Entrepreneurialism Episodes

Whilst the LFP focuses on one business sector it is equally about being a founder, entrepreneur and going through the Startup, Scaleup, Growth and IPO/trade sale phases for *any* NewCo in the early 21stC. One benefit of Fintech as a sector is that it has been super-hot, and therefore “evolution has been on fast-forward” – businesses have gone through the phases perhaps even a hundred times faster than in the past so provide plenty of empirical data and experience of “what works”. Nor is this mere hyperbole – many Fintechs now have raised more capital in a decade than Merchant Banks did in 200yrs – an astonishing fact.

Key topics of relevance to all founders

We should also not forget that intrapreneurship is also a model as we cover along with the impact of Fintech on retail FS markets in LFP207 with Nicky Maan CEO of Spectrum Markets.

Creating and Managing your Board

In LFP149 guest host Dan Kiernan interviews me about my book “The Realpolitik Of The Unlisted Company Board a super-important issue for ensuring Fintech success. Some Boards are an engine of growth others are just a ball and chain around the ankle or in extremis a gallows for the founder. (Topic previewed in LFP100 I preview my upcoming book on this topic with research from eighty leading Fintech Founders, VCs, Angels, NEDs, Head-hunters and more.)

In LFP248 serial NED Neil Holden guides us through the challenges of FS/Fintech Governance and Boards in the 21stC – a superset of Boards in general which face most of the same challenges.

The most important component of the Board for a founder and their firm is to have a great Chairman. In LFP156 Brian Basham (who wrote the foreword to my book above) who has been a serial founder and Chairman for over 40 years and an adviser to many FTSE Boards shares his vast experience of the role and importance of a great Chairman.

Angels are essential to nearly all early-stage company. In LFP181 Richard Hargreaves, 50yr early-stage investor joins us to discuss Angels and Angeling – great insights for both investors and founders.

Angels aren’t the only folk whose experience, wisdom and contacts the leveraging of which can greatly assist the Founder(s) and the Startup/Scaleup. In LFP246 Nic Lenz and I discuss “Venture Accelerators” – the whole spectrum of advisers, mentors, NEDs and Angels and how to transition to becoming one or if a founder how to leverage them to accelerate your company’s (and your) growth.

In LFP195 Patrick Dunne, author of four books on the Board who has been involved with Boards since 1985 starting with 26 years at 3i, joins us to discuss how the changing nature of the world – especially tech – is changing the nature of what Boards do, how they do it and how they are staffed.

It is axiomatic that being well-connected gets one ahead in life and in business. However technology gives us the chance to level everyone up so that potentially great entrepreneurs are not held back. In LFP178 Roei Samuel Ceo of Connectd joins us to discuss creating a marketplace to connect Startups, Investors and NEDs/Advisors/Mentors.

Real innovation is super-rare. In LFP193 Antoine Argouges CEO of Tulipshare explains how #GovernanceTech can enable small shareholders to have an impact on listed companies via joining specific actionable campaigns.

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Capital Raising

One of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur is capital-raising.

In LFP169 serial entrepreneur Peter Keenan CEO of Apexx Global, who has raised capital for five companies joins us to give us his experience and recommendations for smoothing the way. VCs are super-important to many high growth companies and thus understanding the VC landscape is vital.

In LFP171 Josh Bell founding Partner at Dawn Capital (who have dispersed over a billion dollars of VC investment in Europe) covers understanding the VC landscape.  

Sadly we live in an increasingly state-centralist world where private wealth is increasingly conduited through central control. However the corollary of that is that for founders understanding how to get and navigate the challenges around tax credits and govt grants (there are 2,000 in the UK alone) is increasingly an important skill – especially as it provides non-dilutive funding. In LFP189 Bhavik Chauhan of OKR Financial guides us through the thicket and tells us how to navigate it efficiently and successfully.

In LFP192 Ben Richmond who has grown CUBE from an idea to a global business of 250 staff with their products used in 150 countries without raising any equity discusses the pros and cons or raising equity and debt and points to be mindful of on the latter route.

One important variant of this is lending firms Venture Debt. All corporate finance theory says that equity is expensive and so needs leveraging with debt. While this is not possible on Day1 or for many days/years thereafter for NewCo at some stage it becomes essential. In LFP163 Alex Baluta CEO of Flowcap takes us on a deep dive into Venture Debt.

In LFP202 Aman Behzad, Managing Partner of Corporate Finance boutique Royal Park Partners discusses Corporate Finance in Fintech – raising funds, IPO-ing, and M&A/trade sales are all key milestones in a founders life.

One way for #oldFS and #newFS to interact is Corporate Venturing – an internal, more strategic, type of venture capital. In LFP048 Ben Luckett MD of Aviva Ventures joins us to dive into this topic.

However raising capital isn’t the only challenge – allocating it within the company and managing that along with external shareholders is a real headache – even for “day1” co-founders (eg 50:50 split and yet one does not do much work. In LFP222 Ifty Nasir, CEO of equity management platform Vestd joins us to discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of internal equity management.

