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PonchoPay is on a mission to revolutionise payments in the childcare ecosystem. Hundreds of millions of pounds of government support available to parents is going unspent each year due to poor awareness, clunky processes and a low adoption of technology. PonchoPay is making it easy for any source of funding to be aggregated at point of checkout, saving parents money and saving childcare providers a significant amount of time in the process. We sat down with Ben Prouty, CEO & Co-Founder of PonchoPay, to find out more about PonchoPay and his vision for the future.
You’ve just launched on Seedrs – congratulations! What do you plan to do with the money you’ve raised?
We’re fortunate to have a backlog of demand from major childcare provider groups that want to implement PonchoPay in their checkout. This means unlocking tens of millions of pounds worth of transactions through 2024. As such, our small but very competent product development team of two people needs to grow to handle the queued up demand for integrations and feature requests to accommodate the higher volumes. We’ll be using the funding to expand the team in the coming months, in advance of a bigger institutional raise we’re planning for 2024 off the back of significantly higher YoY transaction volumes versus our first year of trading in 2023.
PonchoPay is marketed as being on a mission to revolutionise payments in the childcare ecosystem – can you talk us through what gave you the spark for this idea?
With parents among the founding team, the challenges around understanding government entitlements and the process of accessing and using them has been all too familiar. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, parents need all of the help they can get and what better way to support them than by building a solution that drastically improves on the status quo! Our team spent months deeply researching the space and speaking with both parents and childcare providers alike to better understand the challenges and how best to solve them.
You shared recently that 74% of parents in the UK said they find it difficult to meet childcare costs – can you talk us through exactly how PonchoPay solves this problem?
PonchoPay is helping parents with the cost of childcare by making it easy for parents to use the government subsidies that they’re entitled to. At present, accessing and using these funds is cumbersome for parents and it’s not always obvious which subsidies can be used and where. By appearing at point of checkout, when parents are paying for their childcare online, PonchoPay first helps parents understand what they’re entitled to and then makes using the funds a breeze.
Furthermore, we’re making it easier for childcare providers to accept and manage these types of payments, resulting in more widespread acceptance of these subsidies across the childcare ecosystem, in turn helping these businesses grow.
It’s fantastic to see that you have recently started onboarding and integrating with major childcare groups and childcare platforms. What does this mean for PonchoPay, and do you have any other partnerships in the pipeline?
As we move into 2024, we’re now starting to bring in larger clients that can be serviced using the latest version of our product. Following the MVP phase in 2023 and off the back of feedback we received from large clients, we undertook 8 months of development work to build out the features and capabilities that they require. Since the end of summer, we’ve been signing up and onboarding clients that will each push over £1m worth of transactions annually through PonchoPay, with some doing well over £10m per year. This means that in 2024 the volumes that we handle will multiply substantially versus our first year of trading with small test clients. At present we have over £100m worth of annual transactions in the pipeline.
Where do you see PonchoPay in 5 years?
In 5 years time, PonchoPay will be the payment wallet that parents use for every family purchase. With flexible finance options, access to all government subsidies and child details all stored in one place and shared in one-click, PonchoPay will manage billions of pounds of childcare expenditure, across millions of parents.
PonchoPay will also exist outside of the UK where there are countless other countries that have difficult-to-access government funding. And this need not be limited to childcare, we anticipate there are other applications for PonchoPay in both Healthcare and Insurance, to name two industries.
What do you wish investors knew about you, that they might not?
This isn’t my first rodeo! I’ve been involved in three successful startups prior to founding PonchoPay, two of which have already successfully exited with the third most recent one performing very well. I’m well versed in the process of venture building and know how to build a good team, which puts PonchoPay at a distinct advantage when it comes to succeeding!
What motivates you?
As my fourth start-up experience, I’m motivated once again for the business to be a major success, but on this occasion, the desire to have a positive social impact in the process is significant for me. With PonchoPay, we have a unique opportunity to do both and that’s exhilarating and rewarding in equal measure!
What has been the biggest learning on your journey so far?
The biggest learning in my entrepreneurial journey so far has been the importance of building a “need to have” product or service, versus a “nice to have.” It’s very easy to slip into the trap of building something that customers like the sound of but there’s no urgency (or budget) to move quickly. Where you’re offering a solution that has a clear ROI and saves your clients time and money, it makes the rest of your job so much easier! With PonchoPay, we’re fortunate to have a solution that does both for each of our key stakeholders; parents and the providers of childcare services, which has resulted in significant demand and shorter sales cycles.
View PonchoPay’s campaign live on Seedrs here.
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