Harry Luscombe: Boodil Is An Open Banking Payment Solution That Rewards Customers Every Time They Spend Via Our Payment Method

January 3, 2023

Boodil is an open banking payment solution that rewards customers every time they spend via our payment method.

We offer our merchants a more secure, cost effective payment proposition with instant access to their funds. Whilst rewarding customers for every purchase they make, with redeemable points, rewards and entries into our exclusive prize draws.

Our mission is to enable every business to materialise the benefits of open banking payments and to incentivise and excite our customers via engaging rewards and prize draws.

Our values are simple. “We want to build the tallest building in town without tearing everyone else’s building down”.

We have ambitious growth plans over the coming years yet we know for our business to grow the open banking payments market has to grow in tandem.

There is plenty of room for multiple success stories in this market and we are working to do this on a collaborative approach rather than an aggressive & competitive approach.

Tell us about yourself?

I have had a varied background across a number of industries. I have never chased a job title over learning and interests.

I have stepped back from fairly high paying roles into completely new industries taking significant drops in salary because I believed it could enhance my learnings, knowledge whilst developing my skill set.

I was formerly an employee of Social Chain, lead by current Dragons Den host Steven Bartlett, joining when they were 20 or so people. There I had the opportunity to learn and surround myself with some really entrepreneurial people and colleagues.

Many of them have gone on to start businesses of themselves in a variety of different industries. From there I joined a start up Ecommerce SAAS business which was lead by a good friend, Sean Brown who has recently set up a new venture backed by Y Combinator.

That was my first real foray into the world of technology. From there I ended taking a role on in the world of card payment processing for a Manchester based Fintech which is where we saw the opportunity in the open banking payments space that was not being addressed by any other company.

From there we formed a company which is now called Boodil, worked ever evening and weekend to create our MVP before leaving our jobs and gaining investment from some Manchester based business professionals and angel investors.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Trust the process. I know its a really cliche answer however there is a lot of advice out there that pushes people to get out there, quit there job and go solo.

I don’t think that is the best advice. I would caveat that and say that I believe one of the best times to set up a business is when you are still young with no responsibilities and no major outgoings (potentially still living at home with the parents).

I have come at this at 30+ years old, which I understand is by no means “old” however I do have significant commitments in my life, with a wife, two kids, a mortgage, nursery fees etc etc.

Leaving a well paid role to dive into a startup whilst taking a significant reduction in income comes with its challenges, however what we have achieved in such a short space of time would not have happened if I hadn’t spent the 10+ years prior to setting up the business, building my network, increasing my knowledge in an array of different industries, helping scale a technology start up, working with some of the worlds best young entrepreneurs.

I had always wanted to start a business and had an array of ideas but the majority of those were short term solutions to the issue that was me wanting to be a “business owner” rather than identifying a real problem in the market, combined with a real opportunity to create a great solution and finally with the right team and backing to execute on it.

So my advice would be, if it doesn’t happen as quick as you want it to, trust the process, keep making movements forward.

Make as many valuable connections in the process as you can, learn as much as you can in the process, and surround yourself with great, ambitious people

What problem does your business solve?

Our main issue that we are solving is the open banking payments adoption rate.

The current adoption rate of open banking payments in the UK is less than 10% which means that if customers are not using the method to checkout then the businesses cannot materialise the benefits that open banking provides. (these are significantly lowers fees, instant settlement of funds and the reduction of fraud)

With our consumer engagement application we provide any one who checks out using the Boodil payment method with redeemable points that can be used on various rewards and prize draws including vouchers, electronic goods and holidays.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The inspiration for the business came from working in the card industry.

Card fee’s are on average 1.4% in the UK, the industry is susceptible to high levels of fraud and the settlement times for businesses collecting funds can be anywhere between 3 and 7 days.

We knew Open Banking payments eliminated all of these issues however we needed a reason to entice customers to use an open banking payment method at checkout over a card payment.

One of our cofounders ran a competition and prize draw site where customers could enter a prize draw for various products including designer wear and electronics for a small fee and if they answered a question correctly.

During covid the business significantly grew because people were spending larger periods of time online and winning a competition for a new watch, handbag or pair of shoes was the most exciting part of their day during a UK lockdown.

We have evolved this concept into our payments model to surprise and delight any customer who checks out via our payment method thus solving a problem for the merchants by creating a value add for the consumer.

What is your magic sauce?

Part of the magic sauce is the team. I know a lot of startups will pitch this, however I really do believe it is the case for the Boodil team. We are cofounded by 4 team members with 4 very clearly defined roles.

The team includes myself as the CEO taking on responsibility for anything business growth, from PR, marketing, customer acquisition, investment, public talks, interviews etc.

Then we have Sam who is the COO who handles everything legal, financial, compliance, regulatory and everything that helps the business operate.

Dally is our CTO an experienced developer and product manager that handles all of our tech build, development, infrastructure, product roadmap.

Finally we have Shane who is our CCO and handles everything from a sales and partnerships perspective. We all have clearly defined roles however we all get stuck in to anything we can to get this business moving forward as a team.

Having clearly defined divisions doesn’t mean that that person is solely responsible for doing all the work in that respective field it just means they manage that division and is aware of everything going on in that space.

We have all previously worked together and would argue that the team is one of the hardest working teams I have encountered.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Our goal is simple. We want to be the number one player in the open banking payments space within that 5 year period.

Exactly was Amex have done to the credit card industry, exactly what stripe have done to the card processing industry, exactly what Klarna have done in the BNPL industry. We want Boodil to do exactly that in the open banking payments industry.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

As a relatively new business I am sure we have many more major challenges to face however to date one of the biggest challenges we have faced and I am sure many other start ups can relate, is gaining trust from your first few clients, when trying to get them to work with you.

We have had some really great conversations over a short period of time with businesses ranging from SME level to FTSE250 companies and there is always that element of doubt when working with a newly established firm.

Ensuring everything operationally, technically, financially and commercially is in order alleviates some of that worry for clients however we have pivoted slightly in our early days on generating adoption with a handful of clients to roll it out and use before pushing out further with some of our enterprise clients.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

If there are any businesses looking to adopt open banking payments we would love to speak with them and see if we can provide any advice or assistance.

For any consumers we would love it if they can sign up to our waitlist for our new engagement and rewards app relaunching in January 2023.

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