Meet the CEO and co-founder of Plum
Hey Victor, how did you decide on the name of the brand?
Back in Cyprus, our co-founder Alex earned his pocket money picking and selling plums from his grandfather's garden. He even build a little stand at the end of the drive to host his plum pocket money business. We both liked the sentimentality of this, particularly as it showed the clear ambition Alex possessed from a young age, I think this has stuck with us throughout our journey creating what is Plum today.
So, how does the chatbot work?
Plum is the first AI-powered Facebook Chabot globally which allows you to start saving money automatically without any effort, fees or changes in spending. Plum allows you to take control of your finances effortlessly, without changing your lifestyle, budgeting or even noticing. Plum connects to your current account and dynamically analyses your past earnings and spending. Using this data, our algorithm calculates daily what amount it can safely put aside without affecting your daily life and moves it to your Plum saving account via direct debit. You can access your savings anytime, within 24 hours of notice.
Our goal here at Plum is helping people grow their savings by helping them manage their money. Plum helps you manage your personal finances in lots of ways. Our AI tech helps you save money automatically. You can also invest those savings within Plum for a decent return. You can even earn money by referring friends (£25 for every 3 friends). On top of all of that, we make sure you are not being overcharged on things like energy bills and help you switch if you are.
You are working on changing the way people save money, what inspired you to create this need?
Plum was born out of a personal challenge between its co-founders, Victor and Alex, to see who could save faster and smarter.
At the end of every month Victor put aside the money that was left over in his current account. Alex, on the other hand, wrote a programme which started to regularly calculate how much he needed until the end of the month and downloaded his transactions. Whatever he didn’t need was automatically transferred into his savings. After a few months, they compared balances and changes in lifestyle. Alex had saved almost double than Victor without having to change his spending habits or even remember to put the money aside.
But that was just the beginning, having spotted a need for an accessible service like this, we went on to build and launch Plum to the masses, with the goal to improve people’s finances for the better, whether that’s their saving, switching or investing habits. For too long, people have struggled to keep on top of their finances and the way we engaged with them needed a serious overhaul. Having these consolidated in one place makes this a far smoother and stress-free experience.
What makes Plum stand out from other platforms focused on the similar aim of financial assistance?
Plum allows the individual to take control of their finances effortlessly, without making any drastic changes to their lifestyle, having to budget and doesn’t even require them to check in on how this is all happening. For example we focus on helping you save rather than tracking how you spend like many other financial assistance platforms. Our goal is to make money management automatic, so you don't have to make strategic decisions to be better off. We focus on helping you save in lots of different ways, asides from just autosaving for you. From investing your savings to get a real return to checking you are not being overcharged on things like energy bills and switching you if you are.
Plum has been backed by incredible investors, how did you attract the right investment attention?
The key to attracting the right investment attention is always based around the product offering. If you can show the value your product will deliver to a significant group of people, investors will be interested.
I’ve read that you like to hire people who think like entrepreneurs, why is this?
Working in a lean, high growth start-up is a unique and demanding working style. It requires you to think creatively and treat problems as opportunities everyday, the same way an entrepreneur does.
What valuable advice have you received that you still stand by today?
Be driven by the mission to make a change.
What question should every entrepreneur who is starting a business, be asking right now?
What am I trying to fix, who is this for and why do they need it.
What has been the biggest challenge since launching Plum?
It's hard to say. Challenges are part of startup life we see them as challenges that we are made to solve. Regulation is an ongoing challenge as is building the trust with sensitive data which we are always working on. As a new concept, there is always a time consideration for things becoming the norm, from online banking to mobile banking these behavioral changes can take some getting used to. PSD2 is likely to help with this a great deal by tackling the data issue head on!
What plans do you have for Plum over the next 12 months?
2018 will be a big year for Plum, with the dawn of Open Banking lots of new opportunities are available. We are looking to extend our offer across the board, including upgrading our investment option and the choices available. Switching will be another area we want to take further to ensure we are helping our users get the best deals on everything. Our insights into spending habits will also need to become more advanced as we grow our business and range of services available to the public.
As time goes on, even our algorithm is getting smarter allowing users to take more control of your savings, with algorithm more equipped to cater to everyones individual needs and add multiple accounts to Plum.
Plum is the personal finance assistant – powered by AI – that helps make you better off without ever having to lift a finger. The chatbot acts like your personal finance assistant, learning your spending behaviour and automatically saving money without any need for input from you. Plum connects to your bank account and, using AI, analyses your transactions to create a picture of what and when you spend per month. It then identifies where you can be better off whether by moving small amounts into your savings account. It will then give you investment options to grow those savings. At the same time, it informs you if you can avoid unnecessary bank fees, can switch your utility provider, or let you know about any “forgotten subscriptions”.
Plum is also on track to having helped saved its users £25 million in its first year.
Victor recently appeared on Sky Sunrise and Ian King Live programmes debating on the advent of Open Banking and answering tought questions around personal data protection – as a pioneer for transparent banking, putting the consumer back in control of their finances – Victor’s not shy about sharing his ambition to transform modern finances for the better.
On this topic, please see a recent comment from him:
Victor Trokoudes, CEO and co-founder of Plum said: “The UK is facing a debt and savings crisis: consumer debt levels have reached £200bn, yet 16 million people have less than £100 in savings. Technology has been all about spending, rather than enabling people to save for the future they want. That’s why we created Plum: the personal finance assistant – powered by AI – that will help everybody be better off.”