Growing up in the poor seaside town of Blackpool, UK, Unify’s Founder, Matt, saw first-hand the crippling issues of poverty and the trap into which people fall and remain with minimum support to escape. Living in various cities in the UK including London, he was met with the same problems which he noticed to worsen year on year.
With a degree in Accounting and Finance, and 8 years working in the industry in insurance, tax and wealth management, Matt decided to quit his career to follow his passion of helping others, and focus full-time on creating an all-inclusive, financial solution for those who need it most and are usually excluded from modern day banking and economic mainstreams.
Matt spends his time between the UK and Portugal, which are the two main starting points for Unify, however, his ambition is to take Unify throughout Europe and the US to help and empower as many people experiencing homelessness as possible.
Where did the idea for Unify come from?
Unify was born through my constant frustration of never having spare change whilst living in London when wanting to help someone on the streets. I used to apologise and feel embarrassed when I couldn’t give anything to help, so I decided to seek a solution which allows donors to donate in this ever-increasing cashless society.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As many people will know, the typical day of an entrepreneur/start-up founder is just another ride on the perpetual roller coaster – there is no typical day. I’d say my productivity mimics this.
At first this made me feel rather uneasy. I didn’t understand why some days I could reach lunchtime with four hours passing as if it was ten minutes, or how 9pm could arrive and I was all ready to start the work day all over again. I quickly realised that the unease came from conditioning.
Growing up watching, longing for (madness, ey!), and then getting a 9-5 was all I knew. Now, having tried so hard to break free from this mentality, I know that, personally, to be truly effective I need to ride the productivity wave, whenever it comes, and get what needs to be done, done.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is a tough one. I have a big book of ideas, many of which, for now, are as alive as the paper they’re scribbled on. For the ideas that escaped the pages into fruition, even though dramatically different in nature, the common word that comes to mind is DO. It’s great to dream, but don’t dwell, rip the plaster off and do it, and if you don’t know how, find out. As Donkey says in Shrek “If there’s a will, there’s a way”, and how right he is.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Personally, trends don’t excite me as they’re already happening. What really excites me thinking forward and trying to correlate what circumstances and events happening in the present could bring years down the line.
In terms of Unify, a future without cash, which is where we are heading, is an important ‘trend’ to me, as it will be detrimental to the people reliant on cash handouts for survival.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of my habits is thinking about others before myself. In terms of productivity as an entrepreneur, having this mentality is great for the creation of ideas – see a need, fill a need.
Although as I have grown up, I know this doesn’t always serve me well. I have of late understood I can’t please everyone all of the time and if I am to achieve my ambitions, I have to put myself first, be that refusing a night out with mates or waking up super early to enjoy the peace and quiet of the early hours. Sometimes the life of an entrepreneur doesn’t fit in well with the lives of others. The end goal has to stay close to overcome old limiting beliefs.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I were to give my younger self advice, it would be that in order to flourish you need to be yourself. Find your ultimate self, be true to it, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of that self, have integrity, and you’ll find yourself on the path you’re supposed to be on.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That I’m actually 29, not 21. Joking, of course. I’d probably say a saying which comes out of my mouth a lot, that ‘complacency is a killer’. A lot of my friends moan about being in the same job, the same place, same relationships, so obviously, as a friend, I advise the opposite: quit, move somewhere else, change it up. Complacency kills. No one around me has changed anything to date.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Try. If at first you don’t succeed try and try again. Don’t get disheartened or embarrassed if you did something different and it didn’t work. At least you tried. Learn from it, move on and try again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Networking and utilising already existing connections. Which I guess spans from the saying ‘don’t burn bridges’. It’s amazing how many in our close circles, or wider circles, know a skill or know someone or something that could be of value to the growth of your business. Don’t be afraid to ask.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I think of failures more like lessons, so one lesson I’ve learnt is to never undersell yourself. Have confidence in what you’re doing and don’t hold back timidly. Whatever you’re doing looks so different from the outside than it does when you’re in it, and most likely it’s bigger and better than what you give yourself credit for!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Now this is telling, and there are many, but I’ll go for the one I think I’ll least likely pull through with myself.
I love the idea of the swimming pool being the ‘heart of the house’. For new constructions, in sunny countries, of course, having a smart system which uses solar panels (water), through underfloor heating (veins) to the pool, and have the cool pool water cool the house in summer, and heated solar panel water, warm the house and the pool in colder months. Regulating the temperatures in both the pool and the house, throughout the year, with less impact on your carbon footprint, and no need for expensive air-conditioning.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It’s not exactly to the dot, but I’d say money best spent is on time with loved ones, a nice day out, dinner, drinks and laughs. Buying things, whether it be for your business or yourself is always nice, but they’re almost all pushed to the back of your mind after a week. Memories with loved ones stay forever.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Fiverr, and what a brilliant service it is! For Unify we have had videos, GIFs, design work, voice-overs made, all at very competitive prices which is invaluable to a lot of start-ups.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Hmm, this is very hard to pick just one so I won’t go for the obvious choices which I’m sure have been recommended countless times!
I very much enjoyed ‘Surrounded by Idiots’ by Thomas Erikson. Although the title sounds quite hostile, like most books nowadays, the name is just a marketing hack to get you to pick it from the shelves. The idiots in this case just means people who aren’t like you, people you don’t quite understand.
The book is based on the DISA/DISC system which essentially splits peoples’ behavioural types into 4 colours. It gives your detailed analysis of each type in different settings such as the workplace, relationships and communication etc. and helps you understand which one or more colours you are yourself, and how to deal with certain situations and certain people.
It’s very easy reading the book to pick out which type/s you are, but more so beneficial (for me) reading about other types and realising who, out of your friends or colleagues, is which. It then starts to make sense why your boss is so explosive and dominating, or you find it incredibly difficult to communicate with certain people, no matter which tactic you take.
What is your favorite quote?
I love ‘change your words’. We’re all guilty of talking negatively towards ourselves, but the more you do the more negative you feel, and more things seem to go wrong. When I think ‘man, don’t be stupid!’, or a friend says ‘I’m so bad at XYZ’, I’ll immediately respond with ‘change your words!’. Very nice thing to get your friends and family involved too. Little by little negative thoughts and emotions will be reduced in your day to day, leading to a happier existence.
- Always be unapologetically you
- Introspection can lead to many surprises about yourself
- Don’t be afraid to learn and benefit from your personal circles
- Traction, in the simple act of moving forward, is the majority of the work leading to success
- Do what you think you’re going to be good at, rather than defaulting to what’s practical’. This will lead you to success.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.