Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Pete Casson, Co-Founder & CTO of Collctiv

Pete Casson is the Co-Founder & CTO of Collctiv, a group payments company that removes the hassle for organisers around the world to collect money from a group of people.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I’ve been in technology for 20 years, starting off as a junior IT engineer during my gap year. I studied Software Engineering at University with the idea of becoming a developer, however I’ve been fortunate enough to have exposure to a wide range of IT specialisms over the years.

I’ve never focused purely on one discipline and always craved to learn more, and not just in technology but business as well. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work for some amazing businesses such as the McLaren Formula 1 team.

 I never sought out to become a CTO, my curiosity and drive to make a difference steered me down the CTO path.I progressed through the ranks of a small Managed Service Provider to become Technical Director before moving to one of the UKs largest MSPs as Head of Platforms & Systems. After that I ran the Sales Engineering Teams for a large PE backed SaaS provider and then became CTO of a rapid scaling EdTech. I have a relentless drive to learn, not accept something as given and understand the why. 

Right now I’m co-founder and CTO of Collctiv which is a 3 year old FinTech startup, helping social organisers around the world collect and spend money on behalf of their friends, family and colleagues.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I don’t think there is a typical day when you are a startup founder. Whilst my primary remit is running the technology side of the business, I have other duties as well such as fundraising, recruitment, attending events and working with the team to develop our next growth experiments. 

Just this week I’ve been to Leeds, Manchester, London and Derby for various meetings and events. I’ve just come back from New York where I spent 3 months on the Techstars NYC accelerator program. But that’s what I love about what I do, there isn’t a ‘typical’ day, every day is different.  

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

If anyone has a solution to this then please let me know. I’ve tried for years to perfect a work life balance and I’m not sure if it’s possible or if I’m even able to define exactly what that means. One thing I do to make sure that happens, is spending proper time with my family.

I’m married with three children and I need to make sure that I’m around for them and spend time focused purely on them. I do spend a good amount of time away from home, and thankfully my children are old enough to be able to use FaceTime and Messages to keep in contact. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I’ve definitely made changes, such as doing the school drop off and pick up a few times a week, or going for lunch with my wife. I do try to make sure I’m not working during my kids’ bedtime so I can read them a story and tuck them in. They aren’t massive changes, just a few small ones that make a big difference. 

Exercise is important to me. Going for a run just gives me space to process and de-stress from everything. There’s no distractions, no screens, just me and the road.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

I’m not a massive book reader, and for me to finish a book it has to be incredibly interesting. We have a book club at Collctiv and we read a book a month as a team. We’ve read books such as ‘The Cold Start Problem’, ‘Think Fast & Slow’ and ‘Loonshots’, I’d recommend those three as a start. 

In terms of Podcasts, I’ve listened to ‘Diary of a CTO’ since it started years ago. It’s fascinating from a business perspective how it has evolved over the years to the highly polished, often very open podcast it is now. 

My last source of information is Twitter. I’m purely a consumer of a select number of profiles on Twitter but I find it to be the best source of up to date information. I do however ignore trends and don’t use search as the amount of negativity and hate is overwhelming. 

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Techstars has a mantra of ‘Give First’, this resonates with me massively. Do what you can to help others with no expectation of getting anything in return. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it could be as simple as sending an introduction to someone or giving a few minutes of your time to review something. It’s been amazing just how many doors it’s opened for me but also how much I have also learnt from others but just giving some of my time to someone else. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.