In this week’s Founder Feature, we’ve partnered with the Super Connect for Good Competition powered by Empact Ventures and Hays. We are talking to Kapil Madan, Founder of IE Hub, who last month was announced as the competition’s Regional Winner for the East of England
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
IE Hub stands for Income & Expenditure Hub and it is aiming to transform the £4bn debt collection and management industry initially in the UK and then the £70 bn industry across the globe.
Currently, the same individual has to deal with several creditors to resolve their debt. Creditors need their detailed Income and Expenditure so that they can create a bespoke plan to help the individual. The individual hence has to provide information, negotiate payments and keep communicating over time separately with each one of their creditors. This takes a huge toll on their mental health and as per Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis more than 400,000 people contemplated suicide in 2018 and 100,000 even attempted it, in England alone, due to problem debts.
And it is not working well for creditors either. A different version of their affordability is presented to different creditors as individuals do not always recall the exact information that they provide to another creditor. Decisions based on this inaccurate information risk poor outcomes for creditors and individuals alike. Not to mention the average £20 spent by the creditor on chasing the individual and then recording this information over a 45-minute phone conversation.
IE Hub’s mission to empower individuals in financial difficulties and to provide them a single portal to deal with all their creditors. To achieve this, it is building a network of all banks, lenders, councils, utility companies, telecom companies, debt collection agencies and charities in the UK that deals with customers in financial difficulties.
Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your business?
I honestly believe that deep inside us we all know what we want to achieve in our life time. That is often shaped by our upbringing and various experiences as we navigate through life. I have been in situations where I was making a lot of money but I was still not feeling fulfilled. I always felt that there is something more for me to create and build, something that would have a lasting impact on people and society.
My early career was in information technology, mostly with tech giant Oracle. I started working in the financial services sector around 15 years ago and built expertise in credit risk understanding how to value portfolios of distressed debts. Initially, individuals used to be simply numbers in databases. But as I started to dig deeper into cases, started listening to phone conversations, I felt that the whole system was not working effectively. Being an engineer by training, I started dreaming up a system that works for everyone. That is fair for all parties and that helps solve the mental anxiety problem of individuals. This gave me a purpose that was meaningful and important to me and out came IE Hub.
Q: Tell us about some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle has been a small startup’s ability to create a radical change in a well-established industry. We are essentially building a network of all companies, across almost all sectors, in the UK. Even with a lot of resources, change takes a lot of time. For a startup, we needed to have people buy into our idea and vision, and then be willing to adopt it. And since they are working with businesses and public sector, it needed to make economic sense for them as well.
Luckily almost everyone we speak to in the industry believes our product makes lots of sense both from their customer standpoint as well as from business standpoint. We have been recipients of multiple industry awards, and were also recently selected for Tech Nation’s Fintech 3.0 accelerator cohort, which is always encouraging and tells me that the market understands the benefits of the product. Now with some great early adopters we have created some compelling stories for different sectors showcasing to creditors the real-world benefits of joining our network.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
We did a full launch in Jan 2020 and stared gaining good traction since May 2020. I still remember the exact moment that I was told that a lender had been able to help several hundreds of their customers impacted by covid through IE Hub. I can honestly say that this evidence that the product we have built is now able to start impacting people’s lives en masse could only be compared to the feeling that I had when my daughter started taking her first steps.
The next big moment came when I was told that a customer had shared their I&E with a council to get help with their council tax payment as well as with their water company to get help with switching to a social tariff. It proved that a customer can engage with multiple parties meaningfully through a single portal, and it was such an emotional moment.
Q: What keeps you up at night/what are you paranoid about?
I must say that I sleep much better now than ever. When I was working for others, I could not really sleep as the brain kept buzzing and I did not know what to do with all the ideas. But now when I am running my own business, when the brain is active at night, and I get new ideas then next day morning I am talking about those with the team, bouncing them around, refining them and getting them implemented into our products. That is so amazing and satisfying. And it also helps me sleep better. I am paranoid of the thought that I could one day lose that passion for our products and our customers.
Q: How far are you willing to go to see your idea become a success?
Ideas take a huge effort to become a great product and even more effort and energy to become a viable business and then significantly more to scale to a global level. This cannot be done by one person. It needs a great team who can be trusted to take it to the next level and beyond and eventually fulfill the original vision. And a founder needs to be able to let go off control and hire people that are better than him or her in various skills. It is really hard but I am willing to “let go” to make my idea a success.
Q: Do you see this as UK centric or will you conquer the world by going global?
The problem of individuals facing financial difficulties and interacting with number of creditors is not a UK one alone. There are several million individuals in Europe, Australia, US and rest of the world who need our help. I would not use the word “conquer” but “positively impact” – I would really love to see IE Hub helping the hundreds of millions around the globe who are dealing with financial difficulties.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
No journey is the same but one thing that all innovators need is mentorship. Innovators are mostly trying to change the world for the better, but change takes time and it is easy to get dispirited when the world does not move as fast as you would want it to. I am always seeking out mentors who can help my personal development, as well as to help grow my business. Stay honest to your purpose – there are great teachers around you who will appear when you are ready to learn.
Learn more about Kapil Madan and IE Hub here: www.iehub.co.uk