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ISSUE 36 OCT 15 ÂŁ4.50
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Dan Houghton and Eric Partaker were high flyers at skype before launching chilango. Now their mexican fast-food brand is all set to soar overseas 30/09/2015 21:00
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S TA RT TO DAY & C L A I M YO U R £ 5 0 0 D E V E LO P M E N T G R A N T H U R RY ! O N LY 1 0 0 P E R C I T Y 2014 was the best year ever for online retailers as consumers spent £1 in every £4 online. But small businesses lost out. Nettl want to help SMEs start selling online and are pledging £50,000 of web development grants for 100 startups in each city.
Nettl are offering a free one-hour consultation and £500 grant towards the design and development of a Nettl :commerce web shop. But hurry, only 100 places are available. Book your no-obligation consultation with your nearest Nettl today.
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mall businesses have a unique opportunity to get one up on larger companies with new search changes that have just come into place. Last month Google changed it’s algorithms and it now checks if a website is mobile-friendly before displaying it in search results. But according to a survey this month by CodeGuard, over half of all websites are still not mobile ready. “Businesses risk losing their spot in search results if they ignore mobile” according to Peter Gunning, chief technology officer of Nettl. Many websites from big companies are still not mobile-friendly and making them comply could cost them tens of thousands of pounds and months of work. “This is great news for small businesses, which tend to be more flexible and nimbler than large enterprises. Nettl can build and deploy a new web shop in days rather than months.” Nettl.com, the new network of web design studios, wants to help small businesses thats are just starting to sell online and are offering up to 1,000 British startups and entrepreneurs a free one-hour consultation and £500 grant towards the cost of a ‘Nettl :commerce’ online web shop. “These days people want to interact with local
A dve rti si ng f e ature
2015 is the year of
Nettl.com, January 2015
EXTRA online sales predicted in 2015 IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, January 2015
businesses online. They want to make appointments, book tables, check stock or buy something online and collect the item in-store the very same day.” said Gunning. “Making that work isn’t always easy and knowing where to start can often be just as difficult. That’s where we come in. “Most of Nettl’s clients already have a website, although often it was built before mobile was critical and so needs a responsive upgrade. “What’s really interesting is how many British businesses are looking to the future and adding online booking apps and launching fully functional online web shops. “It’s truly inspiring and we love meeting clients, listening to their ideas, then helping turn them into a reality.”
£1 £4 is now spent in every
Adgild Hop, Retail Consulting, Capgemini, January 2015
If you are a small business, Nettl web studios is offering a free one-hour, no obligation website consultation this summer. TO BOOK:
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OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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THE ELITE Interview
Dan Houghton and Eric Partaker are leading a Mexican wave 6
Contents October15.indd 1
Singapore is stirring
The startup scene in Singapore is slowly but surely starting to blossom
issue 36 October 15
Drones can help startups build a brighter future
power in the hands of e-commerce consumers
home for the fintech phenomenon
AFlubit sweetisdeal putting
flourishing fintech London is the natural
09 10 15 82
because they pick the perfect point to pivot
on having the right foundations in place
From the editor Upfront The big idea The crunch
columns 17 19 29 31 47
Jacqueline Gold Ed Relf Clive Lewis Alice Bentinck Matt Sansam
pain for pleasure Great startups succeed
solid ground Scaling up relies
competition, is the making of a savvy brand
religious beliefs is a balancing act
Joining forces Collaboration, not
aEmbracing matter ofemployeesâ€™ faith OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
Contents October15.indd 2
FROM THE EDITOR EDITORIAL Adam Pescod - Acting Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Josh Russell – Acting Web Editor email@example.com DESIGN/PRODUCTION Leona Connor – Head Designer firstname.lastname@example.org Dan Lecount – Web Development Manager email@example.com SALES Adam Reynolds – Ad Sales Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Gemma Campion – Account Manager email@example.com CIRCULATION Paul Kirby – Circulation & Data Manager ACCOUNTS Sally Stoker – Finance Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Colin Munday - Management Accountant email@example.com ADMINISTRATION Georgie Marshall - Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org DIRECTOR Scott English – Managing Director email@example.com Circulation/subscription UK £18, Europe £38, Rest of World £60 Circulation enquiries: CE Media Limited Elite Business Magazine is published 4 times a year by CE Media Solutions Limited, 4th Floor, Victoria House, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1JR Call: 01245 707 516 Copyright 2015. All rights reserved No part of Elite Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Elite Business magazine will make every effort to return picture material, but this is at the owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore CE Media Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation. www.cemedia.co.uk
