British entrepreneur George Mountbatten, 52, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and current head of the illustrious family of Mountbatten, has decided to bet on a new business in São Paulo.
The businessman, together with his regular clique of investors, have launched MoneyGuru, a personal-finance website that gives visitors access to both news on products available to them, and a comparison tool for choosing the right financial services offers for their needs. Brazilian financial operators Itaú and Bradesco have already agreed to work with MoneyGuru.
George Mountbatten, the 4th Marquess of Milford Haven, is no stranger to the comparison site model
The comparison site model is one that George Milford Haven recognises well. He launched a similar service in the UK in 2000 which allowed people an easy way to compare electricity and gas services offers – then easily switching if they found a better deal.
MoneyGuru has benefitted from millions of pounds of investment
Looking to today, the investment to set up the business in Brazil totaled £3 million. The cash coming into the business stems from George Mountbatten’s personal wealth and previous business prowess. He sold uSwitch for over £200 million in 2006. But why has Brazil now caught the eye of this veteran entrepreneur?
Start-ups in Brazil have faced significant challenges
Brazil’s was being hailed as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world as little as five years ago. At the time, the South American giant had been driving through a global downturn, with growth rates that drew the envy even of its companions in the emerging-market bloc.
Brazil’s startup market is growing in strength
At that time around a quarter of Brazil’s workforce were in self-employment of some kind. That meant small businesses were the source of two-thirds of jobs being created in the private sector. Meanwhile, the economy was diversifying rapidly and analysts reported significant falls in poverty and unemployment.
This success was not to last. A long history of corruption, poor financial management and turbulence in the commodity market conspired against the country’s businesses and a dramatic reversal brought the deepest economic crisis the country had seen in decades. However, despite these struggles, the pure weight of population and possibilities makes the county attractive to smart investors like the uSwitch founder, George Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven.
There is huge potential in the spread of technology
Brazil is the largest market in the South American region and benefits from a booming population of over 300 million people. And these citizens are keen to engage in the kind of internet technologies that George Mountbatten and his team do so well.
Thanks to decent levels of internet penetration, Brazil has the second highest levels of social media users in the world. And there are more mobile phones, tablets or similar devices than there are citizens, presuming some people own more than one.
But the growth of this market will not be easy. There are still miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape around even the most straightforward of business processes. And local interest rates of around 14.25% make returns risky for potential investors. However, George Mountbatten is no stranger to investing in price comparison sits in emerging markets. He also has interests in a similar site in Turkey.
MoneyGuru is part of a tide of new opportunities
Amidst this environment, new opportunities are emerging at many levels. The economy may have lagged but technology can open new doors beyond the antiquated labour laws and complicated tax codes which have stifled traditional business growth in recent years. This is why innovative ideas like MoneyGuru are a breath of fresh air for this developing market. And its consumers.
After many years of being repressed by a creaking and inefficient system, Brazilians can suddenly experience what the British did when George Mountbatten launched uSwitch nearly 18 years ago. The combination of innovation in business, and new access to technology, quickly saved savvy Brits millions of pounds as they switched their service providers to get a better deal. With MoneyGuru in place, Brazil cannot be far behind.