Teaching kids about life skills such as finance is important, but it can be hard to do if they mostly shop virtually. We talk to GoHenry co-founder Louise Hill about how she spotted the need for a new way to educate children about money.
Louise Hill noticed that, while we are moving into a cashless society, kids don’t always understand the significance of money when buying stuff online.
Thus came the idea of a financial wellbeing app designed specifically for kids, to help them learn about money in a way that resembles the world they are growing into. After months of planning and discussions with friends, GoHenry was born.
After much trial and error, attending events to no avail, GoHenry eventually found the right marketing approach. In 2016 Louise’s team broke an equity crowdfunding world record by raising £4m on Crowdcube, who also happen to be a partner of The Pitch this year. They crowdfunded again in 2018 and raised £6m, with over half coming from their own customers.
To date, GoHenry have raised more than £73m and have grown their team to over 250 employees, serving more than two million customers across the UK and the US.
We’re very pleased to announce that Louise will be joining us as a judge for The Pitch this year, offering her own advice and expertise to this year’s successful applicants.
Growing your skill sets
As a founder it’s important to always work on your abilities so your business can reach its full potential, says Louise. This process of constantly learning new skills isn’t just the case for startups, but bigger companies too.
“It’s something that I’m doing all the time, every minute of every day,” said Louise. “I soak up information in all kinds of ways – such as reading, podcasts, newsletters, talking and listening to people.”
However, when running your business with a small team (maybe even just yourself), you’ll have to stretch your skill sets and become an expert in countless topics.
It’s something we’re aware of at The Pitch: every founder has their own weaknesses, so we try to support our participants as much as possible to tackle their soft spots and allow their business to flourish. This includes helping them to perfect their pitch, a vital skill for securing investment, according to Louise.
“I can’t tell you how many pitches we did, but we got there, and it allowed us to grow the business and get to where we are today,” she explained.
Facing trial and error
Listening to advice only gets you so far, though. When starting your own business, even with countless support, you’ll still have to overcome many hurdles.
“There was a lot of trial and error in finding the best route to reach the right customers,” Louise said. “In the end it was really a combination of word-of-mouth, PR, and digital channels that helped us get the word out there.”
No two businesses are the same, so every entrepreneur will face different hurdles. But, in being part of a programme like The Pitch, you’ll receive exclusive advice from business founders who have overcome many of the same challenges.
Tackling the funding disparity toward a better future
Louise is aware of the lack of funding for female founders. But how can we overcome it? By proving to the next generation that girls can do it.
“The disparity in funding that goes to female founders – it’s not changed yet. Like with any group, it’s vital that young girls and women see images of people like them flourishing,” said Louise.
“The best way we can do that is to empower women to put themselves out there, have the confidence that they can secure funding, and so on. And if me sitting here today and answering your questions can tell people that women are doing this and are doing it well, that really helps.”
The Pitch makes an effort to ensure that women are fairly represented in our competitions. In fact, we have a pretty equal gender split – in 2021 the number of female and male semi-finalists was nearly the same and three out of the last four winners were female.
The importance of the startup scene to the UK economy
Louise doesn’t underestimate the significance of startups in supporting the UK economy.
“I was at a talk the other day, and they asked the audience how many large scale businesses there are in the UK, and I was stunned at the answer: 7,700. They then asked how many SMEs there are, and the answer was 5.6 million,” she explains.
“So, just think about the number of people those smaller businesses employ, you can see the impact it has on the economy.”
Louise is passionate about supporting small businesses, and continues to work closely with startup networks – she’s a member of Enterprise Nation, Tech Nation and Innovate Finance, to name a few.
Working with The Pitch
So, why does Louise want to work with The Pitch?
“I decided to support The Pitch because helping other entrepreneurs succeed is something that matters to me, it’s very close to my heart,” she said. “Schemes like this are really important, because the road to being a startup is quite a lonely one and people might not have access to business advice elsewhere.”
But how do you go about impressing Louise and secure an amazing score in your pitch? Louise advises that you should ensure your business idea addresses and solves a problem in society. Plus, you need to have a concrete plan for how you’re going to scale up.
Finally: be passionate.
“Early stage founders are exciting: they’re people with a passion, they’re people with a dream, they’re people who want to change things and make things happen – and I love that energy. It drives change, creates action, and ultimately makes the world a better place.”
Want the opportunity to pitch to judges like Louise and other inspiring founders? Apply to The Pitch 2022 now.