed staggered the Crunch team. Hundreds of people called saying they were completely dissatisfied with their accountants.

The issues ranged from the annoying, such as phone calls not being returned to blatant poor advice – however one theme was consistent. Whatever they had been quoted almost doubled when they’d got the final bill. How could their relatively simple accounts as a one person business warrant a bill of thousands? This message was repeated again and again.

It was at that point we knew we’d hit on something. The offer of an incredibly easy-to-use online system with unlimited advice from accountancy experts for a low fixed price finally authenticated all of our beliefs; there was a big gap in the market for Crunch’s service.

Crunch’s successful entry into the marketplace has attracted the attention of high profile business figures. We’re backed by respected and successful entrepreneurs Paul Birch, co-founder of social networking site Bebo which was sold to AOL for $850m, and Michael van Swaaij, Chairman of Skype. We’ve also won an ‘Innovation in Business’ award.