This week we reached a milestone agreement that will see our venture partner AMP take full ownership of our startup, MoneyBrilliant. This follows on from their initial investment of $1.5m in 2014. Here are my reflections on this wonderful journey as I now pass the baton of leadership on to AMP.
Four years ago my good friend, Peter Lord, presented a rough PowerPoint to me that he believed would change the world. It was an idea for a startup business that would have a significant impact on the terrible statistics showing the number of people experiencing financial distress.
Peter’s mum had experienced the anxiety that comes with realising you’ve made the wrong decisions financially and missed opportunities that would have set you up well for retirement. It’s an all too common story. Financial stress is the number one worry for Australians. It can cause sleepless nights, underlie cracks in relationships and add to unhappiness in our families.
This motivated Peter to set the wheels in motion to start a business to switch people on earlier to good financial decision making. He asked me to join him and help make it happen, as an investor first and eventually, as CEO. He was convincing and hasn’t wavered once from the belief that this was a problem that could be solved. It is this resolve that has us here four years later, proud of what we’ve achieved.
MoneyBrilliant gives people a great piece of technology that displays a helicopter view of their finances. This alone brings a mindfulness about money that wasn’t possible before – a behaviour change driver. A host of cool features for budgeting, bill management and account aggregation shores up the basics and drives a saving habit which enables people to grow their wealth.
We’ve grown strongly as we’ve improved the service, we’ve created a compelling, authentic brand, launched a 5-star mobile app and built an incredibly passionate team. We were named by Startup Smart as one of 9 startups to watch in 2016.
In the journey to this point we have navigated unimaginable challenges; the highs and lows of getting a tech startup off the ground. We sacrificed much to make it happen - financially, emotionally and socially (I’m lucky to have understanding friends and a fantastic partner who has supported me every step of the way). We exhausted ourselves on the investor circuit, selling the dream. We learned resilience, patience and the true meaning of ‘tomorrow’s another day’.
We met AMP in 2014 as a potential investor and we were excited by the alignment strategically between their customer vision and ours. They invested and it enabled a rapid acceleration of MoneyBrilliant’s technology and business. Over the past 18 months we have spent a great deal of time with people across the AMP organisation exploring the connection points between their business and our technology. At the same time, we grew our customer base directly by roughly 200%.
On the 29th February 2016, AMP wholly acquired MoneyBrilliant. There were many synergies between the work MoneyBrilliant was doing in developing innovative cashflow technology and AMP’s strategy to provide customers easier ways to engage and manage their money. It just made sense.
The great thing about this acquisition is that AMP believe in the MoneyBrilliant brand and vision and will continue to run it as an independent offering and company. The work we started continues and that is really important to the founding team, Peter Lord, Adrian Soldan and me.
As is often the case in the land of startup, a change of ownership gives me a natural transition point to look towards a new opportunity. I will move on from MoneyBrilliant and hand the reigns over to new leadership and all the support AMP are able to bring to scale the business. My co-founders will stay on to drive the mission further along the road. For me, four years is a great stint in a business that started as an idea and came to be a compelling cashflow solution desired by such a trusted brand in the Australian financial scene.
It’s been a wonderful experience and I have learned so much. It’s the kind of experience that makes you a better person. Not just a better business person, but a better person. The FinTech community in Australia is thriving too and it has been a privilege to meet and share ideas with many other startups like ours. I’ll admit, I was surprised by how few women were actually at the helm of FinTech businesses as I connected with the community. It’s probably the one blemish on an otherwise vibrant and promising sector. I plan to stay connected to the startup and FinTech space and play a small part in encouraging more women into founding and key roles in FinTech startups.
So it is now that I thank our brave Founder, Peter Lord for encouraging me into the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m so grateful for my partnership with him and also Adrian Soldan, an incredible product innovation lead. I thank the MoneyBrilliant team, who have challenged me and inspired me with their ideas. And, I thank AMP for believing in our vision and supporting the business to be better than great, brilliant in fact. Farewell MoneyBrilliant.
You can read more about the acquisition here: