In the Scaleup Spotlight this week is Victor Trokoudes, CEO and co-founder of Plum, a fast-growing Fintech that’s on a mission to build lifetime wealth for all.
Hi Victor. Could you tell us a little bit more about how Plum came to be?
Even though I’d worked as a trader and studied Economics at university, I wasn’t managing my money as well as I should have. I was in my 30s, living and working in London, and my financial future was almost an afterthought. It was during this time that my parents gave me a pretty big wake up call. They asked me what I was planning to do with my savings, and mentioned investing. I didn’t know where to begin, and that’s where the idea for Plum came from.
My friend Alex Michael and I imagined Plum as a button that would sort your money out for you. In 2016, we set out to build it. Plum started life as the first personal finance chatbot, and it’s now grown to become the ultimate money management app. You can automatically save, invest, switch your bills and manage your spending all in the palm of your hand. The app is currently available in the UK, France, Ireland and Spain, and we estimate it can make our customers 20% better off over their lifetime.
How does Plum stand out in the market?
Plum is a one-stop shop for your personal finance needs. You can build up savings, start investing, switch your bill provider, and manage your budget all in one place. There aren’t many apps out there that can do all that! Our holistic approach to money management really owes itself to our predominantly young, millennial-aged customer base. This age group is used to convenience — it’s grown up with Netflix and Amazon — so we don’t just want to provide part of a solution to their money management woes. We want to give them all the tools they need to build a secure financial future.
A core way in which we do this is by automating money, or by putting it on autopilot. Plum’s AI analyses income and spending patterns and calculates a personalised amount to tuck away every week. With the splitter tool, customers can then automatically apportion their money between their savings and accessible investments. We’re creating a new experience of money management that’s effortless and hands-free, but also more effective than traditional manual methods.
What was your last major milestone?
We’ve passed quite a few major milestones recently, but, to me at least, the last major one was when the amount of money saved with Plum hit US$500mn.
This was pretty special because it’s a first step towards achieving our mission of building lifetime wealth for all. Currently, in the UK, 1 in 10 adults have no savings and we want to change this. Reaching $500 million is proof that we’re on the right track, and helping people across Europe build greater financial resilience.
This figure is also a testament to how Plum has adapted to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Plum’s AI was perfectly positioned to maximise savings when spending habits changed due to the national lockdowns. It was automatically able to tuck away more money when people experienced fewer outgoings. Given this acceleration in deposits, we now expect the amount saved in Plum to reach $1bn by the end of 2021.
On the topic of COVID-19, how did Plum adapt to such a large societal shift?
As a company, we were able to adapt quickly to the outbreak of the pandemic, especially with the shift to remote working. Our team was already split across two offices in Athens and London, so we had the systems in place to move fully online. Of course, being a tech company made this a lot easier!
This has helped us push forward with our plans to scale during the pandemic. In the past year, we’ve achieved our biggest funding round yet, raising $10mn in July 2020 to reach $19.3mn overall. The team has also tripled in size to 75+, and we’ve established a new EU base in Cyprus.
In terms of developing the Plum product, we’ve doubled down on new features to respond to the needs of our customers both during the pandemic and looking ahead to our post-COVID future. We’ve seen a boom in investments during lockdown that we’ve learnt a lot from. Recently, we’ve launched two new ESG funds and we plan on adding our first pension product as well as single stocks and crypto-assets. We’ve also created an automated spend manager, called Money Maximiser, to help customers keep saving now that lockdown restrictions are easing.
How do you see the finance industry changing in a post-COVID-19 world?
A lot of the trends we’ve seen affecting the industry during the pandemic are here to stay. The pandemic has brought about a seismic change in the way people think about their finances. For too long, saving money has been linked to the idea of depriving yourself of something, but this is no longer the case. With the lockdowns, people have had the time to really sit and think about their financial goals…and have managed to get by without their regular takeaway coffee.
This new approach to money is set to continue in the post-COVID-19 world. According to our latest research, more than half of Plum customers who have built up extra savings during lockdown plan to hold onto them in the next 12 months. This is pretty incredible, but we’ll have to see whether the temptation of the shops and pubs prove too hard to resist!
- Vodafone and Enterprise Nation to give free digital skills training to 100,000 small businesses
- SpaceX breaks records and sends meme-inspired crypto into space
- Paving the way for green technology
- The Lithuanian unicorn challenging the likes of Depop and Facebook Marketplace
About Victor Trokoudes
co-founder and CEO of Plum
Victor Trokoudes is the co-founder and CEO of Plum, one of the fastest-growing Fintechs in the UK. A Cypriot-Canadian “serial entrepreneur”, he studied economics at Harvard and has an MBA from INSEAD. After a stint trading at Morgan Stanley, Mr. Trokoudes joined TransferWise when the Fintech unicorn had just 5 employees in the UK. He left when they were 500+, having built the team that launched TransferWise in 25 markets. Mr. Trokoudes then founded and led PoS terminal reseller BlueBird which he sold for a profit. He launched Plum in 2017, aiming to create the ultimate money management app.