Elevator Pitch: 86 400

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Robert Bell, CEO of 86 400.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

86 400 is a genuine alternative to the Big Four banks here in Australia, but it’s also much more than that. We’re building the easiest version of banking, which provides total visibility of the stuff that matters, proactive help that’s easy to action and the best possible rates and fees. A genuine alternative to how Australians currently manage their money.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We’re reengineering banking, which means we’re building a lot of tech from scratch, in-house. But we’re also working with a number of partners where it makes sense to, meaning we can be quicker to market and launch our products sooner.

Cuscal, Australia’s largest independent payments provider, brings unparalleled payment expertise and access and is also our founding investor. Partnering with Cuscal has enabled us to spend more time working on our customer proposition, and less time building the underlying payments infrastructure, which can be complex, time-consuming and costly.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

There are many challenges associated with building a bank, but one of the biggest is consumer trust. Australians have been taken advantage of by the Big Four banks for so long that they’ve lost trust in banking. We’re building a bank designed to help customers out, rather than catch them out. An important challenge for us will be convincing Australians to try us out so that they can experience this for themselves.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

We’re different in many ways.

Firstly, we’re giving Australians total visibility of the stuff that matters, proactive help that’s easy to action and the best possible rates and fees. They will be able to see their spending and saving patterns in a way that helps them understand what’s happened, what’s happening, what’s going to happen and most importantly, what to do next.

Combining our exceptional banking experience, great product value and a two-minute joining experience, we’ll be able to scale at a fraction of the cost of the Big Four banks. We expect customers to deepen their transactional and product relationships over time as they experience the difference and we deliver on our promise to help customers take back control of their money.

Finally, our team really sets us apart. We currently have a growing team of 85, made up of talented people from a range of backgrounds, including technology, banking, marketing, customer service and design. What unites us is our desire to create the best banking experience Aussies have ever seen — one that enables them to take back control of their money.

Our board is led by a veteran when it comes to challenging banking incumbents, Anthony Thomson, founder and former chairman of Metro Bank, the UK’s first new bank in 150 years, and Atom Bank, the UK’s first digital-only bank.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

My Search GPS app on my iPhone. I love to surf when I can, which usually means heading out first thing in the morning. I surf along with my son, who tends to get pretty competitive with me in the water. With the app I can monitor things like speed, distance, time and location in real time, plus the total number of surfs and waves caught in a year with a view to improving every year.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it advice, but I guess I have a slightly different perspective on work-life balance. I see it less about trying to strike a balance between work and life, and more about filling your time with the things you enjoy doing, including work. Find enjoyment however you spend your time, whether that’s with family, surfing, or building a bank. Perhaps I’m fortunate, but I think it’s important that we’re in jobs that we enjoy and get fulfillment from.


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