Smart Pension is a startup that wants to make auto enrollment a cinch for small businesses

Emma Haslett
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Theo Paphitis is delighted to be in - probably because he isn't the one who has to fill in the paperwork... (Source: YouTube)

Auto-enrollment might be good for employees, but getting the paperwork done in time for the deadline (which, fact fans, is 1 March for businesses with 54-57 employees) is creating a headache for entrepreneurs.

Step forward Smart Pension, a startup which has just closed a £1.5m funding round, with backers including the likes of Zoopla investor William Reeve and Secret Escapes co-founder Tom Valentine.

The platform allows small firms to set up their workplace pension scheme quickly, easily and for free. They can even use their smartphone to do it.

Theo Paphitis may look pretty pleased about it on those "we're in" ads, but for small businesses the system, introduced in 2012, can be confusing. According to figures by the Pensions Regulator, only 35 per cent of small employers actually understand auto-enrollment - which, considering an estimated 1.3m UK firms will be faced with heavy penalties (or worse - be imprisoned) if they don't comply with the new rules by 2018, suggests a lot of entrepreneurs are going to be out of pocket over the next few years.

The Smart Pension founders have even brought in Duedil to provide company information, which means users don't have to spend hours filling in annoying forms.

Co-founder Andrew Evans, chief executive and the former head of Lloyds' wealth portfolio, said small firms want to avoid fines "at all costs".

Will Wynne, his co-founder and the company's managing director, added that the platform was designed to "import data feeds automatically and cut out the complicated manual checking and paperwork that hold up old-fashioned paper-based processes".

So once you've used the clear-as-mud timetable to figure out when your business is due to do it, joining the scheme should become a lot simpler...

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