This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.
Even the strongest of friendships can be tested when money becomes involved. The responsibility of collecting from a group to pay for an occasion or event usually falls to one person and is conducted over mobile messaging services ill-suited for the task.
Discovering the pitfalls of this approach on one particular night out, TopScreenMedia CEO Achille Traore decided to do something about it. The entrepreneur, who is based at Leeds Beckett Digital Hub, developed Swoosch.it – a fintech platform that lets groups collect and manage money, with a focus on visibility and usability.
We spoke to Traore to find out more.
Can you give us the elevator pitch for Swoosch?
Achille Traore: Swoosch is a group payment platform that lets people easily collect money from others, which can prove a nightmare and cause headaches. Somebody could be collecting for a birthday party; stag- or hen-do; buying gifts for a wedding; or anything that involves getting money from a group.
It’s almost like setting up an online kitty where anybody can set up a pot to share with friends and pay into it. You can see who has paid, so you can shame those who haven’t! Money can be collected quickly which removes the headache of chasing people.
That’s especially useful when there’s a travelling group, as there’s usually one person who’s responsible for organising everything.
What inspired you to start the company?
I was on a stag do once and the group was looking for a way to collect money from its members. It was a nightmare – we ended up staying in three different locations five miles apart and spent a lot of money travelling in taxis getting to meeting points. All activities were paid up-front by somebody who had to chase money from the others. They received the money in bank wires and local currencies in the end.
When I started Swoosch we did a lot of research into the problem and found that one in three friendship fallouts are money-related. That won’t come as a surprise if you’ve ever tried to organise payment from a group.
How does Swoosch work?
Users can create a group in less than 30 seconds and share its link over email or text message. Clicking it opens that group’s collection pot and they can use their card details to pay – it’s as straightforward as that. Everybody can see what others have paid, and if there’s more than one activity that the group is collecting money for, multiple pots can be created. It works like fundraising but for your own causes.
Does the platform support multiple currencies?
Yes – you can pay in any currency on Swoosch but the group has to pick one before it begins to collect.
What’s your company’s story?
Swoosch was developed by TopScreenMedia, which is a B2B company that offers a very different product. Because Swoosch is B2C, we decided to separate it out into a different brand and product.
What’s it like being a tech company in Leeds?
It’s great – Leeds has a good vibe and we’re getting more traction as a city. There’s a lot of things happening here – big buildings are going up and the tech scene is becoming more focused. It helps that Tech North is increasing visibility of what we do here in Yorkshire. I think we’re going places – I just hope that what’s happening with Brexit doesn’t slow things down!
How did you get to where you are today?
A lot of hard work, grey hairs and and networking.
Why should developers work for you?
Because we’re a dynamic team that works on new and exciting stuff all of the time. When you work at TopScreenMedia you work with a team of hungry people who have a passion for beautiful products. We don’t like to just put things out – we like to put really good things out there. And you get to use the latest technology and experience the pleasure of seeing people using your product. You’re not just a cog in a wheel – you’re actually important here.
What’s on the horizon for Swoosch?
The big vision for Swoosch is to make it a household name in group collections and payments. We want to create a verb, in essence, in a similar way to how you ‘Google’ something. If you want to pay for something in a group, you ‘Swoosch’ it!
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