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Amy Whitell is not your typical tech entrepreneur.

The fact she’s a female working in the tech sector puts her in an immediate minority, but the differences run a lot deeper than that.

Collctiv was founded in September 2019 by Whitell and Pete Casson to help organisers collect money for the planning of events without ending up out-of-pocket.

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.

“We got rejected twice by Techstars London so we decided to go to New York,” admitted Whitell, who is speaking at pro-manchester’s Trailblazing Tech Conference on March 23rd.

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“I’m building British IP and British jobs but I’m having to go to America to build it faster.

“There’s an incredible ecosystem in New York. I learnt a lot about fundraising. One of our mentors was a director of engineering at Uber Eats. When he talks, you listen.

“VCs in the US are much more interested in the potential. 50 per cent of them come from a background of having built a tech company themselves. They understand it.”

Trailblazing Tech conference 2023

Collctiv makes it quick and easy for organisers of group gifts and events to collect money, whilst also making it quick and easy for those paying into the pot or pool.

They launched the product just four months before Covid and have transacted over $40m on the platform.  Users can now buy gift vouchers directly via the app.

Today the FinTech has 650,000 users and the number is growing.

Collctiv employ 16 people, including two staff in California and New York, and their US business is now growing faster than the UK.

Whitell, who previously worked as the chief operating officer at Twinkl Educational Publishing, is halfway towards raising $3m in seed funding.

The startup has previously raised $1.6m (£1.4m) in angel investment but this is their first pitch for institutional investment.

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GP Bullhound said in their latest Titans of Tech report that investors have shifted their focus from revenue growth to cash generative companies.

In May vehicle data company Wejo called in administrators  after investors, spooked by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and sweeping job losses in the tech sector, decided that they no longer wanted to invest in high growth, loss-making, tech stock.

“I’m raising on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Whitell. “We’ve always been building frugally.  I’ve never burned cash. I come from Liverpool and I’m very aware of the value of money.

“I might spend £20 on a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to see how it goes. We’ve never paid for customer acquisition.

“We’ve only spent $20,000 on experimental campaigns like Facebook advertising and PPC. In our experience they’ve not worked.”

Collctiv has grown its revenue to $2m but has ambitious growth plans.

“We’ve built a product  that our customers love and they tell their friends,” she said. “It’s as simple as that.

“In five years’ time I want to power all the social, fun things that people do. We want to use the power of online to power the offline.”

You can find out more about the Trailblazing Tech Conference on March 23rd here.

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