Moneyshake: Gavin Donlon and Jason Ellison

Moneyshake is a car leasing comparison website that’s aiming to shake up the car leasing industry

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Name of founders: Gavin Donlon and Jason Ellison

Location: Stoke-on-Trent

Date launched: September 2019

Number of employees: 6

Age of founders: 48



Which university, if any, did you attend? Gavin Donlon attended The University of Staffordshire and Jason Ellison attended The University of Liverpool

Moneyshake is an online portal that connects consumers seeking to lease cars with deals from top UK providers. The founders discuss how the business started, and their plans for the future!

Tell us what your business does:

Moneyshake is a car leasing comparison site. Our online portal enables consumers to find the best value car lease deals from the UK’s top providers. 

Currently, the journey is a static comparison of prices on personal and business deals for available models and manufacturers. 

However, Moneyshake has developed innovative reverse-auction technology which will be introduced in the near future to provide real-time ‘price competition’. This ensures consumers get the best deal.

Where did the idea of your business come from?

Moneyshake was born from the frustrations of our two founders, Gavin and Jason, when trying to lease a car. Whether it was going through a private broker or a leasing company, there were inconsistencies in the prices and deals advertised. 

They were consistently faced with prices that couldn’t be met or were told the deal no longer existed. Their experience presented an opportunity to fundamentally ‘shake up’ the car leasing industry. 

Moneyshake has started to do this in a number of ways, namely by partnering with BVRLA regulated providers who constantly update prices to give customers the best possible experience.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Personal car leasing is increasing in popularity with more than 1.6 million people in the UK now opting to lease a car

We put this down to the benefits car leasing has in terms of convenience and flexibility: whether that’s getting your next car delivered to your door, or road tax and a full manufacturer warranty included throughout the duration of a contract, or the option of maintenance for a little bit extra.

Ultimately, car leasing recognises people’s busy lifestyles and offers a phone contract-style model – but for a vehicle. 

What were you doing before starting up?

We have all come from a mix of business backgrounds in varying sectors from medtech and ecommerce to the care sector, property development and hospitality. Having this variety of experience with a range of contacts and an eclectic skill set has been a testament to our early success. We are applying this ever-expanding skill set each day to help grow Moneyshake.  

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes – we all come from entrepreneurial backgrounds, having previously launched businesses at a young age. You could say it’s in our blood! The UK’s startup ecosystem presents huge opportunities when it comes to giving potential business owners access to guidance and support throughout the startup journey.

How did you raise the money?

We bootstrapped the tech development from our own funds before pursuing external investment. We developed a concrete strategy, prioritised certain targets, made business plans and then turned to the ever-evolving pitch deck. 

After a lot of preparation, we approached a network of personal and business contacts. We have also secured further investment from a mix of institutional and private investors.

Describe your business model and how you make money.

For each transaction completed via Moneyshake’s platform, we receive a commission from the original manufacturer. Moneyshake is a digital platform linking consumers with car leasers in a marketplace environment. As we move forward and add product verticals, we are able to scale the revenue model. 

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Our main challenge stems from the ever-evolving compliance regulations from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In order to overcome these challenges, we turn to our trusted partners and advisers. This allows us to receive expert advice and to focus on growing other aspects of the business.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first big breakthrough was our partnership with The tie up resulted in spikes in our web traffic, which in turn enabled us to implement an array of marketing strategies to assist our growth. The commercial partnerships also increase our credibility which is great when we’re approaching other household brands.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Our biggest piece of advice would be to recognise which industries need innovative solutions for obvious problems. If you have a product which addresses a long-standing issue, you already have a head-start over the competition. 

Undertaking extensive Alpha and Beta testing will instill confidence and prove useful when pitching to investors and partners. Furthermore, it’s important to engage with your local support network when your business is at embryonic stage. 

Going further afield and taking your product on the road to networking events is also a great opportunity to meet other industry players and gain insight and advice for various aspects of your business.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years’ time we’ll be able to offer an increasing range of services and products, including home insurance products and vehicle cover. We also plan to develop our reverse-auction technology to spearhead the journey of different verticals, enabling household providers to bid for business in real time.

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Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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