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Catching up with...Matt Crate

Kingston University alumnus Matt Crate

Matt Crate studied BA Business Management and graduated from Kingston University in 2010. Matt is the CEO and Co-Founder of fintech company Toucan and the Toucan app, with aims to make giving fun, flexible and accessible for all - and was recently featured on BBC Dragons' Den.

Tell us about a typical day for you at work?

6 to 8am is my prime time so I do the most important things then, which is usually pitch our corporate product. I meet with my team at 10am to discuss operations for the day, then do one-on-ones with my team, and meet suppliers and investors. I like to run at lunch to keep my mind fresh. I usually conduct meetings in the afternoon as they are easier to do when my mind is a little tired! I always finish the day writing my to-do list for the next day, as it helps give me closure on the day's activities.

Tell us about your experience on BBC Dragons' Den?

It was incredible. Every single time I did the pitch on the day, I messed it up. The first time I did it perfectly was when we were doing it to the Dragons, which was really nerve-wracking. I think the Dragons knew what they were doing and took me through a bit of a journey. The thing that doesn't come across on TV is the volume of questions that they ask you. The nature of answering a high-volume number of questions is that you're going to get some wrong or not be quite right. So, for the first hour I thought it was going badly. The concept was being challenged. You cannot wear a mask in that situation; the real you comes out. It was extremely intense and emotional; you're put through the wringer.

What's been your career highlight so far?

Obviously, it has to be Dragons' Den. Pitching Toucan, a product that was personal to me and I'd spent so much time and energy on. It really was amazing to get an offer from all five Dragons. To face the barrage of questions and challenges, and then feel like you've got everyone on side in the Den was fantastic. And to secure the Dragon that we went in for, Steven Bartlett, made the experience so much better.

We picked Steven because the number one objective in our business is to acquire donors, and we need a user acquisition specialist. Steven has built a business around content creation and acquiring users. He's got a big following and a lot of leverage in online communities. If he can help us promote Toucan across his communities, then it will only bring light to who we are and what we're trying to achieve.

What did you learn at Kingston that has helped you most in your career?

I learnt that group coursework is actually very representative of real-life work scenarios. You have to work in teams that you might not necessarily choose to reach a collaborative objective. Managing team dynamics is very important at university, and the same applies at work. 

What career advice would you give recent graduates?

Don't worry about not knowing what to do, you will find your way, just stay driven. It's also important to travel. Travelling will teach you more about life than work - and do it when you're young as much as possible. The soft skills you learn from travelling set you up for emotionally intelligent conversations versus just transactional ones in a corporate environment.

What's your favourite Kingston memory?

Am I allowed to say the nightlife?! I actually enjoyed the topical lectures in the lecture hall and listening to experts in their field too!

Tell us something no one would guess about you.

I can do the worm after about six pints!

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