LFP178 – Connecting Startups, Investors, NEDs/Advisors/Mentors w/Roei Samuel CEO Connectd

Way back in the day LFP002 was with matchi.biz who were creating a marketplace to connect innovative firms with incumbents who needed that innovation so the idea of a connection function or market has been around for some time. As matchi.biz were acquired by KPMG in 2017 they were clearly not only successful at creating such a marketplace but did it so well that like a hoover hoovering itself up they got sucked thru their own portal too.

Can these concepts apply to enabling and empowering entrepreneurs? After all the most useful attributes for a founder are acquiring funders, good board members, advisors and/or mentors.

Markets sound like a good idea, albeit one that crony capitalism is forgetting. Markets operate best when what they trade is fungible – eg US$ or gold bullion of a certain quality. However as every marriage broker knows people aren’t exactly fungible – indeed they are perhaps the least fungible thing going. But all these swipe left and right apps seem to make a living for themselves and entertainment for the swipers with some success in the dating and mating game.

Roei and Connectd have set out to make a digital marketplace to add liquidity to the world of startups, investors and the hard-to-name yet super-valuable NED/Advisor/Mentor sector. This has naturally only been amplified massively in the world of lockdown. Historically the “well-connected” have had a head-start in life – can this change in the modern world and everyone be leveled-up?

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP177 – Fintech’s Success: Past, Present (esp re Kalifa Report) and Future w/Nigel Verdon Thrice Fintech Founder

The recent report by Ron Kalifa, for the UK Govt to identify priority areas to support the UK’s Fintech sector and maintain the UK’s global reputation in re, gives us an excellent opportunity to zoom out from that to discuss The Past: why Fintech so successfully started in the UK; The Present: how well the Kalifa Report advances UK Fintech and move on to The Future: what will make UK Fintech successful going forwards.

There is perhaps no one better to discuss this long view with that Nigel Verdon who was at the centre of the digitisation of mainstream  blue-chip FS in the 1990s and subsequently founded three UK Fintechs (Evolution 1997; Currency Cloud 2007, Railsbank 2016).

In all of this sectoral focus however we should not forget that all sectors are part of an economy as a whole and a Government balance sheet. Huge increases in deficits and expansion of money supply is unlikely unless addressed to promote a strong and stable country as a backdrop to Fintech activity and this remains by far the biggest risk to all UK citizens into the future. In terms of the current Kalifa report however, unsurprisingly he wasn’t asked to come up with a fiscal and monetary approach but more bottom-up measures.

Covering such a wide canvas of UK FS over decades this is more of a conversation than something to be precised. However major topics include: Continue reading

LFP176 – Sci-Fi Creeps Ever Nearer – Automated Detection of Emotion In Voice Audio w/Rana Gujral Behavioral Signals

Behavioral Signals aims to “turn your conversational data into actionable insights for your business” via the automated cross-cultural detection of emotions in the audio of conversations. This is a super-new front in machine language recognition and usage one which has to date been rather simplistically approached but one which as we all know every day is essential to real human interaction – witness all the confusion that for example emails can cause which would not occur if we saw people’s body language and heard the tone of what they were saying as well as simply the content in Times New Roman. Indeed it is this deficiency of the latter which led to the invention of emoticons to crudely add back some disambiguation.

Rana Gujral, CEO of Behavioral Signals, is a super-experienced veteran entrepreneur and CEO in Silicon Valley and in this episode he draws the curtain back on if not the final frontier then certainly a might important new one of man-machine interfacing.

Alexa and Siri can do an amazing job today compared to their predecessors a decade or two back, yet neither of them have any sense that they are dealing with a human being – they simply detect “words in Times New Roman” as it were and have no concept that the person asking is a human being for whom words are at times a small part of the bandwidth.

In this show Rana covers one Case Study of a usage of this technology in FS which ably demonstrated that when one is dealing with real technological innovation the use case innovation is itself also truly radical and requires large amounts of initiative and imagination to think beyond the obvious – after all if people already detect emotion how could a computer supplement that?

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP175 – The Ever-Increasing Importance of Creating a Company Culture w/Keith Smith CEO Payability

Back in the day when business was more monocultural in many dimensions, and indeed today in more monocultural societies, “culture” was implicit and did not need explicitly defining. However in the modern, ever-more globalised, ever-more multicultural world binding together a group of people, possibly in different countries into one coherent entity is an ever-increasing challenge.

Keith Smith is a serial Founder who created a Fintech first in 1992 (this sounds like the earliest the LFP has ever heard about…), followed by four businesses in other industries until returning to Fintech co-founding Payability.

Keith thus has considerable experience of what works and what does not and a long track record in experimenting and finding ways to bind people together both within a company and at the same time “being able to think like your clients do”.

