Meet the Founders is a monthly event hosted by the Multivitamin team where we sit down with startups from a variety of industries for an unscripted, stripped-back conversation about the trials and tribulations of startup life. It’s raw, honest, open…and we love it that way.
For our 3rd instalment, we spoke to two Fintech founders Charlie Richardson, of Lumio, the world’s first personal finance optimisation app, and Jones Oviawe of the financial wellbeing app, Money Story to discover how they define success and what challenges they have faced on their journeys.
You can catch up with previous MTF episodes here (whilst you’re in there how about a cheeky subscribe?)
So what can we learn from the Lumio and Money Story journeys and what can you, as a Founder, expect?
1. Validate. Validate. Validate.
You’ve got a killer idea, you feel strongly about it and you know it’s going to work, so now is the time to jump into it and get things going, right?. Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news but you might have to relax and breathe for just a second. This may be hard to hear but our founders come with a health warning; you can expect to spend your first 6–8 months researching and validating your idea — perhaps longer.
Charlie described the desire to jump in as an “irrational exuberance”, we’d say it is pretty normal and, frankly, we’d be concerned if you weren’t this enthusiastic.
“Before you start building the product, adding the bells and whistles and coming up with a solution, it is really crucial to understand the customer, and really that’s all that matters at the early stage of a company.”
The Lumio team have a 4 point journey:
- Problem Validation
- Customer Validation
- Solution Validation
- Competitor Analysis
All of this feeds into their value proposition. Which, by the way, you should be able to vocalise in the easiest possible terms.
You need to let the validation process challenge your assumptions — or as Jones puts it you need to “manage your bias” around what you think your solution should be. Only then can you start to feel like you know where you are going…
“We managed our bias around what we felt are solution should be and actually digested the feedback we had from users and spent time building frameworks to manage the space in the market we would fall into.
2. Nobody knows your product better than your customers.
Part of the validation process mentioned above should include user-centric design and customer feedback. Putting your customers at the heart of what you do.
Both Jones and Charlie talked about the importance of conducting primary research in the form of workshops, questionnaires and focus groups.
Your customers ultimately know best and user feedback should never stop at launch. Lumio has an open and ongoing public feedback loop to help in development “Most of what we’ve built has been informed by customer feedback.”
Money Story also invests a heap of time getting to know their customers. What drives them, what are their anxieties?
“Once we started talking to people about their problems, their relationships with money, and clustered the feedback we had. We identified a prevalence of emotion and individual issues.”
3. Say goodbye to lazy demographics. Focus on attitudes, behaviours and relationships.
You probably had a good idea who your customers were and conducted extensive customer research. If you’ve done it right there should be one or two surprises — maybe you came to the conclusion that you cannot define your customer by age and other basic demographics. You need to focus on behaviour, attitudes, situations and individual circumstances.
“We wanted to understand how they are living, what’s important and how they are spending. Beyond that, what is that is stopping our customers from optimising their money. If we can relate to their needs we can build a product for them.” Charlie, Lumio
Understanding your customer base is way more than knowing where they live and how old they are, you need to know how they act, how they feel and what they will do next!
4. Emotions matter
This isn’t a new concept, marketers have been banging on about building emotional connections for decades but what does it mean in the world of Fintech Marketing? Well, the answer is simple, it means control. Money can’t buy you happiness, right? But being in control of your finances, having those injections of endorphins when you achieve your goals — that’s the stuff right there.
“We want to ensure customer engagement, sure — but we want the customers to feel in control, and quickly. Control and satisfaction trumps boredom. If we can instil a sense of control they are more likely to see value in our product.” Charlie, Lumio
If a customer can assume control of their financial destiny then the world is a different place and you may even afford yourself to feel optimistic about the future. And, for Money Story, who deal with financial anxiety and all the issues that surround that, optimism is another emotional response that can be very empowering.
“Optimism is the go-to thing we want users to feel. You can do this, you can improve, you can change your posture, your behaviour can change. That empowering, self-actualising tone is what we sit on and is the bedrock of how we seek to engage” Jones, Money Story.
You can’t fake optimism and you can’t force it upon customers but Money Story aims to make people question all of their financial choices and analyse the impact of spending hard-earned cash.
5. Know your weaknesses
Honesty and humility are key characteristics of successful start up teams. Many of our founders are very open when it comes to discussing past failures. It’s about learning from your mistakes, listening to customers and finding your place in the industry.
If you’ve done your initial validation, competitor analysis and customer interviews you should be able highlight the changes you need to make and where you are failing to meet expectations. And again — validation shouldn’t stop when you launch.
It’s evolution baby!
So that’s it. Planning, validation, openness, emotional connectivity and managing your bias were just some of the discussion points raised during MTF3 — watch the whole video here and soak in the startup lessons.
Stay tuned for next month’s edition.