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Chieu Cao: I Do Not Believe That There Is Anything Particularly Unique About My Work Experience

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Chieu Cao

Chieu Cao of Mintago.

Tell us about yourself?

I am the CEO & Founder of Mintago, previously co-founder of Perkbox, and began my career with tech giants including Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo.

I have 21 years of professional experience. With a dedication to championing happier workplaces, I am determined to help improve individuals’ financial education and therefore, wellbeing.

This passion is reflected in my everyday work by creating an inspiring vision of the future and motivating my team and others to engage with this.

My drive and dedication have been vital this past year to ensure continuous business growth in a challenging climate.

I have worked closely with my team members to support them in their roles and have even learnt skills that I had not necessarily gained from my specific role as CEO.

I am confident that I have inspired my team to truly value their work and care about pension and financial wellbeing as much as I do.

I am a hands-on individual who is active in the wellbeing and startup community.

Since founding Perkbox, I have been keen to continue making a positive impact in the wellbeing sector and have plenty of passion for supporting and educating others, especially my team.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

When it comes to startups, especially managing one, a lot of people think that you need to have a lot of the answers and a wealth of experience and knowledge to be successful.

However, most startup founders do not always have the answers to problems that they encounter, but they are resilient and resourceful in sourcing the right people to help solve them. Startup founders are not superhuman!

But they do have the right mindset which carries them through. Having experience in the industry that you want to appeal to does help when beginning your journey, but what is more important is being enthusiastic and making the effort to find the answers you need.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

Going back to peak pandemic times and the social and economic turmoil this created, my advice for myself would be to remain resilient and resourceful.

I believe that people need to be realistic about the world but also optimistic about what the future holds.

I would emphasise the importance of staying close to the people around you both personally and professionally and always looking for great people to work with who share your values and vision.

I would encourage myself to explore every opportunity presented to me and the businesses that I have been involved with because you never know where these may lead you, and how you could benefit in the long run.

Furthermore, I would tell myself to take every chance to network with people who you can learn from, grow from, and help in return.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

I do not believe that there is anything particularly unique about my work experience. What has helped me succeed in my ventures is the right attitude and mindset.

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I am resilient in the face of challenges and try to keep a good perspective when facing obstacles.

I am relentless in connecting with the right people, finding the required resources and always looking for better solutions. Success is not a destination, and I believe that there is always room for improvement personally and professionally.

This growth mentality makes me stand out as an entrepreneur.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Over the years I have really learnt the importance of a good, structured routine. By following this every day I am able to partition my time, with this allowing me to focus where I need to and also have time to decompress and relax.

Your mental health is the most vital thing to protect on your journey and I have learned the importance of taking time to focus, think, train my brain, and relax.

Stress comes in many forms, but I have become much better at focusing on what I can control in the present and dealing with that as a priority.

It is important to think about the future, but there is no point in becoming consumed by worries about things that may or may not happen.

This creates unnecessary stress. The past is behind you, and all you can do is learn from it. The future has not arrived yet, so by all means prepare the best you can, but do not worry too much.

Focusing on the present and making the best decision that you can at that time is a very good working habit to form. Worrying excessively about future decisions can hinder your ability to make good decisions now, and this only causes increased stress and panic.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

As a result of the belief that most people are not financially healthy, Mintago was launched in an attempt to address this problem.

Tackling this issue is of growing importance against a backdrop of increasing costs, record levels of inflation, political conflicts and Covid.

There is a gap in the market for an unbiased financial wellbeing platform that focuses entirely on financial wellbeing by starting with pensions (one of people’s largest assets).

Mintago aims to make the process of managing pensions and finances easier for users of all backgrounds regardless of their financial situation.

Where do you see your business in five years?

We are excited about the future and the success this will bring for us. With 73% of SMEs in the UK not currently enrolled in a salary sacrifice pension scheme, the backdrop of increased costs, difficulty in hiring and retaining staff, record levels of inflation and the national insurance increase, the conditions are ideal for a platform like Mintago that saves employers and employees money and improves employee financial wellbeing.

Now that we have found our place in the market, an emphasis is being placed on investing in our outreach to attract and secure clients.

