We support a wide range of businesses all over the UK, many of which are changing the face of business and having an impact globally. One such business is our StartUp of the Week, Budipay, creating an app that allows villagers in rural India to access their money through smartphones. Let's find out more.
1. What's the elevator pitch for your business?
We provide a mobile app to banks in India to facilitate pension distribution and payroll to rural villagers who can't access their money easily.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
Bournemouth beats London as the UK’s fastest-growing digital economy, according to the Telegraph. As a startup you can really feel the momentum building in the area, as big players such as Barclays Eagle Labs and Bournemouth Council are doing a lot to offer support and their networks to aspiring companies like ours. I run a Bournemouth startups group and it’s been exciting to be part of a growing group of people who are involved in some amazing projects. I really feel Bournemouth has the potential to be a key tech spot, and with some of the opportunities starting to develop, it could all happen very soon.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
One year ago George and I arranged a stag weekend for our best friend, but collecting the money from our friends was incredibly time-consuming and could be quite awkward when we had to keep chasing. We decided to make life easier, so we built a mobile app to use amongst ourselves as we were regularly collecting money for holidays, bill splits and IOU’s.. However, a year later and some unexpected twists, we’re talking to the biggest banks in India about helping with their payroll to benefit rural populations, which we could never have imagined when we started.
4. What’s the business model?
We license our technology and white-label the app to banks and their customers. We charge a registration and yearly license fee. It was a very conscious decision to go B2B rather than be a consumer-facing app.
5. Who are your competitors?
There are a obviously quite a few companies that offer tech to banks, but very few in the manner we do. Yes there’s competition, but we’re pretty happy with how strong our unique selling points are.
6. What’s unique about your business?
I’d say that for a UK business to focus on market like India is very different, but having grown up there as a kid, I felt there was a massive opportunity. Smartphone growth and mobile banking is exploding in India and the banks and infrastructure are struggling to keep up. We’ve managed to pitch our product at the perfect time, a time where India is looking to help the huge unbanked population. With 900 million smartphones forecasted to be in use in India by 2022, it makes sense that the main focus of banking is moving towards mobiles in emerging markets.
Aside from the market opportunity, we have permission to test on a new technology released in India which effectively means if you have a phone number you have a bank account.
We are purely app-focused - we want to specifically help people in rural areas access their money better. These key factors set us aside significantly from other apps currently available in the app store or offered by banks.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
We’d already built our minimum viable product and had some early traction in the UK and US. When we applied for the loan we’d returned from our first trip to India and before the loan was approved, we had letters of intent from banks in India. The business was still young, but we’d signposted the vision quite clearly and had commitments from the banks.
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
As a tech company, there’s no surprise that a large bulk of the loan went on development. We immediately devoted money to building the demo, and then we then need to travel to India to pitch the demo and build the complete app once the agreement was signed. We also have the usual overheads like website costs, legal and accountancy fees, and office rent.
9. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
Alex Chisnall was a hero with our loan and helped us each step of the way in terms of the documents that were needed, and also when the panel came back with questions. We had to provide quite a lot of documentation to outline traction, business development and letters of intent, and Alex walked us through each step. As a startup you’re always eager to move things forwards quickly, and it was great that Alex was happy to work at the same speed.
10. Biggest achievement so far?
To think back on how far we have come over the last 12 months has been very exciting and unexpected. An app built to collect money for a stag weekend has evolved into an app that can provide people in poverty the means to collect money and pay for everyday essential items. The size of the banks we’re talking to and the positions of the people in the meetings has been incredible, such as CTOs of companies with $100 billion in assets. It’s when I think of this journey I’m pleased with what BudiPay has become, and excited about what the future can hold.
11. What’s next for your business?
It’s the potential that BudiPay has that really gets us buzzing for the future. In the short-term we need to finalise agreements with banks in India so they can white label BudiPay and use it for their employees and their business customers.
Most importantly, we want to get our app into the hands of the end user so they can enjoy all the benefits BudiPay can bring, and this aspect is the exciting part. This is really what it’s all about for us, the reason why we get out of bed everyday. Beyond India, we would love to move to countries like Nepal and Bangladesh and across to places like South Africa. We’re currently looking at seed investment and good fits for the company. So there’s lots to come, and we’re ready to fulfil a bright future ahead of us.