Former Xero managing director Chris Ridd joins Melbourne lending startup as it embarks on major growth plans

Chris Ridd at Moula with Dalidakis and Melbourne team

Renowned tech entrepreneur Chris Ridd has joined the board of Melbourne-based lending platform Moula to help it transition from a startup into a major company.

After a tech career spanning over nearly three decades, including turning Xero from a tiny startup of five people into a globally recognised brand, Ridd now dedicates his time to startups like Moula that are on the brink of major growth.

“There are some very talented entrepreneurs in this part of the world building great solutions,” Ridd tells StartupSmart.

Moula lets small businesses apply for unsecured loans of up to $250,000 within minutes by sharing cloud accounting or transaction data.

At Ridd’s first formal address to the Moula team, attended by Victoria’s minister for small business and innovation Philip Dalidakis and other Moula board members, Ridd promised to bring his key learnings, experience and “scars” to help Moula on its journey.

“I want to really help Moula establish new channels and educate small businesses that these services are available,” Ridd says.

A year ago, Moula closed a $30 million series A funding round to rapidly accelerate the growth of its AI lending platform.

In the past 12 months, Moula has seen data-approved loan applications double and the average expected wait time to access this capital is now less than a week.

“What’s unique about Moula is they’ve built an innovative platform that looks at data-driven lending analysis to help clients,” says Ridd.

“The amount of investment and effort they’ve put into building their platform is based around analysing accounting data.

“What Moula’s doing is building long-term play, they’re about responsible lending.”

During the address, Dalidakis added his support saying Moula is leading the disruption of traditional lending in a way that will be very beneficial for the broader small business sector.

“Small businesses that begin from nothing don’t have any financials that they can lean upon when going to established lenders,” Dalidakis tells StartupSmart.

“Moula is now working in that space and saying to a business, ‘just because you don’t have a lot of history behind you doesn’t mean to say that we don’t think that you’re going to be successful and we don’t want to be a part of you’.”

With startups like Moula opening new doors for small businesses to access capital in non-predatory ways, Dalidakis says it will create great change.

“It’s just providing another product that our business community can take advantage of,” he says.

Growing from a startup into a sustainable business

In the coming year, Ridd will work with Moula’s team and other board members to help it grow from a startup into a sustainable business.

“There are a lot of challenges you find along the way, how you’re building channels, how you’re growing the team,” says Ridd.

“The next 12 months is really about laying the foundation.”

With the analysis of accounting data being an integral part of Moula’s product offering, Moula CEO and co-founder Aris Allegos says Ridd’s background in accounting APIs and software systems will be extremely valuable.

“Me and Chris have an 18 month relationship and through the course of that we’ve gotten to know each other very well,” Allegos tells StartupSmart.

“Having someone of his calibre onboard should enable us to build the company at an appropriate pace but also scale it quick enough to make the most of that opportunity.

“I think that’s what Chris did really well at Xero, he obviously grew it really quickly but he also managed to bring the requisite revenues and business onboard at the same time.”

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.