You will also need to pass due diligence hurdles. In LFP216 Barr Blanton, CEO at Crosslake Technologies, explains what Due Diligence is and how to look good when it happens to your firm.

You must also never ignore the fact that some companies succeed without ever raising capital… A completely different kind of advice is covered in LFP071 Faisal Husain talks about the journey from “just an idea” to “7,000 employees in 18 countries in 16 years” without any external capital or debt..

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In an increasingly globalised world creating a corporate culture is more important than ever – this is covered by Keith Smith CEO of Payability in LFP175.

In LFP186 Richard Arundel co-founder of Currency Cloud who recently sold themselves to Visa for ~$1bn discusses culture as a growth tool and dives into some of the realpolitik of this and the challenges of growing culture as one scales.

One important angle is that radical innovation can often come from combining two verticals (who of course will have different cultures needing blending). In LFP249 Ani Sane co-founder of Terrapay talks about how getting to their huge scale was all driven by out-of-domain questions and merging the skills in this case, of telecoms and FS tech.

,Fintechs are growing up – can they do this without losing their culture? In LFP044 Alex Langridge of The Up Group, London’s premier Fintech headhunters talks to this topic.

Entrepreneurialism is The Thing essential to all startups culture. Imagine spending your whole career never working for anyone else, forming a whole range of diverse businesses, and making enough to retire from the dot-com boom (as well as seeing most of the investments crash). To save you 40yrs here is LFP007 “Dot Coms to Fintechs, Lessons Learned by Michael Nulty, 40yrs+ as an Entrepreneur, Investor and Angel“.

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In this Brexited Age Fintech needs to go global. In LFP147 Aneesh Varma who has lived in 11 countries and had businesses in 4 talks to us about localising/globalising and Culture and Business Around The World. The UK is 1% of the world’s market. Successful international expansion is a must for real Fintech success.

In LFP095 Jonathan Quin CEO of WorldFirst, possibly London’s oldest and possibly most successful Fintech who have expanded into 7 countries, joins us to discuss how to successfully expand internationally.

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Legal Angles

Legals are A Big Thing in all transactions. At what point do you need an in-house lawyer? In LFP218 Harj Gill, GC at the LiiV Group explains the role of a GC/CLO in the modern Tech company.

In LFP008 Richard Goold gives his experience of 15yrs doing transactions in tech – discuss the history of tech investing in Europe and the present – especially focusing on the Funding Gap – and compare it to the scene in the US.

Innovation leads to two things – rapidly scaling companies and uncharted territory. The extent to which this creates unprecedented (sic) legal risks is easily underestimated. In LFP033 Jon Segal, Partner at Fox Williams, joins us to discuss this important topic.

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One important aspect in modern business is not doing everything yourself but sticking to your USPs. This means that you need a relationship with other firms to do much of your business for you. Much of this can be commodified tech eg AWS but at the opposite end of the spectrum it can be a time-consuming relationship.

By 2017 the best incumbents are well up the curve in their response to the Fintech revolution. In LFP089 Alexander Ball joins us to discuss ING’s 140 (!) partnerships they have established with Fintechs.

In LFP154 Joanne Dewar CEO of GPS a back-end that powers the likes of Revolut and Starling Bank guides us through the secrets of successful partnering. The real ecosystem is all your fellow Fintechs, many of whom you would benefit from partnering with.

In LFP099 Jimmy Williams, CEO of Insuretech Urban Jungle joins us to discuss how to make yourself partnerable.

In LFP214 Katka Letzing, CEO of Swiss Kickstart Innovation joins us  to discuss “dating and mating” with BigCos. What works? What doesn’t? This is an eternal topic which was covered in the first guest-based episode LFP002Innovation Matchmakingwith Warren Bond of matchi.biz” is about some great folks who provide a platform to just that – connect your product to banks around the world.

In LFP017 Samad Massood who formerly ran the London Fintech Innovation Lab and is now Open Innovation Lead at Accenture shares his experience of “Innovation Bridge Building between Startups and Incumbents”.

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The key problem for the Fintech revolution is a lack of profitability to reinvest in taking itself to the next level.

In LFP066 Bob Jones, veteran of the asset finance industry explains the methodologies behind creating a very profitable Fintech.

In LFP151 Tim Nicolle covers his search over thirty years of entrepreneurialsim for how to find profitable innovative business models – especially focusing on a process of meta-creativity which is essential to create something that does not yet exist. As it involves listening to many podcasts it must be a good process 🙂

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Realisations: How To IPO & Trade Sell Your Business

– in LFP188 Nic Brisbourne CEO of early-stage VCs Forward Partners joins us to explain what IPO-ing entails – not just in theory but also as a first-person account as Nic recently spent the past 3yrs in the long process of IPOing which Forward did super-successfully.

As mentioned above In LFP202 Aman Behzad, Managing Partner of Corporate Finance boutique Royal Park Partners discusses Corporate Finance in Fintech – raising funds, IPO-ing, and also the important alternative to IPO-ing – M&A/trade sales.

In LFP226 David Genn CEO of Goji who are in the final stage – awaiting regulatory approval – of being bought by Euroclear discusses how to Trade Sell your business from soup to nuts and beyond.