Practising what we preach
We often preach how innovation is the most powerful force in business; ultimately, a company that doesn’t embrace change is destined for failure. Well, for the last few months, we’ve been busy practising what we preach. Along with some aesthetic adjustments, we have put together an incredibly exciting roster of guest columnists for you. These include Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold, who reels off her top tips for retail success, Laundrapp’s Ed Relf, who gives us the lowdown on growth hackers, and Entrepreneur First’s Alice Bentinck. As for this month’s cover stars, I can’t think of anyone – or two – more deserving of the slot than Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton. Indeed, not many companies better encapsulate the startup spirit than Chilango. Founded by the two former Skype co-workers
in 2007, the mouth-watering Mexican fast-food chain now has its eye on global domination. And, having sampled one (and a half ) of its burritos, I can wholeheartedly say the company is destined for great things. Elsewhere in the magazine, we take a look at how London is helping fintech flourish, share some time with Flubit’s CEO Bertie Stephens and find out why drones are taking off in the startup space. And that’s just for starters. I would of course welcome any feedback you might have but, for now, I hope you enjoy it. Adam Pescod - Acting Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Gold Having witnessed the retail sector undergo something of a revolution in recent years, the CEO of Ann Summers argues that the customer has become more important than ever.
Ed Relf As former CMO of Mind Candy and CEO of Laundrapp, there’s few who understand better than Relf how growth hacking has brought down the barriers between marketing and product.
ALICE Bentinck The co-founder of Entrepreneur First debunks the myth that finding a co-founder is just like dating; if anything getting into bed with a business partner is far more intimidating.
Matt Sansam Sansam spends time with some of the UK’s most exciting tech startups in his role at IC tomorrow, Innovate UK’s digital arm, and he’s here to champion their groundbreaking work.
OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
From the editor.indd 1
DOING THE ROUNDS The investment rounds that rocked the startup community last quarter
$70m Series C The takeaway site for restaurants has blown up, securing a whopping $70m Series C with Greenoaks Capital, Index Ventures, Accel and Hoxton Ventures.
Check out Onfido’s new hire
$10m / £5m
We always knew Onfido was onto big things. Founded in 2012 by Eamon Jubbawy, Ruhul Amin and Husayn Kassai, the background-checking startup has since gone on to raise an impressive $5.3m from investors including Wellington Partners and lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman. Now, to help drive its growth in the United States and overseas, the company has appointed its first chief commercial officer in the shape of
Series A Fresh from netting $10m from Northzone and Paul Forster, the peer-to-peer invoice lender has topped up its Series A with an additional £5m from the British Business Bank.
£6m Series c Words: Adam Pescod, Josh Russell, Jess Mackinnon
Hoping to bring innovative finance to IPOs, the equity crowdfunding platform has drawn down £6m for its Series C from Balderton Capital, Draper Esprit, Numis and Tim Draper.
$8m Series a The online personal styling service has raised $8m from Balderton Capital, Andrew Jennings, Demis Hassabis, Maurice Helfgott, Mustafa Suleyman and Sebastian Picardo.
Edward Ungar, formerly director of channel partnerships for EMEA at Google. Ungar will lead relationships with some of Onfido’s biggest clients – those valued over $1bn – as well as its software partnerships. “I’m thrilled to help steer Onfido’s growth in the US and around the world,” said Ungar. “What the team has already achieved is astonishing, which made the offer to join them all the more compelling.” It’s onwards and upwards for Onfido.
Unruly enters Fox’s den There will undoubtedly be corks a-popping at the head offices of Unruly, the programmatic platform for social video advertising, after it was announced the firm had been acquired for a cool £114m by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Despite the acquisition, the startup has stressed it will remain a discrete unit, with the founders continuing to preside over the same brand, values and
passion. The company is set to report to Rebekah Brooks, who was recently appointed CEO of News UK, and will be helping News Corp to create new premium video content and improve the solutions it offers to its advertisers. We’re sure you’ll join us in congratulating the Unruly crew and wishing them the very best.
