2019 was a hell of a ride. Here’s a little spill from me about what was awesome, what was not so awesome and what’s coming up for the Pelikin Squad.
The Awesome Stuff
We Launched ?
This one’s a no brainer. We’ve worked our butts off for a long time to bring our vision for Pelikin to life (more importantly, Pelikin cards in travellers wallets!) and so to start seeing our beautiful neon piece of plastic fly out the door was truly remarkable. Our public launch went down a little later than we would have liked, unfortunately this was 100% out of our control.
Why were we late to launch?
The Short answer – AML/CTF Documentation
The Long answer – Before scaling up Pelikin we first had to wait for our Issuer aka Heritage Bank to give the final tick of approval of our card program manager’s compliance documentation and approval … Unfortunately, this took WAY longer than anyone expected and would have liked, which as a result meant we had to tread water in moving Pelikin from beta into ‘All systems go’ mode.
Compliance is critical to the integrity of the services we offer so although we were frustrated by the lengthy delay we completely understand how important it is to get right! Our partners worked tirelessly to work everything our as fast as they could so I’m super grateful for their hustle.
Enough about that…What’s important is that we’ve launched now and we’re ready to roll!
Our Squad Grew ?
We saw some great people move on and we saw some great people join our little squad in 2019. We’re now a squad of 12 (from 9 different countries) made up of avid travellers, tech nerds, product builders and we’ve all worked our asses off this year to launch Pelikin and to make it as amazing as it can be for all travellers!
Personally, as CEO I’m extremely grateful for the people I’m able to surround myself with every day. At 30, I guess I’m a young(ish) founder and so having these great people to work with and to grow with has been incredibly valuable for my own development both professionally and personally.
Here’s us having our end of year lunch last week… The chuffed guy at the very back left is our Application Support Developer Dickson… He’s chuffed because he was fresh off winning our pre-launch lawn bowls tournament… The man is a jack of all trades.
We Raised Some Capital ?
Following on from our incredible crowdfunding campaign last year we kicked off a fresh capital raise to fuel our growth. Raising money has always been challenging and time-consuming so it was nice to get things off to a good start with a $400k investment (20% of our $2m target) secured from a single Aussie based investor at the back end of July. We’re still on the fundraising path and will be ramping things up next quarter on this front.
We Made Some Incredible Friends ?
Strong strategic partnerships are pivotal to our success and so in 2019 we made it our mission to seek out and engage with agile and like-minded businesses and products to collaborate with!
We launched our ‘Build Your Own’ Travel Insurance product with the help of our new partner Travel By Us. Together we built, tested and released this awesome product and I’m sure this is only just the beginning of a blossoming friendship, with lots more exciting things to do in 2020 with our travel insurance product.
If this is news to you, you can find out more about Pelikin Travel Insurance here!
Last week we launched Squad Perks – A place for the Pelikin Squad to access offers, deals and discounts from best in class products and services. The support we’ve received from businesses (aka friends) all over the world has been great.
Everything we do is for our squad and we hope that they’ll love what we’re creating for them! Since launch with seen solid levels of squad members taking up perks and we’ve received heaps of ideas from them too around different kinds of perks they want and who they want them from!
Shout out to these business for getting behind us from Day One:
Many, many, many more to come in 2020!
Lastly, in 2019 we saw our friendship with the incredibly supportive team at Visa grow. Most notably we worked with them on our Pelikin Big Splendour campaign which saw 2 lucky squad members given the VIP Splendour treatment in Byron Bay.
Shout out to Gabby and Braddee (pictured below) for joining us at SITG19 and donning their Pelikin Swag all weekend long! Side note: 30 may be young but I’m waaaaaaaay too old for a 3 days music festival these days haha.
Now… Some Slightly Less Awesome Stuff
We Moved a Little to Fast Sometimes ?
I know everyone froffs over that Mark Zuckerburg quote “Move fast and break things…” but at times this year I think we moved a little too fast which meant we broke a hell of a lot. The core product (card and currency wallets) never stopped working but we certainly took some hits when it comes to the functionality of the app which meant that we spent more time than we should have on fixing up our work. It comes down to trying to cram too much into a development sprint and even at times creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves when it comes to how much there is to build (AND TEST!) and how long it’ll take us… This lead to us all being stressed as all hell and lingering on that fine line of ‘burn out’.
We’ve improved on this greatly and as 2019 comes to a close we’re operating like a well-oiled machine with a clearer sprint structure and although we’ll still; push ourselves we have a more realistic expectation as to what we can get out of ourselves during a 2-week sprint…And break less stuff!
We Talked Less ✋
This was probably a direct result of the above… In fact it definitely was! We’ve developed an incredible support network of crowdfunding investors, waitlisters and followers who are happy to listen to us and talk to us regularly. I think we actually neglected these guys at times this year, not intentionally, but simply because we were caught up in other things… albeit important things!
It’s not like we were completely silent. For the most part we sent out a fortnightly newsletter and our Head of Design Matt regularly shares his release notes, but I think we could have gone deeper. Deeper means sharing more about what’s happening behind the scenes, our strategy, our people and our future plans… This all sits me with me, and next year I’ll improve this.
Our community is everything to us and we’ll never neglect them again.
We Didn’t Celebrate Enough ?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the fact that our team has been able to build what we’ve built and accomplish what we’ve accomplished is truly incredible.
With no banking or major financial experience, no grey hairs and without a bottomless pit of money we have built a multi-currency payments app and a Visa prepaid travel card that people (total strangers to us!) are using all over the world… WTF!!!!
We didn’t celebrate this nearly enough… We’ve got a long way to go to reach our goals for Pelikin but next year we’re going to take the time to enjoy the journey and just stop and smell the roses.
Side note: This past month we’ve had a full house… it’s been epic!
What’s on the Cards in 2020?
I’m not going to share our roadmap or anything like that right now but what I can tell you is that after the first few months of 2020 we’re going to be well on track to achieving our vision for Pelikin… A central hub for all things travel and money!
We have no interest in being one of those travel cards that you get the day before you fly and then chuck in the draw when you get home…In 2020 we’re going to help more people do more international travel by joining them for their entire journey as they save money, plan their trip and then take off to do epic things overseas.
If we build it they will come right? Negative Ghostrider!
We’ve got some cool growth projects in the works so that we give ourselves the best shot at seeing the Pelikin Card in as many wallets as we can. From fun campaigns, events and partnerships we’re ramping everything up to build awareness and build our Pelikin squad numbers.
FYI in 2019 our bright little travel card was used in over 50 countries… not too shabby ?
To Wrap Up
If I’m being honest we’re all pretty knackered after what was a huge 2019. We’re going to take a little breather until January 6th but our customer support channels will still be operating business as usual.
I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support and belief in what we’re doing at Pelikin. From our investors, advisors, board members to those randomly commenting on our social posts… I can assure you it’s all very much appreciated!
I also want to stress how proud I am of our team. You’re all incredible and I’m lucky to be able to work with you each day to build this thing.
Personally, this pic pretty much sums up my current vibe (minus the Quaaludes and fancy watch).
I’m over in New Zealand (see below pic of Lake Taupo) for a quick break to spend Christmas with my super supportive and inspiring fiancè and then to be a groomsman at my good friend’s wedding in Queenstown. I’ll be back on deck in the first week of January, refreshed and ready to dive right into a big 2020.
CEO | Pelikin