Happy Birthday Unizest – time for cake and “Thank-yous”

1 year on – time to reflect

On Thursday 23 June 2022 we downed tools and went to the pub to celebrate our birthday. The 1 year anniversary of the Unizest app being released globally!

Although we had been working on Unizest for a couple of years before launch, this first anniversary is extra special. We have faced many challenges – Covid and resulting travel restrictions, the war in Ukraine and UK visa challenges.  But we have remained committed to providing fair banking to people coming to the UK to work or study. So too have our supporters and a first anniversary is the perfect time to get sentimental – to look back, say thank-yous and to look forward to the future.

The focal point – the app!

Not just one but two! We launched on iOS and Android, with updates and new releases following every 30 days adding or fixing stuff. For a small team with limited resources that is no mean feat. Special thanks must go to @Jono Forbes at @Kernel Edge, our technology platform partner, for perseverance, overnighters, and a can-do spirit. We have never been shy of ambition. From the off we developed new-to-market concepts, such as embedding UK Gov’s Share codes into the journey. Innovations like that got us noticed and recognised and we were pleased to be placed in the coveted @TechRound 100 (#62).

Our early adopters

We’re proud to have onboarded customers from over 30 countries. We spent time understanding the challenges and the excitement of  their journeys to the UK – capturing it all in our #right2thrive campaign. A big “Thank you” goes to the early adopters who trusted our fledgling brand. We remain committed to serving their needs when starting life here in the UK.

Our trusted partners

Unizest is a partnerships business and we have established fantastic channel partners who will be essential in growing our business over time. I would like to give special thanks to those very first partners – @Response Recruitment, @Australasian, @Xpatweb – who were willing to be guinea pigs! (Apologies for our first clumsy steps.)

 Our supportive backers

We have not been alone in our journey. Unizest has created long term relationships with organisations and people who have committed to support and help us. @Mastercard’s support has indeed been “priceless”. A big thanks to @DerrenPowell and his team. Our initial lead investor – Worth Capital – not only believed in our pitch, but have given practical advice, tough love and “high 5s” at the right moments. Thanks @Matthew Cushen. We are also grateful and appreciative of our Angel investors and Advisors, without whom we would not be here.

‘Events, dear boy, events!’

As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face” and events have often seemed to have conspired against us. Our proposition – an app-based e-current account for migrants bound for the UK – is based on international mobility. We could not have predicted Covid and the war in Ukraine and these events have impacted our initial plans, but we have weathered the storm. We are fully engaged with a market that is ready for and receptive to our product. And in times of economic uncertainty, the need for a product that includes the financially under-served and is based on an ethical framework* is more relevant than ever.

(*I was hoping to announce our B Corp certification, but we remain “pending” for another couple of weeks!)

Our team of “Unizesters”!

When you have been on a journey, you forget some of the harder moments, but you never forget your fellow travellers. “Unizesters” are a band of brothers comprising staffers, consultants, part-timers / full-timers / some-timers (!), advisers, contributors, helpers, investors, and cheerleaders. Thank you all, you are great! Cake alone is not enough to express it but it’s a good place to start!

On a personal note, I would also like to thank my wife Tina for her patience and support. It is stressful being a founder and that can affect those around you. But…this Unizest journey has been and continues to be a thrilling ride. I am looking forward to see what we can achieve before our next anniversary.

What next?

This Summer will certainly be a busy time for us as we prepare for the Autumn student intake. It will no doubt throw up new opportunities, lessons, and challenges to overcome, but we are now seasoned campaigners. We have a great product focused on a burgeoning market opening up again and ready to move.

Come on – we are ready for you!