Dozens: Overall Update + Community Changes

Dear all,

It’s been a few months since we last spoke, and like every other year thus far, the Dozens train has continued to steam ahead. I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss our achievements, while acknowledging the long-term funding risk that we have grown so accustomed to over the last four years.

When I started Project Imagine in Jan 2018, if someone were to predict that… we would raise £23m+ and last four years; launch a Spender to Saver to Investor proposition in a crowded marketplace and still gain 55k+ KYCs and 10k+ active customers with an average balance multiples that of older challenger banking competitors; built a cloud-native core banking system from scratch, using a bleeding edge Kafka-based messaging approach; built a payments system that beat ApplePay for speed; partnered with the biggest and best brands around the world and have them credentialise our acumen for complex delivery; run the transaction book at industry leading fraud rates even as an early-stage fintech (typically more prone to financial crime); pay out more than £120k+ interest to deserving savers who trusted us with £3.5m+ of their money invested in our bonds; and get to all this while creating a uniquely transparent, inclusive and proactive culture where only the best and most-committed-to-the-mission, survive - helping us run the whole company with less than 30 employees even today… needless to say, I would have bitten their hand off.

And yet at this stage, the promise of Dozens - indeed, increasingly in the world around us, the thought that Dozens stands for: financial equitability for all… not equal finances of course but equal opportunities for access to the best financial products, which in no small measure includes some much needed financial education made accessible to the common person - feels not really fulfilled. We have made saving rewarding for some, but we haven’t really made saving more fun and rewarding for All.

So, rather than rest on what’s been done so far, we continue to ask ourselves (and more importantly, you, as well as our investors), what’s missing - what would make us even better poised to turn on the real marketing taps (fyi, our growth trajectory so far is on less than £0.6m of marketing spend throughout our existence and we haven’t spent a penny since last Feb - we have always chosen to give back to savers in the hope they speak about us, rather than Facebook).

We need -
For you:

  1. A less frictioned product for savers that is hopefully more viral (the bonds were great but the reverse auction made it irrational for winners to make the product viral);
  2. A design uplift in the app, with additional features
    For investors:
  3. To focus on revenue and balances, as opposed to mere KYC numbers - keep that average balance high through that growth; and
  4. More PR and Marketing for a renewed buzz

As we prepare for more imminent scaling, I also think it’s healthy for you to get to know the management team better, and keep them honest with more direct access and questioning.

So, I invite @Julia, our VP of Brand + Product Design who has been with us from the beginning, to take you through our almost finalised new app design framework (you have previously seen glimpses of this in the making), plus introduction to the launch-ready Dozens Black proposition including some brand new screens. @Tatia_K, our VP of Treasury, Finance and Operations (yes she has loads of spare time!), will then take you through some of the bonds insights and why the 1% product makes more sense both for you and us. Together with some front-end infrastructure upgrades, this will be the best and most intuitive financial services app in the world, period. Or at least, that’s our ambition. :slight_smile:

I then invite @SamDB , recently made Co-founder and COO but here almost from the beginning, to take you through our proposition for the Business Banking launch, again including app designs. @Sandesh, again with us from the very beginning, and currently VP, Product Operations and Tech Risk, will take you through a list of shortlisted partners for any features that have a dependency, plus open up to more transparency on product roadmap (although I did steal a lot of his thunder!).

Between these changes, I will feel confident to advise the Board to ramp up marketing. Till then, we will continue to experiment with different mediums, to gauge best ROI candidates.

With respect to the community, you will be seeing some changes as well. I have to announce, with great regret, that Rob McIntosh is no longer with Dozens. This is an unplanned exit, but we remain very grateful to Rob for everything that he has done for us - in particular, this community - over the last years. In following established protocol, we have disabled Rob’s company accounts including his community one - but don’t be surprised if you find him back as an active non-employee member soon!

With equal amount of pleasure, I am happy to announce we have found another Rob to replace our beloved outgoing one - allow me to introduce @RobD

In keeping with our brand, I want a community that’s more inclusive, has wider reach and more vibrance. I trust I am keeping you in safe hands with Rob, who brings to the role a unique perspective through his background and will play more of a curation role to ensure you have more direct access to the Management team introduced above.

Finally, this is all possible because of the people at Project Imagine - or Pi as we lovingly call it. You can get a sense of the culture from the fact that while we all LOVE Dozens so much, all employees identify more with the more cerebral Pi proposition. I invite @hannah Hannah Smith, our Chief of Staff to take you through some of the more innovative responses we have put in place to combat remote working and the hybrid period we find ourselves in.

