If a business idea works well in one country, why shouldn’t it travel across borders? That is why the British entrepreneur George Milford Haven launched MoneyGuru in Brazil.
Origins of the idea
George Milford Haven – a cousin of the Queen and a descendant of Russian monarch Catherine the Great – was the original founder of uSwitch.com, the leading UK price comparison site which grew to become a consumer champion. It was one of the first price comparison websites, which offered UK consumers the chance to save hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills. uSwitch.com took advantage of deregulation laws which allowed consumers to switch energy providers and offered an impartial online platform to compare and switch to a better deal.
George Milford Haven spotted a gap in the market in Brazil, and believed the time was right to try and replicate the uSwitch formula in the South American country. MoneyGuru is São Paulo based, and is positioned as a personal finance website which also provides news, as well as service comparison. It is thought that MoneyGuru’s business model will borrow a lot from the uSwitch model, and a sizeable level of investment was secured for the venture, with over £10 million in initial investment.
How has MoneyGuru developed?
According to Stanlei Bellan, the former CEO of MoneyGuru, the majority of the investment came from George Milford Haven himself, who sold uSwitch.com in 2006 for a reported £210 million to US company EW Scripps.
In terms of their objectives in the Brazilian market, MoneyGuru has set its sights high. Partnerships forged by MoneyGuru include those with Itaú and Bradesco, and it will be interesting to see if they can change the consumer landscape in Brazil in the same way uSwitch.com did in the UK.
Not only did uSwitch.com spark tremendous competition between the gas and electricity providers in the UK, encouraging them to lower prices and entice consumers with the best possible tariffs, but they also expanded their services to cover personal finance and telecommunications price comparison.
Who is George Milford Haven?
So, who is George Milford Haven? One thing to highlight about the 52-year-old is that, away from business, he has a love for the sport of polo. George Milford Haven created the Trippetts Farm polo complex which is home to four teams, as well as acting as a polo venue and residence for polo professionals from all over the world. Trippetts is recognised as one of the best polo facilities in the world, due to its sheer size and the standard of its training facilities and accommodation.
uSwitch.com model replicated internationally
George Milford Haven also has a track record of applying the uSwitch.com model in other countries, with EnCazip in Turkey. Turkish professionals approached uSwitch via LinkedIn and asked for permission to start their own price comparison website, utilising the guidance of the former uSwitch shareholders. One of them, Cagada Eroğlu, was inspired by an energy bill he received while living in London as a student.
The Turkish team were trained specifically for the job of bringing the uSwitch concept to the Turkish market, and were sent to work at energy companies around the world in order to further their understanding of the sector. This is proof that so long as a price comparison offering can be tweaked to the characteristics of a particular market, there is no reason why it shouldn’t succeed.
MoneyGuru has gone about assembling a young and energetic team which is capable of working in a fast-paced environment.