Author Archives: LFP

LFP226 – How To Trade Sell Your Business w/David Genn CEO Goji

The majority of successful exits for companies are via trade sale (not that given the media hype you’d necessarily imagine it was anything but IPOs). Furthermore the percentage of companies that list on an exchange is falling meaning, that along with the economic circumstances, private companies and remaining in the unlisted space is becoming ever more important.

In this episode we dive into the whole soup-to-nuts process of how to trade sell oneself, what the stages are, what the obstacles and challenges and what the benefits are. Trade selling a company is an eternally important route to not just realisation but to the growth of the company’s vision being realised. Thus this is a reference episode for something that every founder should understand whether they get to this stage and go this route or another. It’s one that can’t be ignored – least of all perhaps in the current economic climate.

Goji were on the LFP way back in the day in LFP047 in 2016 when the founder Jake Wombwell-Povey was discussing the Innovative Finance ISA and David was employee number one. He moved on to become first CTO then CEO and is now at the last stage – regulatory approval – for Goji’s merger with the giant Euroclear – such a vital component of the whole global post-trade financial infrastructure.

So along the way Goji must have done a thing or two right – IF ISAs hardly being a huge thing these days with so few P2Ps remaining of any stature. Further correlating this is that Euroclear approached them.

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LFP225 – A Case Study in Managing Astronomically Rapid Growth – 5 Years from Startup to Trade Sale w/James Hickman CCO Ecospend

It is a well-known trope that although failure is a challenge rapid success, though more desirable lol, can be too.  In this episode we dive into the fascinating Case Study of Ecospend who went from startup to trade sale to world open-banking payments leaders Trustly in five years. Along the way they beat off incumbent competition for one of the UK’s largest accounts that of HSBCs self-assessment payments. Which as you might imagine amounts to quite a few transactions.

In this show James Hickman, CCO, discusses the journey and the experience thereof along with lessons relevant to all tech firms well outside of Fintech.

The journey starts with the build, then the marketing, then astronomical success, then the operational concerns attendant on having your volumes increase astronomically up all the way to the strategic implications for a business with such sudden success – various possibilities for raises to enable continued scaling or a trade sale and Ecospend checked-out both eventually preferring one route over t’other and explain their thinking in their situation, your firms might of course be different. At the end of the day it comes down both to rational business calculation but also to the preferences and long term aims of the founding team.

Overall quite some story and a tale that the cliche that massive success can be a right challenge/pain isn’t always correct.

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LFP224 – Early Stage Investment & VC Winter or Simply a Correction? w/Ric Schaefer Target Global

In this episode we discuss VC early stage investment and whether there is a “VC funding winter” as some have called it or whether just a correction. How should early stage founders who want to raise funds maximise their chances of doing so? Few VCs go down to early stage investing but what factors do they look for? Funding is harder to come by right now but it’s still there. What themes and approaches help? Is it indeed a good rather than a bad time to create a startup?

Dr Ric Schaefer is a Partner at Target Global which is a pan-European technology investment firm with more than €3 billion in assets under management. Whilst investing across all stages of the startup to realisation  lifecycle they are relatively unique in investing from pre-seed to A rounds.

To date via six global offices they have backed 15 unicorns and also have an investment in Revolut who you may have heard of.

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LFP223 – Fintech in India with Naveen Bindal CEO of Enkash

Fintech is a Big Thing. India is a vast sub-continent. Naveen Bindal, the cofounder of Enkash which is India‘s largest spend management Fintech, joins us to discuss Fintech in India which was one of the first movers in Fintech worldwide and is now by some measures the world’s  third largest Fintech marketplace.

Naveen started his career some 23 years ago as a developer in a credit card company working on payment processing and with banks.

Having been involved in the Indian FinTech space for some 10 years along with his co-founders who each also have two decades in FS and tech under their belts he is well-placed to guide us through its evolution past, present and future.

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LFP222 – Share Schemes & Equity Management: Opportunities & Pitfalls for Founders and Employees w/Ifty Nasir CEO Vestd

There is a real art to how a founder manages his companies equity. If he gives it, or its derivative, share options, away too fast for too little value – whether funding or staff – he will be giving away his creation on the cheap and losing control fast. Vice versa hoarding it to himself will produce inadequate funding and not top-notch senior staff. If this is the spectrum then there is in addition a whole dimension of the terms and conditions over equity schemes. There are plenty of hidden elephant traps for the unwary even for “Day1 co-founders” (eg a simple 50:50 split yet one co-founder puts most of the work in…). Furthermore we have what was “pre-tech” an administrative nightmare of managing hordes of shareholders and regulations/laws thereto. Vestd who formed in 2014 and have thousands of companies on their platform offer a “guided SAAS” product where the platform is closely allied to tons of experience in re.

