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Start-up challenges during the cost of living crisis

When is the best time to launch a new start-up?

For an app-based solution looking to offer people more control over how they spend their money, Autumn 2022 - with its soaring energy, food and leisure costs - seemed like the optimum time. Undeniably, people in the UK need all the help they can get right now when it comes to managing their household budgets.

However, launching a new app, product or business in the current climate will always pose problems. Here are three things I wish other founders had told me this time last year…

Fundraising has always been a challenge – the cost of living crisis has only further complicated matters

The cost of living crisis (and the implicit lack of confidence in the economic outlook in the near to medium term) has even impacted investors. Over the last few months, investors have become more cautious and the struggles of major players across the tech landscape hasn’t helped matters for start-ups looking to secure investment. 

However, as the recent launch of Little Birdie demonstrates, there is huge consumer demand – and therefore significant investment opportunities – for solutions that offer a strong value proposition for consumers at a time when finances are increasingly stretched. Creative solutions that simplify money management or unlock essential cost savings for households are likely to see a spike in demand from both users and investors.

 Over 2022, many B2C fintechs emerged offering value-based solutions to help address the problems of low consumer confidence and soaring prices. This is likely to remain the case during 2023. The market is getting ever more competitive – but the truly innovative fintech solutions that offer users a simple solution will be the ones who prosper.

Be agile – it’s a bumpy road to launch

 From app developers pulling out of the project weeks before launch to delays in introducing our flagship ‘Click to Cancel’ feature, Little Birdie’s launch experienced a number of unforeseen issues - start up life is definitely not smooth.

But with these challenges come valuable learnings. In our case, they taught us the need to pivot at speed in response to ever-changing circumstances but also the importance of being comfortable with ‘failure’ because these challenges can also provide insightful feedback. If our app functionality isn’t at the level we want it to be then this shouldn’t be regarded as a failure, it provides a valuable lesson so not only can improvements be integrated into our platform, it also sparks innovation. 

The ability to rapidly test and learn during the early days of a start-up is a vital skill that will ultimately lead an early-stage fintech to one day challenge the industry incumbents. For many start-ups, agility is built into their DNA and this is one of the major differences to the established corporate world. Start-up leaders have to take risks if they’re going to get their projects off the ground, let alone challenge the incumbents.

Trust your great concept and others will too

Whether you’re speaking to potential investors or colleagues, if you don’t believe in your idea and have a clear vision for your journey, how can others buy into it? Motivation and leadership are vital –there are going to be setbacks but these need to be viewed as the opportunities they are.

If a provider fails to step up, seek a better one. If open banking is central to your user experience but you’re struggling to integrate this functionality, you have to stick with it or give up your aspirations. If you’re having difficultly attracting the right talent, broaden your networks as the right people are out there.  Every difficult step you take towards launch is a key part of what will ultimately make your start-up a success.

2022 may have been a struggle for many sectors but the new year provides rich opportunity for ambitious fintechs to develop and for eagle-eyed investors to target the next generation of fast-growth start-ups. One of the reasons the fintech industry is such an exciting place to work is the unparalleled levels of innovation on display, it will be fascinating to see what solutions emerge over the next 12 months.

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Martin Bould

Martin Bould

Co-Founder

Little Birdie

Member since

29 Dec 2022

Location

London

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Fintech innovation and startups

Disruption, destruction, harmony and creation; Fintech’s new frontier – a place to discuss the cutting edge of innovation.


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