Five questions with Streeva
4 minute read
Beth Michael is the COO and Co-founder of Streeva, a FinTech startup that delivers innovative automated tax solutions.
Beth Michael is the COO and Co-founder of Streeva, a FinTech startup that delivers innovative automated tax solutions. Streeva is developing technology that allows for the sharing and receiving of data through transactions, transforming a payment from a simple money exchange into an event where data is passed securely and privately within the context of a transaction. This data can be used to automate processes surrounding transactions such as tax compliance, cross border trade, expense management, customer support, government schemes and more.
Streeva’s initial solution Swiftaid, automates tax relief for UK charities and their donors. Streeva‘s technology is enabling an industry-wide project to fully automate gift aid payments across all donation methods, with the goal of enabling the use of personal tax accounts to remove liability from the donor.
Streeva combines innovation with collaboration to fix problems fundamental to economies, building a system that enables government departments, payment providers and organisations to connect and leverage purchase data without compromising privacy.
Beth has a background in business ownership, management and operations. She spent eight years in the hospitality sector where her role was helping managers improve their leadership skills so that they could gain control of their businesses and obtain a profit. She has excellent strategic skills with a great ability to build relationships with businesses of all sizes.
01. What was the inspiration behind your company?
The concept behind Streeva arose from the frustration of having to manually reconcile receipts for business expenses. My brother and Co-founder of Streeva devised a way for receipts to be attached to payments without affecting the underlying payments network or compromising personal data so expenses, along with other processes, could be automated.
Data privacy is core to what we do. Why should individuals have to hand over their personal data in order to benefit from digital solutions? As we entered into the world of payment innovation, we discovered all sorts of ways in which this technology could be used for good, not only for automating expenses but solving fundamental challenges that economies are built on, and potentially removing the need for expenses altogether.
Innovation is critical to the economy. Globally, trillions are lost through payment inefficiencies. As new digital products and simplified methods are developed, people have no choice but to hand over their data, but if you choose not to adopt, you could very quickly be left behind. I believe that everyone should benefit from the digital world we live in, but not at the expense of privacy.
02. What do you find is the most difficult aspect of being a female founder?
I have found that the most difficult aspect of being a female founder has been juggling having a baby alongside everything that comes with building a company. My daughter is now 20 months old, and for the first year my parents helped with childcare. However, since the pandemic hit, I have had no assistance with childcare other than from my partner, who is also a business owner himself.
03. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since first developing and launching your startup?
We had an unfortunate situation where an investment fund did not materialise, which put Streeva in a vulnerable position. We had to let go of some of the team and put risk mitigations in place. Being put in that situation was majorly tough, but a pure blessing in disguise. It really drove focus into what we were doing. I would recommend anyone on a similar journey to consider: “if we were to lose funding or suddenly had no money, what would our priorities be, where would we focus the team?” It really changes your perspective from what you think your business needs, to what your business actually needs.
04. How has the pandemic impacted your company?
Our company, like many others, was impacted by the pandemic. In early March, just before lockdown, we launched our contactless gift aid solution in partnership with a leading contactless fundraising provider. At the same time, we were raising seed investment. Then lockdown hit. Unfortunately, it sadly resulted in charitable organisations such as museums, cathedrals, etc. closing their doors, meaning 95% of contactless terminals were then not in use. So, instead of scaling the business through investment, we were forced to hold back on accelerating and close the investment round so we could focus on expanding our offering to cater to online gift aid.
05. What is the one piece of advice you'd give to other women thinking about starting a company?
When I began my startup journey, I had no experience in the payments industry, so understandably, I went in with a slight case of imposter syndrome. I definitely met my fair share of naysayers along the way which really didn’t help me when I already felt out of place. The early days were somewhat challenging for me, but I soon learned to take what people said with a pinch of salt, because I truly believed in our vision and wasn’t going to give up on a dream because of my insecurities. I am as capable as anyone else. Stepping out of a comfort zone can be terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. If you have something that you truly believe in, don’t let anyone, especially yourself, get in the way of accomplishing your dreams. My advice would be to anyone who shares a similar situation: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
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