Disrupting and enabling FinTech in the South West – feat Tumelo
Here at ADLIB, it is always our aim to showcase, feature, celebrate and share the remarkable achievements of those around us by providing a platform for those with expertise and industry knowledge to share their wisdom.
To do exactly that, we spoke with Georgia Stewart, Co-Founder at Tumelo to share and highlight her business journey in the FinTech sector. We met Georgia at Skills West’s panel discussion in collaboration with UWE: “Generating a Regional Skills Base for a FinTech future.”
Here, our chat with Georgia about opting for Bristol as business location of choice, and how they are disrupting and enabling the FinTech sector through Tumelo; an investing and engagement app that is designed to encourage positive change by allowing people to invest in what they really love.
ADLIB: Let’s start with ‘Why Bristol’? Why did you choose Bristol as the location to launch Tumelo?
Georgia Stewart: Truthfully, the South West just happened upon us. Our technical co-founder, Ben, is from Luxembourg and I’m from Edinburgh. Our third co-founder, Will, actually grew up in the Alps but his parents were living in Bath by the time we left university over in Cambridge, so we moved into the Bath house alongside Will’s parents and two younger sisters. That was very generous of them… and just a little bit chaotic!
We lived on top of each other there for four months, while I waitressed in the evenings to pay for weekly trains to London as we tried to raise angel investment. It was the proper “start-up grind” as none of us had any savings. Once we raised a pre-seed round we could afford to move out and start hiring, so we looked for our ‘forever home’. We wanted to be in a progressive, tech-centric city close to the contacts we’d already made, like SETsquared and the team at Launch Space: it had to be Bristol or London.
Bristol seemed like the perfect place for us. Looking back, we definitely made the right call because the people we’ve met here, who’ve helped us and who we’ve been lucky enough to hire into our team, are all incredible. We’ve genuinely loved getting to know and involved with the Bristol community over the last 5 months.
ADLIB: What is the story of Tumelo? What’s the purpose of the app?
Georgia Stewart: At its essence, Tumelo is designed to facilitate positive change. Our team is achieving this by harnessing the collective power of people and their pockets. We’re building an investment app that enables everyone, with any amount of money, to invest in things they really care about and to engage with the companies they own in their portfolios, changing them for the better. We’ve got multiple aims: long-term wealth creation for everyday people; positive change for the future of people and planet; and brilliant technology to democratise the financial system.
ADLIB: In your opinion, how does Tumelo disrupt as well as enable FinTech here in the region?
Georgia Stewart: Tumelo is a rare breed among financial companies because our purpose goes beyond wealth creation to positive change.
Sustainable finance is going to disrupt financial services across the board. Already, trillions of pounds are pouring into companies, funds and portfolios that are orientated towards positive futures, not least because it just makes financial sense to invest in companies that are good for the world. The UN has also called for finance to play a massive role in achieving the sustainable goals we need to reach by 2030 to avoid breaching the 2 degrees boundary.
Beyond sustainability, the unique part of Tumelo is really driven by our members. We want to give normal people, who before now have been excluded from the financial sphere of influence, a voice at the board tables of global corporations. Wealthy institutions, like asset managers, universities and pension funds, have traditionally been the only stakeholders that matter to big companies. We think it’s about time the rest of the world chipped in.
ADLIB: What challenges have you found in building up Tumelo in Bristol?
Georgia Stewart: I reckon hiring has been our biggest challenge and the thing that swallowed up most of our time when we first came here. We’re using Go, which isn’t a language many people in Bristol are familiar with, making hiring that little bit more difficult. Other than that, there haven’t really been many big challenges so far, though there’s little ones every day, trust me! The Bristol community has really rallied to support us and their help has been priceless, like when RSM gave us their staff time to help with our user testing studies last month. Sometimes the things you need, like investment or regulatory support, are easier to find in London than here, so it means trekking back and forth a fair amount. But then again, it’s good to get out of the office every so often!
ADLIB: What key piece of advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in FinTech?
Georgia Stewart: Work out what you’re good at. Once you know your value you can apply it virtually anywhere, and if FinTech is your industry of choice then you’ll know your worth at interview and the roles to apply for will be clearer.
As we’re at an early stage, we need experts: in software development, security, finance, graphic design. That doesn’t mean loads of experience though, for example Georgie joined us to lead our graphic design strategy fresh out of second year university. What’s important is that she has found her niche, and she knows what she’s good at. There’s very little room in FinTech, or any start-ups, for generalists (unless you’re a founder, of course, in which case it would be helpful to be ace at literally everything)!
To find out more about Tumelo, you can sign up to be a beta tester for their soft release in January.