Part of this is investing in the growth of our sales team to ensure that we have the capabilities to speak to and close as many leads as possible. Plans are also in place to invest in further marketing for the business.

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Within the next 5 years and beyond, we hope to continue meeting our objective of improving society’s financial wellbeing. Even in such early stages of the business, we are proud to have made a beneficial impact on our users.

So far, we have saved £1m+ for businesses and have successfully found over £10m of missing pensions for employees.

People are more aware of their financial wellbeing than ever, but we have noticed that they tend to focus on more immediate financial commitments over planning for the future against this challenging backdrop of financial concern.

In the next 5 years, we want to help people get better at saving their hard-earned money and make the right financial decisions sooner.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

I think the biggest challenge for the business will be the ever-changing market and landscape of the industry.

Although Mintago is a strong business with a clear vision, the vast market changes over the last few years have made us adjust our techniques to ensure that we are growing whilst serving employers and their employees in the best way we can.

Future change is bound to happen, and it will be challenging but rewarding to react to these changes in a way that will continue to benefit our users.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

With an estimated over £20b in lost pensions in the UK, we created the Mintago Pension Hunter technology to help tackle this problem.

The tool has a 90% success rate in tracing lost pensions and allows employees to find pensions from previous jobs with ease and minimal hassle.

It is the beginning point of a user’s financial wellbeing journey on the platform, and retrieved pots are factored into the user’s insights about how to manage pension contributions and plan for retirement.

Although other pension hunting services are available on the market, Mintago’s technology is thorough whilst only requiring minimal information from employees to get started. We have already found over £10.5m worth of lost pensions for our users.

This is an example of how we have succeeded in filling a gap in the market.

We are unbiased from a financial services perspective and do not seek to acquire users’ assets or try to sell them any financial product. This is a key factor which differentiates us from others in the market.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

We are active on social media platforms and clients and businesses can find us there. We share blog posts written by the team, PR articles featuring the business and me as CEO, data and insights into the world of pensions and much more.

This content is created to appeal to clients and customers, and by including the link to our website and/or useful resources created by Mintago, we make it easy for those interested in what we do to find out more and get in contact.

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Our website also provides a wealth of information about the business and a demo with one of the sales team can be scheduled here. As well as this, those interested in Mintago often find us due to a desire to implement the government’s salary sacrifice pension scheme.

Although the scheme is available to most businesses, many employers do not know where to start when introducing it and require expert guidance, which Mintago provides.

I am active within the Mintago sales team, and regularly attend events and opportunities for networking to promote the business.

I really believe in what we are trying to achieve and like to spread the word about the genuine benefits employers and employees can discover through Mintago.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

My biggest tip would be to ensure that you are truly invested in the sector in which you are operating, and stay focused on the problem you are trying to solve and the community that you interact with.

Your business will likely become your life in the long run, and being in it for purely commercial reasons can lead to resentment and make you question why you started in the first place.

It is so important to be happy in the sector you choose to work in, and remain invested in your business idea, product and audience.

It is also so beneficial to enjoy interacting with the people who also operate in your sector. If you get this right and are aligned with the original reason you started your business, this makes for a great and rewarding journey.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

Personally, I hope to continue building my business with a strong purpose. I believe that it is vital for happiness to live a purposeful life and always have something to look forward to.

I hope to carry on building Mintago as something that I can be proud of and leave behind as a successful legacy.

I want Mintago to continue to have a social impact on a wide scale, continuing to improve the lives of many people.

Our vision is to help people become more financially healthy and we are so proud to be delivering on that promise and plan to carry on doing so.

This fulfils my purpose and justifies why I spend so much time and effort ensuring that Mintago is a success. I want to grow the business and expand our team to ensure we can widen our reach and help more employees and businesses across the world.

I hope that in the future Mintago continues to provide businesses and their employees with a truly beneficial platform and range of resources that have a tangible impact on people’s financial wellbeing.

We are working on providing open banking for pensions which will further increase users’ ability to manage their pension pots and plan for a comfortable retirement.

Moreover, I hope that the Mintago team continues to grow and that we attract and retain talented team members who are truly aligned with Mintago’s values.

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