John Taylor and Gary Little, co-founders and co-CEOs at Duologi, give us an insight into how they started up their innovative financial solutions business...
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
Duologi is a new specialist consumer lending platform. We create and provide finance solutions that are not currently available to merchants, helping them increase their sales, customer satisfaction and profitability.
We offer a range of conventional finance products. But, what we really like to do is make new things. Products that enhance our partners’ businesses and really help their customers.
In addition to serving core retail finance sectors, we have developed a range of finance solutions for the healthcare, education and training, travel and property sectors.
What did you do before you started this business?
We were both previously at Close Brothers – John was Retail Banking Commercial Director and Gary was the Retail Finance Director. Before this we held senior positions in major financial organisations. We have a long track record of launching and growing businesses - we’re adept at developing and implementing business strategies based on intuitive products underpinned by innovative technology.
What inspired you to start up?
The specialist consumer finance market is evolving at a rapid rate. There are a whole host of specialist merchants out there that we can support and add value to, that’s why we set up Duologi. We knew there were opportunities out there, opportunities that we can provide solutions for.
Having been in the industry for more than 50 years between us, we knew that we could use our expertise to build a specialist team that could deliver innovative solutions to support retailers.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
When someone wants to buy a bike from a bike shop, they might not have all the money they need in one go. We create products that mean the bike shop can offer their customer the opportunity to borrow the money they need, so they can take the bike home that day. Essentially, we create complex products that help merchants boost their business.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
One of the best things about having two CEOs is that we can work together, solving problems leveraging each other’s experience. While we’ve both worked in the same sector, we’ve encountered different situations, enabling us to develop strategic forward-thinking solutions, built on experience.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
We spoke to a number of potential finance providers who were interested in our proposition. In the end, we went with Oaktree. Whilst they are one of the largest capital management firms in the world, what we really liked was that they shared our vision and understood our model: to build a team of experts who can provide innovative consumer finance products.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
To put a great team in place to deliver our key objectives. This is already bearing fruit, as we begin to win major new business contracts.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
We are going to deliver more than our competitors, committing to creating and providing specialist solutions that are not currently available. Although we have ambitious growth targets, we will stay nimble and agile enough to adapt, create and innovate new products that meet our merchants’ needs. We know there are so many possibilities out there and we are going to provide solutions that aren’t currently available.
We’re focused on creating intelligent partnerships and clever solutions, and have a specialist team to deliver this. Data scientists, product designers and credit analysts work closely with experienced industry professionals in areas like sales, marketing, finance and compliance to identify new opportunities, using innovative technology to create solutions.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It’s a huge amount of fun, but also a real responsibility – we’ve got a range of stakeholders who are depending on us – from investors to employees.
Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?
As ambitious business leaders, we want to become the leading specialist finance provider, known for working in partnership with merchants, supporting their own growth and their end customer’s experience.
As well as offering products to the core retail sector, we will also move into the healthcare, education and training, property and travel sectors, creating specialist solutions for their customers.
We strive to stay agile and innovative, constantly looking at new ways we can support our businesses.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Research your market to ensure you understand exactly what you are offering, who it’s aimed at and how you’re going to target them.
Secondly, surround yourself with a team who share the same passion, drive and energy as you. When you’re all working towards the same goal, you’ll reap rewards much faster.