Coming up October 7 - 8 IP Expo Europe ExCeL, London, E16 1XL
Record numbers of startups have applied to the seed enterprise investment scheme The seed enterprise investment scheme (SEIS) has received its fair share of flack over the years and plenty in the investment and startup communities expressed doubts about its chances of success. But it seems SEIS has had the last laugh: in spite of its detractors, the scheme has attracted a record number of startups for the year 2014 / 2015. According to Radius Equity, the specialist provider of EIS and SEIS investments, 2,905 startups applied to raise investment through the scheme this year. This is a boost from 2,845 last year and a massive step up from the 1,729 who applied in 2012 / 2013. Not only that but it seems more businesses
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are successfully gaining funding than ever, with 94% of applications proving successful last year, compared to 93% the year before. In particular, it seems that the flat white economy is seizing on the opportunity presented by SEIS; high-growth tech firms account for 31.5% of all fundraising through the scheme. Meanwhile, business services represent 22.1% and distribution, restaurants and catering make up 14.6%. Hopefully the days of startups having to scrabble about for seed funding are numbered.
by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares It doesn’t matter how great your idea is: no startup can scale without having some serious traction. But given all of the avenues available for drawing in customers, it can be hard to identify the channels that will really boost your profile. Fortunately Traction is here to help startups to find their best route to rapid customer growth. Whilst there are plenty of titles out there aimed at helping startups crank up their customer acquisition, few are quite as incisive as this one. Traction emphasises the importance of experimentation and testing, providing a three-step framework to help startups explore customer acquisition and refine it down
to one core traction channel. Following this, it goes on to run startups through the many channels available, from targeting blogs to building discrete communities. Every section is woven through with case studies of how erstwhile startups like reddit, Wikipedia and Twitter utilised certain traction channels to become some of the world’s biggest brands. With Traction, rather than corralling together a bunch of bland marketing observations, Weinberg and Mares have produced a guide to acquiring customers that truly embraces the agile startup mentality. All told, this is one growth-focused startups can’t afford to miss.
October 22 MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival Sheffield City Hall, Barker’s Pool, Sheffield, S1 2JA November 3 BCC 2015 International Trade Conference Grand Connaught Rooms, London, WC2B 5DA November 5 November 6 IntroBiz South Wales Business Expo Cardiff City House of Sport, Leckwith, CF11 8AW November 10 National Business Awards Grosvenor House, London, W1K 7TN November 12 - 13 New Start Scotland Exhibition / Scottish Business Expo Glasgow, G3 8YW November 18 - 19 Digital Marketing Show ExCeL, London, E16 1XL A full event listing is available on our website: elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/ events
OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
Corbyn is potentially very damaging to British small businesses. Despite the launch of his Better Business plan, his intent on increasing taxes would place a massive burden on the UK’s SMEs, causing wage inflation and leading to the demise of our most unstable businesses. Those that do survive will be left with significantly less money to invest, meaning an automatic decline in recruitment and productivity, both of which will be terrible news for the economy. This, combined with an increased living wage of £10, will be detrimental to businesses and lead to a further contraction in employment. Lee Biggins, founder and managing director, CV-Library
How are SMEs feeling about the appointment of Jeremy Corbyn as the new Labour leader? While the Conservatives’ general election victory surprised many, the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the new leader of the Labour Party – replacing the outgoing Ed Miliband – was even more of a shock. Despite being the outside bet at the beginning of the leadership election campaign, Corbyn stormed home with almost 60% of the vote. And the new leader ruffled a few feathers shortly after taking on the role; while some took issue with his failure to appoint any female MPs into senior Cabinet roles, others criticised him for not singing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain memorial ceremony. However, his business credentials have snuck under the radar. Until now that is. Here’s what some of UK plc’s finest make of the new Labour leader.
We welcome the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. His passion for workers’ rights must be reinforced by a pro-business agenda that acknowledges the struggle felt by SME owners across the country and reaches out to those in need of support. We hope that under Corbyn’s leadership, Labour will continue to argue for the renewal of Britain’s membership of the European Union. The benefits felt by those in the business community along with the EU’s record of upholding workers’ rights make it imperative that we stay in. Andrew Clough, managing director, The Brew Co-working Spaces
Small businesses need to be able to plan with confidence, regardless of the political shade in power. However, Jeremy Corbyn’s re-nationalisation policies, including in the UK power sector, do not encourage certainty and could in fact further marginalise small businesses working in such industries. It is hard enough getting larger enterprises to engage with smaller companies in stable times, never mind when there’s such confusion. The SME community is the power house of UK PLC. It makes economic sense to support SMEs because innovation cannot happen unless a commercial angle supports it.
