We caught up with Jonny Plein, co-founder of money-saving start-up Pouch to talk about how a dream to go on Dragon’s Den resulted in a company now used by 200,000 people every week.
What is Pouch?
Pouch is a free browser extension that sources the best available voucher codes and automatically applies them to your basket on over 3,000 websites, saving you time and money. It’s available for Google Chrome, Firefox and Edge.
How did you come up with the idea for Pouch?
It was actually my co-founder’s idea. He worked in affiliate marketing for a couple of years and saw how successful voucher code websites were, but how in general, the user experience they offered wasn’t great. We saw how the world was going in terms of products being really user-focused, and thought creating a browser extension (Pouch) to serve users voucher codes could allow us to own a piece of this market.
What was it like pitching on Dragon’s Den?
Pitching on Dragons Den was a personal dream come true (I have been a fan since childhood) and a massive opportunity for the business. If you do well then you get a 15 minute slot on prime time TV where a few million people can learn about your product. As a digital product with little to no marketing budget, this was huge for us to get our initial downloads of Pouch. As we got 5 offers (only the 3rd time in 15 years) this also gave us a lot of credibility with the public and helped people trust what we were doing. It is amazing how well Facebook ads convert when you can say “as seen on dragons den”.
How has the company evolved since you pitched to the Dragons?
We have matured and grown. The Den was an opportunity for growth that we took with both hands, but after the episode aired our user base jumped from 5,000 to 50,000 overnight, and the hard work started. We had to make the right hires, raise more funding, build more retailer relationships, and keep growing our user base. We have also made a huge amount of error since the episode aired in 2017 but this is of course just part of the process and we are now stronger for them.
What advice would you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
In terms of some practical advice. “Test & learn” “Test & learn” “Test & learn”. If you have an idea, think about what the smallest cheapest test you can run to validate your idea is. For example, if you want to start selling T-shirts, build a landing page saying “coming soon” and see how expensive it is to drive traffic to that page, rather than investing in a full eCommerce website from the off. This will help you see if it is a viable business or not. In terms of emotional advice, don’t compare where you are in your life to others. If you want to start a business, do it, don’t worry if you may not be able to afford the holidays and materials goods as your friends in a steady job. Comparing yourself to others will just drive you mad.
What does the future hold for Pouch?
Pouch is still going strong. We keep adding new features and retailers and our user base is now at 200,000 active weekly users. So things are on the up. And we just got our 1000th 5 star review on trust pilot. So that is a nice mile stone.
At the start of 2019 we were fortunate to exit the business to Global Savings Group, an e-commerce startup based in Munich, who are really helping us take Pouch to the next level. We still run Pouch relatively independently and 2/3 (Vikram our CTO, and myself) of the founders are still in the business 18 months after acquisition which is always a good sign. With GSG’s help we are expanding all over Europe, starting in Germany, whilst continuing to grow our user base in the UK. For Pouch being the first business I founded, it has been a pretty remarkable outcome.
You can download Pouch for free online.