Ever find yourself wondering how a startup makes the difficult decision to embark on the scale up journey? Is there a blueprint to success? Will it be obvious when your startup should begin scaling up?

Here at TechSPARK, we thought the best way to illustrate the answers to these common questions would to create a series of Scale Up Stories, featuring some of the South West’s most successful Scale Ups. Today we have Tumeloan impact-focused financial technology firm based in Bristol.

Goergia Stewart, CEO at Tumelo Tumelo was founded in 2017 by CEO Georgia Stewart, Product Lead William Goodwin and Tech Lead Ben King with a vision for all pension and retail investors to create and benefit from a more sustainable investment system.

Georgia tells us more: “We strive to achieve this vision by partnering with progressive investment and pension providers, enabling them to provide their customers with transparency over the companies they own and a shareholder voice on issues they care about, such as gender equality or climate change.”

Tumelo’s defining moments

Tumelo was able to officially launch in June 2020, “with the largest insurer in the UK and two of their FTSE 100 clients”, says Georgia, who has ranked this achievement as their defining moment in the journey to scaling up. 

She adds, “It’s been a gradual journey with no clear point of change but we launched our product commercially in June and it’s been all go since then really!”

Georgia also explains that the biggest challenge to scaling up was, “defining and embedding our culture!” This is a common issue companies encounter when becoming scale-ups. Once a company gets over a certain number it can be very hard to achieve this. Cliques are formed and teams can get competitive. For example, 8-10 people you can effectively line manage, as it gets above 30 there will naturally be more distance between team members, as we explored in our 5 Challenges to Scaling Up article.

Illustration of Tumelo's website, question that says "Should CocaCola continue to release an annual report outlining their campaign spending?"

However, being apart of the Bristol and Bath tech sector meant Tumelo had access to an array of support and encouragement along the way. Georgia tells us, “We are very proud to be a company born out of the South West. There is a fantastic community of startups here eager to support one another. As a fintech, we depend on high standards of tech talent within the team. As the South West is notoriously home to a buzzing tech scene we have been able to expand our team of bright sparks with the very best tech talent the UK has to offer.”

And to the startups considering taking on the scaleup challenge, she says “Get advice from existing founders” – so you’re already one step ahead. 

You can get more investment-specific advice from our friends at Unfold in their guest blog tips on securing investment from businesses with a track record of success!

Helping investors and founders alike

Tumelo began as they recognised a global problem: Millions of ordinary people contribute to our investment system through ISAs, workplace pensions, and other investments., yet most have no visibility over where their money is going.

Georgia tells us, “Tumelo engages investors on issues they care about at companies they own, giving ordinary people a voice in the boardrooms of global companies like Facebook, Google, Shell & Netflix, on issues like climate change, gender equality and human rights. In doing so, we help investment firms engage with their clients and we help companies engage with their true shareholders so that our financial system can better serve people and planet.”

Illustration of Tumelo's process. Two people with two questions 1) Walmart: should Walmart report on single-use plastic? 2) Apple: Should Apple increase focus on female leadership?

She adds, expanding on the benefits of investment transparency, “We are seeing transparency in every other aspect of life, from food packaging labels to product manuals. It has become inherently normalised and expected for products to disclose exactly what’s included in an item bought or consumed by a customer. Yet, we have not seen this level of transparency with the biggest financial investment most people make in their lives, their pension. 

“Investment transparency, for this reason, is already long overdue. At Tumelo, we’re showing people what their investments and/or pensions are invested in so that they can ensure their investments are doing what they say on the tin.”

Thanks to Georgia for taking the time to talk to us about Tumelo’s scale-up journey. Check out Tumelo’s website to find out more about their services, or give them a follow on Twitter here: @tumeloHQ.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.