Corbyn claims he is standing for a fairer and more successful Britain but this may come at a cost not necessarily seen at first. For SMEs, Corbyn has proposed that tax raised from the richest 4% of households could be used to establish a National Investment Bank that will head a multi-million pound programme of support for industry. But while promises to freeze small business rates, improve infrastructure and support the self-employed may appeal at first, one should be aware that this will be accompanied by corporation tax increases, higher wage costs and more expensive transport.
Anne Stokes, CEO, Streamwire
Phil Foster, founder and managing director, Love Energy Savings
A fair share The UK is leading the European sharing economy, creating 10% of new companies globally
Uber and Airbnb might be flying the flag for the global sharing economy but the likes of JustPark, Love Home Swap and Hassle.com are helping the UK forge ahead in Europe. Research from JustPark has revealed that Blighty is now home to 10% of the world’s sharing economy businesses – more than France, Germany and Spain combined – and one in 12 are based in London. Worldwide, only San Francisco and New York are producing more sharing economy startups than the British capital. The study went on to reveal that over half of today’s sharing economy companies were founded in 2013 or later, with more than 80% founded since the start of 2011. It seems more startups are caring about sharing.
I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part. Volkswagen has been, is and will always be my life. Martin Winterkorn on his resignation as Volkswagen CEO following the diesel emissions scandal
Open as normal today guys, come down to see our new shopfront #makeover A tweet from Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch after it was targeted by anti-gentrification protesters
Forget jazzing up the office with expensive seating and Rothko paintings According to statistics from Sage One, the business accounting and payroll software provider, 44% of employees believe music would make their working day more enjoyable. A further 40% of employees said flexible hours would make them happier and the same percentage revealed they’d be better off if they
What’s the word?
were able to chat with their colleagues. While 27% said they’d welcome their employer bringing in edible treats, only 13% of employees said pictures, plants and other decorations made their work day more cheerful. It’s time to crack out the crunk, get in some sweet treats and wave the nine-tofive goodbye.
I’m not intending to dignify this book by commenting on it. David Cameron’s official spokesperson responds to allegations made about the prime minister in a new book by Lord Ashcroft
Find us on Twitter @elitebizmag
WORKING THE CROWD
Successful crowdfunding campaigns that have closed in the last quarter
A Suit That Fits
Bond (8% interest)
The ‘mouldable glue’ company smashed two crowdfunding records with its raise on Crowdcube, taking £1m from one single investment and attracting shareholders from a grand total of 68 countries.
The espresso and cocktail bar chain will soon start constructing a state-of-the-art roastery – and expand across London – after its Crowdcube mini bond smashed its original investment target of £750,000.
Providing specialist cloud accounting software to freelancers and microbusinesses, things are on the up for FreeAgent after it comfortably reached its investment target on Seedrs.
The online tailoring company has closed a successful campaign on Crowdcube, pulling in over double its original target, as it looks to roll out its Fit Expert Marketplace concept across the UK and extend its clothing range. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
THE BIG IDEA
Backing a business you believe in is great; losing your life savings is less so. Fortunately, Crowdrating.co.uk is bringing confidence back to the crowd BY JOSH RUSSELL
etting in on the ground floor of the next big thing is always an exciting prospect and that’s why crowdfunding is such an attractive proposition for professional and amateur investors alike. But there’s no hiding from the fact that backing a business through an equity crowdfunding site can still be a real gamble. Fortunately, new ratings platform Crowdrating.co.uk is aiming to bring some much-needed security to the funding of startups.
The brainchild of Alex Heath, angel investor and CEO of Interactive Investor, the personal finance website, and Modwenna Rees-Mogg, the founder of AngelNews, Crowdrating. co.uk was born when its founders began to worry that armchair investors didn’t have the same access to independent research or expertise as their professional counterparts. Heath and Rees-Mogg realised that there was a gap in the market for a service that would help them screen and shortlist quality crowdfunding candidates. In short, Crowdrating.co.uk’s service works by grading companies in three categories – management, product and investment – awarding each either bronze, silver or gold; these are then broken down into further subcategories with each accompanied by a single sentence summary. Each business’s report also includes a standardised financial summary and a concise summary that highlights any particular areas of concern. The startup also provides a premium service that offers a company health check, helping startups get shipshape for their campaign, something we’re sure will be happily received by wannabe crowdfunded businesses. Long term, it is also looking to bring its service to other investment markets, assisting venture capitalists and private equity funds in making safer and smarter investments. Given that crowdfunding is helping to hook up ambitious and innovative companies with much-needed capital, anything that strengthens the ecosystem is a definite plus. By bringing extra confidence and security to crowdfunders, we’re sure Crowdrating. co.uk is going to be a real asset to the investment community.
OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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Jacqueline gold ceo, ann summers
Putting the customer front-of-mind
In a world where brands are more visible than ever before, retailers have little choice but to put themselves in their customers’ shoes from the outset The retail sector today is a far cry from what it was when I first started out at Ann Summers. With so many trading platforms available to retailers, those not adopting a multi-channel approach are going to struggle to achieve any cut-through. Quite simply, they can’t afford to ignore the young consumer, who is digitally savvy and shopping in a much more digital way compared to just a few years ago. While we were trading through multiple channels well before our time – we offered our customers party planning first in the early 1980s before moving into retail and then heading online – the challenge facing retailers nowadays is how to make that great opportunity. Never before have companies multi-channel experience been so visible to consumers and been able to seamless. Omnichannel communicate so easily. This means it’s absolutely if you exhaust retailing is a big change and crucial that you stay completely true to your brand. all of your you have to constantly remind Don’t become distracted by what others are doing; energy chasing yourself as a brand that the if you exhaust all of your energy chasing after your customer doesn’t see you as competitors, you will neglect who you really are and after your three, four or five channels; what you are about. This is really important and is competitors, they see you as one business what we do at Ann Summers. We know exactly who you will neglect and they want shopping with we are, who our customers are and what they want who you really you to be easy, stress-free and from us. We stay true to our brand and ensure that are convenient. the customer is delighted with their experience That’s not to say it’s any at every single touchpoint. We do this by listening harder to build a successful to our customer, offering a truly multi-channel retail business nowadays; there proposition and making sure that the journey is as are just different challenges. engaging and seamless as possible. If anything, I think it’s a far Achieving this means engaging with the customer more exciting space to work in as it’s in a way that’s relevant to both them and your brand. I was talking to a moving at such a pace. It’s just about director at House of Fraser last month and we both agreed that you no longer start with the brand or campaign. You start with the customer. identifying that gap in the market and Essentially, you have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. A good establishing a really strong USP. You starting point for any new retail brand is to make sure the customer is at can’t get away with imitating; you’ve the heart of everything it does, an approach that has always worked for got to innovate otherwise you will find me and that I will continue to champion. it next to impossible to succeed. It sounds crazy but it is unbelievable how many retail brands forget The dawn of social media has why we all do what we do; it’s for the customer and we shouldn’t ever undoubtedly been a wake-up call for forget that. many businesses but one that offers OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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ed relf co-founder and CEO, Laundrapp
The rise of the growth hacker
Growth hacking can seem like something of an arcane art to the uninitiated but there are few tools that are more valuable to the modern marketer
In the world of digital startups, growth hacking is a topic that’s polarised entrepreneurs ever since 2010 when Sean Ellis, then a marketing consultant at Dropbox, coined the term while hiring his own replacement. Frustrated by the number of traditional marketing applicants, Ellis specified he needed someone who could drive real, tangible growth and wrote a now famous blog post about it: Find a Growth Hacker for your Startup. “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth,” said Ellis. “Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.” Growth hacking has become a much broader term that reaches beyond the bounds of just marketing. A growth hacker is someone who spans both marketing and product; someone who is utterly obsessive about metrics and is always testing tools and tactics to drive customer acquisition. Growth hackers remain firmly focused on the funnel of their business and use lean methodology to learn through a series of high-velocity and low-cost tests, rather than more traditional and expensive marketing techniques. There are a number of common myths about the unethical tactics growth hackers sometimes employ to drive growth and encourage virality. The most famous of all high-profile growth hacking examples is Airbnb, which enabled new
Airbnb users to automatically post their vacant rooms on Craigslist. Airbnb reverse engineered the posting process on Craigslist to drive huge, immediate awareness and viral growth through an entirely separate platform. Overnight, Airbnb became the champion of the growth hacking movement. I’m often asked what the future of growth hacking is and it strikes me that the recent trend towards smaller, leaner and more rapidly iterating teams offers a glimpse of how even large corporations can find success through growth hacking. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, once famously said that “if you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large” and I tend to agree. Books like The Lean Startup provide a great framework for product- and service-driven companies of all sizes and can teach you how to put principles such as rapid product iteration at the heart of your business operations. But who knows what lies ahead for the growth hacking movement? As a marketer and entrepreneur with almost 20 years’ experience, it’s great to see the traditional barriers between marketing and development crumble, giving birth to a new generation of data- and product-driven growth hackers. One thing I know for sure is that growth hacking is still an industry very much in its infancy and that, as our lives intertwine increasingly with the digital world, the role of the growth hacker will become an increasingly prominent and valuable one. I’m fascinated to see what prominent growth hackers will look for when they eventually hire their own replacements. But that’s a whole other story. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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CELEBRATE LEARN PROFIT EXPAND The Telegraph Festival of Business is a one-day event designed to celebrate an often forgotten segment of British business, those medium-sized companies that sit at the heart of enterprise and employ the majority of the UK workforce.
