Bebo's Paul Birch and Skype's Michael van Swaaij invest in accountancy service Crunch

Bebo co-founder Paul Birch and former Skype Chairman Michael van Swaaij have taken part in a second round of investment in, the online accountancy service. The actual amount remains undisclosed, although it’s described as “significant” and is said to value the UK startup at £4 million.

Although there are a plethora of competitors – the likes of KashFlow spring to mind – Crunch takes an ambitious ‘hybrid’ approach to the online accounting space. It offers a fully automated online accountancy service for freelancers, contractors and small businesses, but this is also supported by a telephone service in which an “integrated accountancy practice” is there to answer queries and give advice. For the privilege, customers pay a monthly fee of £59.50.

Furthermore, as of the end of this month, customers will be able to have their annual accounts compiled by Crunch “within seconds” checked by the company’s team of accountants before being submitted to the tax office. Ultimately, the idea is to remove the pain of “doing the books” and let customers focus on actually running their businesses.

On that note, Crunch is said to have reached break-even since its launch in October 2009, while the new round will be used to “fuel” growth as the startup looks to scale.