The entrepreneur behind tech start-up yboo has told BusinessCloud that his plans for an IPO were triggered by a “flattering” and “very substantial” purchase offer from a leading price comparison website.

Martyn Gould is co-founder and CEO of the West Yorkshire-based platform and mobile phone app, which helps people save money by comparing SIM-only deals from the UK mobile market and matching them with the best contract.

Yboo was launched in 2017 and received funding from Angelfish Investments Plc in February 2018 in the form of a £150,000 seed equity investment. The company has recently announced a £2 million finance package, made up of an additional £500,000 in equity funding and a £1.5 million debt facility.

The company said the growth funding would allow it to make further investments in its technology platform, as well as pursue expansion plans across the UK and internationally with franchise partners.

Gould also revealed that yboo will be pursuing an IPO in April 2019, plans which were partly triggered after the start-up received a purchase offer from a well-known price comparison platform less than two months ago.

“The offer was really substantial – it wasn’t in the tens of millions but it wasn’t single-digit millions either,” Gould told BusinessCloud. 

“That was one of our main drivers; we knew that we’ve obviously built something great if this massive brand wants to buy us. Another reason we’re IPO-ing early is because we’ve made a tech platform that is ‘portable’ and scalable and we can launch it anywhere.”

Although the takeover offer was “very tempting” and “flattering”, Gould and co-founder Paul Doyle decided against it.

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yboo

“I think we have a real opportunity to create jobs in the North where it’s really needed and that offer wasn’t aligned to building the business in the region and creating those opportunities,” Gould said. “It would have meant something different.

“When my co-founder and I set up the business we had core values like making sure our employees owned share options, creating jobs in the North and solving a problem for millions of consumers in the UK and abroad. Those fundamental values would have been broken if we sold out that early.”

In addition to its IPO plans, yboo will also be launching a B2B portal to provide UK mobile operators with anonymised data about their target audience. It will help them understand their customers’ behaviour and rank their products against other competitors in the market.

The start-up is also gearing up to launch its platform in Australia and the Middle East after being approached by potential franchise partners, which Gould says is another important driver behind a public listing.

“It’s obviously not going to be cheap to build an operational centre that runs 24/7 to support franchises in those countries,” he said. “In February we were a three-person business and we’ve since grown to 11 employees – but we need to turn it into a 50-person business with proper tech support.”

The entrepreneur said he plans to increase headcount to 20 employees by the end of 2018, but signing a franchise deal sooner could mean the start-up will have to grow at a much faster pace.

In the long-term, Gould and Doyle have a vision of transforming yboo into a global business.

“In five years’ time I see us operating in 30 countries around the world,” he said. “I also see us being a brand that is synonymous with saving consumers money on things they have to buy, like broadband, mobile, electricity and gas.

“Mobile in the UK is just the start for us.”

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