Mark Pearson was not born a millionaire, but it was made . And an important part of the drive to become the lord and master of discount coupons in the United Kingdom came from a Christmas he spent with his mother and sister in a women’s shelter .
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They had arrived there fleeing domestic violence. Little Mark was still in elementary school. “I felt like I was the man of the family and that impelled me,” says Pearson, now 34.
“At 9 or 10 I could not do much, but over time I started thinking about what to do to be the breadwinner of the family .” At 18 he moved to London . He started as a chef and then started his own florist shop. In 2006 Pearson had the idea of a million dollars: a website that lists all the discount vouchers for purchases and restaurants available.
Counting 27 years, he named the business MyVoucher Codes (My discount coupons) and made it work from his laptop , sitting on his couch in a rented apartment above a store in South London. The website was an immediate success among lovers of bargains.
In the first year he billed 300,000 pounds (about US $ 485,000) and the following year he made his first million pounds. The consecutive years achieved 3 million pounds (about US $ 4.85 million) and 10 million pounds (US $ 16 million approximately), with a profit margin of more than 50%.
Today, My Voucher Codes remains the most popular discount website in the United Kingdom and Pearson’s personal fortune is valued at around US $ 100 million.
MODEL BUSINESS PULCRO
In simple terms, My Voucher Codes receives a referral fee every time someone uses a discount code that appears on their website or weekly electronic newsletter.
So if you are ordering something online or print a coupon to eat at a restaurant and use My Voucher Codes, the company receives a commission from the product or service provider, be it an electronic store, supermarket chain or a restaurant.
Today, more than 60,000 companies use My Voucher Codes, which has “brother” websites in France, Germany and the US. In the United Kingdom alone, more than six million people subscribe to their weekly offers by email.
Pearson invested on the company’s website only 300 pounds (about $ 485) . I did not have any formal computer courses, nor e-commerce.
As a result of the success of the site, Pearson approached two industry majors: Inter Flora and Flowers Direct, asking if they could include banners with discount coupons on their website , paying commission for each successful purchase.
Pearson accepted and soon realized that he was making more money in commissions than with the roses he was selling at that time in his florist shop.
“It occurred to me that it is an immaculate business model,” he says. “Unlike roses, I was suddenly selling something that did not cost me anything to buy.”
“And so the idea of My Voucher Codes clicked me in. I chose the name, I invested 300 pounds in setting up the website and the rest is history.” My Voucher Codes was launched in November 2006 as the first discount website in the United Kingdom.
In two years Pearson had made enough money to buy a house in London for himself and another for his m
EXPANSION TO THE CITY
As the business grew, he finally hired staff and opened an office in Croydon, South London. Then he moved to his current headquarters near the Thames, on the London Bridge. Today it has 110 employees.
Earlier this year, Pearson sold the company at about US $ 89 million. Considering that he owned more than 90%, he was the biggest beneficiary of the business. With the money he bought the mobile payment firm Monitise , based in the City of London, one of the largest financial centers in the world.
Pearson hopes that My Voucher Codes can benefit from Monitise’s technology and expand its use in mobile phones. But of all his achievements, the one that makes him happiest is having been able to buy a house for his mother.
She is also part of the business: from her home in Liverpool or from the family villa she bought in Barbados, she is in charge of quality control of the firm.