Naturally the challenge of corporate culture has only increased with governments reactions to covid – onboarding people into a culture for example being far more of a challenge when people don’t meet in the flesh.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP174 – The Huge Success of Digital Wallets and their Future w/Bjorn Goss CEO Stocard

Stocard are perhaps Europe’s most successful Fintech measured by numbers of users – they have over 60 million users of their App (which gets 4.7* on Google Play) and process an amazing 2 billion transactions per annum – a phenomenal achievement. Their users save some 2-5% on average on their shopping and in some countries up to 20% of the population use Stocard for their daily shopping :-O

But what are Digital Wallets? What are their use cases?

Where are Digital Wallets going in the future? Will they keep encroaching further into retail Financial Services as a whole?

There is perhaps no-one better placed to address these questions that Bjorn Goss, co-founder and CEO of Stocard who has roughly a decade on the case and, along with explaining shopping to me (which I clearly don’t understand as I am not getting these available savings)  lays out a clear and credible ambitious vision for the future of the Digital Wallet.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP173 – The Blockchain Digitisation of Tuvalu & Implications of Digitisation At Large w/Dave Washburn CEO nChain

nChain are part of a small consortium are working on a project with the Tuvalu govt to put all of its records on a digital ledger – aka Blockchain, thus becoming the first country to do so. Tuvalu, comprises 9 islands, has a domestic revenue of $60m (a chunk of which comes from its ownership of the .tv domain), has a ca 11,000 population but does not have an electronic banking system. The plan is to move the country’s national register to the Blockchain, will be followed by an exploration into digital currency, a huge feat of technological leapfrogging.

In this episode we are joined by Dr Dave Washburn CEO of nChain who discusses not only this landmark project but the broader and wider implications of digitisation as a whole.

Digitisation is neither good not bad in itself – like a knife it can be wielded for good or for ill. However as digiitsation of everything continues apace what simplifying criteria, what simplifying metrics are we to use in particular cases of digitisation?

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP172 – The Multiple Dimensions of the Challenges of Digital for Incumbent FS Projects w/Tony Clark CEO NextWave

Little more than a couple of decades ago IT was a very back office function in large FS organisations. Now it has completely inverted to become centre-stage in roughly every dimension of being in business, FS included.

Tony Clark, serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of NextWave Consulting has over thirty years experience of large City  FS projects and takes us on a tour of the all-encompassing challenges facing all large incumbent FS players in not just reacting to but in leveraging the digital technologies and digital ecosystem to ensure they are at the leading edge not the trailing edge of the 21stC digital revolution so changing business right now.

Tony’s premise is that FS institutions need a phase change of approach to successfully leverage change. Topics discussed include: Continue reading

2021 New Year Special: The Elite’s Governance & Cultural Revolutions – Key Insights from Spengler, Nietzsche, Lasch

2020 has been crazy and 2021 doesn’t seem to be breaking the trend. The LFP New Year Special is traditionally an occasion to looks back to the prior year and forward to the next. However given the seismic changes in Governments Governance of the people and the ongoing cultural revolution I thought we should take a look at what historical authorities said that would go some way to understanding the roots of our current situation. If we don’t understand the causes of our current predicaments we will not be able to develop a regular antidote.

Thus the 2001 New Year Special is a very special episode that steps out of the usual Fintech stream and instead goes off to the library to see what we can learn from prior centuries.

So if you want to hear details of Fintech tune in to the rest of this years shows and skip this one.

If however you are interested in the future of your society and civilisation then you might be interested in particular in three themes I will cover. Continue reading

LFP171 – The Past, Present and Future of Venture Capital w/Josh Bell Dawn Capital

Venture Capital is nigh-on essential for many ambitious, big-build, fast-scaling Fintechs and Techs in general. Fund raising is essential. Thus how the VC market is evolving is of the utmost importance to ambitious firms and founders.

In this episode Josh Bell one of the founding partners of leading London-based European-wide VCs Dawn Capital who have raised over a billion to invest in growing businesses joins us to look back, look around now and look into the future. How can you best raise funds? Plenty of learn…

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP170 – Three Major Indicators That Insurtech Is Making Demonstrable Progress Changing An Industry w/Andy Rear

Andy Rear was until recently head of the innovative Digital Partners, MunichRe’s London subsidiary which pretty much invented Reinsurance (/Insurance) As A Service (which he covered way back in LFP074). In this episode he rejoins us to present evidence that Insurtech is actually changing an industry.

Andy himself is off to do Non-exec-ing and a PhD in Pensions behaviour and so this might well be his swansong podcast on the topic of Insurtech and as such an industry leading figure it’s a must-listen! Has Insurtech changed an industry – Andy lays out the evidence and you decide…

Topics discussed include: Continue reading