When we talk about entrepreneurs, we often think of middle-aged men, and yet, the story behind Wealthify is quite singular as the company was co-founded by Michelle Pearce-Burke who at the time was only 25. Five years later, she reflects on her entrepreneurship journey.
How did you first get in to investing?
I became interested in investing at a very young age through an online gaming site, called Neopets – it still exists today! The main aim of the game is to collect as many ‘neopoints’ and there are two ways to do so. You can either play games and solve puzzles, or you can go on their virtual stock market and trade your ‘neopoints.’ That’s how I was first introduced to the concept of investing.
Why did you create Wealthify?
I started my career working in a traditional investment management company. My key observation was whilst it served a very small (and very wealthy) segment of the population well, it wasn’t for everyone. You had to have a big bank balance to get through the front door, which didn’t seem right for starters. I believed you could replicate the service they were offering and open it up to everyone by digitising much of the process.
The added benefit of digitising the service, was that you could also make it better and more affordable: less clunk for customers, lower minimum investment, lower fees, and all with equally excellent investment performance.
How did the journey start?
The Wealthify journey started with scribblings on a piece of paper, as most ideas do - I still have that piece of paper to this day! Finding the right co-founders for the business and assembling the early team was the next piece of the jigsaw. Luckily, this worked out quite seamlessly and we are all still good friends to this day. I do think that part is crucial, and much easier said than done. To get the right people, with the right energy and skill sets together who share a vision. We were all quite different people with different backgrounds, but worked very well as a group.
What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
When we got our first investment through from Aviva, that was a proud moment. I’m not a very self-congratulatory person as I am always focused on the next thing, but getting that investment in bought a lot of praise and recognition with it, which made me realise just what an incredible journey we were on.
I also have moments when I read through our customers reviews on Trustpilot which make me step back and feel very pleased and proud. Those reviews do get read and dissected by the team internally, so make sure to leave one if you haven’t already!
What have you learnt on your entrepreneurship journey so far?
It’s not easy! Until you do it, you really have no idea how difficult and all consuming it can be. In some ways, I think this is a good thing as otherwise I doubt half as many people would start a business.
In your opinion, what qualities should an entrepreneur have?
Grit and determination are the first ones. As I said before, it’s hard and you have to get through it. I also think you need to have a balance of being headstrong and focussed on your idea whilst also willing to listen and learn from others around you – be that competitors, advisers, colleagues, family, or friends.
What tips would you give people who’d like to start their own business?
Think about why it’s a bad idea. Really challenge yourself to be the devil on your shoulder and list every reason it won’t work. It doesn’t mean don’t do it, it means you’ve thought through the negatives and not blinkered yourself into entering into a daydream.
Listen and talk to people. Don’t be so paranoid about someone stealing your idea that you freeze up and keep it to yourself. Yes, it’s possible that may happen, but very unlikely, and who knows – if someone likes it that much, maybe they are the right person to join you on your journey.
Where do you see Wealthify in five years?
I think in five years, Wealthify will be a household name in the world of personal finance, known as the go-to brand for a first-class digital investment experience.
Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.