Everyone has something to say about ESG or “impact” investing these days. It has become the go-to buzzword for corporate firms and investment platforms.
But unlike platforms that have added socially responsible features, London-based Tickr launched with a sole purpose of “impact investing”.
Founded in 2018, Tickr aims to demystify sustainable investing and only offers investments in funds that make a positive impact on the planet.
Co-founder Tom McGillycuddy speaks to City A.M. about how Tickr is attracting millennials and to what extent the pandemic has accelerated the shift to impact investing.
Avoiding the ‘socks and sandals’ approach
Tickr is the brainchild of Tom McGillycuddy and Matt Latham who met working in investment management. They soon come disillusioned by the jargon surrounding ESG and the indifference when it comes to the climate.
When the pair started brainstorming in 2016 they quickly realised Tickr needed to appeal to a demographic “beyond people who wanted to invest or knew how to invest.”
Sustainability is at the core of Tickr’s offering – as well as investing the platform allows customers to offset their carbon footprint through a subscription.
Despite this the team were careful not to become too preachy for fear of alienating millennials, which became central in the platform’s name.
“A lot of the good [company] names were gone and the others sound too preachy and we didn’t want to create an obvious socks and sandals brand,” McGillycuddy tells City A.M. “We wanted to create something that was appealing to a mass market… we don’t want it to seem exclusionary in any way.”
And it seems to have worked. The platform is approaching 100,00 customers with an average age of 31, while half of their users have never invested before.
“It’s a big market to crack… but in one or two years time we really want to be known as the impact investment platform.”
‘You wouldn’t know a pandemic had happened’
Momentum is already building and the pandemic has accelerated that, despite the team’s predictions at the start of the outbreak.
“We suspected it was going to be very bad for us. We assumed we’d have to hunker down and prepare for the worst, luckily for us it didn’t pan out like that,” McGillycuddy says.
As they started to raise their first round of funding, McGillycuddy recalls a handful of people claiming impact investing would underperform during a selloff and when they do, first-time investors will close their accounts.
“We saw the opposite of those two things happen,” he says defiantly. People have become far more aware of the importance of their investment and savings and crucially are looking at more sustainable options.
The average investment has grown from £100 to £250 within a year – this is in large part because people are not spending as much, but McGillycuddy tells City A.M. he doesn’t anticipate there to be a dropoff once lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“If you look at the trajectory of our average investment even pre-lockdown in the first month we started at £20 average investment because people were testing us out. Fast forward 12 months it was £120 and now it’s £250 a month.”
By targeting young and first-time investors Tickr can be all but certain they can hang onto their customer base for some years. Current churn levels suggest customers are using Tickr for six to eight years.
“We have a high growth rate and the people that come to us with £3,000 as their first top up. The demographic ages with us as well so they earn more as they age.”
Although the startup won’t be self-sufficient for another 18 months to two years, its monthly revenue increased 10 times over the course of the pandemic.
“If you looked purely at the metrics you wouldn’t really know a pandemic had happened. We’re one of the lucky few businesses that can look ahead to this year and feel optimistic.”
Tickr secures fresh funding
This rapid growth is a long way from the hard graft of Latham and McGillycuddy traipsing to tech events, messaging friends and offering referral codes to hit the ground running.
Last week Tickr announced it had secured £2.5m in funding from VC fund Ada Ventures to expand its impact offering.
McGillycuddy tells City A.M. the startup is looking to expand its engineer and product team to launch impact reporting within the app.
So if Tickr moves into the mainstream are we going to see their investment offering do the same?
“If the business decided to move away from impact investment it would be without me and Matt and I don’t see that happening any time soon.”
Crucially the team believes impact investing “will just be called ‘investing. It’s the only way our generation wants to invest.”
If McGillycuddy and Latham are right then Tickr are well placed to capitalise on a generation that wants to invest and wants to do it sustainably.