How Perth startup PictureWealth raised $1.2 million, landed the “world’s most disruptive” chief innovation officer, and had $500 million in tracked assets while in beta mode


PictureWealth co-founders David Pettit and Neal Cross. Source: Supplied.

Perth-based fintech startup PictureWealth has had a whirlwind six months.

Since being founded in March, the startup has raised $1.2 million in seed funding, brought on co-founder and investor Neal Cross, who was last year named the “world’s most disruptive chief innovation officer”, and amassed $500 million in tracked funds on the platform — all while in beta testing.

PictureWealth allows clients to take a “Welfie” of their current financial position by aggregating details of their bank accounts, expenses, assets and cryptocurrencies to build a “snapshot” of their finances, according to PictureWealth co-founder David Pettit.

“We came up with idea after realising that most people are disorganised in relation to their money, and lacking the one place to do and see [their finances] all at once,” Pettit tells StartupSmart

“There’s lots of great tech that’s starting to emerge, but it doesn’t exist it people’s daily lives. Our ‘Welfie” enables you within one minute to take a look, understand your whole financial world on one screen, and that’s attractive.”

With the PictureWealth platform launching last week, Pettit shared his tips for pre-launch success with StartupSmart, explaining that having “strong intent”, solving a socially-relevant problem, and establishing key distribution partnerships are crucial for early-stage startups looking to launch with a bang.

Distribution is key

PictureWealth raised $1.2 million in seed funding “in the last couple of months” from investors including advisory group Super Advice, according to Pettit, who advises startups looking to raise to focus on establishing distribution partnerships.

“Bring a distribution element to your story,” Pettit advises

“If you have a great idea for a product as well as a database of people you can distribute to through partnerships, you will be much more attractive for incoming investors.”

Super Advice adopted the PictureWealth platform because they found their own corporate superannuation services were “lacking in financial education”, according to Pettit, and identifying this gap in the market was crucial to establishing a partnership and bolstering this funding round.

Landing high-profile team members

Neal Cross, chief innovation officer at Singapore’s DBS bank, also contributed to this fundraising round and has recently came on board as co-founder and investor to the startup.

Pettit says it was his “strong intent” to provide socially-focused startup offerings that convinced Cross to get involved. 

Cross was named the “world’s most disruptive chief innovation officer” at last year’s Talent Unleashed awards by a judging panel that included Steve Wozniak and Richard Branson. 

“I’ve known Neal for close to eight years — I gave him a call and he came in as one of our founding investors,” Pettit says.

“He’s a pretty extraordinary guy. The reason he got involved [as co-founder] was primarily for our focus on financial education,” he adds.

For startups looking to secure high-profile backers, Pettit says they need to “have a strong intent”. It was PictureWealth’s own desire to “help people and do it at-scale for free” which attracted Cross to the startup, he says.

“Have a strong intent, know what problem it is you’re trying to solve, and how you’ve got the resources and technical capacity to do that,” Pettit advises.

“All business should have a component that’s about giving back and improving society, and startups have got a greater ability to do it quickly, because they can have that as part of their founding vision and intent.”

In addition to his role at DBS bank, Cross is also the founder of Hotel Orangutan, a not-for-profit environmental charity working to bring awareness to the plight of Sumatran orangutans. This global outlook also aligned with PictureWealth’s altruistic motives, says Pettit.

“Neal is doing a lot of social ventures with the hotel, and he got involved because the problem we are solving is not a domestic problem for Australian residents, its a global issue,” Pettit says.

Gaining traction pre-launch

PictureWealth had $500 million in assets being tracked through its platform while it was still in beta mode, and Pettit says achieving this traction while pre-launch comes down to one word: “partnerships”.

Instead of investing marketing funds to gain individual consumers, which Pettit says “results in quite a high cost of client acquisition”, he suggests instead targeting companies “who look after the people you’re trying to help” and offering your startup’s services “as a value-add” to their existing offerings.

Using this approach PictureWealth has partnered with Super Advice and accounting-service RISE Standards, and Pettit says deals have given the startup access to “120,000 prospective users across those two partnerships”.

“To do that organically on a marketing campaign targeting [120,000] individual customers can be very expensive,” Pettit explains, adding that onboarding two partners instead of numerous individual users has “the same outcome” for startups in terms of customer growth, yet costs much less.

Entering into partnerships with companies “provides enhanced scalability” for pre-launch startups, which should be asking how they can “help a lot of people and do it at a low cost,” Pettit says.

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