VeeLoop: The Start-Up Series allowed us to turn our vision into reality
"The best feeling for an entrepreneur is when someone puts their money on you, because it means they fully believe in you, your ability to deliver and in your product"
Founders: Randa Bennet and Patricia Salume
Description: An online payments approval system so kids can shop safely online
Can you tell me a bit about your business background?
“VeeLoop is an online payment method that helps kids and teens shop online safely and keeps parents in the loop. The parent retains control of the purchases and protects the child’s personal data.
“The way it works is simple: the teenager fills up a basket on their favourite retailer’s site, selects Pay with VeeLoop at the checkout, puts in the parent’s email and sends basket to the parent. The parent reviews it in their own time and chooses what to approve and purchase for the child.
“VeeLoop is the first and only service that does this!”
Where did the idea for the business come from? Was there a moment or experience that made you feel a need for it?
“There was this phenomenon in our house where my teenage daughter was always asking me to pay for items she chose online. She would follow me around the house with a laptop in my face or send me broken links and screenshots of random products without a shop name! Naturally, she always chose the busiest moment to ask, when I was making dinner or putting her younger sister in bed. It was frustrating for both of us.
“I thought to myself ‘why can’t she send me the basket and I can do it in my own time? After the kids are in bed and I have a cup of tea in hand, she will have a much better chance of getting what she wants!’
“I started doing some research and speaking to parents. I found many faced the same problem and there wasn’t a solution out there. So I decided to create a virtual loop for the family so the kids can feel independent shopping online whilst the parent gets visibility and control – that’s when VeeLoop was born.”
What is the business’ USP?
“VeeLoop is revolutionising the way teens shop online! It solves the universal problem of how young people can shop online safely and without their own payment card. It is the first and only service that allows kids to send their basket to a parent to approve and pay.
“As the first payment service of its kind, VeeLoop does not have direct competitors – the nearest alternatives are pre-paid cards for children. The main difference is that, unlike pre-paid cards, with VeeLoop parents don’t have to wait until after the transaction to see what is being purchased. Instead they approve or reject all items, opening up conversations about value for money and what is suitable. The other main benefit of VeeLoop is that the young person doesn’t enter their own details on a retailer site – which could lead to fraud or data-misuse, especially if they choose unverified retailers. With VeeLoop the young person’s data is not shared with the retailer.
“Following the introduction of GDPR, retailers are also running a risk processing data when under 16s shop online with a pre-paid card or using their parent’s card. By integrating VeeLoop, the retailer provides a trustworthy solution for young people and parents, at the same time protecting their revenue and brand.”
Why did you enter the Start-Up Series competition?
“We did a lot of research into investors and were really attracted by the infographic The Start-Up Series published about its investments. We were particularly interested in the demographics and that 33% of their winners were female which is a lot higher than the national average of 2% funding going to female founders.
“This was important for us as we do feel the impact of the low investment in female founders. In the past there have been meetings where as soon as we walked in, we felt certain assumptions were being made due to our gender. At the time we applied to The Start-Up Series, my co-founder Patricia was six months pregnant. So, although we knew that wasn’t going to stop us, we needed investors who could see beyond our gender – and the bump!
“We also found the competition process really fair because you don’t need an introduction – as long as you have a good business opportunity and can articulate it well, everyone has a chance.”
How did you find the application process?
“The application process was straight-forward, it wasn’t overly complicated and drawn-out, and we always knew when we would get a response from Worth, which is hugely helpful.
“It was also a staged process so when we had to provide more detailed information, we knew there was interest from the investor and that it was worth spending our time on it. After the application had gone through, we got a half hour call with Paul to address questions they had from the application which sent us through to the deep dive.”
How did you find the ‘deep dive’ with Worth Capital?
“The deep dive was fantastic. It really gave us time to explain the business properly without feeling rushed. We had time to have detailed discussions about different areas of the business, explore ideas we had about where we are going and how we wanted to move the business forward and get Matt and Paul excited about VeeLoop.”
How do you feel about winning the competition?
“The best feeling for an entrepreneur is when someone puts their money on you because it means they fully believe in you, your ability to deliver and in your product.
“To win this competition was a fantastic feeling, knowing that all our hard work and sacrifice to that point had been worthwhile and that we now had the chance to turn the vision into reality.”
A lot of businesses entered – what do you think made your business stand out and win?
“Lots of previous practice and a great opportunity!
“It was only through doing so many applications, pitches and hearing ‘no’ several times that we were able to develop and refine our proposition to give the best possible pitch.
“In terms of the business, we immediately clicked with Matt and Paul because they understood the gap in the market that we are addressing, and they saw the potential for a digital solution to engage with this young tech-savvy audience.”
What stage is the business at currently?
“In order to grow VeeLoop, our focus is on partnering with more retailers and making it as easy as possible for them to trial and adopt our solution.
“We are integrated with e-commerce platform Shopify and currently have five Shopify retailers on board. We also have Europe’s largest online beauty retailer Feelunique.com, and two other retailers going live in the next month. We have recently completed our integration with another ecommerce platform, Magento, which opens up a massive number of potential retailers for us to work with. These integrations mean that retailers using those platforms can install VeeLoop in a matter of minutes!
“To grow our user-base, we are working closely with our retail partners to encourage parents and kids to trial the service. A recent promotional campaign with popular streetwear brand justhype.co.uk was very successful, giving us valuable insights and exposing our service to a large number of families.”
What do you plan to use the Start-Up Series investment for?
“We are using this investment to stabilise and enhance the product in order to continue our growth. The investment allowed us to hire dedicated developers to focus on the product, improve the customer journey and enable integration with more ecommerce platforms and retailers.
“In addition, we are raising the profile of VeeLoop with both retailers and families, so we have allocated some of the investment to sales and marketing.
Finally, what’s your ultimate vision for the business?
To become the primary global safe payment method for kids and teens. VeeLoop will be the name for kids’ virtual money, and our button will be on every online shop selling to kids & teens – from food delivery to online gaming. We want to keep the parents in the loop so they can guide their children in the ecommerce world.
The Start-Up Series is open from the 1st to 14th of every month, giving one startup the chance to between £150,000 and £250,000 of equity funding. Enter here!