For this edition of FinanciElle “$tatements”, I had the opportunity to interview Caroline Hughes. Caroline is the Co-Founder and CEO of award winning fintech company Lifetise, whose goal it is to help you afford life.
Paolina: Lifetise seems like a very practical and personal tool, helping to make personal finance and affording life more personal to each individual using the tool, can you explain more how it works and what other life decisions you’d like to help people afford with the tool over time?
Thank you. We help you work out how to afford big life decisions; things like buying a home or starting a family. Our tools are designed so that we calculate all of the costs for you. If you’re buying a home, we’ll show you how much your mortgage will cost each month, how much you need to save for a down-payment, how long it will take you to save, and where you could afford to buy. We want you to play with different aspects, to see what happens if you add an extra bedroom, or relocate to a different area.
We ultimately want to help you with every life decision from leaving school through to retirement. The next ones we are adding are marriage, changing jobs, starting your own business and paying off debts. We’re guided by what our members tell us they need!
We design our products with women’s financial lives in mind as much as men’s. So we look at the things that impact women – the gender pay gap, motherhood and its effect on career and pensions – and think about how we can build tools to help women understand their effects and make considered choices.
Paolina: What has been your hardest experience dealing with your business and money and what did you learn?
We only raised our first round of external investment in June this year, we made the choice to bootstrap the business to this point. That’s always a tough call to make. It meant that I was working on Lifetise part-time until now (my co-founder – who is also my partner, Nick – has been full-time) and also running my consulting business to fund everything and keep a roof over our heads. That is stressful, being the sole breadwinner and bringing in enough money every month not only for us as a household, but also to cover the business costs.
It’s meant we’ve been very capital efficient and proved to investors that we can do a lot with not very much money. In times of economic uncertainty like we’re facing now, with Covid19, it is important to be able to show you have a good handle on cost control.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about money when you were first starting your business?
Build a company that relies on revenue for growth, rather than investment. I think there’s a lot of dogma in startups around raising investment and that being a signal of success. Not enough emphasis on getting early and sustained revenue to fuel your growth.
With Lifetise, I’m building a zebra – a company that creates profit and purpose rather than growth at any cost. That fits with my values. Lifetise has a strong social mission – I want people to be more financially confident and secure. That means we have a responsibility to build technology that genuinely helps people.
Paolina: What are your current FinanciElle Faves?
Favourite business/leadership book?
Favourite business/productivity tool?
Favourite piece of media – TED talk, podcast…?
You can also hear Caroline Talk about Money, Startup Capital, and Feminist Fintech on FinanciElle Frankie Cotton’s Women on Top Podcast Episode 25.