We spoke to Adrian Shedden, Co-founder of fintech start-up Lumio based at Clerkenwell Workshops in Farringdon. He shares his entrepreneurial story, advice on pitching to investors, and what it's like to navigate a small team through a pandemic.

What problem is Lumio solving?

Around £124 billion is trapped in UK current and savings accounts simply doing nothing. Our aim is to bring this "lazy" money to life. Only 10% of people seek financial advice, whereas there are about 85,000 financial products to choose from – it's a jungle out there! Lumio effortlessly elevates an individual's savings and investments in line with their values, lifestyle and personal goals.

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How do you make sure you put your customers first?

We try to shift the power back to the customer, helping them to easily navigate their financial lives. By having all of their accounts in one place – from current to credit, savings to mortgage – we provide them with total clarity through open banking, and it's empowering. The Lumio Mentor, essentially the brain of the business, makes continuous and intelligent financial suggestions for our customers. We also make sure we have security and daily protection in place, because safeguarding our customers' data is really important to us.

What effect has the pandemic had on your business?

Our investment round fell through right at the beginning of the pandemic so that was a bit tough. We had to go through all of the difficulties of thinking about cost cutting and looking at whether we needed to downsize and put people on furlough. Fortunately, we managed to cut costs to safeguard those people and it's repaid us. Now, we've built strong foundations, secured a smaller amount of investment and we're excited to push forward and keep on building.

As a founder, how have you looked after a remote team and kept morale high?

We're a very small team made up of driven, passionate people who believe in our vision and our mission and they're really important to us. As individuals, we're all very different. It's been about trying to enable people to work in the way that best suits them. We have virtual socials twice a week, communication channels dedicated to posting fun, personal one-on-one sessions, and we have introduced a wellbeing "Me Day" that everyone has to take at least once a month on top of annual leave.

How has the crisis affected the use of fintech apps?

Fintech app usage has risen by 72% since coronavirus and we are seeing a great appetite for those fintech businesses that optimise peoples' money. There's a huge amount of financial uncertainty right now causing anxiety and stress, so those apps and businesses that help to relieve that are seeing a strong uptick.

What advice do you have for other founders leading through this difficult time?

The way I approach it is just to do the best I can with the right intentions. We're only human and only have so much bandwidth and can't consume all of the information available. Most people have never done this before, so try to keep an open mind, look out and see what other people are doing and learn from each other.

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Adrian at Clerkenwell Workshops

Are you using artificial intelligence?

Yes, we're building an algorithm that looks at your transcriptions, your values and your goals to make personalised suggestions. The more information you put in, the better the financial decisions it will give you.

Do you have any tips for fintech founders pitching to investors?

Simply get out there! Speak to fellow founders and angel investors. Also, don't try to over-perfect something. You might think that you've got the best idea – a perfect product, a great marketing process – but until you actually get it out there into the hands of your customers, potential investors and other founders, you won't benefit from that network of feedback and advice. Being able to benefit from this can be so powerful. I think one of the biggest things we've learned is the power of the network effect.

What made you ditch a career in law for business?

I spent 12 years as a lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons, Norton Rose Fulbright and then as Head of Fintech at Burges Salmon. I kind of fell into it really. I enjoyed structuring things in novel ways, but through my fintech work I kept meeting creative and inspiring people with their own businesses. Ultimately, I've always wanted to get my hands dirty and build something. I was very lucky as a lawyer to work with some amazing clients, but it didn't feel like I had ownership of something, so I took the leap and jumped from law into entrepreneurship. I love it.

What's the best entrepreneurial advice you've been given?

Be open to learning, speak to as many people as possible and collaborate. Don't be afraid of being wrong: put yourself out there and work hard. If you've got an open mindset for learning, you're going to have a great journey.

The fintech industry is highly competitive. How do you deal with this?

Competition is natural. It pushes you to be better. What we try to do is take the best from those established businesses and deliver a huge amount of value to our customers. We've positioned ourselves to address a problem that lots of people have: "How do I optimise my money and wade through this financial jungle, but make sure that my money is working as hard as possible for me at all times?"

Why did you choose Workspace?

We're based in both Bristol and London, but Workspace is our headquarters for a number of reasons. We find that having a couple of our founders based in London gives us an even broader reach to use things like regional projects to our advantage, but also to utilise the network effect as much as possible. 

Do you have any plans in place for heading back into the office?

Yes, having that office vibe is really important to us and our team is very excited to get back. We're fortunate that we can communicate through the wonders of video calls and collaboration tools, but there is a huge benefit to everyone being in the same place. The first step for us is making sure that the environment is safe for people to go back to and they feel supported. We would probably start out with one core office day whereby everyone can come together in a safe way. People can come in for more or they can come in for less, but there's that core day.

What fintech podcast should we all plug into?

How I Built This with Guy Raz is amazing. Also, check out Fintech Insider by 11:FS, which features thought leaders and innovators who are transforming financial services.

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Learn how to direct a team through crisis and safely out the other side in Six ways CEOs can successfully lead their team into a new normal.

Or, for more inspirational stories from the Workspace community, hear jewellery brand Founder Connie Nam's secrets to thriving during the pandemic here

For helpful advice and up-to-date resources on how to navigate your business through COVID-19 and beyond head to our Back to Business Hub.