Welcome to issue #27 of our recently launched Q&A series, Startup Spotlight.

This series is all about diving into the world-class technological innovation conducted by exciting startups. Getting to grips with the technology, the mission, and even the stories behind them.

In each edition, we sit down with a different startup founder, leader, or operator in an easily digestible conversational style Q&A format.

Today we interviewed Kirk Fletcher, CEO of Connected Data, to find out more about data-enabled debt management.

Highlights:

  • 🦾 Building technology to reduce and resolve debt
  • 🤗 Their mission: believing that indebted customers deserve better
  • 💷 Raising £600k in investment

With the recent rise in interest rates, fuel prices and general cost of living – it’s no surprise that organisations are gearing up for increased levels of debt over the coming years. Which begs the question: why do some creditors invest more in onboarding customers at the front end of the customer lifecycle, rather than at the opposite end when they arguably need help the most?

Connected Data recognised this and decided to tackle this debt data imbalance head-on.

They identified that now, more than ever, it’s time to face the music and change the way debt is managed. Connected Data believe that this can be achieved by gaining a better understanding of their customers and the support they need – hopefully nipping debt in the bud before it happens, or at least, much sooner.

Sounds way more human, doesn’t it?

But how do they access this information? Well, using trailblazing tech, Connected Data combine the latest business intelligence and analytics with the widest range of market insight data – with the end goal of reducing, resolving and preventing debt.

It seems that Connected Data have used technology as a force for good, but what makes them stand out from the rest of the debt management companies in an already crowded market?

What hurdles have they faced on their journey so far?

And finally, what does the future look like?

It’s time to find out as Kirk tells all... Here we go.👇

What is the mission of your company?

Never before has debt reduction, prevention and the fair treatment of customers been more relevant than it is now. 

At Connected Data, we believe that much of the debt that exists could have been prevented much earlier in a customer lifecycle, and can be reduced overall. 

We believe this will give consumers a far better and fairer experience, and an organisation’s relationships with those consumers are preserved and improved.

So, we’ve brought a new approach to debt prevention into the market. 

This approach is disrupting and improving the way debt is currently managed by organisations

We are doing this by transforming creditors’ access to market data, significantly simplifying the deployment of predictive data and removing ‘data noise’.

Our work is ‘supercharging’ internal capabilities, while enabling them to better understand and support their indebted customers.

We are a passionate team of debt analytics, business intelligence and data enablement experts, who strongly believe that debt can be prevented and reduced across any organisation.

How are you using technology to help solve that problem? 

We are a data-driven technology company and our work is about true data enablement of customer and debt management processes.

We are blending the latest business intelligence and analytics with the widest range of predictive data solutions. 

We are combining these with our proprietary debt management-specific technology, a highly secure and scalable AWS environment, deep debt analytics expertise and a proprietary data fabric.

Ours is a powerful new approach that can be implemented easily and instantly elevates a firm’s insight across its debt and customer management processes. 

What's your unique selling point?

Our unique partnerships.

We have a highly unique position, with partnerships across multiple UK leading data solution providers, including Creditsafe, Data on Demand, Equifax, Experian, GBG, REaD Group, SEON, TransUnion, Vulnerability Registration Service and WhenFresh. No one else is in this position.

The much-needed disruption and innovation we are bringing to the way organisations manage their debt portfolios.

A key example of this is our partnership with global fraud fighter, SEON, to introduce data and techniques successfully used in fraud detection and prevention, to the debt management process. This is a first for the industry. 

SEON’s approach to fraud prevention involves the aggregation of information in near real-time from over 20 social media platforms – the widest range of social media profiling offered by any anti-fraud tools. It investigates how contact details are used across multiple social media sites, the longevity of those details and whether they have appeared in data breaches over the years. In less than a second, it returns an accurate risk score enabling businesses to filter out low risk, genuine customers, so they can focus resources more effectively on high-risk customers or potential fraudsters. 

We have successfully pivoted this approach to fraud prevention into debt prevention. The partnership will provide a vital new layer to the debt management process and a much stronger indication of how likely a person is to engage through the contact details that a business has for them.

For example, an email address' use across multiple social media platforms indicates it is used in day-to-day activity, while data breaches associated with the email indicate that it has been owned for some time and used to register for various services and accounts online. This gives a clearer indication of whether the email address is right for engaging and resolving debt issues or if other contacts routes are needed.

The process is automated, so it very quickly and effectively segments those contact channels that are more likely to be the current primary contact channels details for the customer.

What have been the greatest challenges to date?

Our approach is truly disruptive and has required both our data partners and customers to reconsider how much more effective the use of data in debt management can be. Whilst overwhelmingly positive, this disruption has often meant changing well (and often long) established processes. 

In large organisations, this is a big challenge and a barrier to moving forward, as the perception is that it will take lot of time and resource.

We have proactively called this specific challenge out at an early stage with our customers. Our aim is to demonstrate very quickly that we understand this and that we can make each stage as ‘light touch’ for them as possible. The final result for them will be achieving change and increased debt effectiveness without significant internal transformation.

What major milestones have you achieved, and what's next!?

Having only launched in April 2021, we hit the ground running having secured partnerships with ten UK and global leading data solution providers. And this has continued to evolve. The fact that we are continuing to secure these high-profile partnerships demonstrates that the strength and potential of our approach is quickly gaining recognition.

Last year, we secured £600k private equity funding thanks to an investment round led by EMBA Investors Ltd. They were highly impressed by our unique model, which promises a faster, easier, more connected approach than the market has seen before. They could see significant potential in our approach in terms of having a positive societal impact. They were also impressed by the passion and experience of the Connected Data management team. 

Just over a year on, we are already working with major providers in the water, energy, financial services and debt management sectors.

Thanks, Kirk!

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