Who is Mark Pearson?
A self-made millionaire and 2011 Young Gun, Startups.co.uk brings you the five must-know facts about MyVoucherCodes.co.uk founder Mark Pearson
Name: Mark Pearson
Business: Pearson is the founder of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, the parent company of which – Markco Media – was sold in a deal worth £55m in December 2014. He is now one of the most active angel investors in Europe, investing in a number of successful start-ups.
Why you should know about him: Founding his online discount business during a recession-hit Britain, Pearson made frequent television and radio appearances promoting his website which offered people real discounts in hard times. At the age of 30 in 2010, he appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire where he donated £115,000 of his own money to three different charities.
Named a Young Gun in 2011, he’s one of Britain’s richest young entrepreneurs and biggest investors, which is why we’ve compiled five facts to help you get to know him better…
1. He came from humble beginnings
Far from being born with a silver spoon, Pearson grew up on a poor council estate in Liverpool. Raised by his single mother, his childhood was one defined by family troubles, deep financial woes and a feeling that education wasn’t quite for him.
One Christmas Day, Pearson, his mother and younger sister even had to seek comfort in a women’s refuge centre after a violent incident.
Regularly seeing his mother cut out food coupons from newspapers, while working several low paid jobs, Pearson became determined to become the breadwinner of the house and it’s from this his entrepreneurial spirit rose.
2. He always had entrepreneurial drive (and a flair for cooking)
Growing up in an difficult environment, Pearson often had to deal with naysayers trying to put him down. However, as with any true entrepreneur, this only pushed him to achieve his dream. He said: “When I started sharing business ideas with friends at a tender age, they would invariably say ‘It won’t work’ and I would answer ‘Oh yes it will’.”
Doing paper rounds when he was 12, Pearson soon learned how to build relations with people in a business setting and this gave him an increased drive. “Starting in November I ensured everyone in the neighbourhood where I dropped papers knew who their paperboy was. The aim was to receive a significant Christmas bonus to pay for a BMX. I suppose the more I achieved the more I wanted to get to the next level.”
Following a meeting with a school careers adviser, Pearson was told he had the rather limited choice of becoming a chef or a fireman. He chose the former, believing that between the two it would allow him to take more ownership.
After leaving school at 15, his initial venture into the culinary world, proved fruitful. He won a national competition at 19, managed several gastropubs and even worked under Gordon Ramsey in Claridges, Mayfair for a period.
However, Pearson soon tired of the unsociable hours and decided to start his own business.
3. He started his businesses from his bedroom
Sitting in his flat in South London and having been inspired by his mother’s florist, Pearson decided to take advantage of the dotcom boom and launched Roses On Design.
Doing everything himself from the marketing to the online orders, he sold roses with custom printed messages on them. After one of his self-written press releases was picked by ITV, his printed roses were featured on This Morning just before Valentine’s Day and sales rocketed.
Freezing cold (they kept windows and doors open to preserve the flowers) and with bleeding fingers, Pearson, alongside family and friends he roped in, got every last order out.
After industry giants Inter Flora and Flowers Direct got in touch about putting discount codes on his website, Pearson soon realised he could make more money promoting other businesses all year round than his season-dependent flowers.
When buying a train ticket to return to his native Liverpool to visit his mother, he noticed a box at checkout that asked him to enter a discount code.
Intrigued, and encouraged by a lifetime of frugality, Pearson searched online for a code.
After more than an hour, he found one on a barely-used forum that gave him 10% off the cost of his ticket.
Discovering there was no one place where internet users could find discount codes, he came up with the idea for MyVoucherCodes.co.uk which would change his life forever.
4. He’s worth a pretty penny
Having started his business from scratch, MyVoucherCodes became an almost instant hit, with its tagline of “Why pay more?” resonating with a recession hit Britain.
Within its first year of trading, the business turned over more than £1m achieving 60% profit margins and by the end of year two, revenue had soared to more than £10m.
In June 2014, Pearson sold Markco Media (parent company of MyVoucherCodes) to Monitise plc for a reported £55m.
From growing up in poor surroundings, Pearson’s dedication and work ethic have led to him being worth an estimated £60m.
True to form, Pearson never forgot where he came from and he lists buying his mother a house in 2007 as one of his biggest achievements.
5. He’s now looking to back the next generation
Knowing how much the business world has done for him, in April 2015 Pearson launched Fuel.Ventures which focuses on super-early seed, seed and Series A investments in e-commerce ventures.
In an exclusive interview with Startups, Pearson commented: “I look for smarter people, smarter than me, with the hungry passion to build great stuff”.
You can get the lowdown on other influential entrepreneurs in this series, such as: