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People and relationships have been at the heart of Sonya’s success.
Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

#004 Sonya Williams: Startup Mythbusting

This week we caught up with Sonya Williams, one of the bright minds behind fintech app Sharesies. Along with five co-founders, she began Sharesies with a bold mission of creating financial empowerment for everyone. She’s now co-CEO and a Director, and has led the company through some incredible growth, including their Australian expansion.

Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

Watch the highlights:

Here are some of our favourite snippets from our interview with Sonya

Before Sharesies, Sonya started out her career managing design, product and communications on the agency side, then went company side at Xero and Kiwibank. She’s been on the board of NZTech and was a judge of the innovator category at the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.

Our conversation with Sonya got us thinking about what assumptions are made while scaling startups. Her experiences illuminate the nuances of every founder's journey.


Check out what it really took to build Sharesies by watching the full interview.


In this week’s longform article, we dig into how Sonya’s experience challenges some commonly held beliefs in the start-up world:

Myth #1 - Launch an MVP as fast as possible - Speed is everything but at the early stages, it's essential to take the time to get intimate with your user and their problems. Sonya reflects on how they did six months of customer research before launching.

Myth #2 - Working out your team values is a corporate exercise - The startup spirit has always sought to free itself of corporate-isms. When it came to setting the tone of their founding team, Sonya looks back on the time they dedicated to articulating their values and how they are in practice today.

Myth #3 - Be wary of your competition - Startups often have a black box mentality when it comes to socialising with competition. Sonya challenges this idea, saying startups should never assume who their competitors are.

Myth #4 Mission-driven companies aren’t as commercial - For mission-driven startups, entering territories with greater risk from a business perspective could raise flags but when viewed from a mission perspective, not tackling them could be worse.  Sonya credits their mission as the driver behind some of their biggest strategic moves like Kiwisaver.

Myth #5 There’s a blueprint for raising capital - Your capital raise experience will be just as unique as your business. Sonya’s take on capital raising is that it is as much about people, relationships, and shared values as it is about what’s in your pitch deck and your financial model.  

Sonya’s journey illustrates the power of starting out by anchoring your team, your strategy, and who you collaborate with, to a bigger-than-you mission.


The trends we’re noticing at Atlas Digital:

The power of Linkedin for B2B

Linkedin is a powerful channel for B2B content distribution. Centred around people rather than companies, on average your content will be seen by 3.84% of your followers. This is compared to 1.32% in Facebook. While Instagram is the clear winner, with 14.26% reach, unless you’re in verticals like hospitality, Instagram doesn’t provide the best B2B reach.

Linkedin is special compared to other social media platforms for a couple of reasons:

  1. Users explore the newsfeed with business in mind. Linkedin has to be the only social media platform that’s ‘somewhat acceptable’ to use during work hours. Generally, users on the platform are looking for content related to their profession. Therefore, users are likely to be more engaged with your business’ content.
  2. You can curate your own audience. Linkedin gives you the ability to find your customers, connect with them, and if you’re a ‘creator’, for them to follow you. This allows you to basically build your own following, consisting of your Ideal Customer Profile.

Read Ryan's take here.

SaaS Spotlight: Ivo raise $4.8m

Ivo is generating serious traction in the legal space with their AI contract review software. Their recent funding was led by Fika Ventures and Uncork Capital. 

The legal space is set for disruption by AI. Ivo unlocks efficiencies for in-house lawyers to systematise their contract review in an easy to use, customisable solution. 

Congratulations to our client Min-Kyu Jung, Jacob Duligall and the wider Ivo team. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

Dive deeper into the story of how Ivo got started here.

Fun fact: The name Ivo is inspired by Ivo of Kermartin, the patron saint of lawyers.

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