SA-born entrepreneurs win big in competition to pitch for Richard Branson

Two South African-born entrepreneurs, who founded an innovative start-up company that conveniently swaps 150 currencies from across the world, have beaten over 2 500 companies and taken home the prize after pitching to business mogul and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.

Jeff Paterson and Oliver du Toit, based in the United Kingdom, won Virgin Media’s "Pitch to Rich 2015" competition with their unique money exchange concept, Fourex, in the "New Things" category — for "groundbreaking new ideas: market-disrupters, game-changers and innovations".

We spoke to Fourex co-founder, Jeff Paterson, to find out how they will be moving forward and how idea came about.

It was extraordinary and the most amazing day of our lives - just meeting him and being part of this competition has been great for our company. We’re focucing on launching our machines. Part of the prize was £50 000 as well as a whole lot of support from Virgin Media.

Jeff Paterson, Fourex co-founder

An idea born from frustration

The idea behind the start-up company is to transfer any cash in the world into a single currency from one of their kiosks.

According to Paterson, the technology was created as a result of discontent over the difficulty of exchanging money that the pair had collected from their global travels.

Both of us had a jar of coins from our world travels. I had about 500 pounds in my drawer that I couldn't exchange in coins or notes.

Jeff Paterson, Fourex co-founder

Paterson says that they developed image and note recognition software that is able to automatically identify unique coins and different currencies from across 150 world economies. The programme was then integrated into a self-service machine.

Watch: A demonstartion of how Fourex money exchange works

The value of a good idea

The company has secured a contract with London Underground’s transport system to install their machines in August of this year and have already been approached for franchising opportunities.

Paterson says that sponsors were not willing to give financial support to the initiative but they managed to raise R12 million rand in less than two weeks through crowd-funding efforts in which 450 individuals donated.

Since raising the start-up capital, the pair have been approached by business investors in Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Paterson says that they are also in talks with major currency exchange companies about implementing their product in airports worldwide.

After entering the contest the company has received overwhelming international support.

More about "Pitch to Rich 2015"

The competition is an initiative by Virgin Media Business to support small, growing UK businesses and winners in each of the three categories available were chosen on the 26th June.

To find out more information, visit the Fourex website or visit the Pitch to Rich 2015 webpage.

Watch Fourex's pitch in the Pitch to Rich Finale here.

Listen to the full conversation on The John Robbie Show:

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