Never take no for an answer: PCA Predict

Guy Mucklow is a legend, and not only because he co-founded PCA Predict, the technology used by over 100,000 companies around the world.

He built his business with co-founder Jamie Turner from scratch, fuelled by rejection for venture capital in the company’s early days. Since then, he has turned down a $100,000 offer to buy the business, and moved mountains for the UK’s technology sector on the board of Tech UK and as a recipient of a Queens Award for Enterprise Promotion. Here’s his story.

Faced with poor website layout, irrelevant fields and never-ending forms, 84 per cent of online shoppers abandon their carts, according to PCA Predict research.

Enter predictive technology.

PCA Predict, best known for the technology that captures and validates address details when shopping online, has revolutionised e-commerce over the past decade, strengthening the case for shoppers to click through to check out. Guy Mucklow, president and co-founder of the Worcester-based international business spoke to GrowthBusiness about how PCA Predict has grown to be a staple for over 100,000 e-commerce giants.

Name: Guy Mucklow

Location: Offices in Worcester and New York

Date launched: 2001

Number of employees: 65

What does your business do?

At PCA Predict we are best known for providing the ‘what’s your postcode?’ technology which is used by over 10,000 e-commerce businesses to help their customers quickly capture and validate their address details when shopping online. Our range of checkout optimisation tools improve conversion rates by removing a common frustration on web forms by making it quicker and easier for customers to complete the checkout process while capturing verified email, mobile numbers and international delivery addresses.

A major area of focus for us is in a range of new of predictive services which use the on-page event stream data from our tag to monitor changes in online behaviour to continuously improve the relevance and experience for the customer in their digital journey.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

PCA or Postcode Anywhere, as we were originally known, developed out of the simple idea that we could use the internet to transform the delivery of data.  By offering a centrally managed service as an alternative to providing the data on hard media, we could significantly reduce the distribution cost, eliminate the need for manual updates, whilst keeping the data as fresh as possible.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We knew that there was an established market for the service within call centres, and had been particularly impressed by an incumbent called QAS (who later sold to Experian), that had done exceptionally well off the growth in this market. We knew, however, that there was a better way of delivering the service and that there was also an emerging opportunity in the nascent e-commerce market which gave us the courage to go after the market.

How did you raise funding, and why?

We are, and have always been, completely self-funded. When my business partner, Jamie Turner and I first established the business back in 2001, we originally considered funding and went to meet a number of venture capitalists. I naively thought that it was a necessary part of the process in getting a start-up going. I often refer to the rejection process as being “the best thing that never happened to us” as I ended up funding the business myself and own a large share of the equity and still have a job in the thing I helped to create, which I doubt would be the case if we had taken VC funding.

Describe your business model in brief

We have a very simple business model which is largely based on data usage provided via a credit pack. This has allowed us to go after the high volume-low value end of the market with a self-serve approach, which has enabled us to scale quickly with a relatively small work force. Over 90 per cent of our revenue comes from repeat orders and customer retention is a key metric for the business.

We also sell through channel partners who are the large e-commerce platforms and have partnerships with Canada Post and Royal Mail who white label our technology and sell under their own brands.

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

There have been countless milestones in the business, however, winning our first major logo, ‘The UK Passport and Identify Service’ from our main competitor, was a huge confidence boost. While the revenue from these early sales was never enough to keep the “wolf from the door”, they did provide much needed morale boosts when our spirits were flagging and having well-known customer references also helped to add weight to our sales pitches.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

To succeed, never take no for an answer. In business, there are lots of people who might doubt your ability whether through a lack of trust, jealousy or just pure ignorance.  The key is that these people can help to fuel your motivation as they need to be proved wrong.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

The main objective over the next five years is to significantly increase the value of the business and ultimately to work towards a sale. Having turned down an offer at the end of last year, we have set ourselves some tough targets which involve offering a wider range of services to our e-commerce customers as well as trying to crack the US market. We have made great strides over the last six months on both of these objectives and are hugely excited by the challenge and opportunities that this will present.

What is your philosophy towards business and life, in a nutshell?

My overriding philosophy in business is that “Things don’t fall into your lap – you have to make them happen”. I have always been amazed by the opportunity that we have in life and still get a huge buzz when things seem to click into place.

Guy Mucklow is a speaker on the Entrepreneurs Panel at the Battle of the Backers.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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