Snoop app hits a million downloads. CEO John Natalizia reveals how

Cost of living crisis? It's the ideal time for the Snoop money-saving app
BizAge Interview Team
John Natalizia

Hi John! What's Snoop's elevator pitch?

Available to everyone but unique to all, Snoop is an award-winning money platform that provides data-driven, personalised insights, or Snoops, to help customers save money on their bills and overall spending.

Whereas traditional financial services have never looked to empower people to make the most of their money, Snoop uses Open Banking technology data to deliver a highly relevant and personalised experience.

Over 25 million people use their mobile to manage their money and Snoop makes financial management bespoke and personal not transactional and one-size fits-all. The app can deliver a better experience, save consumers lots of money and drive better financial outcomes. 

What does the market need it?

Because of the way traditional retail financial services works in the UK – reliant on apathy, inertia and customer errors to make more money - consumers need and deserve a better, smarter way to manage their money. And with the cost-of-living crisis raging this has never been more important.

Consumers operate in complex markets where the onus is on them to make sure they’re getting the best deal in every spending decision they make. This so-called loyalty-penalty costs consumers billions of pounds a year and economics in almost all core household markets (banking, energy, broadband, insurance, telco) rely on consumer inertia to drive profitability.

These markets are predicated on prices rise over time for customers that don’t switch. Or in some instances the traditional financial services business model is reliant on customer mistakes to drive profitability – for example, spending on a 0pc Balance Transfer credit card or missing a payment and incurring fees.

Price comparison websites have helped – but they rely on consumers being proactive and taking action to switch. Against this backdrop, Snoop aims to solve this problem by creating a trusted, proactive service that partners the consumer, shares the burden and provides helpful support and advice along the way – all with the minimum of consumer effort required.

Where is the business today? 

As already mentioned, I think the really powerful thing with Snoop is that it’s available to everyone but unique to all. The data-driven, personalised insights ensure that we ‘talk’ to our customers at an individual level and give them an experience based on their actual circumstances. For example - because inflationary pressure will not impact everyone evenly Snoop has been busy helping customers by using open banking data to provide a personalised breakdown showing how increased prices and taxes will impact their finances along with ways to mitigate and offset the pressure. There are, of course, no easy solution to rising prices, but there are practical ways you can cut costs and boost your income to soften the blow. So, we’ve basically taken our core proposition and homed in on the specific pressure points to take the cost-of-living beyond the grim (and generic) headlines to help people identify their own personal inflation figure (in pounds and pence) along with next best actions to save money. A strong exemplar of the power of open banking, our cost-of-living data cruncher has proven extremely popular with our customers.

By delivering this sort of value to customers at an acute time of crisis for UK households, we’ve had over one million downloads, 10,000 four and five-star reviews, 8/10 customers say it’s much easier to keep on top of their money and spending, and nearly half score us 10/10 when asked how likely they are to recommend Snoop.

What made you think there was money in this?

When we left Virgin Money after the CYBG acquisition, and as a team with huge banking experience, we knew a proposition based on the power of Open Banking had far greater potential than building a new bank from scratch. We had spent some time on developing a new digital bank for Virgin Money and knew the landscape very well. We wanted to use technology to make peoples’ lives easier and so we sketched out the problem we wanted to solve, what we wanted to achieve as a team and how we’d go about doing it. We operate a revenue model where we generate revenue for our business when customers save money by switching. When the customer wins, we do too. This is by far the biggest source of revenue.

What's wrong with your competitors?

Whereas retail banks have never really looked to empower people to make the most of their finances, Snoop uses data to deliver highly relevant, connected and helpful experiences to them.

What's your biggest strength and the secret to making the business work?

The key to the success of Snoop is our culture, purpose and ambition to help make everyone better off. It guides everything we do and it’s scalable to millions of people. Key to the success of the proposition is delivering a personalised experience to every customer. That’s personalised, actionable insight across money saving and money management. Context and content, not just figures and finance. Best-in-class UX and UI and ultimately simple solutions to complex problems

We joke that we must be one of the oldest fintech start-ups around! A nicer way of saying that is that the team has many years of experience and success in building brands, businesses and digital propositions. One of the most important things within that is that the team have managed success through both good times and bad. And it is sometimes the ability of a team to manage the tough times that counts. The balance of the team is strong and has the expertise, ambition and determination to make the business successful.

How do you market the company?

Primarily digitally, with ‘App install’ Campaigns on several platforms along with mobile display and affiliate programs. We use a mixture of in-house developed ad creative and influencer style content. PR is also a key channel for the business – in particular case studies of real people using Snoop and explaining how it works and how much they’ve been able to save.

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

In July 2021 we secured £15 million in Series A funding from leading American investment management firm Paulson & Co. Inc. This most recent round of fundraising for Snoop followed a £10 million round in December 2020 (Europe’s second largest crowdfund that year) and we’ve raised £34 million to date.

Tell us about the business model

In one (hyphenated) word: Hyper-personalisation

We have built an innovative money management solution that’s unique in the market. We use data and analytics to help our customers understand their finances better – and to find smart ways to save them money. With Snoop, customers can see all their bank accounts and credit cards in one place - and manage their money more effectively. They can view, organise and track all spending, find the smartest ways to cut costs on household bills and find smart ideas to save money, however and wherever they spend. We earn money when our customers save money. So when customers switch to a new service using Snoop their new supplier may pay us (i.e. in the same way a price comparison website earns revenue). Our customers can also sign up for our Snoop Plus service for an even more advanced money management and budgeting app experience. (for £3.99/month or £31.99/year). It’s a simple scalable, success-based revenue model. We also have a Consumer Insight division.

What were you doing before?

Many of my Snoop cofounders – including Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia – were part of the business that launched the Virgin brand in financial services 25 years ago. The team subsequently acquired the so-called good part of Northern Rock in 2012 and listed the Virgin Money business on the London Stock Exchange in 2014.

I started my career as a management consultant at KPMG and spent the last fifteen years working across finance and tech. Most recently I led the build of the Virgin Money Credit Card business, and I was subsequently the managing director of VMDB, a digital bank within the business.

Are there any technologies you've found useful?

Underpinning the business we’ve built is a leading-edge technology platform. We’ve adopted a cloud-first technology strategy, with most of the platform bespoke built by the Snoop team, hosted in the Amazon Web Services Cloud and complemented by leading software-as-a-service platforms. All Snoop's data handling algorithms and micro-services are Snoop IP, unique, and created internally by our brilliant engineers and data scientists.

What is the future vision?

Our ambition is to provide customers with an easily digestible overview of their daily financial behaviour that clearly demonstrates how short-term decisions impact their ability to achieve longer-term goals. We believe that the most valuable PFM experience is one that transitions away from a backward-looking overview of spending to one that is future-looking and helps planning (and achieving) short, medium and longer-term life goals. No banking app does this now.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
November 7, 2022
Written by
November 7, 2022