Founder and CEO Ifty Nasir formed the company in 2014 after a lifetime’s international career with BP and considerable experience on the internal corporate finance side of deals and equity including at one point hiring Lord Sumption on a challenging deal. He joins us today to discuss the whole “how hard can it be” (as always “harder” and in this case “quite nuanced”).

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LFP221 – AI/ML: Generative AI, Excess Data, AI-API-isation, Quantum Computing & AI w/Tristan Fletcher CEO ChAI

AI/ML has been around for a long time but recently hit the headlines with ChatGPT which has broken every tech record in the book for a piece of tech that attracts users faster than any other tech ever. If Generative AI is the hot topic of the day though what is happening behind the scenes with more prosaic Fintech use cases. Tristan who is CEO of commodity price predictors and now Insurtech ChAI first joined us in 2016 for an an overview of AI/ML and updated us more recently in 2019 to talk about then hot-topics. What has changed – what is with Generative AI, what are the behind the scenes factors driving change, how are fintechs being invested and indeed how is investment in Fintech being affected by AI?

We first heard from Tristan a long-term academic and Fintech-er in the whole AIML realm in 2016 for an overview of the topic which has remained in the top 5 most downloaded episodes of all time. In 2019 re joined us to discuss hot topics in AIML in particular prediction, explicability, alt. Data sources and self learning.

Three factors have been driving an astonishing rate of change – computing power (NVIDIA been increasing by a factor of 10 every year in recent years), an abundance of data sources beyond all recognition even a few years ago and advances in computer science – not least of which Transformers (the T in GPT and a leap forward from RNNs), so-called self-attention and RLHF – reinforcement learning from human feedback. In the image space the likes of, GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks), Latent Diffusion Models and the clever use of efficiency gains.

Taking the current eye-catcher as a metric GPT1 was released in 2018, GPT2 in 2019 and GPT3 in 2020 with its offshoot ChatGPT in 2022. GPT3 has 176bn parameters compared to GPT2’s 1.5bn and was trained on 570GB of data compared to 40GB. Huuuge changes.

But this is just the sexiest, most public face of AIML which as a whole has been finally one might say getting somewhere are computing power continues to increase. As we heard in LFP219 the ex-GCHQ-ers at Ripjar have a database of 18bn news articles which they can process. Once one gets to this kind of scale of computing then – even avoiding the unfortunate anthropomorphism implicit in terms like intelligence or learning – if we simply revert to the oldskool term data processing then we are getting to a stage where the results from data processing are truly phenomenal. Even I have shifted to keeping track of the latest developments having been pretty sniffy about the uber-hype of a field that generally failed in most of its initial objectives set out by pioneers in the 60s.

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LFP220 – Has A Century Of The Federal Reserve and 50 Years Off The Gold Standard Directly Led To Monetary and Social Disaster for the West? w/Mario Innecco (@maneco64)

Financial Services is all about Finance which is all about money. However almost all FS employees just accept “money” as a thing in the same way they accept gravity. Which is an odd thing if you think about it. Most of the time this wouldn’t matter but at turning points such as we are at now if can be disastrous, What money is and the regimes around it have varied widely over time and space. However it is true to say that Central Banks are a total exception – indeed the ne plus ultra of Big State Centralism (which is leading to so many problems).

Most FS-savvy folk know that a dollar when the Fed was created in 1913 is worth a few cents now – not a great testimony to the performance of an institution whose job is to “protect” the dollar. Few appreciate the intimate connection between monetary collapse and societal collapse. Examples however are  legion with perhaps the best known being Rome (see what I did there re legion? :-D) , Revolutionary France or the Weimar Republic. As the fallout from those were respectively a civilisational collapse in the West that literally took centuries to recover from and two brutal dictatorships we would be well advised to pay attention to this otherwise recherché topic.

