The Entrepreneur: Vroon Modgill, Sokin

Meet Sokin, the payment provider that enables global payments for a fixed monthly fee - giving consumers the power to make unlimited payments and transfers to countries around the world.

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Startups was founded over 20 years ago by a serial entrepreneur. Today, our expert team of writers, researchers, and editors work to provide our 4 million readers with useful tips and information, as well as running award-winning campaigns. We interview successful entrepreneurs from all over the UK, celebrating their achievements, hard work, and determination to get to where they are today. This article was authored by:

Founder: Vroon Modgill
Company: Sokin
Website: sokin.com

Sokin is a leading financial services provider which enables its customers to make payments globally and exchange money in over 200 countries, in over 38 different currencies – for a fixed monthly fee.

Vroon Modgill, CEO and founder of Sokin, speaks to Startups about business challenges, family struggles inspiring Sokins creation, and how his platform is changing the international payment and transfer market for the better.

The Business

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

The world of global payments needed to change. With everything else moving forward, global payments and remittance lagged, and consumers have put up with high fees and time-consuming transactions. There’s simply no reason why today’s customers should continue to accept opaque commissions, unexplained costs, or repeat charges. They no longer pay for every track they download, or each film they stream, yet when people want to send money or make a payment to family back home, they are hit by unspecified and variable costs.

The existing old-fashioned, not-fit-for-purpose system needed a reboot, so I decided to build something better and on a much larger scale.

Sokin has taken the popular subscription economy model (just like Spotify and Netflix) and used it for money transfers on a global scale. In fact, we are the only payment provider enabling global payments for a fixed monthly fee, giving consumers the power to make unlimited payments and transfers. There are no additional costs or hidden fees – just straightforward currency exchange and money transfers.

Moreover, Sokin is an open and transparent payments platform that removed the barriers often seen with well-known brands. We’ve improved a process known to be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

The launch of our core consumer product offering – global currency account and global travel cards – in August was a major milestone for the business.

It was a tremendous effort by the Sokin team who worked hard to create a product that will make a difference to people around the world, especially to those who typically haven’t had easy access before.

To see what started as an idea 18 months ago as a tangible product in the hands of consumers and businesses is extraordinary.

How did you fund your business?

We have a number of private investors involved in our business. We raised £5million in May 2021, however, up until then we bootstrapped the entire enterprise. Football legend, Rio Ferdinand, is an investor of ours.

We will look to do a Series A funding round in the next six months, however, we are currently focused on rolling out our core product offering, with additional features and services, to more regions in the next six to nine months.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

App downloads. We want to make consumers aware that Sokin is a savvier alternative to the traditional system they may be using. Ultimately, we want to become the ‘go-to’ provider for global payments and currency exchange needs.

To what extent does your business trade internationally?

I wanted to create a business which was truly global and accessible to millions of people around the world.  Sokin has a tremendous footprint on an unprecedented scale compared to other providers in the market. With our product, customers can make unlimited international payments and transfers in up to 38 currencies to 200+ countries and territories. Sokin truly transcends borders.

Where would you like your business to be in five years?

To see Sokin as the go-to product for people looking for an easy, accessible, and cost-effective way to manage their money. We’ve created a solution that makes global transfers simple for people like my father, who regularly sent money back home to India using a not-fit-for-purpose system. Success for us is having a product that is truly global and gives people greater access to their money, no matter where they are in the world.

What sits at the heart of Sokin?

People sit at the heart of Sokin. I am a first-generation immigrant and for over 30-years I watched my father struggle to transfer money overseas through a well-known remittance platform. The whole experience was stressful, expensive, and time-consuming due to repetitive costs and paperwork. The process needed to be much simpler. So, I created a payments platform people like my father could use, to give them greater access to their money.

Who are you partnered with?

In a short time, we’ve struck up partnerships with Mastercard in Singapore, Europe, South Asia, and the Americas. We've also signed with Everton FC, Fulham FC, and AS Monaco as their official global payments partner. We are growing every day with more announcements coming very soon.


Growth Challenges

What is the biggest challenge you've faced in business?

Fundraising, when you do not have a physical product to show it can be incredibly difficult as you're essentially asking investors to trust your vision in good faith. Luckily, our investors understood Sokin’s potential and from then on, we flourished.

What was your biggest business mistake and what did you learn from it?

Very early on I underestimated the importance of surrounding myself with the right people. A shared belief in what you want to achieve, and loyalty, are both fundamental from day one.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you started on your business journey?

Surround yourself with the right people from the very beginning.

How has the pandemic affected the market you operate in?

Not at all. I launched Sokin in March 2019, just before the pandemic hit. Since then, the company has grown and scaled exponentially in a short timeframe. The pandemic forced us into a way of working which, even today, feels unnatural to many legacy businesses. It is a way of working which has been built into our culture from the very beginning, and we quickly learned the location of the job doesn’t define the quality of work produced.


Personal Growth

Did you study business or learn on the job?

I decided not to go to university and instead, trained as an accountant with Menzies LLP. I then moved up the corporate chain and undertook senior roles in firms such as Borro and BLME. It was during this time I really started to understand how digitalisation, specifically mobile, could enable improved remittance flows – a long forgotten part of the financial ecosystem.

What would make you a better leader?

Taking the time to ask for feedback about my leadership. It’s not just the wider team who can benefit from honest feedback; it’s invaluable for all levels of seniority to evaluate the effectiveness of their leadership style and approach.

At Sokin we nurture an inclusive, healthy company culture and a part of that is to give people the space to share honest feedback, propose new ideas and suggest improvements. We are not hierarchical. We are all working towards the same goal as one team.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without?

Business app: Microsoft Teams

Personal app: WhatsApp

Everything else – including social media – I can do without.

A business book or podcast that you think is great:

I first read ‘What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-Smart Executive’ by Mark H. McCormack a long time ago, and it’s one of the only books that’s stuck with me ever since.

Finally, what’s the most important piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting a business?

  1. Test, test, and test again. Make sure your product – or at least the concept of it – works, otherwise you’ll waste precious time and resource.
  2. Surround yourself with the right team who share your vision and ambition.
  3. No matter what happens, keep going. It’s worth it in the end.

Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.

He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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