#Croydon #TechCity: April Review

By - Thursday 8th May, 2014

Becca Taylor reports on last month’s finance-themed #Croydon #TechCity event

Photo by Fluid4Sight. Used with permission.

Crowdfunding was the buzzword du jour at the Croydon Tech City April edition, which saw four start-ups bring their financial tech ideas to the stage.

April’s #Croydon #TechCity event took a financial theme, and saw a wide range of start-ups bring their tech ideas to the stage. Interestingly, this theme appears just a week after the issue of crowdfunding was raised to CTC, Gavin Barwell, and Steve Reed at the ‘Politicians’ View’ event. Croydon is already home to the largest peer-to-peer investment ever, but there are even more ventures to support growing right here in the Cronx.

Sibel and Tony of All Chip In.
Photo by Fluid4Sight. Used with permission.

First up, All Chip In, ‘Kickstarter for young people’ according to Sibel and Tony, two of the three founders. All Chip In aims to harness the power of crowdfunding to raise £1 billion to help young people achieve their dreams. The process is simple – a young person decides what they would like to raise money for, be it a course, or some equipment to launch a business, and they start a campaign by recording a video on their phone and uploading it to the platform. People donate to their cause and when they reach their target, the young person will return on the investment by putting their time into community projects. All Chip In will launch with a special programme for early adopters called ‘We Are the 500’, but until then, they need developers to build the platform and supporters to spread the word.

Frank Mukahanana of QuidCycle.
Photo by Fluid4Sight. Used with permission.

Next was Frank Mukahanana, founder of ‘QuidCycle’, which has been dubbed ‘the antidote to Wonga’. Quidcycle seeks to get families out of the cycle of debt and take them from paying interest to earning interest. Founder Frank is an ex-investment banker turned financial advisor (turned back to banking, before beginning his start-up) who described his day job as being like Groundhog Day: seeing the same problems in families over and over; families who didn’t wake up wanting to mess up their finances but had been caught in a cycle. But Frank was a small cog in a big wheel and couldn’t change was he was doing through the normal means. QuidCycle takes specific families who earn but struggle each month, consolidates their loans by paying off creditors and having them pay back the money at a lower interest rate. This allows families to pay off the credit quicker, getting them out of debt faster. Once families are out of debt, Frank encourages them to, in turn, loan to other families like them, becoming the ‘Mamas and Papas’ that QuidCycle relies on to fund loans to families. This means that the borrowers become the lenders, make money for themselves and get fellow strugglers out of trouble. Frank wants to work with people who have a real desire to pull themselves out of debt, and who he can work with through the life of the loan, giving financial education to so that they avoid debt a second time around.

Crowdfunding’s second official nod of the night took place through Sweta Chattopadhyay who has just launched Localfunded – crowdfunding with a local focus. With Localfunded, each project has a specific city base, meaning that local people can fund something taking place on their doorstep, not a million miles away. Croydon’s very own Purley Festival is currently hosting a flexible campaign through Localfunded, in the hope of raising an extra £7,000 toward this year’s festival. Sweta and husband business partner Anil have put six months of work into this project and launched three weeks ago with five groups on board. They hope to take the project nationwide, but retain that local, community focus in each campaign.

Andrew Enebe of Energy Donwell.
Photo by Fluid4Sight. Used with permission.

Closing the evening, crowdfunding met climate change as Andrew Enebe introduced us to Energy Donwell and his ambitious plans to see Croydon’s 96 primary and 21 secondary schools get solar panels in the next five years. Andrew’s journey to Energy Donwell began when he became a more spiritual person. He became more aware of his surroundings, wanting to help in the area of climate change. He dropped out of Kingston University, just before his final exam, eventually secured a loan from the Prince’s Trust, met folks from Croydon Tech City (“Thank God for Croydon Tech City!”, says Andrew) and then started working with Level 39 at Canary Wharf. Of this opportunity, Andrew says “it was gold dust to get accepted there. It was great that people believed in me”. Now, he’s looking for contacts to get Energy Donwell off the ground: people who know of schools, shopping centres or industrial estates where this could work; and people ready to invest in solar energy and see the returns in just six years. Andrew is keen to stress the social impact as much as the financial, and the importance of teaching our children and future generations about green energy and climate change.

With the crowdfunding market set to be worth around £15billion in five years time and London responsible for around 53% of investment in Europe, could we see the crowdfunding revolution right here in Croydon? Combining ‘traditional’ crowdfunding with a unique, niche twist seems to be the best way to ensure traction as quickly as possible, so supporting the creative minds of Croydon will ensure our place in the history books.

TechCity drinks take place on May 1st in Matthew’s Yard from 6pm, and the next Croydon Tech City main event, ‘Women in Tech’, is on May 22nd, from 7:30pm. Please sign up as ‘attending’ here or  to confirm your attendance.

Becca Taylor

Becca Taylor

Becca is a newcomer to South London, currently living in Sutton and working in Purley, as ICUK.net's Head of Marketing. She has a background in politics and journalism, and is slowly learning the ropes in the tech world. A graduate of Swansea University, Becca is also a keen fitness enthusiast and a proud fan of Southampton FC.

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  • Becca Taylor

    NB: The Women in Tech event has moved to June! :)