Mark Boleat Policy Chairman City of London Corporation
Rebecca Burn-Callander Enterprise Editor Telegraph Media Group
Jayne-Anne Gadhia Chief Executive Virgin Money
Allister Heath Deputy Editor Telegraph Media Group
The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills
Richard Joseph Founder Joseph Joseph
Ben Marlow Deputy Business Editor Telegraph Media Group
James McClure General Manager UK & Ireland Airbnb
Tony Pidgley CBE Chairman Berkeley Group Holdings Plc
Mark Price CVO Managing Director Waitrose
Charles Rolls Co-Founder & Executive Deputy Chairman Fever-Tree
Chrissie Rucker MBE Founder The White Company
Louis Saha Founder Axis Stars
James Quinn Group Business Editor Telegraph Media Group
Nicholas Wheeler Founder Charles Tyrwhitt
+44 20 7931 3986
Qualified businesses, terms and conditions apply Untitled-4 1 External_full_page.indd 1
30/09/2015 30/09/2015 19:20 16:34
IT IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S LEADING FINANCIAL HUBS BUT SINGAPORE IS NOW LOOKING TO ADD A LITTLE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT TO CEMENT ITS PLACE IN THE GLOBAL BUSINESS LANDSCAPE BY ADAM PESCOD
ANY ENTERPRISE WITH INTERNATIONAL ambitions can ill-afford to ignore Asia; the commercial opportunities that it presents are nothing short of enormous. It’s little wonder a temporary economic downturn in China can send shockwaves far beyond its 1.3 billion inhabitants. And lest we forget that for every Facebook, Google and Apple that’s been spun out of Silicon Valley, there’s been a Samsung, Sony and Nintendo emerging from the East. Nevertheless, the companies grabbing the headlines of late have been the likes of Airbnb, Uber and Tinder, all of which reside in sunny San Fran. Aside from Alibaba, startup success stories from Asia have been conspicuous by their absence in the mainstream Western media. Take Singapore, the densely populated citystate that lies off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. The country is currently ranked as the easiest place to do business by the World Bank, a title it’s held for nine years. This means the city is already set up pretty well for any western business with its eyes on Asia. “It has a highly-educated, English-speaking population, a strong business climate, excellent infrastructure, a stable political environment and a competitive tax regime,” says Nick Aston, managing director for Asia at World First, the foreign exchange company. “And crucially, for our business, there is a large number of import and export companies, as well as a wealthy local population who are buying a lot of properties abroad.” Also ranked as Asia’s most influential city and fourth in the world by Forbes, one would expect Singapore to be an entrepreneurial hotbed in the mold of London and Silicon Valley. Yet while some of the world’s biggest financial players and other global brands have a presence in the country, it has struggled to both attract and create some of the forward-thinking brands of the future. But that’s starting to change. 22
SI NGA PO R E
Engineering an ecosystem Infocomm Investments, the investment division of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the Singapore government’s tech arm, has recently released a $200m fund to help European startups gateway into Asia and in turn build the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. “Rolls Royce, GlaxoSmithKline and others have big footprints in Singapore but we’re trying to be attractive to startups and scaleups too,” says Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA. “That’s why we are spending time with UK organisations like Entrepreneur First, Imperial Innovations, Cambridge Enterprise and Founders Forum. We want to be another node on the network along with London and San Francisco.” This is just one part of a concerted effort from Singaporean authorities to really build the country into a technological hub to be reckoned with. As well as actively investing in the companies it believes can propel Singapore forward, the government has been hard at work constructing an infrastructure that makes the city an even more attractive place to both launch and grow an enterprise.
