Why Harjit Moore has gone from running pubs to helping people in debt

Freeze frame: Harjit Moore is looking to help people out of debt with his latest venture, Freeze Debt.Freeze frame: Harjit Moore is looking to help people out of debt with his latest venture, Freeze Debt.
Freeze frame: Harjit Moore is looking to help people out of debt with his latest venture, Freeze Debt.
Harjit Moore has had a colourful business career that has seen him go from running pubs to helping people deal with personal debt problems, writes Ismail Mulla.

Harjit Moore’s entrepreneurial career has been as colourful as a peacock’s plume.

From having run nightclubs and pubs to owning cleaning companies and selling insurance, Mr Moore has made a name for himself as a self-made businessman. To the point that he was recently named on the inaugural Northern Asian Powerlist.

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The Bradford-born entrepreneur has most recently turned his hand to the debt advice industry. Mr Moore launched Freeze Debt in May 2019.

Freeze frame: Harjit Moore is looking to help people out of debt with his latest venture, Freeze Debt.Freeze frame: Harjit Moore is looking to help people out of debt with his latest venture, Freeze Debt.
Freeze frame: Harjit Moore is looking to help people out of debt with his latest venture, Freeze Debt.

“The simplest way of describing it is we’re the Uber of the debt industry,” Mr Moore says. “We’re the first ever debt advice mobile app.”

The premise of Leeds-based Freeze Debt is based on giving people in financial trouble an alternative to picking up the phone to an adviser during office hours.

Mr Moore said: “Talking about money and talking about debt is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do.

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“The last thing anyone wants to do is pick up the phone to another person and tell them that they are bad with money. The easiest way to do it is from behind your screen.”

The platform also makes it easier for the user to submit relevant documentation.

Despite being a tech first business, Freeze Debt doesn’t rely on robo-advice, says Mr Moore.

He added: “There is always a real life agent there. All it is, is instead of picking up the phone, it’s over chat. The in-app chat, Whatsapp, Facebook Chat – any platform that you want we are connected to.”

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Freeze Debt has 20 staff, based both in Leeds and in India. The firm, however, is gearing up to grow rapidly.

“Within the next three months in this UK office there will probably be 30 to 40 staff and a year from now we should probably be close to about 100,” says Mr Moore.

This is due to the current precarious economic situation we find ourselves in as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Moore said: “Covid-19 has driven our business forward by 18 months to two years. There’s going to be a massive demand for this product.

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“People are struggling. People are going to struggle even more. We haven’t felt the full impact of Covid-19 yet.”

There has also been a societal shift in attitude towards debt with younger generations more willing to purchase items on credit. This is further compounded by a lack of financial education, says Mr Moore.

He added: “I believe it comes from university. When you go to university, you’ve got to take out a student loan, you take an overdraft and you live with that debt for four years at university.

“Then you come out of university you are still in that debt and everyone around you and everyone you know is the same. That’s how everyone lives.

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“We’ve just accepted that debt is a part of life. It’s not a social taboo anymore.”

It doesn’t take much, “one bad month”, for a person to spiral into trouble with unpaid debts, says Mr Moore.

While spotting a gap in the market was the primary reason for launching Freeze Debt, Mr Moore also has personal experience of money struggles.

The 40-year-old said: “I’ve been bankrupt myself. I’ve been through that. That’s one of the factors for building the app.

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“Sometimes you just want to hide your head under the covers and speak to someone over messaging. That’s where it came from. I’ve experienced it – the stress and anxiety that it causes.”

On the face of it, going from running pubs and nightclubs to a debt advice platform may seem out of the norm.

However, when you look back at Mr Moore’s background and upbringing, it makes sense.

Both his mother and father came to the UK as first generation immigrants from the state of Punjab in India.

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Mr Moore lost his father at an early age. Not wanting for her children to miss out on anything, his mother became an entrepreneur herself running shops when he and his sisters were younger. He credits his mother for his own entrepreneurial streak.

Mr Moore said: “I grew up with my mum and my three sisters. My father passed away when we were young. I was ten.

“My mum has instilled in us that you can be anything you want to be. You’re not predestined to live a life. Growing up was a struggle with mum being a single parent. But she never wanted us to do without. My mum instilled that confidence in us to push for more.”

Growing up in Bradford has also had a bearing on Mr Moore’s business career. The entrepreneur says it is a “tough city” to grow up in.

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“Coming from Bradford, you have that little chip on your shoulder,” he said.

Mr Moore added: “I’ve recently moved to Ilkley so I’ve moved to the posh end.

“A lot of people knock it but Bradford is Bradford. If you’re from there, you love it. A lot of my close friends still live there so I travel to Bradford quite a lot.”

Mr Moore laments what he feels is a decline in the city centre, which is why he launched Freeze Debt in Leeds.

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Launching the business has not been without challenges, says Moore, as there wasn’t a pre-existing blueprint for them to copy from. “It’s not like opening a restaurant or selling insurance,” he said.

The initial months after the Covid-19 outbreak also took their toll with Mr Moore and his staff struggling with being stuck at home.

While the business is still in its infancy, Mr Moore has grand ambitions for Freeze Debt.

He said: “We plan to be the biggest debt advice and solutions provider in the UK, using technology to understand what society wants and getting it the debt advice and help it needs.”

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The entrepreneur admits to being surprised at seeing his name on the inaugural Northern Asian Powerlist.

He never craved the recognition. “I try to be low key,” the 40-year-old says. “Mum, as you can imagine, was over the moon.”

It won’t come as a surprise that Harjit Moore has had such a colourful career and life. For, after all, the surname Moore means peacock in Hindi.

Curriculum vitae

Title: CEO of Freeze Debt

Date of birth: 09/05/1980

Lives: Ilkley, originally from Bradford

Favourite holiday destination: Maldives – the sea is bluer.

Last book read: I love anything by Charles Bukowski

Favourite film: I’ve watched so many films, but the best I’ve seen recently is Tenet. Christopher Nolan is a genius.

Favourite song: The Mystery of Chessboxin by Wu-Tang Clan

Car driven: Jaguar

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Most proud of: The journey I’ve been on, people I’ve met, memories I’ve created and lives that we’ve changed. And the people who have helped me along the way.


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