As you can see, at the end of almost four years, the Dozens journey is still only just starting - and with its many dreams, its rooted in the fiscal reality of the company and increasingly, markets around the world. As until such time we secure long-term institutional funding, we remain primarily dependent on one majority shareholder to keep us going, we also remain exposed to the risks of his portfolio’s wealth and liquidity in response to world events. Numerous conversations are ongoing for months but none that has secured us a long runway yet with our considerable burn rate. At the same time, this is a risk the team has lived through continuously for the last four years and today is no different - so while we wish that we never have to wind down, we are equally grateful to be in this position in the first place.

Let me reassure you, though, that if at any point it gets to this negative scenario - at all times the team at Dozens holds enough capital for two whole months of operation, and is ready to launch a very organised wind down allowing customers to withdraw their balances seamlessly during that period. In other words, this team is committed to continuously secure your trust by mitigating risks against an orderly wind down and not against an insolvency (with customers potentially enduring locked accounts etc) at any stage.

As the team has matured over these four years, our internal confidence in what we stand for has only increased. At our heart, we wanted to bring a change to the way a genuine new modern consumer financial services company can be run. Transparency with our stakeholders - the Board, the FCA, the employees and of course, the customers - was paramount. While the culture and diversity at Pi is testament to finding talented employees that resonate with this world view - we must thank you for your terrific response every time we have been transparent with you as well.

One of my best memories from this period has been the shockingly low withdrawals from our bonds when the world locked down in 2020. With market sentiment so low, you would have expected our bonds to have been the first things that people sold - but hardly anyone did. When we had issues with Wirecard, and your account access was blocked - I will personally never forget the response this community gave to that transparency. So, we have told you exactly like it is, again.

We remain a contradiction in the world of fin and tech - it remains the best of times, and the worst of times. If we get funded, hopefully you are as excited with the above picture as the team here is. If we don’t, we will do everything we can to be the company you wish had survived.

Keep the faith.
Warm regards,
AC

PS: The team and I are here to take your questions, and they will also be starting their own topical threads soon. [New] @RobD will expertly guide your questions, so don’t bother too much about which thread - just ask us whatever you would like to know more about.

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Thanks @AC.

Hello everyone!

I’m Rob, which appears to be a prerequisite for fronting this channel. Although you’ve briefly met me before on this platform, let me re-introduce myself.

Rob M has been the ever-present voice of the Dozens Community, and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing him all the best for the future and thank him for the brilliant job he’s done in creating and shaping this space.

So, perhaps slightly ahead of time, I’ll be taking the reins.

A little bit about myself.

I’ve been working in the customer service team for a year now, helping people with their every day Dozens use and more recently I’ve been working closer with Rob M, getting more involved in social channels and community.

Like many Dozens employees I didn’t come from a finance background, quite the opposite. After spending ten years working in the theatre industry, it was time for a new challenge. When the pandemic hit, this process was somewhat accelerated and a silver lining is that it gave me the opportunity to branch out and get into something new.

I do think there are similarities with the start-up world and theatre. You have your own roles, but it’s a team effort. You’re encouraged to be brave and think outside the box. You get to know a group of strangers very quickly, working towards a shared goal …and you’re always worried about money running out.

If you asked me what an ETF was this time last year, I would have run away. If you’d asked what Bonds I had invested in, I probably would have said Timothy Dalton. The past year has been a steep learning curve and one that I’m hugely enjoying.

So, if you have some more complex questions, bear with me whilst I consult the experts and it’ll be a learning opportunity for me as well as you.

What’s next?

As I’m sure some of you’ll remember, wearedozens started as an in-person workshop where we gave a group of volunteers, from all walks of life, a blank piece of paper and asked simply - ‘What do you want from your bank?’.

I’d really like to refresh this aspect of the Community, back to a feedback channel for specific products, general responses and big ideas. Let’s try to make it as much of a creative space, whilst keeping the financial discussions going.

I’ll go a little more into this in a separate post later on :slight_smile:

As we get to know each other over the next few days and weeks, it would be great to hear a little more about what you’d like to see from the Community moving forward. What have you seen in other communities that you’d like to see here? What has been missing? I’m all ears.

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For those with Investments, if the worst did happen would this process have to go through the conduit of the Dozens current account?

Edit - or, given they are positions could they still be left invested and transferred elsewhere? Eg Gold held with JP Morgan

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Thanks, @AC, for the update. Lovely to see you around these parts again. And thanks for your characteristic honest on where the company is at the moment.

And farewell @robert - I’m sorry we never managed to have that coffee. But best of luck for what the future holds - drop me a line some time!

