Freeze Debt founder and CEO, Harjit Moore, spoke exclusively to Growth Yorkshire about his new business. A free, app-based debt advice and solution service with the overall goal of helping as many people in personal financial difficulties become debt free as quickly as possible.
What was the main idea behind Freeze Debt?
To help people find debt advice and solutions, in a more easy and efficient way. Using technology to speed up the process and at the same time, giving users an easier way to communicate their problems. Speaking about debt is not the easiest thing to do, to pick up the phone and to speak to someone about that, can be difficult. With call centre models working 8am-8pm, the last thing you want to do is speak on the phone to a stranger about something as sensitive as personal debt issues. I believe text messaging, through our in-house chat provides an easier way for the user to confide and communicate so we can help. You can communicate with us at any time in the day through messaging so nobody can overhear you talking about a sensitive topic, which is where we believe we differ from our competitors.
What is Freeze Debt’s mission and vision?
The vision is to be the biggest debt advice provider in the UK. To challenge the industry – which I believe to be very stuck in its ways in the form of the call centre model previously discussed. We believe there is a faster, more efficient way to get advice across to users.
What achievements are you most proud of since launching the business?
I’d probably say customer satisfaction. Seeing the great reviews that we get, seeing how much we have helped change peoples lives for the better. It gives me great satisfaction to know that we are positively impacting people.
More recently, to see our efforts acknowledged in the form of nominations for awards such as ‘App Of The Year’ and ‘Innovation Of The Year’ provides further affirmation that we are on the right track.
What has been the key to your own personal success?
Confidence and never giving up – that’s my biggest thing. Have fun with it. Also don’t get too down when things aren’t going brilliantly and stay humble when things are going well. Take the rough with the smooth but most importantly never give up and just go for it.
How passionate are you about using technology to help people?
Massively. Its the future – if you don’t innovate you’ll be left behind. History has shown that with a lot of unsuccessful companies who have failed to embrace technology. Companies who thought they were too big to fail, yet did so because they failed to incorporate technology. The future is getting faster. There are more efficient ways of doing business all the time, and technology is key to that.
What has been the biggest challenges you have encountered since starting Freeze Debt?
All of it! It’s been hard work. Thats mainly because our app is the first of its kind, and when it is the first it can be difficult as you don’t have a blueprint to follow, you don’t have case studies, you don’t have a similar company to look as and say ‘what are they doing and how can we do it better?’. What you have is a lot of great ideas that you believe are going to work. You might try them and they don’t work, and then you go back to the drawing board and go again, until you find what does work. Thats been a steep learning curve. The challenge is that you are going into the unknown, you don’t know what the day is going to bring!
How has COVID-19 affected the business?
Good and bad. At the start we were working from home, the team struggled, I struggled. It is very collaborative in how we work as we are in that learning phase, that becomes harder when you are working from home. You can only do so much through zoom calls and emails, you do need that human interaction between people. On a business level we also felt the impact, the whole world had gone to a standstill, including our business. Since the full lockdown it has been more of a positive. At the moment, there are many people in the country who would benefit from using our service a service. We are preparing ourselves for that.
What our Freeze Debt’s future goals?
To be the biggest debt advice provider in the UK. In 12 months from now we will be challenging the likes of StepChange and PayPlan as a leading player in the market. We are the only ones with this kind of technology. We are the ‘Uber’ of debt, so we really plan to capitalise on that.
How important was it to you that the business was based in Leeds?
Massively so. I’m a Yorkshire lad, born and bred in Bradford. Leeds is key to what we do, in trying to keep everything as local as possible. I saw a stat that 98% of all FinTech companies are based in London, so for us its great to represent the north and stay in Leeds.