Belong comes out of stealth mode with £2.95M — the largest Pre-Seed round raised by female founders in Europe

Belong aims to make wealth-building accessible to a wider demographic, focusing on professionally-employed millennials.
Belong comes out of stealth mode with £2.95M — the largest Pre-Seed round raised by female founders in Europe

A new wealth-building platform called Belong has launched today, coming out of stealth mode after securing £2.95 million in Pre-Seed funding — the largest Pre-Seed round ever raised by female founders in Europe.

Founded by former investment banker Avion Gray and behavioural economist Samantha Rosenberg, Belong aims to make forms of wealth-building that have traditionally been the realm of a wealthy few, accessible to a wider demographic, focusing on professionally-employed millennials.

Belong is the first platform to offer customers an optional loan to scale up long-term investment in equities.

 It has created a new low-interest 'Boost loan' feature, which allows customers to invest more money upfront, magnifying the effect of compounding over time. Customers then pay back the Boost loan separately, in small monthly instalments, allowing their investment to grow. 

In the past, applying leverage, or borrowed capital, to enhance long-term financial outcomes has been restricted to wealthier investors, but with a £1,000 minimum investment, this is something that millennials may find more accessible. To date, 84 per cent of beta customers have opted for a Boost loan, with 100 per cent retention and on-time repayments after 15 months. 

Millennials are the first generation in history to be worse off, financially, than their parents, and despite making up the majority of the population (22 per cent), they own less than 5 per cent of the stock market. That said, Belong estimates that 18 to 44-year-olds in the UK alone have access to an estimated £300 billion in cash savings. This tends to be sat in low-interest savings or current accounts, or at best, a cash ISA. 

As millennials themselves, Belong's co-founders are on a mission to change this and shake up the investment space.

According to Avion Gray, co-founder and CEO of Belong:

"We need two things to build long-term wealth — time and money, but we rarely have both of these elements concurrently. 

Millennials still have the time ahead of us to see any long-term investment we make now compound and pay off before retirement, but we often struggle to get started. Whether that's due to being unable to secure a mortgage, lack of confidence around investing or feeling like we don't have enough cash available to make it worthwhile — Belong is changing this." 

According to Gray, the stock market has historically shown an upward trajectory over the long term—- 10 per cent + per year. 

"An investment in the broad market is inherently diversified, transparent in value, and accessible. This makes the Boost loan attractive for anyone with excess cash, a steady income, and the mindset to stay the course and be long."

 Belong co-founder and COO Samantha Rosenberg, shared:

"The excess money millennials keep in savings accounts or cash ISAs is simply not working hard enough for us. Not investing it, means we are losing out on our primary wealth-building years.

People like the idea of having easy access to their cash, but this is often due to present bias — the tendency to discount one's future self in favour of more immediate gratification.

We want to use what we know about financial decision-making to change perceptions about investing, create a social movement around 'being long,' and prepare more young people for a wealthier future."

Avion and Samantha were introduced to each other by Nick Hungerford, the successful British entrepreneur who founded Nutmeg, the first regulated robo-advisor in Europe.

In 2021, Nutmeg was sold to JP Morgan for almost £700 million. Nick, who shared the vision of democratising wealth building and empowering a new generation of investors, was an advisor and close mentor to the Belong founders before his untimely passing in July 2023.

Other investors to date include Octopus Ventures, Viola Fintech, Connect Ventures, Portage Ventures and January Ventures, along with prominent Fintech angel investors Ricky Knox and Gautham Radhakrishnan, Nutmeg co-founder William Todd, leading UK Economist John Kay and tech industry maven, Edwina Johnson. 

Zihao Xu, Fintech Partner at Octopus Ventures, said: 

"We are proud to be on this journey with Belong and look forward to supporting the company in its quest to be a true pioneer in long-term wealth-building.

Samantha and Avion's shared vision and complementary expertise put them in a great position to help more people achieve a better financial future."

At launch, Belong users can choose from five broadly diversified index-tracking funds to invest in. These include the MSCI World, S&P 500, FTSE, and climate and ESG-focused funds.

Lead image: Samantha Rosenberg and Avion Gray, Belong. Photo: uncredited. 

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