Fourex beats competition for a chance to pitch to Richard Branson, reports Mike Thompsett at www.kentonline.co.uk
A local start up has beaten over 2,500 companies for a chance to pitch to one of the world’s richest men.
With a simple, yet effective, idea Fourex look set to top the ‘New Things’ category in the ‘Pitch to Rich 2015’ competition, in which they can put their business plan to the founder of the Virgin Group – Sir Richard Branson.
The idea behind the small company is simply to transfer any cash in the world into a single currency from one of their kiosks.
Jeff Paterson and Oliver Du Toit came up with the plan back in 2012 and have since had the joyous task of collecting one of every coin in the world for their library – which is now standing at over 100,000 coins.
“We’ve had to collect every single type of every coin, if you think of how many varieties of pound coins there are alone. It was a bit of a nightmare task. I think, perhaps, if we knew just how taxing it would be collecting all these coins, we wouldn’t have done it” co-founder Jeff Paterson said.
“Everyone travels and everyone has loose change they just leave lying around after returning from a trip. The idea came about when Oliver asked me how many coins I just have in my house – it really spiraled from there.”
“Our research indicated that in the UK alone there’s over £3 billion in unused foreign currency sitting at home – as banks don’t exchange foreign currency we felt we had to come up with a solution.”
The kiosks accept any coinage in abundance, for any owners of heavy jars of coppers, and there’s no need to sort it by currency – the machine does that itself.
“It exchanges one coin at a tenth of second, so 10 coins per second. The technology used is unique, it took us two years to develop the software.”
Each coin is judged by its weight and shape as it also flies past a camera inside the machine, which then takes a photo of each coin and compares it to the library image, or ‘fingerprints’ of each one.
The user can then decide if they want to convert their unsorted coins and notes of up to 150 currencies into Pounds, US Dollars or Euros.
Fourex, who have just bought their first office in Medway City Estate, have had a positive six months, after their products have been snapped up by Transport for London (TFL) and will be installed in a number of busy London Underground stations.
Two kiosks, which accept up to 300 coins per minute, will be found in Canary Wharf in the coming months, along with one at Blackfriars and one at Kings Cross since Fourex signed the deal with TFL in February.
Not only will they have units on the busy tube sites, Westfield shopping centre in Stratford has also acquired two machines, which will be installed in the coming months.
The business had a tough start as investors wouldn’t touch them, saying there’s no benchmark for technology like this, however things really exploded when put on an investor website, Crowdcube.
Fourex overfunded, seeing an incredible £700,000 investment in two weeks, going over their £275k target by 244%.
“We were in a really great position but had to pull the crowdfunding campaign early, as we were giving away too much of the equity. It got to a point we had to just call the website and get it taken off – I suppose it’s not the worst problem to have” Jeff said.
After putting over £1 million of their own money into the project, the company has four employees and have just purchased their first office in Medway City Estate.
“We’re so pleased to be moving into our first office and if everything goes as planned we estimate our growth should see us recruit around 70 new people in the next two years.”
The company currently tops the New Things category in Pitch to Rich 2015 and are semi-finalists, with 1,427 votes.
Should they get the opportunity, along with two other finalists, to present their pitch to Sir Richard, they could be on the receiving end of a share in over £1,000,000 of Virgin prizes, including advertising campaigns, cash prizes and invaluable mentoring from the brand’s senior members.
The exchange rates are updated daily in line with market trends and are clearly displayed on their kiosks, enabling complete transparency. Customers also have the choice to donate part or all of their exchange to one of Fourex’s six charity partners – UNICEF, The Railway Children, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, The London Transport Museum, EllenorLions Hospice and the UK Stroke Association.
Voting for Pitch to Rich closes on June 16, with the final being in London on June 26.