The Story of Crunch: From an Old Computer Under a Desk, to £150 million Online Accountancy Firm

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Here’s how we did it…

At Crunch we’ve built our brand around the shared experience of starting your own business. Our entire ethos is about helping people find financial independence and live the life they want.

We are a grassroots organisation, like our clients, and we've shared many of the same challenges, victories, successes and failures involved in running a business. 

We’ve been through it all. Made plenty of mistakes and worked hard to overcome them, without compromising our values and reaching for corporate investment or financing. 

This is reflected in our non-corporate, alternative culture. Crunch is built by real people who are passionate about helping small businesses thrive.

We are extremely proud of these achievements and the principles we hold.  And we continuously try to reaffirm them to our audience in our content and messaging. 

So, without further delay, it’s about time we shared our full story from start to finish. Hopefully you can take inspiration and see that we’re all on the same journey. 

A bangin’ sausage sandwich 

It was a cold winter’s morning in 2007 when Darren Fell, Crunch Fonder and CEO, met with an acquaintance, who was working as a tax-specialist, at a local restaurant in Brighton. 

As he enjoyed the delight of a particularly good and memorable sausage sandwich, Darren’s friend shared his idea of starting a small-scale accountancy software company. 

He liked the idea, and it sounded like it could work, as Darren was already beginning to become aware of the existing, typical issues with traditional accountants. 

As the then owner of Pure 360, his dealings with accountants were starting to rub him up the wrong way. Leaving him frustrated with their exploitative rates and cynical attitude towards clients.

The two parted ways that day and kept the business idea in mind for further consideration. However, it didn’t take long for Darren to be fully persuaded. As after being ripped off by yet another extortionate  accountant he became completely infuriated, resolving that a better solution must be found.

But it was at this moment, that an inspired vision appeared - an effective tax software application that could manage business accounting, and connect people to real, expert support from Chartered Certified accountants.

Which would provide an affordable, honest service due to the efficiency savings of the software-based model.

After some consideration between Darren, the tax specialist and a friend that introduced them they agreed it was a strong idea and decided to launch.

Born in the haze of a drunken hour

Having thrown different names for business around for nearly 6 months, they needed to decide on something that stamped out the brand. In place of the rather terrible existing one of ‘’Accounts 4 You’’.  So Darren went and sought inspiration from an old mate over a pint at the Royal Oak Pub in Poynings. Sold on his new accountancy software concept, albeit possibly aided by beer, they decided on a name that hit the spot. And soon after Crunch was born.

With the first head-office consisting of one room with two accountants, and one just about working computer under a desk. Yep, we really are grassroots…

Although they had shown strong enthusiasm and support for the idea the two other partners lost-their-nerve pulled out after realising the complexity of the project. This was the first serious challenge, and a test of Darren’s belief in his vision. He held firm and decided to continue alone. 

They say fortune favours the brave, well this turned out to be true. One year after starting up in 2008, Darren decided to sell Pure 360. Immediately after which, he stood up at his desk, picked up his chair and walked out of the building directly towards the Crunch office (one desk in an accountancy practice at the time). Where he arrived and stayed, chair and all.

From being the owner of Pure 360 he was already well aware of the power of content marketing, so he was keen to recreate the same success at Crunch. So in April 2009 he built and launched the resource site Freelance Advisor through Crunch.

This was where magic really began to happen. As Crunch soared up the search rankings, exposure and traffic came with it. And the marketing strategy soon caught the intention of some big-players from the online commerce industry. 

A Content Contender 

Namely, Michael Van Swaaij (eBay Europe founder and Strategy officer on the board of eBay) and Paul Birch (Bebo Co-founder) who, in 2011, both invested as major shareholders. This was the stimulus for exponential growth. 

In 2012 Crunch moved from the confines of a disused perfume factory basement to newly renovated, sparkling new offices at the other end of the building. And it was here that the company began to develop into one the UK’s biggest and most successful, award-winning online accountancy companies.

In 2014\15 Crunch was the fastest growing online accountancy firm by organic growth. Gaining 300 new clients per month and hiring scores of client managers, accountants and developers to reach a company size of 200+ people.

In keeping with his master-strategy to leverage content marketing, in 2016 Darren combined Freelance Advisor with our free online small business support community, Crunch Chorus. With the aim of growing the business and adding value to our clients with free educational resources.

Today, in 2023, Crunch is a leading brand in the field of online accountancy, serving independent contractors, companies and sole traders with unrivalled no-BS, clear and expert accounting advice. 

Darren Fell, as Crunch CEO, and the fantastic team that have helped build the company,  have never forgotten their roots. The obstacles they had to move, the time and creative energy they’ve invested, and that sausage sandwich. 

That’s why we are still motivated by helping self-employed people manage their finances and find true freedom. So the moral of this story is simple. If Crunch can do it; you can do it.

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James Waller
Content Specialist
Updated on
August 21, 2023

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