A former assistant to chef Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s who went on to set up his own mobile voucher company today made a fortune when he sold his business in a deal worth up to £55 million.
Mark Pearson, a 34-year-old from Surrey, founded Markco Media, which owns MyVoucherCodes.co.uk and Last Second Tickets.
He set up MyVoucherCodes.co.uk in 2006 and it has coupon and voucher deals with a string of retailers including Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams, Sky, Tesco, Walmart and Amazon.
He said selling to mobile payments firm Monitise made sense because “mobile is driving a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour”.
Pearson – brought up on a Liverpool council estate – trained as a chef as a teenager and worked at Claridge’s at 18, before becoming an entrepreneur. He also founded Hackathon London – a weekend event where web developers and entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to investors.
“I was always ambitious, but I did not come from the best background — a very working-class family,” Pearson recalled in an earlier interview. “My dad worked for a car manufacturer and my mum had her own florists. I used to help out in the shop as a teenager. I didn’t ever think I would get as far as I have.”
He decided to launch MyVoucherCodes when he was buying train tickets online and noticed a box for promotional codes. “I scoured the internet for them,” he said, explaining how he realised the discount voucher business could be a money-spinner online. “I believe the consumer should never have to pay full price for anything.”
Pearson reckons he had made his first million by the age of 28 and has taken part in Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire in which wealthy people help others without revealing their wealth.
Monitise, a mobile banking firm listed on the stock market, is paying £24 million initially, with a further £2.5 million deferred and another £28 million dependent on hitting profit targets.
Pearson is listed as the main shareholder in Markco Media at Companies House. Monitise has already made a string of acquisitions, including London mobile app firm Grapple, as it embraces what it calls “the biggest shift in financial services and shopping in a generation, as brands turn to mobile”.