Starting, learning and launching 🚀
Many people could argue that launching a startup in 2020 was a daft idea. Between the (checks synonyms for 'unprecedented'..nope, none) unprecedented situation created by Covid-19 and the looming uncertainty of Brexit, many more might agree.
For the Upside founders however, we decided to meet the challenge head on. With us all working remotely and only managing 3 days in the entire year spent together in the same room, we've had to adapt. We decided, these early tests are what are going to make us or break us, and the sooner we know what we're made of, and learn to get through difficult times together - the better. We've managed to find the benefit in the 'new normal' being able to get so many more meetings in and without a long commute than if we had to travel into London and between meetings.
Founder and CEO Andries Smit had a vision, to make saving effortless. Having grown up in South Africa where Andries enjoyed interest rates of near 17%, saving is second nature to him. He soon saw that people in the UK don't save, and back in February, approached the founding team with the problem
People in the UK struggle to save. 11.5 million people have less than £150 saved. There's intertia around getting started on saving - how can we get them started with as little effort and friction as possible.
Andries laid the gauntlet down and soon had Steve COO, Paul CTO and I, CMO onboard ready and willing to solve the conundrum.
Fast forward to July, and after months of user interviews, surveys and hard work building, negotiating, becoming FCA regulated - we launched the Upside app in test mode. We allowed only 250 people into the app to allow us to learn what was and wasn't useful and to work out our sign-up process, customer service process and to iron out bugs.
Before we all knew it December arrived and as we sit on the eve of the wind down for Christmas and reflect on the year, we are so thankful for the support of all of our team members, partners, advisors and investors.
Some of the highlights of 2020 include:
- Becoming FCA regulated
- Launching the app to 250 beta testers
- Limited spaces 'selling out' in a matter of hours
- Crowned winners of InvestEast / UEZ / Rising Stars Tech Nation / Top 3 at Startup Grind Global
- Having coverage of 80+ banks
- Closed our first distribution deal
- Gaining coverage of 20 top retail brands (subject to constant change)
- Successfully finding cashback effortlessly through the app
- Launching multi-linking of accounts
- Successfully raising pre-seed round on Seedrs of £350,000
- Getting app store approval in 48hrs from review
- Getting our first organic signups
Our partner offering has grown from being a social responsibility into a means of understanding their customers, to allow them to serve them better, know their position in the market, where and how they can encourage customers to consolidate their category spend. We're so excited by the knowledge that we could hold the key for businesses to succeed - our task now is to increase awareness and start helping retailers. The omni-channel experience Upside can provide via Open Banking means we can see both online and offline spend.
Upside is what Open Banking was invented for
Paul Clarke, Ex Tandem CTO & Advisor to Upside
We're all planning on taking a break for Christmas to recharge, refuel and hit 2021 with gusto!
Whilst growing our customer audience, developing the app further, adding more partner brands to the platform and preparing for our Seed raise, we want to hold true to our mission; making saving effortless at a time when more people than ever need that safety net.
We'd like to wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you all in 2021.🥂🎄