An interview with Rachel Curtis, CEO at, on Morgan Stanley’s Inclusive Ventures Lab. 

We met with CEO and Co-founder of Scottish fintech, Rachel Curtis, who was one of the 23 companies from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa selected by Morgan Stanley to go through their Inclusive Ventures Lab, an accelerator to help tech and tech-enabled startups develop and scale their companies, and to advance a more equitable investment landscape. To get there, Rachel had previously won the Scottish pitching event.

With the Inclusive Ventures Lab 2024 now open for applications we wanted to know more about Rachel’s experience of the programme and the impact it had on her business.

Rachel, could you introduce yourself and

Of course, I’m the CEO of, a fintech for good focussed on helping vulnerable people get out of debt.

We have built a solution that removes a key barrier for those struggling with debt – it uses cutting edge conversational AI to guide consumers through a self-serve affordability assessment. The solution also has huge benefits for organisations as we deliver a more consistent and efficient process, which captures deeper and better-quality data, whilst saving them up to 90% of their agent costs.

How did you first hear about the Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab?

We are part of the FinTech Scotland community and Morgan Stanley are one of FinTech Scotland’s strategic partners. FinTech Scotland contacted us directly to make us aware of this opportunity as they thought we would be a good fit for the Lab.

What’s interesting is that if I’d just seen information on the Lab elsewhere, I would probably have disregarded it as my first thought would have been that we were too small for a giant like Morgan Stanley. However, thanks to this warm introduction from FinTech Scotland we decided to apply.

What other attributes of the programme did you find interesting?

It was a combination of a few things. Of course, the prospect of securing a £250,000 investment was a key driver, but the overall programme looked fantastic with an incredible level of support offered to participants.

At the time we had just gone through the University of Edinburgh’s AI accelerator and the experience had been really positive. Therefore, we thought that continuing with Morgan Stanley’s Inclusive Venture Lab made a lot of sense.


Can you tell us more about the Inclusive Ventures Lab?

After winning the Scottish pitch event, we then successfully made it through the Investment Committee screening and a due diligence phase to secure our place.

On the first day of the lab we came together as an EMEA cohort in London at Canary Wharf and were welcomed with our pictures on the TV screens in the lobby and even in the elevators.  They made us feel like movie stars! We were taken to the 11th floor Boardroom where we joined via video with the North America cohort.

During the lab we were given office space on the 10th floor which really helped us punch above our weight, giving us credibility when inviting investors or potential clients to visit us.

When the Lab concluded at the start of February 2024, after 5 intensive months, I had the privilege to attend the Final Demo Day and pitch in front of hundreds of global investors from across the US and EMEA. After the pitching day I even got displayed on the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square, New York. When we shared this on LinkedIn, we got 10 times more responses than any other previous posts. This created a lot of brand awareness for us and gave us fuel for our business.

On a practical level, the support we received was unparalleled. We were given a dedicated team that helped us with information sourcing, presentations, pitching preparation and more. They became a part of the Inicio team and we were supercharged overnight! We also met with our Entrepreneur in Residence every week and they had such broad experience it meant we could cover all aspects of the business in detail.

On top of this I received a lot of coaching around sales, pitching, go to market strategies, investment readiness and more. I was also allocated a Morgan Stanley Managing Director as a mentor, which really demonstrates how committed the company is to the Lab programme.

We were even given free sessions with a top law firm which is not something we could have afforded ourselves.

How was the Inclusive Ventures Lab different from other accelerators you had come across?

The Inclusive Ventures Lab is a pure accelerator in that Morgan Stanley were not looking for a solution for their business but instead were focussed on our success as an investor.

They were very involved to the point that it felt that we had more than doubled the number of Inicio colleagues overnight. The Lab team even helped us rethink our brand and identity and whilst the programme is now over, the team is still helping us with our website redesign and other tasks – they continue to support even after the 5 months.

Finally, Morgan Stanley was really committed to inclusion and diversity and it was fantastic to work alongside the other 22 entrepreneurs who all came from different backgrounds and different countries.

Could you describe your experience?

I felt hugely supported. Sometimes, being a CEO can be lonely. I have an amazing and very supportive board of directors but it’s obviously not possible for them to be involved in every detail of the daily running of the business, nor should they. The Morgan Stanley team was involved 24/7 to help move things at pace and offered the extra help we needed to accelerate our growth.

The programme was intense and soul searching as it made me rethink so much. They didn’t pull any punches and gave me raw feedback which is what entrepreneurs need to ensure success, but they did it in a super supportive way.

Overall, I feel a lot more confident and better at making fast decisions. Prior to joining the Lab, I felt much weaker in investor pitches. There’s been a real shift now and I have confidence that my business is valuable and I find myself asking more of the questions during pitches as I want the right investors for my company.

What has the impact of going through this programme been for Inicio?

This has helped us secure investment and sales which has been a real boost for Inicio. This comes from being able to articulate our proposition much more clearly. I hadn’t realised how complex my business could sound before but the coaching I received helped me to understand how to focus our story for the relevant audience.

Going through the Inclusive Ventures Lab has fast tracked our businesses by years and we’re now seen as so much more credible which has enabled us to open new doors.

Why do you think diversity is important when it comes to financial innovation?

I believe it allows for more diverse thinking and a fresh perspective. I think some of the biggest leaps in innovation are driven by the edge case experiences of those in the minority where there are more challenges. There is much less creativity in the average middle ground and the innovation that comes from solving struggles in the edge cases can then be applied to the whole market so all benefit.

To finish and now you completed the program, what advice would you give to other budding diverse entrepreneurs who might be considering applying to the 2024 Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab 2024?

 My advice to anyone thinking about applying is first, ensure you can give it your full commitment in terms of time and effort so that you are able to get the most out of what is an amazing opportunity, and second … DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!!!