Central Banks are profoundly antidemocratic and as we saw in 2008 in the US and the UK chose – unlike Iceland – to bankrupt their people in order to preserve the wealth of banks and bankers bonuses. Prima facie they seem to correlate to the greatest frequency of wars ever, higher inflation and government spending and a de facto tax on savers and the elderly. At a minimum there is a difficult charge sheet for them to address.

Mario who runs the highly successful YouTube Channel maneco64 is a long term student of the history and current practice of monetary policy as well as like me decades ago having worked successfully in the City without having any real understanding of money per se.

Mario joined us a year ago in LFP197 to discuss “Money in the 21stC: Ballooning Printing of Fiat/QE/”MMT”/Govt Debt, CBDCs, Crypto, Dedollarisation, Hyperinflation, Gold”. In this episode:

  • Mario updates us on what has happened over the past year re money and multipolarity and where this is all going
  • we dive into an assessment of – simply put whether Central Banks Are A Good Thing
  • Mario outlines what he would do to rebuild society and money if in a parallel universe he was Governor of the Bank of England or indeed if western money and societies collapse and need to be rebuilt
  • Mario looks forward to how Gold is becoming more important in a multipolar World. Central Bank buying of Gold was at its highest level in 2022 since 1967 and China has started releasing its monthly purchases thereof

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LFP219 – Automating Intelligence Gathering from GCHQ to Scanning 18bn News Articles for Credit/Reg/Biz-Relevance w/Jeremy Annis CEO Ripjar

Increasing automation is what the tech revolution is about – by definition. In this episode we dive into this topic starting at the highest levels – Government intelligence community quality tech at GCHQ (where Jeremy and his four co-founders had been long-term employees) and the immense value of technology transfer between state and private sectors. We then move through some of the more challenging questions of definition of terms (super-relevant for computers and their usage by business) and that these terms (eg crime, terrorist et al) vary per location – a real challenge for global enterprises.

Finally we move on to a particular speciality of Ripjar (who recently completed a $37m raise) – adverse media screening  – which is not – as it sounded to me – a PR function but rather the automated processing of billions of news articles for credit/regulatory/business relevance re, as it were, early-warning/detection of say credit or regulatory or ethical problems with clients while these are still over the horizon rather than at the front door (or inside it) of the business.

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2023 New Year Special: Fleeing Plato’s Cave, Escaping the Matrix in Search of Love, Light and Healing

This 2023 New Year Special forms the fifth is a series of five about how technology is changing us directly and indirectly by empowering tyrants. It is by far the most ambitious, empowering and positive of all suggesting that we use the insanity as a spur in our sides to seek to flee Plato’s cave, escape the Matrix and speed up our path to awakening in search of love, light and healing.

Sound like a cool topic, a worthy goal to you?

It has five chapters:

  1. Metapolitical Awakening
  2. Psychological Awakening
  3. The Wasteland and the Grail
  4. Existential Awakening
  5. A Magical New World

There is a huge shift in consciousness going on now. The old world is dying in front of our eyes. However a new world is arising and there are a phenomenal number of green shoots growing for those who will look and find.

Let’s take a journey from understandable disenchantment and toxic metapolitics, through  an examination of the deepest roots and causes of this disenchantment in ourselves, in our civilisation, in our hugely increased use of technology, to a world of re-enchantment.

Don’t choose the old world, fear and control, choose the new world of love, light and healing…

Share and enjoy!


LFP218 – The Role of a Chief Legal Officer/General Counsel in Tech Firms w/Harj Gill GC at the LiiV Group

So yet another fresh topic we haven’t covered so far 🙂 What is the role of a CLO – Chief Legal Officer – aka General Counsel in a Tech firm in general, as a superset of Fintech? Back in the day, well quite a few days ago most all companies used external lawyers almost entirely. At a certain point the concept of in-house lawyer appeared. Since then the number of laws has only mushroomed and the whole world of regulation has exploded massively. To cut a long story short there is an ever-expanding need to “square the circle” where the circle is the businesses creative desires and the square is the Lilliputians’ zillion and one Rules That Must Be Obeyed At All Times.

It is perhaps this need more than anything which has driven the evolution of the in-house lawyer into becoming a CLO/General Counsel as to get the optimal outcome someone needs to deeply understand both a specific business with its idiosyncrasies and desires as well as the law/reg thing.

So in this episode we dive into the world of a CLO with Harj who is GC at the LiiV Group and will leave you all with some feel for what type of company when should start considering creating another box on the organogram, another chair around the C-suite table.

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