“It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Every generation is shaped by defining moments. And millennials have seen more than their fair share of global events that led them to become the most ethically and socially aware generation yet. The burst of the dot-com and US housing market bubble, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Fukushima nuclear disaster are only a few examples that have fundamentally shaped Gen Y’s worldviews. Greed is no longer good.
It’s no surprise then that millennials are the driving force behind a demand for more ethical forms of investment. According to research conducted by Morgan Stanley, 86 percent of millennials say they are interested in socially responsible investing. Yet, finding investment opportunities that are aligned with their personal values is more easily said than done. The Australian start-up Goodments is looking to change that. CeBIT 365 had the chance to speak to the founders Tom Culver and Emily Taylor about their company’s vision and the challenges of building a successful FinTech company.
Filling a gap in the investment market
With over 15 years of experience in investment management, Tom has witnessed the shift in investment priorities first hand. “Globally we’re seeing a divestment from industries such tobacco and fossil fuels,” says Tom. This divestment is estimated to be worth $5.2 trillion. According to Tom the issue is that there’s currently no solution to give people better advice on where to invest their money instead. He saw a complete misalignment between demand and supply, which led to the decision to start Goodments.
Put your money where your heart is
The idea behind Goodments seems so compellingly obvious that it’s surprising it’s not been more widely adopted in the world of finance yet. “We want to enable people to put their money where their heart is,” says Emily. “We match investors with shares that align with their ethical and sustainability values.”
And since these values are deeply personal and varied, Goodments aims to offer a wide portfolio of options. “You can think of the platform as the Netflix of ethical investment,” explains Emily. No matter whether they’re passionate about gender equality, animal welfare or renewable energy, users can select their preferences and key priorities to make their investment decisions based on independent sustainability and financial data.
Data and analytics will be key enablers for informed investment decision-making via Goodments. “We combine sustainability and financial data for organisations globally and assess their performance across 300 social, environmental and governance data points,” says Tom. “These ratings are combined with past performance ratings and future performance potential to enable people to make sound financial and ethical sound decisions.”
Getting a full-service financial platform from idea to launch
At the time of writing, Goodments is in the beta testing stage of its MVP. Once officially launched, the platform will be a full-service financial platform, giving users the option to research, buy and trade shares.
Getting from the initial idea to where they are now has taken 12 months and the team had to jump a number of technical, personal and business hurdles. “Our unique selling point (USP) lies in the way our app matches people to shares which is a massive job from a technical perspective,” says Tom.
Strategic partnerships and being part of H2 Ventures’ Accelerator program has helped overcome some of these challenges. “H2 is the premier FinTech Accelerator in the world. This gives us a huge amount of access to advice to navigate around regulatory issues, overcome technical challenges and scale quickly,” says Tom. “Their network has been invaluable to us.”
One of the more surprising challenges for Emily and Tom was the fact that they are a married couple who also decided to run a business together. “For some reason that raised a red flag when we pitched to some investors,” says Emily. “We got questions about how we’re going to live our life together while also running a business. This seemed like a ridiculous thing to have to get over as many successful companies such as Canva, Eventbrite and Flickr have partner founders.”
Luckily, it’s an issue they have been able to overcome and the team is now getting ready for launching the product into the market (you can join their waiting list here). Then it’s all further validating the product, getting the first paying customers and raising more capital - the universal challenges of start-up life. Yet, Tom and Emily wouldn’t change it for any other job in the world: “We’re incredibly lucky to be able to do something that is much closer to our heart and getting such positive initial engagement and feedback from people is incredibly exciting and very encouraging for the future.”
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