MTI stood for Money Transfer International (UK) Ltd. It was a placeholder while we were writing the business plan. We forgot to change it.
As Lime, I was consulting to a Cypriot group that was the MoneyGram super-agent in Cyprus. I had managed a super-agent in Central Europe for the market-leader in money transfer, Western Union.
It became apparent to me that Moneygram was mounting a challenge to Western Union and that there might be opportunity beyond Cyprus. I discussed this with my friend and ex-colleague, James. Together we approached MoneyGram in the headquarters of their European operations, in London.
Long story short, Moneygram appointed MTI as a super-agent for the UK. MTI consisted of James and I, a few silent shareholders and a business plan. We took an office in London (I phoned my now-wife and asked her if she could find me a flat as I was moving to the UK in ten days) and bought ourselves laptops.
James and I built MTI from the ground up. We were Sales, Marketing, Compliance, Finance and Admin, as well as anything else that needed doing.
It was our ambition to be debt-free. James has a cost-control instinct that borders on ruthlessness, and it served us well. We under-estimated how long it would take the company to become generative, so after two months, we halved our salaries.
Our competitors completed detailed thorough research on how best to recruit retailers.
We recruited retailers.
Competitors recruited debt collectors and lawyers to reduce bad debt.
We escorted bad debts to their banks and took our money there and then.
We met some dodgy people, we met some wonderful people. We worked very long hours, long days and weeks. The business made us laugh and cry, sometimes in the same day. We fought like cat and dog at times, but allied, we were an irresistable force.
For 10 years we worked and built a significant multi-national company that kept us well. The time came when we foresaw that our interests were diverging from those of our principal, MoneyGram, and we agreed to sell to them.
We both went to lie down in a dark room for a while.
Then, I decided to write for a living…
Next week, Paperback writer.