As the economic climate continues to intensify, the environment for StartUp looking to evolve their business and flourish is becoming increasingly challenging. 

In the latest edition of StartUp Sessions, we spoke to Collctiv, as the group detailed the importance of introducing new features as they continue growing.

Payment Expert: Firstly are you able to tell us more about your Startup and the role you play in your payments industry? 

Collctiv is an app that helps group organisers collect money from friends in seconds. Organisers request money by sending a custom payment link or QR code, and friends send money by using their credit card or digital wallet.  No app download, account creation, or sharing of bank details is required for the payees.  

Within the payments industry, we are unique in where we stand as the market is heavily saturated by digital payments platforms and personal banking solutions that focus on peer-to-peer transactions. Our positioning at Collctiv specifically focuses on group payments, and removing the friction in collecting money from a group.

By making it easy to collect group money, we empower the organisers amongst us to continue to create incredible experiences with their social group. The organiser is the person who is responsible for bringing everyone together to do the things they love – but who often find themselves out of pocket from others as a result of this

Can you detail some of the challenges in gaining funding and building momentum during a tough economic climate? 

It’s a tough balance to strike, particularly in a fast-growth startup such as ours. As a current example, we launched in the US market in October 2022, and growth there is starting to match the UK. This is great for us as a company and for our ability to demonstrate product-market fit in a new region, but it also creates a number of new challenges and opportunities to navigate as a team.

Trying to maximise the potential of this growth whilst raising funding can be difficult. As the CEO leading the fundraising process, I have to focus my energy on raising this capital as it will unlock our ability to execute our long-term strategic goals. However, the other side to this is that it takes me away from some of the daily activity that is driving the momentum of Collctiv in the short and medium term.

We’re also mindful of trying to find the right VC where a mutual synergy exists, and who we want to start a long-term partnership with as an investor in the company.

Once you have the right investors onboard, it’s not only capital they provide, it’s the wealth of experience and knowledge these people can provide in your domain, along with the networks they are able to leverage.

The current economic climate also has to be considered, as lots of macroeconomic factors have come into play over the last couple of years and the landscape for investment is very different to what it was.

In terms of your roadmap, what are your goals for the future and how do you plan on reaching them? 

Moving forward, our mission remains the same to make group payments simple and seamless. Our ambitions of growth are to continue finding new ways to make life easier for the organisers amongst us as they plan their next hen party, organise a work colleague’s birthday present or take the reins of their local sports club.

We know that collecting money is only one part of the journey for the organiser as they make these things happen. This person also has to find the perfect gift to buy or look for the ideal location for their friend’s hen party, and this is where we can step in.

Providing innovative new solutions to keep on making it even easier to collect and spend money as a group is a top priority for us. We want social experiences to be enjoyed to their fullest potential and we’re here to facilitate that.

In a competitive market, what are some of the most challenging factors when it comes to gaining funding?

The most challenging factor is – and has always been – getting the right introductions to the right people at the right funds. We are not a typical common B2B saas product, and the majority of UK VCs aren’t familiar with network-effect, viral consumer products and business models. This industry has always been about who you know, and that hasn’t changed much even with recent efforts.

Being at the late seed stage is also its own challenge as we have incredible traction demonstrating product market fit, but we are still learning and adapting our product and model as we go. This can be difficult for some investors to understand where the potential risks lie.

As you have grown your company, can you tell us some of the key challenges and how have you evolved your company? 

We’ve been facing some big challenges since day one of Collctiv. Having launched in September 2019, we found ourselves in the midst of the COVID pandemic for a huge part of our early existence (where meeting up in groups was made illegal!).

What we’ve always been sure of, is that people crave social connections and group experiences. Our early adopters during the pandemic found many creative ways to do things as a group – from supporting elderly neighbours through virtual collections to order groceries, to completely remote workforces collecting for colleagues’ birthdays or retirements.

The existence of groups never truly disappeared, people just came together in new ways and needed new tools to make this happen which is where we stepped in.

As we’ve grown and introduced lots of new features to the app and launched in new regions, we’ve never lost sight of our brand mission to make life easier for the organisers amongst us.

Can you tell us more about some of the challenges involved in hiring and acquisition as a startup? 

The initial challenge we experienced was company ‘branding’. The majority of potential candidates are unlikely to have heard of us at this stage in our journey and so are unlikely to land in great quantities on our careers page, so we focused very hard on creating job descriptions that reflect our personality and therefore a little of our culture.

Most importantly, we heavily weighted these job descriptions toward why you would want to join the team and what’s ‘in it for you’. People can research the product and the business, but what’s important at the time of searching is the environment, the values and the room to grow that the person can achieve and the only way you can get a sense of that is in the way the company presents itself to you as a candidate.

Furthermore, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion were key to us in a heavily male-dominated environment such as Fintech. We had to explore many avenues to secure genuine diversity in our top-of-funnel attraction. We have a unique recruitment process that aims to reduce unconscious bias as much as possible – no CVs, two ‘blind’ stages before an interview which ensures whoever gets through to interview are the best people on culture fit, attitude and thought process, regardless of any of their characteristics. 

Finally one of the most important factors was our absolute commitment to any successful candidate being a ‘hell yes’ or they are a ‘no’. You have to read the tasks, come off the Google Meet call or the face-to-face interview thinking ‘we have to have that person in our business’. At this size, every person is such a big percentage of the business and therefore has so much impact that to compromise would be a waste of everyone’s time.