Welcome to Ignition Law’s ‘Igniting The Spark’ series where we spend five minutes with inspiring entrepreneurs, talking about the key moments that defined their careers.
This month we caught up with Edgar de Picciotto, Co-Founder of ikigai.
ikigai is the first app in the UK to bring together everyday banking and wealth management. Their aim is to provide you with a holistic view of your money – ensuring you can invest well, save more, and spend better. ikigai empowers you to grow your wealth through goals-based investing, meaning you can align your money with your financial and personal goals – whether it’s the holiday of a lifetime, a new home, or time off for a career break.
You can download the app on iPhone only for now (and Android Waitlist) and you can learn more about it here.
The moment that ignited the spark in me to start a business was…
While working as a consultant, helping large insurers and banks to design investment products for the retail market, I realised how much there is a problem with investing. The issue is twofold; first, there is the problem of financial education; but second, there is also a product problem. There is a lack of simple, mobile-first, solutions for millenials to invest for the long-term in a diversified portfolio. I was thinking for a while about this, when I met Maurizio, my co-founder. He wanted to build a premium digital bank. We decided to merge the ideas together to create ikigai, with the goal to help people grow their money.
The toughest challenge I’ve faced is (and how I overcame it)…
Looking back there are so many things we should have done differently. But then I remember that the most difficult thing is to get started, so it’s actually fine that not every single thing was perfect. What matters is to continuously improve after getting started.
One spot-on example was our initial take on budgeting. It was a logic with a circle that you fill out by the end of the month. In practice, it didn’t work. Our customers are just not thinking of budgeting in that way and it felt cheap. However, based on the feedback we got from it, and further research, we discovered that many people have two bank accounts: one for saving, where they receive their salary and pay their bills, and a second one for spending. When they receive money in the account for saving money, they transfer a part of it (i.e. their budget) to the spending account.
In light of this discovery, we implemented in ikigai what we call the Nest, a second account for saving, and the Money Splitter, a feature that asks you how you want to split your incoming money among spending, saving and investing. These two are now huge hits and our customers love them!
The biggest success has been…
Our crowdfunding campaign (live until May 28th) is performing well above our wildest expectations. We raised so far (May 17th) more than £1.6 million from more than 1,200 investors. It really shows that our vision resonates with people and gives us further confidence that we are going in the right direction. You can check out our crowdfunding pitch here.
I’m very good at..…
…not being very good… I’m more of a generalist, i.e. being able to pick things up quickly and fill in the gaps in the team while we grow and hire more people. I have a consulting background and that is basically the number one skill you learn in consulting – being a good generalist.
The type of person I look to recruit is…
At our stage, what matters most is someone who has the right skill-set for the job, experience in a fast-paced environment and/or a start-up, willingness and ability to take a lot of ownership, and most important, aligned with our values and company’s vision. We’re also aiming for a 50/50 gender split and so far always had at least more women than men in the team!
The part of my day I most look forward to is…
Tough question because every day is different. One day I’m working on product design, the next day I’m coding an analysis… and this is what is so exciting with the entrepreneurial journey!
If I could give fellow entrepreneurs one piece of advice it would be…
Enjoy the journey. As an entrepreneur, you are actually making a lot of sacrifices (time, income, unfortunately even health for some) with the hope of potential future rewards (the obvious ones: building a large company, money; the non-obvious ones: learnings, experience).
Because of this, it can be easy to get stuck in a loop of always delaying gratification and becoming unhappy… But there is actually a lot to enjoy along the way: collaborating with great people, working on something you love, learning a lot every single day. And there’s also a lot to celebrate along the way: first product ready, first hire, first customer, first revenue… When you achieve these, it always feels kind of anti-climatic as you get stuck in your “next problem to solve”. That’s why it’s important to look back and celebrate these huge wins!
Outside of work I can be found…
Probably at home… because of the pandemic!
My philosophy on life is…
Do things that will benefit you in the long run, as I believe that these things compound well, like investments! While, of course, still enjoying the journey and doing things that bring me happiness.
What was your business challenge? Our strongest asset are the humans that form our team! At that time we wanted to make sure our employees would be rewarded beyond their salary, so we were looking to implement an option scheme. The goal is to reward them, and also to build further ownership – as we want all our employees to be owners of ikigai. A great option scheme also helps in our hiring effort.
How did you work with Ignition Law on this? What support did we provide you with? Ignition helped us understand the incentive landscape to choose the best program at our stage (EMI). They also helped us understand what we needed to have in place with regards to HMRC and helped prepare all the necessary legal documents.
What did you enjoy most about working with the team at Ignition? Ignition Law are used to working with start-ups which made things quicker & easier.