7 questions to a start-up: GoodBox

by Octree

Fusion – the Swiss FinTech business accelerator – exists to shape innovation in financial services by combining up-and-coming tech talent with Swiss state-of-the-art financial know-how. As a Fusion member, Notz Stucki is actively involved in the process.

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7 questions to GoodBox

Andrew O’Brien, Founder & CEO

1/ Who are you? 

An Irishman born and raised in France, I broke family tradition and pursued a career away from horse racing to forge my own path. After my studies, I spent a decade working in investment banking at Credit Suisse and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. My studies and work have provided me with the opportunity to live in Boston, London, Johannesburg and now, Manchester. With the seed of an idea in my head which would eventually grow to become GoodBox, it was a report published by the House of Lords that prompted me to leave my career in banking – diving head-first into the world of entrepreneurialism. The report concluded that charities are lagging other sectors by five years in terms of digital technologies. My new career ambition was simple; to create a company capable of closing that five-year gap.

2/ What does your company do?

GoodBox is a social impact company, dedicated to building technologies that effortlessly connect donors and causes.

Our flagship products are a suite of contactless payment devices, built to help charities keep pace in an increasingly cashless society. Through working with clients such as the Natural History Museum, Comic Relief and the Church of England, we’ve raised over £2 million for UK charities, and engaged with over 600,000 donors. Our charity partners have achieved an uplift of up to 64% through our technology.

With a Manchester HQ, GoodBox has quickly grown to a team of 35. Together we’ve raised over £4m in funding, pitched at Buckingham Palace, worked with over 700 charities, and built award-winning technology from scratch.

But this is just the start. Over the next five years, GoodBox will release new innovations, from automatic Gift Aid, to bespoke banking services; ensuring that when it comes to technology, charities never have to settle.

3/ What’s the founding story behind GoodBox?

When my co-founder Francesca and I first met in 2016, we were living in the same town, with new-borns of the same age. An NCT class might not be the typical environment in which you imagine a FinTech company would be founded, but in our case – it provided the perfect setting.

A key pre-requisite of our mission was to ensure that all charities – both big and small – could gain access to any cutting-edge technologies that we produce. There are thousands of charities championing vitally important causes across the country, and for many of these organisations paid staff will be an unreachable luxury. Democratising technology became one of our most deeply held values and runs through every level of the business.

4/ What was your proudest moment in your company’s history so far?

To gauge how donors responded to contactless donation devices, and to see if they indeed worked at scale, we took to The Royal Albert Hall two years ago with Teenage Cancer Trust and a fleet of 3D printed contactless devices in the first ever large-scale test of GoodBox units. It was nerve-wracking to say the least. After extensive research and development, we were finally going to see if we were on to something or wasting our time.
The results spoke for themselves with nearly half of the funds raised coming in via contactless. Although there was a lot to learn and take back to the drawing board after the event, we were immensely proud to see GoodBox finally cross the threshold from idea to reality.

5/ What’s the vision behind GoodBox?

The vision behind GoodBox is one of a better world, where charities and donors can work seamlessly together to consign some of mankind’s greatest challenges to history. Charities do some of the most vital and selfless work in society but are often neglected. Our purpose is to ensure they’re able to not only compete but thrive in an increasingly cashless society.

6/ What’s your biggest challenge right now?

We have overcome many hurdles to get to where we are today. The next set of challenges we face come as a result of our push for internationalisation. Moving into new markets with new regulations, audiences, cultures and competitors will bring its own obstacles but with the support we have from our Board of Advisors and the team as a whole, we feel we’re well equipped to tackle these challenges head on.

7/ Is there any inspirational saying or words of encouragement you want to share with other creative/disruptive professionals?

Anyone looking to disrupt an industry or challenge a way of thinking will always be confronted, ignored or even ridiculed. “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” and “Things work fine as they are” will be daily ‘advice’ you’ll receive. If you can see a new way of doing things which challenges norms, it’ll often feel like the world is against you. The way to succeed is by surrounding yourself with the right team of like-minded people who are all committed to the same goal.

Text: Andrew O’Brien, Founder & CEO

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