Business: YourCash

Sector: Financial Services

Jenny Campbell is an ex-career banker turned business turnaround specialist and cash machine entrepreneur. 

YourCash, the cash machine business, became a leading provider of ATMs to the retail market across Europe. Ten years after taking the business under her wing, Jenny sold it in October 2016 for £50 million.

Jenny Campbell

When did you make the decision to start your own business and how did your journey begin?

One hundred years ago, my great grandparents were entrepreneurs. One ran a printing business and the other, a building business. When it came to the next generation, my parents wanted less risk for their children and more security. To them, that meant corporate roles with pensions, so they went into jobs such as banking and the police. An amazing work ethic runs in my family, and by 13 I was working in a newsagent all weekend, serving customers, and balancing the till to earn my pocket money.

Having the confidence to run a business was instilled in me from a young age. But before my real entrepreneurship journey began, I was a banker for 30 years, taking the traditional route from front of house to head office. I was very involved in the integration of RBS with NatWest, putting together brands and platforms. That was the most enjoyable project I have been involved in, and when it concluded, I was looking for the next adrenaline rush - I was never a business-as-usual kind of person.

I was looking for my next role in the bank, when I saw a role advertised at a little operating company in Milton Keynes. It was a cash machine business that the bank had bought two years prior, in 2004. I saw an opportunity to do something different, to step off the head office ladder and go into a company that had 150 staff and a fleet of cash machines. I would be at the front end of a real operational business. I inherited a business that had huge challenges. It was losing £7 million per annum when I went there, and two years later it was just about breaking even.

It was the financial crisis of 2008 which took me into entrepreneurship. The bank no longer wanted the cash machine business because it was no longer deemed part of the core business. My heart was no longer in the banking business and people had lost faith in bankers. At the same time, I loved the business that I had salvaged, and I could see it had real potential, so we switched from trying to sell the business, to buying the business. That was when we bought Hanco and I renamed it YourCash. YourCash is an ATM expert, managing an extensive estate of thousands of ATMs, offering a secure and reliable method to give communities easy access to their cash. There were 5000 ATMs in service, delivering the highest quality of service to customers.

What did the team around you look like when you started out? Who did you want on the journey with you? What qualities did you look for and why?

I really believe that the team you have is the key to success in any business. When we first bought YourCash, I made sure I was central to recruiting every single member of staff, from the telephone operator to my direct reports. They would go through the first few stages with HR, but I’d always have a cup of coffee with them before we appointed them because I wanted to see if they had the right attitude. I believe in recruiting for attitude, and training for skills.

I would look for people with the right attitude wherever I went. I would be in a restaurant and would have a great server. At the end of the dinner, I would say to them ‘Have you ever thought about working for someone else? Would you like to come and see me tomorrow?’.

I believe that good leaders create a culture where people will follow them if they move on. If I started another business tomorrow, I know I could contact a lot of great people with a lot of experience, and I know they would say ‘yeah, let’s give it a go’.

When it came to negotiating and pitching for capital investment, what skills did you have, what skills did you hone, and what skills did you need to learn?

I was a banker, so I wasn't unfamiliar with sitting in a room with people pitching their business. The difference was, I'd sat on the other side of the desk having customers pitch to me. It was just role reversal. I was already out of the starting blocks and knew the most important elements, such as it's crucial to learn who you are talking to, and to understand what they want to hear.

One of my big pieces of advice to anyone is to make sure you have the right advisors around you, both internally and externally. My Head of Finance knew the external market, as he was from a business that had raised capital. We then needed external people to help us. We went to an accountancy firm and a law firm as we knew we needed people with experience of the merger and acquisition world.

As a female founder, what has been the most significant barrier in your journey? Have you been confronted with gender related roadblocks and how did you deal with them?

I can relay various bias situations I had in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, but none of them killed me, they only made me stronger.

When I was 26, I was the senior clerk working for a bank manager in North Devon. I had a male colleague who was the junior clerk looking after the junior manager. I got a letter from HR that said, ‘Dear Jenny, we've assessed your future career prospects, and we are delighted to tell you that we've assessed you as a grade B’. I asked my colleague what he was, and he was a grade A. I challenged this, obviously, and the answer that I eventually got back from HR was, ‘we thought you were going to get pregnant and go off and have babies’. I fought it for 18 months and eventually got my Grade A. Six months later I had my first child.

The main challenge in entrepreneurship is raising money. I don't think I ever had a female investor come to the table - they were always men. We would comment back at the office that if we ever went to their offices, the whole team was male, apart from the receptionist. If they put a more balanced team in front of me, they were more likely to be the one I’d choose. Pitching is a two-way thing; I’m also choosing who I want to work with.

As a successful female founder, how do you support other females starting their entrepreneurial journey?
I support all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. When I won the Businesswoman of the Year award in 2014, I really felt that I wanted to give something back, particularly to young entrepreneurs. I got involved in entrepreneurial schemes to help different types of people. The first was the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Scheme, which goes into schools and helps sixth formers with good backgrounds think about a career in business. Another one was a charity, that unfortunately is no longer with us, called Tomorrow's People. After Tomorrow’s People, I moved on to the Prince’s Trust, now re-named the King’s Trust. The King’s Trust has lots of success stories about young, disadvantaged people who have become a success, gone on to lead much better lives, and who themselves have employed other people.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

My dogs are my number one pastime these days; they are my focus. My parents bred dogs, and I’ve bred them since I was 16. Crufts is my favourite time of year. I get asked to speak at so many events, but if they clash with Crufts there is no chance!

What three tips would you give to the next generation of female founders?

  1. Stop thinking about it and get on and do it.
  2. Hire the very best people.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people.

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