Alexandra Birtles co-founded the social enterprise In Good Company alongside Sarah Kingston. Alex's impressive career includes helping set up a programme for disadvantaged children and an inspiring attitude.
And Alex's success continues. Two days before we posted this article, she won funding for In Good Company at Hatch Enterprise UK's Pitch Day Event, hosted by UBS.
Alex came to us for guidance in the fundraising process for In Good Company. We asked if she would like to be featured as part of Female Founders Friday, intending to inspire budding and current female entrepreneurs through her story.
She's currently raising SEIS for In Good Company with our support.
As Digital Marketing Executive for FounderCatalyst, I've been chatting to her via WhatsApp, including exchanging feminist memes- a surefire sign that she carries her values of equality into the founder community!
I asked her some questions to help others understand Alex's entrepreneurial journey.
AB: I’ve spent most of my career holding senior positions in the private and public sectors.
Whilst I have varied experience - I ran customer loyalty and digital products at TalkTalk and helped set up a £250m government programme to get children from low-income families online at home - it has always been driven by a passion for using technology and business as a force for good. After leaving TalkTalk, I decided I wanted to do something more directly purpose-driven.
That was when I really discovered this hidden world of good businesses in the UK and worldwide. They were using entrepreneurship to tackle social and environmental problems, but my god, they were hard to find, especially out and about in the real world.
So combine that with the post-pandemic effect of realising how much we all value experiences over things and a desire to support local, small businesses which are really struggling right now, and In Good Company was born.
With our platform - web and app - we let people find the best good small local businesses and experiences that give back to people, the planet or the community at the touch of a button.
We’ve partnered with leading ethical accreditation and membership bodies to help build trust and understanding of what it means to be a good business.
And users will be able to rate and review good companies, and share photos and videos, to help others - because quality matters too!
Data is at the heart of our business.
So we’ll use the wealth of information we generate - supported by AI and Machine Learning - to provide good companies with personalised recommendations on how to improve and ‘nudge’ consumers to better choices.
Alexandra Birtles (Left) and Sarah Kingston (Right), Co-Founders of In Good Company
AB: I was heavily involved in the launch of the NHS Covid-19 app, which was downloaded by over 22m people making it one of the most downloaded apps in the UK.
We did a lot of work with diverse users to make it as inclusive as possible and partnered with brilliant local community groups to drive uptake from those most at risk.
Recently published research estimated that it prevented around 1m cases of Covid-19 and 10k deaths in its first year.
AB: I’ve actually worked on two big ‘crises’ in my career - a major cyber attack and Covid-19. While I wouldn’t choose to go through either of these again - and it took me a while to mentally and physically recover from both - they were also two of my career's proudest and most rewarding moments.
On both occasions, I saw the absolute best in the people I was working with, from right on the front line up to the top, because we aligned entirely on what we were trying to do. And ultimately, all had the same shared powerful purpose.
All the usual barriers, hierarchy and distracting ‘stuff’ that comes with business fall away when you are all focused on how to protect people.
That’s the kind of purpose I want to create in my own business - albeit without the catastrophe to cause it!
AB: They say word-of-mouth is the best kind of marketing, and judging by the people who pop up in every entrepreneur group singing FC’s praises (myself included!), you are smashing it.
As first-time founders, there was so much we were nervous about or didn’t fully understand, and FC has consistently made time for us and never laughed at our questions!
I would also say Sam truly goes above and beyond to share relevant contacts and opportunities for his founders, and the WhatsApp group FC has set up is genuinely one of my favourites.
AB: We’re fundraising with Founder Catalyst! There's still some SEIS available for investors. Contact Alex.
Thanks to Alex Birtles for contributing to Female Founders Friday, and we'll be on hand to guide her if needs be throughout her fundraising process.
Click this link to let us guide you on your fundraising journey.
You can start a funding round in minutes with a free FounderCatalyst account, experiment with our service and see how easy it would be to save time, money, and emotional resources by using FounderCatalyst when raising your next funding round.
You can see a sample of the paperwork we'd generate, invite colleagues to act as investors, and truly experiment with how easy we make it. Then cancel the experiment round when you're ready to start a real one!