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Startup stories - Moya - Smart money manager for freelancers

July 14, 2022

Startup stories - Moya - Smart money manager for freelancers

An introduction to Moya

Moya Money is an online business account tailored to South African freelancers and entrepreneurs. We provide them with a tool that brings together simplified bookkeeping features (such as cash flow tracking, invoicing, and tax) and business banking to provide access to financial products, such as access to early payment on freelancer's invoices to tackle the problem of inconsistent income. We are on a mission to empower them to take control of their finances and grow their businesses.

Our simple theory is that what you measure, gets managed. As freelancers ourselves, what resonates most with our clients is our ability to connect with them and provide tailored assistance.

Our user is a typical freelancer who is converting passion into a business. As such they often lack financial know-how, operate as a one-person business, struggle to manage their clients, and have inconsistent income month on month that is a cause of stress.

What our users need is direction. They don’t know where to get started when it comes to their business finances. moya Money Web App connects to personal bank accounts and helps users categorize their personal and business finances. Once they start tracking their finances, we will be able to recommend financial products so that they grow their businesses.

Thus far, our approach is community-led. We are building an exciting community of freelancers, by connecting them to business opportunities, and having ongoing support to help them navigate the challenges of freelancing. Initiatives like accountant workshops, a freelancer Zero to Free Podcast and hosting networking events has allowed us to hone into our customer problems and garner their support.

The birth of a startup

We started working on the idea of moya Money in November 2020 and went full-time in 2021. In the beginning, we were focusing on SME financing because of the financial institutions' crisis post covid. Through research we found that SMEs lacked data to build credit scores for financing as only 4/10 people kept any financial records. In addition to this, only 10% of SMEs only make it to their third year due to unhealthy financial decisions.

Due to the loss of jobs and uptake of remote work, we noticed an upward trend in freelancing and gig work. We also saw a significant gap in solutions for micro businesses and freelancers who do not even know where to start with financial management. With experience in freelancing, we resonated with their core problems more and decided to pivot our business model.

The Challenge

Our biggest challenge has been accessing early stage capital. Finding early-stage investors has been difficult as Business Angels don’t actively market themselves. In order to gain early-stage capital, we have to show traction and in order to show traction, we need capital to build our minimum viable product.

Being part of a global Incubation program like F10 helped us overcome this challenge. F10 Masterclasses focused heavily on investment readiness and their introductions to a network of global Business Angels enabled us to secure our first Angel investor just two months after starting the program in November 2021.

The importance of joining an Incubator

We decided to join F10 because the timing was right. We were building our prototype, had a few customers and in conversations with two early investors. The F10 program covered all startup bases from customer discovery to product validation, human resources, marketing, risk analysis, fundraising and finally investment readiness.

Unlike other incubator programs, this was over a longer period, offered a vast network of mentors and was Fintech focused. In addition to this, we not only needed global recognition to attract funding in South Africa but wanted to access an international community. The F10 incubation program was perfect for us, as an early-stage startup and became our springboard into the market.

Five months with F10 were instrumental for not just our company but growth as founders. After Demo Day, we have been able to attract a few more Angel investors in South Africa. We are closing our Angel round in the coming months.

We have grown from a team of two, to eight. With our initial angel investment from the F10 network, we have successfully built a functional MVP and are growing a community of freelancer users through creative and bold initiatives.

10 minute life hacks for entrepreneurs

As founders, our brains are constantly on, there is literally no switch off button, you will always have too many tabs open. Taking care of yourself and avoiding mental burnout is important. You must take a step back and acknowledge that you control the business, not the other way around.

Sabica enjoys taking 10 minute breaks throughout the day to pray (x5) -as a form of gratitude or does 10 min yoga (watch yoga by Sarah Beth on Youtube). This detaches her from work and resets her thinking.

Thulani enjoys gaining new perspectives on life either through reading books or traveling through nature. Spending 10 to 30 minutes reading a book, or stepping outside in one of South Africa’s endless scenic hiking paths always helps to take a break from entrepreneurship. This has helped on the journey immensely!  

Fintech trends

Moya is targeting the gig economy which includes freelancers. The global gig economy will generate $455bn by 2023 according to a Mastercard research. In Africa, specifically, Freelancing is a growing trend.

Today more people are choosing this form of employment due to loss or lack of jobs, flexibility, freedom, and work-life balance. Freelancing in Africa accounts for 10.1% of the world’s freelancers and is set to grow.

In the financial services space, we are seeing two major trends, firstly the move to digital money. This refers to online payments or money transfers and e-wallets. These are typically facilitated by traditional central banks or credit card companies. Digital payments have been exploding in South Africa, since the Pandemic.

This is partly out of necessity. Research shows that 95% of South African consumers consider using digital methods of payments like QR codes and contactless (Master Card’s new payment Index). We are seeing a fast-paced digitization as there is a rise in diverse fintech ranging from payment gateways to mobile money platforms and open banking APIs. There are increasingly more commercial opportunities for South African Fintechs to create financial products and subsequently investment to see them through.

And second, hyper-personalization of products and services in the financial services space. According to an article by Forbes, with the vast streams of data available, customers expect intelligent insights and tailor-made services. Thus, there is an explosion in AI powered solutions and fintech mobile apps that are threatening traditional banking systems.

The outlook

We want to create a hybrid banking product with formidable ease of use, transparent and a value generating solution that creates some semblance of peace when it comes to money. We want to address the fears of money and lack of financial know-how and ­make it an enjoyable experience for both freelancers and entrepreneurs alike. We want the UX experience so good that we can go viral!

Starting your own business and working from anywhere in the world is an exciting trend. In this century, we have all the tools available to take control of our financial health. We hope to empower entrepreneurs so that they can do this with minimum effort and maximum impact in both their lives and those in their global communities, starting with South Africa.

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