Tech Pitch: Pockit

Virraj Jatania, co-founder of the FinTech family-run start-up backed by Sir Alex Ferguson, talks us through his success to date...

Company name: Pockit
Founders: Virraj Jatania (26) Yuvraj Jatania (24) Danny Jatania (55)
Background: Virraj – degree in information management, work experience at Merrill Lynch and Barclays Wealth. Danny – co-founder of marketing firm Lornamead Group.
Based in: Cavendish Square, London

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Pockit is the cheapest and simplest prepaid card available to consumers in the UK, reducing average annual charges by 76%. Some providers are charging their customers up to £225 a year.
  • We believe there are around eight million people in the UK who may not be getting the services they require from the main stream banks. Our card opens up a range of retail deals and offers that these consumers wouldn’t normally have access to as many do not have bank accounts and may deal predominantly in cash.
  • By giving our customers cashback of up to 10% across a range of leading UK retailers, we are creating a way for them to both manage and save money efficiently. Pockit democratises the web for those who cannot transact online as they do not have any form of plastic.
  • Overall the business is on a mission to clean up the prepaid card space, grow the market in the UK and offer people that use them better value for money.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

We are determined to bring the success of the US prepaid market, set to reach $200bn this year, to the UK. We are on a genuine mission to help people who can’t access mainstream financial services such as bank accounts and credit.

The UK market is estimated to be worth around £17bn but there are just a few small players serving a small number of customers. I believe the reason this market has not taken off in the UK to date is because there has been no major innovation, the products are not customer centric and the whole sector has a severe lack of investment. If we can grow this market and make the use of prepaid cards normalised behaviour in the UK we will quickly see the sector explode.

The growth strategy is long term and is primarily based on the same bulk buying business model that was utilised by co-founder Danny Jatania’s former business the Lornamead Group. By implementing this strategy, we’ve got ambitious plans to grow the UK market and offer our customers the best value card coupled with the most competitive retail deals.

Are you funded?

We completed our first £1m investment round in May 2014 and we’ve already secured funding from a number of high profile investors including Sir Alex Ferguson and Mark Newton Jones, CEO of Mothercare. We originally funded the business with our own money.

What were you doing before starting?

Pockit is my first business venture. I graduated from University College London in 2009 with a degree in information management. I did some work experience in the private banking sector having spent time at both Merrill Lynch and Barclays Wealth. However, I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial and I’m no stranger to the world of business.

My father, Danny Jatania along with his brothers Mike, Vin and George, built Lornamead which is a marketer of ‘orphan’ personal care brands such as Harmony hairspray, Lypsyl lip balm, Yardley and Vosene shampoo. My family’s roots are in Gujurat, India, but they came to Britain from Uganda in the early seventies. In December 2012, Lornamead was purchased by the Li and Fung Group; the £10bn Hong Kong conglomerate, for around £250m. With previous sale disposals the total sale value of the business was around £400m.

Pockit started as an idea whilst on holiday with the family in 2012 and within weeks I had a desk in a small basement office with a blank piece of paper. Being new to the market we did a lot of research and spoke with dozens of companies in and around the industry. We found a technology partner to operate the card for us and developed our initial proposition based on rewards for everything from utilities to fashion.

However, we became really frustrated with the lack of ability to develop our product in the way we wanted and the many other limitations partnering put on our customer proposition.  So over the past 12 months we have been building our own platform, bringing in a new chief technology officer and development team. Being masters of our own destiny has enabled us to fundamentally refocus our proposition on our customers’ needs which gives us the platform to disrupt the market.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

We’re close to our retail partners and there are great places to eat when working late in the office.

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