Now, did someone say that @Julia was gonna show us some app designs? :eyes::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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A shame @robert wasn’t able to enjoy a Bilbo moment “I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye.” But thank you @AC for the detailed update. If you only have a short runway one solution is VTOL or VSTOL :slight_smile: . I’m with @Peter

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… and what about these

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Activating the google…

VTOL - Vertical Take Off and Landing in VSTOL the S adds short - think Harrier or F35B … no runway required. Appologies more in jest than a serious strategy for FINTECH I’m afraid.

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I mean, I think we’d quite all like this for Dozens’ share price and customer numbers, non?

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It’s coming guys… just uploading, give me 2 secs :smile:

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All the excitement! :eyes:

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hi @Rexx We understand sale of investments might not be favourable for some customers. For anyone who chooses not to sell, then the option to transfer elsewhere will be given.

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Good to know!

And given I have some money in bonds, my next question would be - is the repurchase of all bonds from customers factored into the aforementioned wind down plans?

Sorry to party poop :stuck_out_tongue:

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No problem @Rexx The bonds purchase amount will be returned to your account along with any outstanding interest. So if your Bonds haven’t matured, you’ll still get the interest for the year. :slight_smile: We’ll obviously keep you well informed about everything to do with your account in this eventuality… but hopefully that is a long, long way off :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Are you, or @AC, able to confirm broadly speaking what runway you have right now?

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Hi @Rexx as there are no in and out transaction fees on Dozens, you should simply be able to sell here and buy elsewhere with a provider of your choice - without losing ISA status etc of course as the interim cash will also be held in whatever tax wrapper your investment was held in. In general, this is much better imho than a transfer process that is typically manual on both ends, and can introduce unforeseen delays but as @RobD said above, we will offer both on a case by case basis.

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Hi @Peter our issued equity gives us at any time three months plus two months for wind down, but our cash received is every month so for the other extreme negative view, we are always ready to wind down in any given month if for whatever reason expected cash doesn’t come in by a certain date. We have gotten used to this now and it doesn’t hamper our product build or operations at all, and in fact makes us more belts and braces for wind down execution. But it does hamper my willingness to launch new products with a fanfare if there is not a long enough visible runway - so marketing is where it really hurts us.

If Clement had confirmed last Sep that he would keep funding us this year, we could have gotten £5m+ from Future Fund’s matching already but at the time he only committed £1m so we got £1m. I have no complaints as the team and I are immensely grateful to him for keeping us funded through Covid etc when dealflow completely stopped (and we lost both Pi1 revenue and VC deals in millions), as at least right now we have a few options that could come through for the long run. No fundraising again, in a couple of those scenarios, can you imagine what we can do then!

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Haha @mimote this is perennially us.

I love that joke about why the rocket doesn’t need a runway but the airplane does. Only one of them has a fire under its a$$! :smile:

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Thanks @AC and @RobD and @Peter and all :slight_smile:

Here’s a peek of what we’re lining up for Dozens 2.0.

Firstly… the new Dozens Home, with a focus on calmness and taking inspiration from a bento box the new Dozens Home has clear areas for alerts, finances and content.

The app navigation will take two forms – a burger menu, that allows simple, easy access to our wide offering; or if you prefer to navigate via search, as many do these days, a smart search will always be available via a floating action button (FAB) and provide not just search, but will know what areas of the app you frequently access, and provide suggestions of what we think you may need.

From Dozens Home you’ll also be able to access financial education content that is catered to your needs and situation.

The spend section for uses a tab system for the different sections, and also filter to view your different accounts via openbanking.

In terms of our offerings, Dozens Black (which many of you have been trialing) will be £5.99 pm, and is designed to allow you to relax – knowing you can manage your finances completely fee-free… plus you get some bonuses along the way. It will include:

  • No platform fees for investments
  • 1% p.a. bonus on cash savings up to £5,200
  • No interchange fees to Dozens, instead be part of an ‘interchange payback’ scheme. Normally financial services earn from your spending via an interchange fees. Dozens Black subscribers will know that every time they use their card, a social cause will benefit instead.
  • No commission on international currency transfers
  • Fee-free ATM cash withdrawals at home and abroad
  • Dedicated customer service line
  • Exclusive Dozens Black card
  • Early access to new features, services and products

Our business offering, at £11.99 will include Dozens Black rolled in.
This allows for optimum management of finances across business and personal, in the same space and using a consistent design pattern, with easy switching between the two – particularly good for sole traders.

Business will also include a cross-asset offering across spending/saving/investing allowing businesses to make the most of their funds, as well as expense wallets, invoice management, business financial education, that all feed into a fab cashflow forecasting tool that will help people proactively manage the ebbs and flows of their business.

So what do you think?!

Naturally there’s a lot of consideration gone into these screens, and I will follow up with more background on the design thinking over the next few weeks, but before I go into that… I’d love to just get your first reactions.

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