Eleven years at Macquarie Bank gave Katherine the finance experience she needed to build her own fintech startup. She identified an opportunity in the market and developed the product in September 2015. The business was registered in November 2015, and they launched Brighte in late 2016.

Above: Katherine McConnell at Stone & Chalk

So what does Brighte do?

Brighte is Australia’s easiest way to pay for home energy and home improvement products and services, such as solar, household batteries, flooring, carpets and air conditioning. They are also broadening their offering by moving into the lifestyle and leisure space as well as looking at a few new asset categories this year.

Brighte provide point-of-sale ‘no interest ever’ credit to customers for these products and services, which has benefits on both sides of the transaction.

From the vendors perspective, they are often selling products which are quite expensive, ranging between $10K and $25K. These products, particularly in the renewable energy space, have the potential to drastically reduce the cost of the customer’s bills, but they won’t necessarily have the money to pay for them upfront.

From the customer’s perspective, they can take advantage of great new technology without having to save for months, but get peace of mind knowing that they won’t pay huge amounts of interest and can reuse their payment plan when making home improvement purchases in the future. On top of that, it’s just simpler and easier than a regular credit application.

“Using our proprietary credit algorithm, we assess that application and give them an instant result. The customer can complete the sale on-the-spot and gets peace of mind knowing they can buy the goods; they don’t have to save and wait — they can pay no interest ever and take the goods home today.”

Brighte does support home improvement spending in other areas, but Katherine has first-hand experience of how beneficial the upfront spend on renewable energy can be:

“As a family, we got solar five years ago. We got a small system, we understood how it worked, and it was fantastic — it cut our energy bill in half.”

A few years later they upgraded their solar capabilities. Two years ago they got their first battery and last year they got two more. It’s been a five year journey, but one that Katherine thinks was definitely worth the time and money:

“I guess what I’m finding is in summer, my energy bill is about -$1.50AUD, and in the last few weeks where we had peak weather events, I was actually selling energy back to the grid so I made about $5AUD those days. From my own experience, it makes sense. It’s very cost effective, and if you’re a value conscious household, why wouldn’t you want to save money.”

What will this mean for families?

Katherine believes it will enable families that don’t have the cash upfront today to make improvements today that will save them money in the long run.

“It’ll bring forward their purchasing decision. A lot of people want to cut the cost of their energy bill and Brighte is going to empower them to be able to make that decision today and start saving money sooner.”

Above: Katherine McConnell on SkyNews

“Energy is exciting; I think it makes sense. Whether you’re a greenie or you don’t believe in climate change…once you get solar, one thing you can’t deny is that your energy bill, which comes in quarterly, will be lower.

“It’s a fantastic feeling — I think it makes sense. I also think it’s amazing that you can have a smaller footprint. We can create our own energy, we can store our own energy, and my children love to see that.”

When asked what the highlight has been so far, Katherine says:

“ I have an amazing team with years and years of industry experience, and they left stable jobs to come in and turn my dream into reality. It’s staff, people on my board, and it’s also my investors; it’s been amazing having them along, turning a dream into reality.”

Over the next year, the Brighte team will be moving into the areas of home health and home retail. They’re looking at getting faster and making it easier for customers to reuse their Brighte payment plan again and again.

Katherine says that the team has ambitious goals but she’s confident that they will reach them because they have a track record of breaking their goals down into pieces, and achieving it one step at a time.

“We started funding in October. It’s been about six months now and we’re exactly where we said we would be. I know we have ambitious goals and ambitious targets, but I’m really confident that with the team we have in place, we’re going to get there.”

We look forward to hearing more about the success of Katherine and the Brighte team as they work towards becoming a known and trusted brand in the marketplace, building out the Brighte ecosystem and developing the different benefits they offer to their customers and vendor partners.