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The towns and cities of the North still bear the hallmarks of their industrial heritage – but they are building a new era with technology.

Amy Whitell is the CEO of Collctiv, a Manchester-headquartered app that helps group organisers collect money for activities and large gifts through simplifying the money collection and payment process.

We recently included Collctiv on our inaugural Manchester Startups 2.0 list of under-the-radar tech companies which are yet to be backed with VC capital.

Whitell, our Star of the Week, says that the city’s tech scene as a whole is underappreciated. 

Manchester Startups 2.0

“Manchester is often under the radar,” she told the audience at pro-manchester’s Trailblazing Tech conference. “My experience of being a Northerner is that we just get on with things – we just build and we work and we make stuff happen. 

“But often the press attention and the media is in London – so initiatives like [Manchester Startups 2.0] are really helpful in terms of raising the profile of all of the amazing stuff being made. 

“Industry was born in the North – and will continue to be born in the North.”

Collctiv enables people who have paid for group activities to send a link and receive payment in less than five seconds – regardless of the banking or payments platform their group uses. 

“We’re fixing that problem for everybody in this room who is the mug in their group of friends or family – and can’t help but organise everybody else. Like me!” she told the 200-strong audience at the Lowry Hotel.

Trailblazing Tech 2023

“You are the person that everybody owes money to. And they’ve all told you that they’re going to get you a pint. But have they ever got you a pint? Do you even want the pint? No – you want the money back! 

“So we make it really easy for people like us to collect money from friends, family, colleagues… so you can stop getting mugged off!”

The startup was founded by Whitell and Pete Casson, respectively former COO and CTO at EdTech star Twinkl, in 2019. Now employing 16 staff, its platform has already been used by 650,000 people in more than 100 countries – processing more than $40 million of payments. 

It has raised $1.6m investment to date through angel investment and a pre-seed funding round. Whitell is halfway towards raising $3m in seed funding – their first pitch for institutional investment.

Last year they were the only British FinTech in the Techstars NYC Accelerator programme, which took part between November 2022 to February 2023, and launched their product into the US market.

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Whitell says they were forced to go to New York after twice being rejected by Techstars London.

“The kind of people you might bump into over there [are in a different league],” she said. “A few blocks down from where we were working was a guy who became a mentor to us – he was the director of engineering at Uber Eats. He built that platform out from zero to $30 billion in sales. 

“He’s like: ‘I’ll take a look at your product backlog.’ You’d do anything that guy says! He knows how to scale consumer products.”

Collctiv employs 16 people, including two staff in California and New York, and their US business is now growing faster than the UK. It has grown its revenue to $2m but has ambitious growth plans.

Whitell adds: “In five years time, we will be powering every single fun thing that everybody in this room in this country and the US does. So anytime that you go out with your friends; anytime that you play sport with people; go to a festival or on holiday; the payments will be powered by Collctiv.”

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