To help our aspiring entrepreneurs and future SETsquared Bristol members, we showcase member and alumni case studies demonstrating the breadth of tech at SETsquared Bristol and what it takes to achieve success.
We had a chat with LOQBOX Co-founders and Co-CEOs, Tom Eyre and Gregor Mowat…
LOQBOX Key Facts
- Start date: January 2017
- Market sector: Fintech
- Location: Bristol
- Number of employees: 55
- Amount of investment raised: >£3m
- Company status: Scaling
What does LOQBOX do?
LOQBOX is on a mission to end financial exclusion globally by giving everyone the chance to achieve their goals, most of which cost money. For many people, their goals are unachievable because they have not had an opportunity to build a positive financial profile, they don’t have sufficient savings, or they don’t understand how to make the financial system work for them. We are a multi award-winning financial inclusion fintech business that has already enabled hundreds of thousands of people to master their money while they save and build their credit score with the three main credit reference agencies.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and what led you to start the business?
LOQBOX was founded by entrepreneurs Tom Eyre and Gregor Mowat who are co-CEOs of the company. Tom has over a decade of experience in personal financial services. In 2012, when his little sister was refused credit to buy a sofa, frustration with the inflexibility of the credit-scoring system drove him to start creating solutions to help people build their credit history to access fairly priced credit. As a former partner with global audit and advisory firm KPMG, Gregor has seen first-hand how many people are excluded from accessing fairly priced credit, either because they are young with little or no credit history, or because they have made past credit mistakes. Tom and Gregor co-founded LOQBOX after setting themselves a mission to find solutions to this problem that work for both the lenders and these financially excluded groups.
What is the company ethos?
At LOQBOX, we live by five core values: Consistency; Hard work; We are an output-based business; We have respect for everyone inside and out of the business and we have fun whilst we do it. We have an incredibly talented team at LOQBOX who all work together to help accomplish our mission to end financial exclusion, globally. LOQBOX is built on two core beliefs: 1. That there must always be a free way for our members to take advantage of LOQBOX products, and 2. That a solid business must have an understandable business model which generates positive unit economics from the start. The metrics that we use to manage the business reflect this, which ensure that we operate as a sustainable business. Additionally, maintaining a free way for our members to enjoy our products while managing the business in this way fully aligns us with our members, driving great outcomes for both the members and the business.
LOQBOX have recently partnered with ClearScore, how will this help UK consumers to build a credit history and secure a responsible financial future?
LOQBOX and ClearScore have partnered to help UK consumers build a credit history, support them in getting a head start on credit and secure a responsible financial future. The integration of the multi award winning service, LOQBOX into ClearScore Build is a world first and will help hundreds of thousands of UK consumers. ClearScore x LOQBOX will allow customers to view their credit-building progress, learn how to build a healthy credit score and receive updates all in one place. We know that the credit scores of LOQBOX members who successfully completed a 6-month period went up by 34 points on average. Members then go on to perform better than their peers with traditional credit products and in turn are rewarded by saving thousands of pounds over their financial lives.
Could you tell me about the journey of LOQBOX’s global expansion into the US? What advice would you give to other businesses looking to expand?
We launched in the United States where we were the only independent solution that doesn’t cost US consumers money to increase their credit score while they save. It can cost US consumers between $50 and $150 to build their credit scores – our solution is free. We are live across 40 states, giving 80% of Americans the chance to master their money. We aim to be live across the entire United States by the end of this year. Our advice would be to make sure that you fully understand the nuances of the US market before expanding. Launching a product, especially a financial product, in the US is like launching in 50 countries, linked only by a common language and currency. Everything else is different across each state. Research and knowledge are key.
How has SETsquared Bristol helped you?
SETsquared Bristol has provided excellent offices with other like-minded founders running early-stage businesses close to hand to trade advice and war stories. Regular discussions with the Entrepreneurs in Residence acted as an excellent common-sense check on what we were doing to grow the business. We also noticed that being part of the programme opened doors to other Bristol and South West-based potential commercial partners. Most importantly, it is a very short walk to the best bakery in Bristol!
What do you like about being based in Bristol?
LOQBOX originally started life in Bristol. Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a major shift in the landscape for many businesses., LOQBOX now allows employees to work from home and collaborate in the office at their choice, with the only exception being if a team leader calls a meeting that needs physical presence. The Head Office remains in Bristol, with the South West still very much at the heart of the business. Not requiring people to be in the office every day has allowed us to grow the team using experience from a much wider geographical area with us now recruiting along a corridor from Cardiff to London, whilst maintaining our principal office in Bristol. We still find the quality of local talent in the South West to be second to none.
Being based in the Bristol region has given LOQBOX the perfect platform to grow both within the UK and internationally. The region has a number of leading Universities with a wide geographic pull, giving us access to the best talent across each function of the business.
What are you most proud of?
We’re proud to have helped hundreds of thousands of people to improve their financial life. In a short space of time we can genuinely say we have helped around half a million people to become financially independent by providing them with the opportunity, capability and resilience they need. Hearing real stories from real people who we have helped is what we are most proud of.
If you could do one thing differently whilst building the business, what would that be?
Move faster to change things that are not working.
What are the next steps for LOQBOX?
Achieving viral growth so that our customers sell our product for us. Currently we have excellent month on month growth that is driven principally by traffic from our commercial B2B partners. In order to ensure scaling with the lowest possible cost per acquisition (CPA) and therefore protect our capital for strategic priorities related to new propositions and new geographies, we need to build greater virality into our proposition.
Since LOQBOX began operating in the UK four years ago, other players have tried to enter the UK credit-building marketplace. We anticipate that an increasing number of companies which are servicing large groups of consumer finance companies both in the UK and the US will seek to offer credit building to their customer base. We would like to power that entire market. We also want to retain our own direct to consumer brand while we do this.