Words by Zack Anthony Curran
With international trends shifting away from the big banks and towards more consumer focussed options, Pelikin is revolutionising the way we spend and manage our money while overseas.
Pelikin is a mobile banking app and a prepaid Visa card that allows users to hold multiple currencies and spend their money without transaction fees.
Users can split one-off bills and open group spending tabs from within the app in whichever currency they need.
The product was born out of young entrepreneur Sam Brown’s own frustrating experiences while travelling in Europe. The high fees, poor customer service and outdated mobile apps all lead to Sam creating Pelikin, as way for young Aussies to access and use their money just like they would at home.
In order to get the app off the ground, Sam raised close to a quarter of a million dollars via a crowdfunding campaign.
"You need to stick to your guns, block out the haters and fully commit yourself to what you’re trying to achieve. Focus on your outcome all day every day and you’ll have a solid chance of success."
Seasoned travellers themselves, the Pelikin team recognise that saving and planning for travel can be hard, especially for first-time travellers and so their vision for Pelikin is to create a central hub for all things travel and money. A place to help young people reach their travel goals and make their lives easier while they’re jetting across the globe.
Pelikin has big plans for the future, focusing on broadening its value proposition by releasing new features and products around the clock. Everything they build is for their users, to add as much value for them as possible - this means more features, more travel-related partnerships and expansion into new markets.
We caught up with CEO and founder, Sam Brown to chat all things Pelikin, travel and more...
How did the idea for Pelikin come about?
I had a series of bad experiences with my money and travel card provider while travelling. I was blocked from my money twice within 1 week - the first being at a McDonalds in Rome - my bank thought it was a suspicious transaction and blocked my card. They said they “tried” to call me but obviously I didn't have roaming on my phone, being a poor traveller.
Three days later it happened a second time. Only a day after having my card turned back on, I was blocked in Croatia at an ATM in Hvar. The bank once again decided that the transaction was suspect and took it upon themselves to block my card...even though it was a legitimate ATM.
To resolve it I had to call my travel card provider, go through a tonne of verification, explain my transactions and then wait for them to turn my card back on. It cost me a bomb in roaming charges.
My cash was loaded on the travel card so there was no means to withdraw it or send it to a friend so they could spend it for me. My only option was to borrow cash from the people I was travelling with. Even though they were mates, it was hard to track and they were not that keen on the idea (as we were all on a budget).
In total I went 6 days without access to my own funds across two countries. That’s how the idea of Pelikin came about and when I returned to Australia, I got busy researching and having chats with people just like me...turns out more often than not people have a story to do with spending their money overseas, and not a good one. So I created Pelikin to fix that.
It very much feels like the age of the entrepreneur, especially in the Ecommerce space. What advice do you have for other people starting out?
Couldn't agree more! There are so many people out there (young and old) doing incredible things and it’s awesome to see. I’m still very much an advice taker as opposed to an advice giver but one thing I would pass on is that you need to be ready to cop a lot of negativity. From keyboard warriors bagging your idea to investor rejections, the entrepreneurship journey is full of negative noise. You need to stick to your guns, block out the haters and fully commit yourself to what you’re trying to achieve. Focus on your outcome all day every day and you’ll have a solid chance of success.
How has your life changed since you started Pelikin?
It’s changed for the better no doubt. I’ve been to places, had experiences and met awesome people that I wouldn't otherwise had the opportunity to do. Pelikin has forced me to continually step outside of comfort zone which has been shit scary but also really rewarding and beneficial for me personally and professionally.
You've travelled extensively, what's the most amazing place you've seen?
Menorca in Spain. It is a tiny, super chilled island next to Mallorca with nothing but hidden beaches, sun sets and Pomadas. I might even retire there!
This one time I flew to Norway by mistake and I have to say flying into the airport in Oslo offered some epic views of the Scandinavian Peninsula...that place is definitely high on my bucket list!
What's the one thing you can't live without when traveling?
Noise cancelling headphones because running into a screaming baby is inevitable when you’re travelling and of course my laptop…because Pelikin.
Have you got a hostel horror story?
I’ve actually been pretty lucky in my travels to avoid any real disasters. Sure there’s been the odd communal bathroom toilet blowout and the graphic audio from lovebirds via the thin hostel walls but that's to be expected while you're travelling.
What's coming up next for you?
Things are heating up on the Pelikin front so that will no doubt take up the bulk of my time for the remainder of this year and beyond, but I’ll be ducking off to spend NYE in Queenstown this year with my mate. An NZ summer is pretty tough to beat if you ask me. Then after that I’ll hopefully be able to set my sights firmly on Burning Man 2020...it looks incredible.
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!