Hackney startup office expands despite pandemic amid the ‘heartbeat of fintech in London’

Keith Grose, Plaid’s head of international. Picture: Plaid

Keith Grose, Plaid’s head of international. Picture: Plaid - Credit: Archant

A startup has continued to grow its fledgling Hackney office despite the challenges of Covid-19.

Plaid is an American financial startup founded in San Francisco in 2013 which offers a platform for finance and technology (fintech) applications to connect with users’ bank accounts.

It opened an office in the Fora workspace on Shoreditch’s Great Eastern Street in autumn last year and since then has swelled to 30 employees.

READ MORE: Hackney shops ask customers to shop locally online or in person this Christmas“We’re builders,” Keith Grose, Plaid’s head of international, told the Hackney Gazette.

Shoreditch was the obvious location for a London office, Keith said, calling it “the heartbeat of fintech in London…there’s a reason for the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ moniker”.

The team were looking forward to “be able to walk to the offices of our customers and partners”, before the pandemic struck.

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Since March, Plaid’s London employees have been working from home, with new recruits sent their equipment and “on-boarded” entirely remotely.

The biggest challenge of the move to working from home, Keith said, is transferring Plaid’s culture of “brainstorming” to the more rigidly scheduled ways of digital working — “and instilling it with all the new teammates that joined remotely”.

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However, thanks to video calls and Slack channels, the team have “made great strides in how we connect with one another and keep people feeling connected to Plaid” over the last seven months, Keith said.

Asked by the Gazette if there is a future for the office or if remote working will become the norm, Keith said: “The past year has made it clear that we’re able to be productive and collaborate effectively in a remote world. However, there’s a lot of value to seeing each other as a team and getting in-person time together.

“Personally, I’d miss the camaraderie and value of being able to pull up to a whiteboard over coffee to hash out a problem in a future with no offices.”

Plaid supports several British banks and fintech firms, including Monzo, Cleo, Sage, Coinbase, Upstart and TransferWise.

Negotiations for it to be bought by Visa in a $5.3 billion deal began in January 2020 and the acquisition is still ongoing.

According to Forbes, its 2019 revenue was between $100 and $200 million.

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