Suffice to say, the backing of the government hasn’t gone unnoticed by the companies setting up shop in Singapore. Metail, the London e-commerce startup, has recently established its Asian operation in the country and the company’s managing director for Asia, Kelvin Au, believes the help from above is one of Singapore’s biggest selling points. “What the government is doing in Singapore is really driving the ecosystem here,” he says. “It is not just establishing spaces for startups and putting in money and resources; it is really trying to link up the whole ecosystem by establishing connections between entrepreneurs. universities and investors.” Singapore’s proximity to some of the world’s biggest growth markets also makes its an incredibly compelling The number of years proposition for startups. While the that Singapore has held local economy is a good place to begin the World Bank’s title of your Asian expansion – Singapore easiest place to do business has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least $1m in disposable wealth – the population of Singapore only hovers around the five million mark. This means its real value is as a hub from which to gateway into neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. “When you look at e-commerce growth, Asia is the number one,” says Au. “That’s been driven not just by mainland China but also by South-East Asia. It’s a region where you can very quickly and easily tap into a population of 600 million in just one go.”
We are not trying to replicate Silicon Valley. We’re trying to think about the right thing for our environment
Steve Leonard, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Fintech fever Predictably, if there’s one area where Singapore’s startup spirit is really starting to bare its teeth, it’s fintech. With the majority of the world’s largest banks having headquarters in the city, there is ample access to the people that fintech startups need on their side in order to grow. But what’s compelling about the Singaporean fintech scene is its roots, which differ markedly to London. “In London, fintech has very much been pushed by the crisis in 2008,” says Markus Gnirck, co-founder and global COO of Startupbootcamp Fintech, the fintech accelerator. “There wasn’t a crisis in Singapore but you still have people leaving the banks and starting fintech startups or 24
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SI NGA PO R E
What the government is doing in Singapore is really driving the ecosystem herE Kelvin Au, Metail
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Investment issues The government is undeniably doing its bit to make Singapore the startup capital of Asia but there’s still a long way to go before it spawns the next Google. While there’s ample early stage investment available from the government, VC firms and private investors, the involvement of the bigger overseas players remains crucial. The likes of Sequoia Capital and Golden Gate The disposable Ventures already have a footprint in Singapore wealth of one but other West Coast investors still don’t have in every six much incentive to look far beyond their immediate households in Singapore* vicinity. “One of the challenges we face is not terribly different to London,” says Leonard. “Ultimately, a lot of the funds on the US West Coast are quite happy to focus within a relatively localised area. After all, if you can put money into an Airbnb or an Uber, why would you spend a lot of time and energy understanding what opportunities might exist in South-East Asia?” The mindset of investors in and around Singapore has also held things back to a certain degree but there are signs of progress. “Investor appetite in Asia still remains very risk-averse compared to Silicon Valley but massive strides have been taken in the last three years so I’m confident that we will see a big shift soon,” says Vince Tallent, chairman and CEO of Fastacash, the mobile payments company. “It always takes a while for investor appetite to change.” One thing’s for certain: Singapore is aiming to become a startup hub like no other. “We are not trying to replicate Silicon Valley or anywhere else,” concludes Leonard. “We’re trying to think about the right thing for our environment.”
