How Sam Abrika of Nova uses this AI to simplify the way people track their finances in order to help them improve their spending habits.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sam Abrika: Everybody is safe, but I’m glad that the lockdown has finally been eased in the UK.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nova.
Sam Abrika: I used to work in investment banking, where my job was to make sure that the bank had enough funding to survive the next financial crisis. Banks are incredibly sophisticated in the way they optimize every single aspect of their balance sheet and financial planning.
Sadly, people don’t have access to such knowledge and technology to manage their money. So I created Nova Money to be the financial companion of those who want to succeed in their financial objectives.
How does Nova innovate?
Sam Abrika: One of the first problems we encountered is that many millennials don’t engage with their finances and don’t track their spending the right way. So we gamified the user experience in order to make saving more rewarding.
With Nova, people can compete with themselves to save more than last month and level up their avatar when they succeed.
Money is a serious matter, but we just make it a bit more fun.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sam Abrika: Although we’re not particularly affected by the coronavirus, the pandemic made access to funding a bit harder for startups. So we try to be as capital efficient as possible.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Sam Abrika: We had some unsuccessful hiring. Sometimes candidates seem like a perfect fit during the interview, but divergences start to emerge when working together. I strongly believe that letting people go as soon as possible is infinitely better than wasting their time in a place where they have no future.
Hiring is a process that I continuously try to improve, and for every failure, I ask myself how could I prevent making the same mistake going forward?
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sam Abrika: I used to meet and speak to our users in person to better understand their problems and feedback. The customer relationship moved to the remote world since Covid. On one hand, remote communication doesn’t have the same impact as speaking to someone in person – on the other hand, it’s so much easier to plan a call over Google Meet or Zoom.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Sam Abrika: No
Your final thoughts?
Sam Abrika: The pandemic has turned our economy upside down, so now is not the time to be broke. Behind its gamified experience, we have incorporated a lot of financial wisdom in the AI of Nova.
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