Blog #3 - April 2020
I hope you and your families remain safe and well. We have been very fortunate in that none of the Upside team have been directly affected from a health perspective thus far.
How shall we describe April? Lots of video calls... (107 from quick count)... Lots of sitting... (300+ hours)... Lots of screentime... (I don't want to count!)
On the upside, here is what we've been up to this month:
- AND Digital invested in us on a sweat-equity basis to accelerate our alpha launch. This meant that 5 great team members joined us in April to increase our velocity.
- Including the acceleration above, it brings our total funding to £507k for pre-seed so far, for which we are very grateful.
- We've nailed the scope of our alpha launch in July, and are building faster each week.
- James Blower, Founder of The Savings Guru, joined as an Adviser.
Validation & early traction
Other than building the product, our focus is on validating the core hypothesis and gaining traction with customers and partners. Some of the initiatives we got up to include:
- Usability testing: We got some helpful feedback, including: repeatedly stating the benefits over and over (especially during onboarding); the need to over-communicate how it works (to build belief in the proposition); being really clear on why giving the app access to open banking results in higher savings; and it is key for users to understand how much upside they can get (on a personalised basis).
- Interviews with experts, and retail partners. The general feedback has been positive, with very valuable feedback on the nuances of features, positioning and benefit requirements.
- It's fair to say that the impact of CV-19 continues to be positive on product development and in getting time with experts and executives. That said, it is clear that there is a divide between smaller and larger organisations in terms of decision making at the moment. Smaller organisations are very active and ready to move forward on post-lockdown activities. Larger organisations are all watching and waiting for more certainty about post-lockdown realities.
After my previous blog, we got a volume of feedback on our purpose and mission. Very helpful! This called us into action and we improved to simply say:
We make saving effortless.
Less friction, less questions, less cost, less hassle. All upside...
There probably aren't any significant news that you haven't seen yet. But I thought I'd call out a few to note:
- Savings platforms see a surge of interest in the last month as those with big balances hunt safe havens to ride out coronavirus turmoil
- Coronavirus Drives 72% Rise In Use Of Fintech Apps
- UK retail sales suffer worst fall in 25 years due to lockdown
- Government unveils £1.3bn scheme to help start-ups
- Saving, not spending, is the new hotness in Fintech
- Open banking media stats (Mar 20)
- How the Virus Transformed the Way Americans Spend Their Money
I'm glad to announce that James Blower, Founder of The Savings Guru, has joined the upside advisory board. James is an expert in the savings market and brings key insight into the savings market, the banking market and savers' behaviours to Upside. I'm looking forward to working very closely with James as we move closer to launch.
Personally I believe that situations of great adversity (like now) are also situations of great opportunity to create products and services that can really make a difference. And when 11.95m households in the UK have less than £1,500 in savings, faced with prolonged economic difficulties, there is an imperative to make saving effortless.
Until next time, stay well and stay safe!