Something the North East of England is very good at is creating businesses and organisations with a strong social purpose and one of our favourite ‘Tech For Good’ startups is Newcastle-based Fammily which helps single and separated parents easily manage and share money, child expenses, child maintenance payments and communications from one place.
Following his appearance at Newcastle Startup Week 2018 we caught up with their Founder, Helmut Okike, to learn more about the business.
1. Hi Helmut, can you please give me a brief overview of your business?
Hi Paul, yes sure! Fammily is an online platform that helps single and separated parents manage their finances while being able to share financial and parental responsibilities transparently post separation.
It takes the stress out of co-parenting and bringing up a family after a relationship breakdown by providing secure, effective and private communication plus financial management tools like our handy ‘Fammily Budgeting Tool’ that lets you track your monthly spend and identifies how you can effectively manage and reduce your spend where possible.
2. Who is your target audience and how do you help them?
We help single and separated parents communicate transparently while being able to make, receive and manage child maintenance payments and expenses between themselves. They are also able to use the platform to request support from family members and close friends in a transparent and accountable way.
3. When was the business established, how many people are in your team & where are they based?
The business was established in February 2018 and is based in Newcastle upon Tyne. We currently have a team of five across strategy, design, engineering and content.
4. What motivated or inspired you to start the business?
As a separated parent, I understand the need for parents to work amicably post separation to ensure the child(ren) involved are provided for mentally and physically. From my experience, I felt that there needed to be more accountability and transparency around conversations about money between parents but also how this money was received and spent to sustain and improve the physical and mental wellbeing of the child(ren) involved.
5. Where did you go for help or advice when you first started out?
At the beginning, I just cracked on by myself because I didn’t realise the amount of support available for young startups. I then successfully completed the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator (previously known as Entrepreneurial Spark) which was great for me to be around like-minded individuals. I also received massive support from the University of Sunderland Centre for Enterprise and Innovation. Their support has been brilliant!
6. We think the North East of England is a great place to start or grow a business. Do you agree & if so, why?
The North East is a great place to start or grow a business not only because of the immense support provided by local and regional agencies, etc but also from entrepreneurs themselves who have grown and/or exited their business and are now looking to share their experience and contacts to support new businesses. The appetite to support startups in the North East region is great and the increase in startup incubators and accelerator programs is testament to this.
The increase in the number and quality of startup events such as Newcastle Startup Week continues to fly the flag for the region, evangelising about how the region is such a great place to establish and grow a startup, showcasing existing startups and connecting startups to individuals and organisations who can best support their business.
7. Have you had any funding or investment to date & if so, where from? (e.g. Angel Investors, VCs, Govt Grants).
I have been completely self-funded so far but am currently considering our financial options as we look to accelerate our progress significantly over the coming months.
8. How would you like to see the business develop over the coming months & years?
Increasing our footprint in the UK is our core focus for the next 18 months. We feel we have a real opportunity to serve and support this often underserved consumer group.
9. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a tech/digital business?
I believe in taking action. Do some research and then do something. Build something. The notion of having an idea and trying to get investment to get it off the ground is unmotivating for any serious investor.
10. What one business book, video or podcast would you recommend?
I’m currently reading a book called ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook‘ by Gary Vaynerchuk.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to know more about Fammily, visit www.fammily.co.uk