LFP151 – Meta-Creativity & The Road To Fintech Profitability w/Tim Nicolle CEO Primadollar

As we have repeatedly heard profitability is a major challenge in Fintech. In this episode Tim Nicolle CEO of Trade Finance Fintech Primadollar describes his journey to working out the necessary building blocks to profitability. As someone who has had his own businesses for some 30yrs he has had more experience than most with these challenges.

Despite only being founded in 2015 Primadollar already has an astonishing 12 offices around the world so is well placed to also talk to the globalising of Fintech in this Brexiting year (albeit temporarily (?!) on hold due to a well-know virus of course).

Staff numbers are around 50, one-third in the UK and around two-thirds abroad.

Topics discussed include:

  • small-world syndrome – Tim and I last met some 30yrs ago
  • why how well new graduates made tea and coffee was a good lead-indicator of subsequent performance
  • Tim’s proliferating of children as well as businesses
  • Tim’s career in securitisation and his first company in the late 80s
  • his first business and the tiring nature and non-constructing nature of a consultancy as opposed to product business
  • In 1998 Tim and his business partner founded Demica which is today processing $100bn p.a. of trade receivables
  • Innovating too early won’t make you any money
  • The lesson Tim learned was “it is the market that makes you rich, the market that makes you successful”
  • how to translate that into practical business strategies/attitudes
  • the need for there to be a door you can push on, open and walk through – otherwise a business will find it very tough…
  • “companies that are raising capital are generally not profitable by the way [as that’s why they need to raise capital]”
  • several pivots in Primadollar and the importance of having to be in the flows to understand the data on the market and hence where the “openable door” is
  • Tim’s 6 years in Russia
  • “we do a really simple thing – when an exporter puts goods on the boat he give him the money and the customer can pay later”
  • historic rectangular correspondent banking model cf Primadollar’s triangle model
  • business experiences in Bangladesh
  • Wonga and searching through a data space to understand where to plant your important seeds
  • recruiting business partners via listening to the London Fintech Podcast 🙂
  • finding local staff – how to do it
  • the important question to ask in emerging market recruitment
  • localisation vs globalisation
  • the choices in how to sell more…
  • sacking clients – a good business needs good clients
  • Primadollars USP re business model and execution
  • separating revenue growth from cost growth – successful productisation
  • the challenges of squaring customisation with simplicity and transactionality
  • inserting your product in other people’s value chain
  • the structure of world trade – providing finance for shippers and thus displacing banks
  • FAAS – Finance As A Service model
  • “listen to what the market is telling you and don’t look for excuses in your product, sales teams etc”
  • meta-creativity – the importance of Tim listening to many podcasts to take the best creative ideas from a number of sources and combine them into a unique model
  • “standardisation is everything here”
  • Primadollar will do an equity funding round at some point in the next year or two
  • how do you create what doesn’t yet exist?

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!