Why we invested in DebtStream
We are proud to announce our latest investment from the Ascension Fair By Design Fund (‘FBD’), DebtStream. We are leading the £1.1m investment round alongside Fin Venture Capital, a US fund focused on B2B SaaS, and a number of angels including Chris Adelsbach, John McAndrew and Ken Stannard.
DebtStream is a digital ‘self-service’ debt collections platform, enabling any businesses carrying credit (such as lenders, utilities and debt collection agencies), to engage with their customers online under their own brand. The platform enables businesses to deal with customers in a non-threatening or imposing manner.
We are excited that DebtStream is the latest investment in the FBD portfolio, supporting businesses which alleviate the poverty premium (the extra cost of being poor). DebtStream fits the FBD thesis by enabling users to build affordable repayment plans that are tailored to their personal financial circumstances.
Why we love DebtStream
Stepchange estimates that 4.6m people in the UK negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic have accumulated £6.1bn of arrears and debt. Since the beginning of lockdown in the UK, 2.8 million people have fallen into arrears: most frequently utilities (1.2 million), council tax (820,000) and rent (590,000). 4.2 million people have borrowed to make ends meet, most often using a credit card (1.7 million), an overdraft (1.6 million) or a high cost credit product (980,000).
A study from the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that half of UK adults in debt are also living with mental ill-health. Much of debt-related anxiety is due to a lack of support from creditors and from family, friends and employers. Debt can be a considerable burden, made worse by dealing with it alone. Generally speaking, debtors are financially vulnerable people in an emotional state who are often more susceptible to threats and intimidation, something that the worst debt collectors have taken advantage of for decades. Citizens Advice and StepChange in the UK found that over 850,000 people had been victims of forced home entries and many more had been threatened by field agents using practices that could be deemed illegal.
DebtStream addresses growing personal debt, individuals using high-cost credit alternatives to repay debt and the associated correlating factors (poverty, mental health, impacted credit profiles) with a white label, B2B digital collections platform. The platform enables businesses to engage with their customers online in a non-threatening or imposing manner and supports customers to build affordable repayment plans.
We are excited by the DebtStream proposition as we believe that by improving the transparency and personalised nature of debt repayments, users will clear their debts quicker. The DebtStream platform will help support individuals in debt by providing a non-intrusive way of connecting to lenders.
The team behind DebtStream
We first connected with Gareth, Martin and Leonardo back in April 2021 when the investment round was about to open. They worked together for 5 years prior to co-founding DebtStream. With a combined collective experience in the debt collections industry of over 35 years, the team have seen firsthand the challenges that borrowers face when trying to create personalised repayment plans.
Unlike other solutions and platforms in the debt collection sector, we love that the DebtStream platform helps users take proactive steps to pay back their debts in a flexible and affordable manner. Rather than simply spotlighting the debt and charges associated, DebtStream enables users to begin actioning their repayments and avoid ignoring debt repayment reminders.
At Ascension, we look for founders with deep sector expertise and DebtStream is a perfect example of that.
The £1.1m investment round will enable DebtStream to grow the team across engineering, customer success and sales; increase marketing to drive the sales pipeline and accelerate product development.
As the cost of living continues to rise exponentially, and the economy continues to suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and various lockdowns, there is a clear gap in the market for a debt service which places customer wellbeing at its core. We believe that DebtStream is the platform to support these customers.
Gareth Bailey, CEO, DebtStream, on closing the £1.1m investment round led by Ascension: “As a growing start-up we were keen to find an investment partner that would share our vision and be able to provide support and guidance as we continue to scale. We’re so excited to be part of the Ascension portfolio, with their team sharing the same ethos and focus on helping the consumers within our space.”
Sam Marchant, Investment Associate at Ascension: “Due to the lack of innovation in the debt collection sector, borrowers are more disconnected than ever with debt collection agencies and lenders. DebtStream aims to improve the collections process by fostering honesty and trust between the borrower and debt collector through personalised repayment plans. The DebtStream team is highly driven and focused on improving the visibility of the collections process to benefit both borrowers and debt collectors. We’re excited to be leading this investment round from our Fair By Design Fund which aims to tackle the Poverty Premium, the extra cost of being poor.”