About us

Thrive is set up by Funding London, a venture capital company bridging the finance gap for early stage businesses based in London. With over a decade’s experience in supporting the startups of London through a variety of funding vehicles, Funding London sensed a need to illuminate the ever-evolving scenario of London’s early stage businesses.

Thrive features interviews with and opinion from budding entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts. A mix of contributors from all areas of the industry is desired in order to spark genuine discussion about ongoing critical issues. While it showcases the effectiveness of successful ventures, it also encourages sharing lessons learned from missteps and unsuccessful projects.

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We live in a time of change


Michel Francis is the CEO and Co-founder of Reloadly, which he created alongside Co-Founder Emmauel Piard in Miami, Florida in late 2019. Prior to launching Reloadly, Michel was the co-founder and CEO of CallDirek, the first international pinless and VoIP calling app in the market, which he sold in 2016. A son of ethnic Lebanese Haitian immigrants, Michel uses his intimate knowledge of prepaid-dominated markets as an inspiration to build better top-up APIs and developer tools.



1 July 2021

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journeys before you started Reloadly.

When I was a young kid, I would choose to tag along with my dad on weekends and holidays to go to his business. The idea of owning and building something has led me to start my first startup back in 2003 during my last year of college, I was 22 years old. I started Calldirek, a prepaid long distance calling application back when VoiP was the hot thing. Our goal was to eliminate the traditional prepaid calling cards. I went on to sell the company in 2016.

What inspired you to launch your next start-up?

In 2017, I was living in Miami when I decided to reconnect with a former employee and close friend, Emmanuel Piard. Emmanuel and I had a lot in common: both of us are originally from Haiti, and, as a result of that upbringing, we both intimately understand the pain of maintaining a prepaid balance on your phone to stay connected. This common experience underscored for us the daily necessity of mobile top-ups that emerging markets like Haiti still struggle with meeting today.

Where would you like Reloadly to be in five years?

Reloadly is a global company from day one, we currently have customers across 30 different countries. In the next five years, I see us having teams and hubs around the world further accelerating our API distribution model across thousands of mobile and web applications and further empowering developers to bridge the digital divide for mobile payments.

What has been the most challenging situation since starting the company?

We have faced many challenges, in our industry dealing with telcos is probably the hardest challenge. By that I mean, convincing them to work with a startup is tough at first, it is understandable, many have been established for years, but we live in a time of change. The forward thinking telcos amongst them have seen the changes in the tide and are steadily driving forward with incumbent/startup partnerships. Collaboration is key for breaking markets and opening new revenue streams. In that light, we have been able to sign agreements with over 70 telcos in less than 2 years, and Reloadly continues to push our offering and service into the future.

What first step is most critical when building a new innovative company?

I think forming the right team is the first step to building a successful startup. Of course the product needs to be amazing but you need to surround yourself with the right people who are smart and scrappy early on, people that bring a variety of great attributes to the table who can contribute to getting from idea to product market fit. I am so proud of the collective we have amassed so far, and look forward to seeing who else we bring into the Reloadly family over the coming months and years.

Which resources do you find yourself coming back to?

This one might be a surprise, but I am a big youtube fan for growing my knowledge base, and I get a lot of quick wins and inspiration from different topics that I can implement for the company. There are thousands of inspiring and interesting content creators on there and with mobile making it accessible on the go, I can dip in and out wherever I am.

What future opportunities will be born from recent events?

We’re in a pandemic, the most obvious opportunity here is everyone needs to have a digital-first strategy if they don’t already. Logistics is another big opportunity, just in time delivery and efficiencies at scale will play a big role in the user experience.

What would be your predictions for the Tech ecosystem over the next five years?

Customers in emerging markets, which have not yet adopted the online e-commerce experience will see a big shift. Mobile money payments can play a big role in how merchants can sell their products online to the billions who are unbanked. Today mobile money transactions account for about $60 billion dollars per year and are predicted to grow to $770 Billion by 2027.

Which entrepreneurs do you respect and why?

Before jumping into Reloadly, our plan was to build a cloud communications API platform. I then read the book called Zero to One by Peter Thiel (highly recommended) which changed my entire view on startups and on competition. Thanks to his book, I had a new perspective on what to build and that’s a major reason behind how we came to start Reloadly. I also admire Jeff Lawson, the founder of Twilio. We take a lot of inspiration from what they’ve built with their developer-first approach from being a plucky startup to where they are now, a public company with a $67billion dollar market capitalization. Not bad.