Former lawyer and now CEO Georgina Nelson is making waves across the world with her startup, truRating. This week, the early-stage company raised $12.6 million in Series A funding led by Sandaire. This financial boost follows their physical growth, as exhibited through the establishment of their North American headquarters in Atlanta. With offices in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, truRating is skyrocketing. And why not? The startup offers a mass point-of-payment rating system that allows customers to seamlessly share their opinions, while businesses gain the feedback they need to tweak their products and marketing.
“I want the world tomorrow,” says Nelson, when asked about her goals. (And I can’t help but believe she will get it.) That’s Nelson in a nutshell. She’s a visionary that is breaking barriers in the FinTech world, showing that startup smarts come in all sorts of shells.
Hypepotamus sat down with Nelson to talk about her path to entrepreneurship, growing truRating, and why she picked ATL as her North American HQ. Plus, check out a tour of their new Old Fourth Ward digs at the Telephone Factory Lofts.
Why did you decide to bring truRating’s headquarters to Atlanta?
We did the analysis of all the relevant U.S. cities including San Francisco, New York, Atlanta and Boston. For us, the way we work in terms of our technology is partnering with the payments companies, whether those who make the payment terminals or the processors who do the processing at the back end. Atlanta is a payments hub so being on their doorstep close to all our partners made sense.
Then of course, Atlanta being a Delta hub. For us, it’s the perfect base to visit our other international offices, but also have a sales team based here and a nice flight over from London.
What are some of truRating’s latest accomplishments, besides the recent expansion to the U.S. and Canada?
We’re live in the UK and Australia and we’ve gone live with merchants ranging from your tiny mom and pop to some of the biggest retailers in those markets.
We’re currently focusing on the ramp up in the U.S. We’ve got a big space and we need to fill it with some amazing people. The U.S. are going live with pilots in September and again, we’ll really be scaling that up in the beginning of next year alongside growth from our Toronto office.
How did your previous experience as a consumer-focused lawyer inspire truRating?
While I was there, I noticed there was this gap in the consumer insight space in terms of what businesses hear. On average, less than 1% of their customers feedback – and mostly days or weeks after the event. Often you complain to the person in the shop but that never gets to the head office and businesses are fumbling around in the dark not having actionable insight.
We also looked at the consumer websites, like Yelp! or TripAdvisor, that consumers use them all the time. They wanted to trust them, but you don’t have to be a validated customer to leave a review. You can be the owner raving about a place or someone who is making unfair accusations.
That’s when I realized if you could make providing feedback to your business super quick and simple and you can pair that rating with a transaction and a payment, that means that the business and the consumers could trust that feedback because it was representative of real customers.
We always try to view things from the perspective of the consumer because I passionately believe that truRating really works when you have consumers always rating and always wanting to feedback.
Why is having an A-team essential to build truRating?
Very early on, it was important to get a team of advisors and investors and elite team members that knew what they were doing. They’ve been there, they’ve done that and they could help me put the operations in place, put the financial models together, help secure investment and also, bring other trusted people on board. It’s a massive learning curve and I’m learning all the time.
How do you stay on top of trends and stay updated on research for your company?
That’s a really good question. I think nowadays it is amazing in terms of the specific newsletters you can get, the Google words which you can always use to be alerted to relevant news feeds and I benefit from having people in my team who absolutely love every piece of new technology which comes on the market. We always share knowledge throughout the company so I guess it’s also about talking to our partners all the time, finding out where they’re innovating and how we can adapt to them, and refining what we have to fit those future products as well.
How do you keep your global team motivated, despite not being under one roof?
We call it the truFamily. Nowadays, it doesn’t really matter where you are in the world – everyone is walking around with headphones and their mics on Skype. It’s very much inclusive. Wherever you are in the world, you’re still part of that decision making process and I think because we decided to expand so quickly, it wasn’t like we worked out exactly what to do first. I’m sure many more patient and risk averse CEOs would have worked out what they’re doing and roll it out as a recipe book whereas with us, we’re all virtually learning together to grow quickly internationally.
The product and our service is very much a result of everyone from all our offices continuing to feed back into that process and refining an amazing product.
What would you say to other female CEOs that are out there encountering challenges in the tech world?
Everyone is very conscious of trying to get more women into tech and there’s a lot of supportive groups providing networking opportunities etc, also in FinTech. To be honest, my experience has been exceptionally positive with people trying to open doors. There have been scenarios where I’ve sat in an investment meeting with a potential investor and they haven’t asked me any serious questions. They’ve asked it all to the guy who’s sitting next to me.
I’ve always very much had an attitude that I will do what I want. I’m not going to let my gender hold me back, but I think some women haven’t been nearly as lucky with those doors opening. Hopefully the more role models we get, we build that acceptance and any sexism which is still out there gets quickly stamped down.
Back in the UK, it’s 50% female and a lot of senior positions in the team are taken by women. So far, in the USA we’ve had 1 female applicant for every 55 men so I’m just trying to work out why that is. Why aren’t we reaching that female audience?
Are you hiring?
I think there’s a disparity on who goes into the industry and it’s not as balanced as other industries, especially here. That’s why we’re trying to change. We’re trying to bring more talent that’s outside the norm, outside of the white male tech guy. I just wish women would feel more confident about making that leap.