October 24, 2023: Financial literacy for all
Meet Seedwell, what is working for raising capital, build the perfect homepage, and more jobs for you
Profile: Meet Matthew Tsang and Seedwell
What is Seedwell?
Seedwell is a fintech company that specializes in innovative employee financial wellness benefits. We deliver solutions for financial literacy and personal finance automation through the intersection of employee centric-AI and traditional advisor support.
Employers rely on Seedwell for unbiased, expert-led approaches to accelerating their current employee plans and programs. With partnerships in both the U.S. and Canada, our team is passionate about changing the landscape of personal finance and reducing financial stress for all employees.
What was the inspiration behind it?
My family faced financial challenges from unforeseen circumstances that significantly impacted our lives and our relationships with each other for many years. The fallout of the situation inspired me to venture into finding a solution that will solve the problem on a foundational level.
How has it been received by the market?
The reception of the market has been tremendous.
We have continued to receive great testimonials and recognition from partners and clients. I believe this is the result of our genuine desire to achieve our mission, take on the risk to drive innovation, and deliver solutions that can truly make a difference for our users.
How did you know you were ready to found a company?
With Seedwell, I lean heavily on the experience and learnings from the previous five ventures, along with the management consulting experience I had in the FS and public sectors. As for my first go around, I had no idea if I was ready. I knew I wanted to pursue something different and was willing to put in the work, so I decided to dive in headfirst.
How did you meet your Co-Founders/know they were the right people to start a company with?
I've known Brian for many years before he joined me as a co-founder. Doug, on the other hand, I met at a meetup. His financial acumen and skillset stands out from others I've met. We have a great complementary set of skills that allow us to build the foundation of the company. As we continued to grow the team, the focus has always been to recruit individuals who fit and expand on our existing formula.
What has been the hardest part of your journey so far?
What we're trying to achieve at Seedwell is quite ambitious.
The minimal resources we have as a startup makes it extremely difficult, but not impossible. That along with unexpected vendor delays and a worldwide pandemic affecting the economy makes for a true challenge. The team's ability to stay focused and keep delivering everyday despite all these challenges really shows the resilience and strength of its members.
What’s been the best surprise?
When I first started on building Seedwell, I interviewed to over 250 strangers.
Although there's always an initial sense of reluctance, I was surprised by and grateful for their willingness to place their trust in me and open up about their financial lives. The information and data I gathered through them helped me form the foundation concept of what Seedwell is today.
What is your super strength as a founder?
My approach as a founder is to simply do what's worked for me: Identify vision, set business future state (15-20 years future), break it down to phases required to achieve it, recruit people smarter than me at skills required to execute first step, delegate accountability and trust their judgement, obsess over achieving long term goal, stay adaptable and make necessary adjustments quickly, and be the persistent force of unwavering drive for the team.
What is your goal for the next 12 months?
Penetration of the US/CA market and the expansion of our automation product. Taking further steps towards achieving our long-term vision.
What advice do you wish you had been given prior to launching?
Have multiple backup plans for vendors and don't fully trust timelines and features that are being sold to you in fintech infrastructure vendors. Although there's a lot of money invested in the space, the tech has yet to mature - plan accordingly.
Who are the Canadian startups you admire most?
Quick Take: How to raise in a tough market
image courtesy of ideogram.ai
What is the story?
Vancouver based Hiive announced that it raised $4.2m USD at a $77m USD post valuation.
Why is this interesting for our community?
Hiive allows investors to purchase shares in private companies via secondary transactions (e.g. buying from current shareholders not new shares being issued by the company).
This is a market that many startups have tried to crack including EquityZen, Carta and AngelList. None of these individual offerings have managed to grow into massive markets.
The second interesting thing about this is the timing of the raise. Private company secondary markets has many headwinds currently as valuations have come down, public markets only reward the largest tech companies and many sellers don't want to realize "losses" on their holdings.
Raising in this market has been difficult and unpredictable, so why was Hiive able to pull it off?
The combination of growth, low burn and a large market provided the confidence investors needed to make this investment:
Hiive was bootstrapped to breakeven, raised a small amount previously and has been capital efficient.
They 6x transactions year over year to 170 trades in September.
They have 570 "listings" and 12,000 "users".
The headwinds in the market could be long term tailwinds as investors realize they want to sell shares they have been holding longer than anticipated.
What is the takeaway for our community?
Timing and a unique approach is everything in startups. The headwinds that Hiive may be facing may provide the cover it needs to build a successful startup. When the venture market was hot, investors had an incentive to ride the market up and it was easy to get a secondary transaction in the next round of financing. Now with the market turning there is fewer incentives to hold on for the long run and fewer opportunities to sell. As sellers adjust expectations they will look for the most liquid market.
Likewise many competitors who were funded during the boom times most likely have a valuation trap (metrics make it hard for them to raise follow on) so they will be slower to challenge any price competition or innovations that Hiive bring to market that would displease their customers. For example Hiive tries to provide more price discovery / transparency which many companies might not want and would make it hard for competitors with relationships to provide.
Finally capital efficiency is once again shown to be improtant here.
Reply to this email and let us know your takes, and what you’d like to hear about on a future episode
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