John Paleomylites

We profile one of online's most exciting prospects

John Paleomylites is delighted. Not that you’d know it. He’s not the most demonstrative person you could meet. “I don’t do happy,” he deadpans, then cracks into a beaming smile, briefly.

His company, (BTQ), has just been named the NatWest Startups Awards’ Business of the Year. And with very, very good reason. At the end of its second year, the online marketing company, which enables consumers to search the web for the best deals on mortgages, loans and credit cards and other products, is set to announce profits of £3m from a turnover of £10m.

For such an early-stage business, it’s the stuff dreams are made of. But Paleomylites has been here before. A decade ago he set up JCP, an internet transaction security company, which in January 2000 he sold to Sun Microsystems for £40m. Happy Millennium!

So what brought him back? “Between businesses I did my house up, lost weight, ran a lot, saw my children, got bored and decided to start again,” he says. “I wanted to do nothing until I was sick of it. Now I need a fight.” And he’s picked one. The classic challenger brand is going head to head with, the dotcom financial products comparison site launched in 1999. One in four web searches on Google, MSN and Yahoo are focused on financial services products, and Paleomylites determined there was room for another player. “I was looking at fast-growing markets and models we could copy,” he admits.

Paleomylites spent over a year researching at home, preparing for battle, yet despite his previous success he started the company on a £40,000 shoestring credit limit and its been self-financing since.

The key is offering the cheapest deal going. “We always get the best rates, even if the commission is lower,” he says. Marketing-wise the company’s been smart. To drive consumers to the site it now spends £750,000 a month on search engine marketing, email campaigns and banner ads. It’s also a top 100 UK customer of Google AdWords.

As BTQ’s star rises, brand will become more important. With a rebrand and relaunch of the website. But monetising a basic site, rather than spending tens or even hundreds of thousands, was part of the plan. “If you can start making money with a half-crappy product…” Paleomylites says, trailing off deliberately.

But he’s also understating the effort that has gone into the business. The user interface was rigorously tested for more than two months. The patent-pending proprietary technology is also something special, continually searching and selecting best deals, with tens of thousands of leads distributed to hundreds of clients every month. And the team, all of whom have share options, has been drawn largely from his old crew at JCP and The Preference Service, the ex-company of his sales director.

Next up is a larger-scale roll-out of financial products. Expansion overseas is a year and a half away. A listing on AIM is also mooted. And turnover to January 2008 should top £30m. Paleomylites breaks into a smile again.



Launched: Feb 2005

Founder: John Paleomylites

Turnover: ?10m projected to Jan 2007

Employees: 26


(will not be published)