Launching a fintech startup in just three months

The story of how we helped two fintech founders launch their startup and grow to acquisition in just three years.
Launching a fintech startup in just three months
We’ve worked with Distinction from day one. They’ve been an integral part of our team. Within 3 years, HD Decisions was named winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award. What really stood out during the judging was HD’s impressive client base and growth trajectory, both of which are a reflection of what we’ve achieved together. Shortly afterwards, we were acquired, and Matt and I exited the business, which is a happy ending for many start-ups. HD and Experian continue to work with Distinction on some of our most critical projects to this day. They are a bright team who delivers the highest quality; you can rely on them.
- Mark Hawkins, Co-founder

In brief

Seeing the opportunity for an innovative smart loan search service, HD Decisions was a disruptive financial services start-up determined to launch to market ahead of the competition. So they approached us to make sure there platform was launched first and fast and to help them recruit and train an inhouse team to achieve sustainable commercial success.

The result

We helped HD Decisions get to market quickly and effectively, accelerating their path to commercial success. It took just three months to launch the platform and HD Decisions was subsequently acquired within three years.

Photograph of working on customer journey using whiteboard

The full story

Great ideas often drive start-ups. But technical expertise and understanding of CX are also essential, as is ensuring internal teams are recruited and upskilled so they can be autonomous after launch. Our role with this disruptive financial services start-up was to launch their service to market quickly and set them up for acquisition.

Get it launched, and get it launched quick

What it lacks in resources, a start-up more than makes up for in purpose, drive and excitement. The ambition to fill a gap in the market. The focus to get things done fast. The ever-present fear of being pipped to the post by a hitherto unseen new market entrant. More than anything, the pure unadulterated thrill of the ride.

Yes, it’s true to say that a start-up is a very different beast to an established business.

Reinventing the customer experience

And so it proved to be for HD Decisions. Looking to give people a new way to find a relevant credit card, loan or mortgage, their innovation was in using data to pre-qualify consumers, so providing reassurance of a successful application.

Reinventing how consumer data could be used to improve financial decisions and customer experiences, HD Decisions’ goal could not be more certain: launch this new service and launch it quickly.

Bringing a vision to life

The only trouble was, while the five principals had the ideas, they had no notion of how they were going to get there. These are data innovators. Experts in what data can tell us when interpreted in the right ways, and what innovative outcomes to expect when it is. But what they’re not is technical experts. They also needed to get to market fast if they were to shake things up in the way they wanted, with no time to hang around.

Disrupting from within

The origins of our relationship were certainly out of the ordinary – an introduction from a mutual friend and a subsequent chance meeting at a wedding – but ordinary was the last thing HD Decisions wanted. The fledging business was looking to disrupt the financial services industry and do so from within.

Understanding the need for speed

So we joined the party, understanding the need for speed and the plugging of knowledge gaps. Right from the start, the desire to get the HD Decisions service embedded into aggregator websites like moneysupermarket.com and confused.com was a key driver. In providing the missing technical expertise to bring the vision to life, we supported HD Decisions in delivering its innovative platform.

Sharing technology expertise

In sharing our expertise in APIs, how credit bureau websites could talk to one another and in designing and developing a mobile-friendly experience that would be visual, enjoyable and intuitive, we knew we wouldn’t be around forever.

Like a rocket shedding the boosters that provided the initial thrust, ours was a very specific and defined role. Having recognised we didn’t necessarily have a long-term relationship to look forward to, an important and necessary aspect to our involvement was building an in-house team that would continue our good work on the technology, the processes and everything that sound digital governance entails long after we’d left the scene.

Photo of two team members testing the product

Acting decisively, always with speed

From the start, the chemistry was right for such a high-octane relationship. HD Decisions trusted our team to get things done quickly, without the need to waste time and energy in seeking unreachable perfection. The attitude was, let’s prove the concept. Let’s get it out there. Let’s learn from the real world. But always, always, let’s get it done quick.

Acting decisively, seeing the platform launched and making sales on both moneysupermarket.com and confused.com were genuine high points. Suddenly the rollercoaster had reached its destination.

Securing the future

The future looked bright too. It was always on the road map to get the new business to the point where it was ripe for acquisition and subsequently a huge return on investment. So in achieving ROI and healthy books early was another key achievement.

And in recruiting, training and building a sustainable and skilled in-house team of over 50, we could look back and see the value of acting decisively, the benefits of having a clearly defined role – even if short-lived – and the advantages of embracing fun, speed and excitement as drivers for commercial success.

Photo of two team members collaborating
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