September 09, 2019
We thought we would start our blog by sharing the stories behind the people creating and fuelling MoneyLoop. The ever so quirky, smart and passionate people, that together compliment in skill set, industry knowledge and won't stop until the solution will help all Australians in their time of need.
It is only befitting that we start with the co-founder, Joshua Theeuf, a serial entrepreneur who as a child experienced the stress that comes with life's unexpected emergencies and then vowed he would one day create a solution to help families just like his.
Here is a little bit about Josh and the different things that motivate, inspire and drive him.
I am one of 7 children, and grew up in Townsville, Queensland. Growing up I was always a little nerdy and loved the thrill of solving a problem irrespective of the difficulty. Throughout high school I fell in love with chess, and it turns out I was quite talented at it, playing at several national championships and performing quite well. I started my first business when I was 18, teaching chess at various local primary schools in the Townsville region, which at its peak I had over 6 schools in the region and 120 students. In December 2012, I decided that I wanted to get out of Townsville, which lead to moving to Melbourne where I studied an engineering degree at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Finally, in 2017, I was accepted in the prestigious H2 ventures accelerator program to start what was once known as m8srates but is now MoneyLoop where I moved to Sydney in early 2018 and haven’t looked back.
The MoneyLoop Journey
MoneyLoop was originally known as m8srates and it was definitely not insurance related. We were attempting to provide a peer to peer marketplace that specifically serviced micro-transactions where you could lend your next-door neighbour $50 for a week for a fixed fee. After 6 weeks of the program we had built our first prototype and had lent a very small amount of the platform, just amongst friends and family. This was when Ben and Toby Heap asked us why do you think no one else has attempted to create peer to peer marketplace for microtransactions, and that maybe we should seriously consider a pivot. That same night, I went to a start-up grind event and met the founder of MindFit who mentioned his customers had a massive issue - finding the small out of pocket expenses to see their psychologist, and I thought heck we fund that.
So, at 3am that night I rang my then co-founder and told him we are pivoting. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was a great conversation. We threw away 3 months of hard work to do something completely different. What we realised was we were tackling the payday lending problem in Australia, where during an emergency the only source of funding Australians have was these predatory lenders.
So, we set out to provide a solution that was interest-free and fee-free for Australians to go and see their doctors. We signed up several medical clinics really quickly, but this turned out to be a super time consuming and expensive process which was delivering the results we really wanted.
This was when I thought "What is something we can do to support more Australians during their emergencies and how to get to them?" This is when it dawned on me - insurance is massive, especially the excess component of an insurance policy. So yet again at 3am in the morning I told my then co-founder that we are going to shift our focus from health to insurance. He was not happy, nor convinced this was the right path, as we would once again have to throw everything away.
We both started to split focus. He was on the medical space, and I was focusing on the insurance space. This was a complete recipe for disaster as we weren’t focused and we were constantly fighting.
About week 14 of the 20-week program, I told my ex-co-founder that we are pulling the plug on the medical space, as I had managed to validate the excess collections and the business model would work within insurance, with a lot of early support. This resulted in the biggest fight yet. We locked ourselves in one of the bookable meeting rooms and yelled at each other for an hour straight. After we had gotten everything off our chests, he had agreed that he would leave the company. We are still on good terms and attempt to catch up whenever we are in the same town.
By the end of the program we felt like we were back to square one with a lot of super great interest in our new vision and potential. But I now needed to find a new person to work with, while also trying to sell our solution into a business that would allow us to prove that we can execute.
I must have dated several different people. Finding a new co-founder is very much like dating (because you are going to get married to them), all who were amazing individuals and would have made great candidates but I didn’t feel were a great fit for myself or where I felt the company needed to go.
By December 2018 we had our first customer agree to use us, Car Next Door. Admittedly this would take a bit longer to get off the ground than what we would have liked but it eventually got there in April 2019. Once we had Car Next Door agree to use us, it seemed a lot easier to get other customers to agree to try us. Since then we have signed 3 more customers, which put us at our current limitation resource wise.
In May 2019, I met my now fantastic Co-Founder Cary. He came into Stone and Chalk and told me a bit about himself over a beer (I have a beer policy, if I cannot have a beer with you at the end of the day, I probably don’t want to work with you). I spoke with him the following week and asked if he would be able to come in for a few days a week just to see how we work together. On his first day, he provided immediate value which I personally feel takes MoneyLoop to an entirely different level, which is why in mid-April, we formalised our arrangements.
Since then we have had a lot of success with our current customers and have even had a challenger insurer agree to pilot us. So, I guess it is onwards and upwards for MoneyLoop!
Insurance Industry Disruptor
Originally, MoneyLoop wasn’t developed to change the insurance industry, but designed for customers first. Though time and various conversations, it became apparent that excess collections is a massive pain point for insurers and ultimately their customers. By starting with the customer first we found that we can help solve a massive problem for insurers.
The Insurtech Landscape
Personally, I think the insurtech industry needs to stop blaming the people we want to partner with and start thinking about what we can do to make it easier to partner with us. I also feel that as a community, we are stronger when we work together so I would love to see more insurtech – insurtech collaboration.
MoneyLoop means that everyday Australians no longer have to get predatory loans when life throws a curve ball. Payday lenders, and high interest credit cards are no longer a necessary evil.
I really enjoy supporting others along their journey. It doesn’t make any sense to help guide people through the same mistakes I have made.
Chess Champion Tactics
I wish I had something profound to say here.
I would say it helped me to be more considerate in the decisions I make and makes me constantly think about what outcome I am trying to achieve, and whether this actually helps me get there.
People in Business You Admire?
I don’t really admire anyone. But there are people who I think are amazing, for example Katherine McConnell. It is amazing how brilliant she is that she continues to excel and execute at Brighte!
If you are looking at starting a start-up - it’s a lot easier than everyone says, but make sure you start and finish with your customers in mind, and assume you know nothing about your customers.