Microsoft BizSpark is a global programme that helps fast-track the success of early stage technology startups with all the right resources, including software, support and marketing visibility. Through BizSpark, you can:
· Connect with startups, investors, mentors and partners in your area
· Get Microsoft software through a no-charge MSDN subscription which includes Windows Azure
· Learn about Microsoft technologies and get tips on running your business
· Participate with your peers online and in person.
To qualify, your business needs to be:
· Developing software
· Privately held
· Less than 3 years old
· Making less than US $1M annually (around £618,000 at today’s exchange rate).
BizSpark UK case study – Pouring Pounds (www.pouringpounds.com)
Q, Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
I’m the Co-founder and CEO of the company.
Q. What did you do before creating your company?
Before this, I was at Goldman Sachs for the last five years. I worked in the Structured Products team in Investment Banking for four years. Thereafter managed the client engagement effort for our Co-CEOs Michael Sherwood and Richard Gnodde in the Executive Office.
Q. How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
Feels great! We feel lucky to have this opportunity to share our offering with everyone who is reading this. Recognition makes the efforts even more worth it!
Q. What is your company’s mission?
To make Pouring Pounds a habit for people ie if they are shopping for anything online, they get into the habit of visiting the retailer’s website via Pouring Pounds! Also, in my view we have a great fundraising proposition for charities and student organisations, which does not cost anything to them or their members. So to see all these organisations actually participate in our programme and benefit from it would be a mission worth striving for!
Q. In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
We have partnered with 2,000 UK retailers & if you simply visit these retailers via our site, you get a percentage of the money spent back!
Q. How did you get the idea for your company?
The concept of affiliate marketing has been widely used since Amazon pioneered it over a decade ago. Cashback works on the same idea but in turn, passes bulk of the referral commission that we receive from retailers to the user. All the user needs to do is simply visit the retailer website via ours, and just for that they get a percentage of what they spend back. For example, if you booked hotels worth £500 on Expedia and Expedia is offering 8% cashback, you would get £40 back on your purchase! We just thought it’s a brilliant concept since it is really simple and free to the user. We were excited by the potential and opportunity, and wanted to combine it with our referral ideas to make it ‘viral’. At Pouring Pounds, when you refer a friend, you earn 10% of their cashbacks for life (from our side).
Q. Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
Currently we are self-funded, though we will look to raise funds in the near future. Probably around £500-£750k.
Q. How many employees do you have? How many developers?
We have a team of 7 people, including 2 developers.
Q. Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
Yes we are looking to recruit a team member on the marketing side. Based anywhere in the UK, preferably London.
Q. Which platform are you building on? Why?
Our core platform is built on PHP. As a language built for the web, PHP offers a powerful solution for creating a dynamic and customized experience for our users.
Q. Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
I think the internet today offers amazing opportunities not only to launch ideas into the marketplace, but also provides many popular and powerful ways for ideas to go viral. We need to provide people the right incentive to spread the word, after that technology has made it very easy to do so – Thank you Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey!
Q. What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
I think BizSpark provides a great platform for entrepreneurs to connect, help and benefit. It is one of the best things to have ‘happened’ to Pouring Pounds, and we look forward to contributing to this vibrant community.
Q. Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
The journey may seem long and difficult at times, but as we are discovering ourselves, it’s definitely worth it!
Q. Who’s your role model?
I admire lots of things in lots of people, hard to pick one role model! Though for sure I find people like Lance Armstrong and Richard Branson very inspiring, since they have really fought against many odds to achieve the success they have.
Q. What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
For your next online purchase, visit the retailer via Pouring Pounds. I guarantee you will like getting some of your money back!
For more information on Microsoft BizSpark, visit the website.
And read more on participating companies here.