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Reality vs Fantasy

One of the biggest topics is “what is it really like to be an Entrepreneur?”.

In LFP124 Ruzbeh Bacha joins us to talk about how the reality is very different from the general perception.

In LFP247 Ruzbeh joins us again to discuss the long slow path to success model in comparison to the more promoted fail or succeed fast and how the latter can all to easily not balance profit with people.

In the introduction to LFP211 Conrad Ford talks honestly about being a founder and what it is like when a founder almost inevitably at some point in time moves on from being the CEO of the Company they founded. What is “founding” like with hindsight? The highs? The lows?

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Dealing with operational challenges and avoiding operational disasters is a key skillset in any sector in any market for a rapidly growing company. However in emerging markets the challenges are that much greater. In LFP237 Tosin Eniolorunda CEO of Moniepoint AFrica’s fastest growing fintech joins us to discuss these challenges.

In LFP208 Dileep Thazhmon joins us to discuss Managing the Growth Curve, Funding and Phases.

PR is an essential part in the modern, info-overloaded world to increasing traction – one needs to get the right message out and in front of the right people. In LFP250 Ben Goldsmith, veteran of the London Fintech & VC scene and founder of boutique PR firm Goldsmith Communications gives us an excellent guide to using PR well as a Tech firm.

There is a real phase shift between being a Fintech Startup and a Fintech Scaleup – Jon Vollemaere CEO of Deutsche-Boerse backed R5FX rejoins us in LFP052 to discuss the realpolitik of Fintech Scaleup. The company, its team, its customers, its market is a dynamic and complex organism.

Scaling up involves all functions being upgraded not least of which marketing. Marketing is super-important in a world of information overload. In LFP138 Shameer Sachdev and I discuss marketing old and new.

The hotbed of Fintech development is (was?) in London’s Fintech Accelerators.  In LFP014 I am joined by Nektarios Liolios co-founder of Startupbootcamp Fintech to “Lift the bonnet” on Fintech accelerators.

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Succeeding Massively

In LFP160 Clay Wilkes, CEO of Galileo Technologies, who has created two billion dollar companies talks us through the attributes needed to create a business that floats or is sold for a billion dollars?

One of the key thins to success is avoiding failure. In LFP232 Jovi Overo kindly takes us through his lessons learned from failure in three Case Studies of business failure including in the first succeeding massively and even weathering the 2008 crisis before being beset by the waves.

Failure is the biggest problem but at least it’s simple even if it takes some time to unwind. Success creates far more complexityWhat happens when your strategy succeeds beyond your wildest dreams? What then and how to get there is shared with us in LFP123 with Will Wynne co-founder of Smart Pension and Arena Flowers two award-winning businesses in very different sectors.

It is a common trope that succeeding massively creates more problems than failure. However this is not always the case. In LFP225 James Hickman CCO of Ecospend who went from starting to trade sale in 5 years and whose first major client was HMRCs self-assessment payments joins us to discuss lessons learned from succeeding massively and not running into all sorts of challenges.

Another great aspect of succeeding massively is Customer Service (just ask Amazon). In LFP187 Hristo Borizov CEO of Payhawk joins us to discuss the vital need to regard Customer Service as a central revenue-generating function not just a peripheral cost-centre.

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Venture Capital

In LFP224 Dr Ric Schaeffer joins us to discuss what early-stage investing VCs look for in founders/businesses and whether the 2023 VC funding situation is a “VC Winter” or a necessary and healthy correction.

In LFP171 Josh Bell founding partner of Dawn Capital who have dispersed over a billion dollars of VC investment in Europe joins us to discuss the Past, Present and Future of Venture Capital.

In LFP201 Alan Vaksman joins us to discuss how in the current world we need a radically different approach to risk from conventional “short term price volatility = risk” (think conventional wisdom “buy bonds in pension funds as one approaches retirement”) and how to invest in VC and what to look for,

VCs and Founders/CEOs live in different worlds which can collide and cause chaos or harmonise for the good of the firm In LFP120 Steve Findlay who has been both talks to us about his insights from living amongst the Two Tribes. How can they get along best?

investment in Fintech starts with “friends & family”, perhaps moves through “angels” but there are next to no Fintechs that grow to scale without Venture Capital money. In LFP056 Rob Moffat Partner at Balderton Capital discusses “everything you wanted to know about Venture Capital but were too afraid to ask”.

One of the weaknesses of VC capital is that it is tied to funds with a finite lifetime. In LFP129  Tim Levene joins us to discuss Augmentum’s “permanent capital” model of VCing and shares with us the process of doing an IPO which Augmentum did in 2018.

Early-stage VC investing is both rare and challenging. In LFP182 Yusuf Ozdalga Partner i/c London office of early-stage investing supremos QED Investors (19 realised unicorns in their ~140 investments to date) talk about what it takes to succeed in early-stage VC investing.

In LFP077 Mark Beeston Founder of Specialist VCs Illuminate Financial joins us to discuss Capital Markets/Enterprise Fintech.

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