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How Wagestream is empowering 3 million employees with financial services

Northzone's Jeppe Zink and Wagestream's CEO Peter Briggett discuss the company's journey as a financial super-app for frontline workers, offering pay tracking, flexible pay, and financial coaching.
How Wagestream is empowering 3 million employees with financial services

Wagestream, the financial super-app for frontline workers, has signed up over 1,000 corporate customers covering almost  3 million employees. With over $250m in total funding to date, the company continues to stay true to its mission of bringing financial wellbeing to everyone by offering employees pay and spend tracking, flexible pay, financial coaching and more.

Proud to be supporting the company’s impactful mission our partner Jeppe Zink had a Fika with Peter Briffett, co-founder and CEO of Wagestream. Together, they discuss how Wagestream came about, its mission, the dynamics in balancing profitable and impactful objectives, future prospects and much more.

It’s been five years since you and your co-founder Portman Wills founded Wagestream. Let's go back to the beginning: tell us a bit about Wagestream's mission and how you look back on your journey so far. 

From the start, our mission has been to create fair financial products for frontline workers. Wagestream is a social impact business, and our mission is built into our DNA. In fact, we have a social charter in our company articles, that was designed in conjunction with the UK’s leading social impact charities, who led our seed round.

They taught us about the impact of the poverty premium, essentially how much more lower-income workers have to pay for financial services. Since then, all our product decisions and our future roadmap have revolved around how we can reduce the poverty premium for frontline workers.

Portman Wills and Peter Briffett, Co-founders of Wagestream
Portman Wills and Peter Briffett, Co-founders of Wagestream.

Banks always see lower income workers as a risk, whereas for an employer, they are their biggest asset. Therefore, by encouraging employers to distribute financial services as benefits to their staff for the first time, ultimately subsidising them and supporting them, we’re able to offer frontline workers fair financial products for the first time. 

Looking back, I’m extremely proud of how our business and mission are reflected in our company culture. I think this has really helped us build a loyal client base who believe in what we do.

That's a great overview, you’ve built something truly special. Northzone, having invested in the mental well-being space with the likes of Spring Health amongst others, have come to know that one of the most common triggers is financial stress. The mission you’re addressing is a really powerful one 

So, while looking back on your journey so far and considering the future, how do you find striving for both, the profit objective and the impact of the company mission?
We have a social charter in our articles so, everything we do has to be in line with that. Our profit and impact objectives essentially go hand in hand. As it would be for any business, we strive to consistently provide real value to our users and we know our clients experience a real business impact from using our platform. 

As true believers in our mission, we are constantly measuring our impact. We do a lot around pay and therefore our responsibility of looking after someone’s financial health is immense and needs to be done right. It has a huge positive impact on an individual’s life and bringing crucial value like that will make customers stick with us.

Consistent, compounding linear growth is now in vogue, which is great. We’re pleased with our ability to retain clients, enhance our product offerings and expand our financial services, which is accelerating growth for us.

Jeppe Zink, Partner at Northzone
Jeppe Zink
Partner at Northzone

That’s a real commitment! From a talent perspective, we find that more and more exceptional people want to work for mission-driven businesses. And so, moving onto your own team, what has been your experience on attracting great talent and retaining them given your mission?

It definitely helps and truthfully, I think it's helped all the way through. Especially at the beginning, it wasn’t easy to get large enterprises and big clients to sign up. I believe our social mission helped engage some of our initial clients and attract and retain some good talent. 

Building a company from the ground up is challenging, so you must be passionate about what you’re fighting to build. People want to be a part of an impact business, but it's hard making change happen, which we’ve always been transparent about.

You need to be present and make sure you’re constantly delivering value, and I think when people believe in the mission they love pushing together to make it happen.
Further building on that idea, what advice would you give to any founders who are thinking of starting a mission business?
If you're going to do something that has a social impact, make sure you can measure it and that you are actually providing tangible value to whatever impact you're trying to create. I think that's really important. If you're a technology company, you have access to this data and of course make sure that you see that moving in a positive direction so you can actually sit there and prove what you're trying to do. 
Wagestream has recently expanded to the USA, where it has been doubling down on its strategy. Tell us a little more about that expansion and any other exciting news you have coming up.
We've got a great base; almost 3 million frontline workers now have access to Wagestream. There are a lot of exciting things coming up! In the EU and in the UK, we're expanding our product offering and roadmap. We’re getting people out of debt and starting to build savings buffers and credit scores.

We've just acquired a credit builder company to enable us to distribute that technology. In the US, our efforts are continuing to grow our client acquisition and we are definitely finding that our product is resonating with employers and employees so we have high expectations for the future.

 This story is syndicated via Northzone.

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