*SOURCE: BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP
at least becoming angel investors to really share their knowledge.” Startupbootcamp Fintech has recently opened a Singapore branch while becoming the first company to take investment from the IDA’s $200m fund. Gnirck believes the country’s rich financial heritage and a fintech-friendly government make Singapore the ideal base for Startupbootcamp Fintech in Asia. “What is really compelling about Singapore is that the regulator is very nicely involved in everything around innovation in fintech,” he says. “It is officially supporting the programme with its people. It is coming in every second week to meet startups and it has an open ear to questions about the regulatory framework. That’s quite unique in a way.” This view is shared by Sidd Gandhi, founder and CEO of KyePot, a fintech startup and Startupbootcamp Fintech alumnus. As he explains, being based in Singapore has been something of a selling point to investors. “We get so much interest when investors hear we are in Singapore and based out of an ecosystem that has government support,” he says. OCT 2015
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CLIVE LEWIs head of enterprise, ICAEW
The UK can’t keep relying on the south to secure its economic future, argues Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at the ICAEW
However, the report also reminded us of the north-south divide. It revealed that 11% of businesses relocated after setting up, with 27% heading to the south east, 27% to the south west and 20% to London. Despite the higher costs generally associated with these regions, businesses said the main reason for their move was to be close to an existing customer, although lifestyle choice also played a part. Five cities outside London were compared against the above factors. How did they compare? Manchester came out on top. The city has created an infrastructure that could host startup and established businesses and which has already facilitated the creation of a media cluster in the city. Moving the BBC to Salford has been aided by collaboration between the public and private sector and academia. Brighton was hampered by its inability to attract large companies and its higher living costs. However, it has a positive media image and an entrepreneurial culture, as well as the highest density of digital companies in the UK. Bristol ticked all of the boxes but lifestyle. It has eight separate funds to help businesses access finance as well as a good range of transportation links to the rest of the UK.
Why are some cities and regions better at creating businesses than others? According to the City Growth Commission, if the UK’s top 15 cities were to realise their potential, it’s estimated they would create an additional £79bn of growth. A recent report from Enterprise Nation outlined the factors that contribute to the creation of new businesses in enterprising regions across the UK. In addition to a solid infrastructure and access to business support services, the report revealed that the presence of a sector-leading company is crucial to creation of new businesses in a certain area, as well as positive media coverage of the region, lower living costs and a forward-thinking local government. The analysis was accompanied by a survey of members of Enterprise Nation, who were asked about the factors that contributed to an enterprise 'buzz'. Unsurprisingly, they listed some of the same things that are mentioned above.
Sunderland only falls short on media coverage and lifestyle. It has 11 funds to help businesses access finance and there are plenty of large companies in the area including Nissan and Sage. Northampton ticks the fewest boxes but highlights include synergy between public investment programmes for the region as well as the input of academia. The report undoubtedly suggests that there are ways of rebalancing the English economy away from London and the south east. However, as Manchester has successfully demonstrated, it very much depends on a forward-looking local government that prioritises attracting investment to that specific region. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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Alice Bentinck co-founder, Entrepreneur First
Finding a co-founder is not like dating
Many will tell you that finding a business partner is like finding a romantic partner. But that couldn’t be further from the truth In a lot of the literature on team building, it’s often compared to dating. Commentators argue that it’s a process of turning a lover into a lifelong partner. You get to know each other over drinks, go away for a weekend together to align your aspirations and then you finally commit to each other. Having seen more than 160 people build 50 successful teams – not to mention countless unsuccessful teams – I can say unequivocally that this is a great recipe for a friendship. But friendship and co-founder compatibility aren’t always aligned. Respect and trust is key Respect and trust are some of the most important elements of a cofounder relationship. You’ve got to have respect for each other and for each other’s skills. And, if you can’t trust the person you’re working with, you shouldn’t be working together. How do you find out if you respect someone’s skills and that you trust them to deliver? The only way is to actually work with them. We have had teams at EF in the past who would have been unlikely drinking buddies. But they had immense respect for each other’s skills
if you can’t trust the person you’re working with, you shouldn’t be working together
and knew how vital each of them were to the startup they were building. What’s more, over time, friendship develops. One of the biggest stimulators for friendship is going through intense periods of stress together – that’s probably the only thing you can guarantee when building a startup. The most important thing is how quickly you get over those moments of stress. Establish expectations before you start working together Is it a good idea to throw yourself into a co-founding relationship with someone you barely know? Yes. It is. But this is easier said than done. There’s a risk to working on an idea you deeply care about with someone you don’t know that well. We’re all too familiar with stories of people who have tried working together and then fallen out. So, before beginning to work together, set a time limit where you can assess your productivity and make a mutual decision about continuing working together. Secondly, have an agreement about who owns any assets created by the company. Productivity is traction for teams Once you’re working together, how do you know if your team is any good? The only thing that matters is your level of productivity. Happy teams that build good startups are productive from day one. They don’t get lost in thinking and strategising; they treat every day like they are against the clock and they get stuff done. If you don’t think your team is making progress, it’s probably time to think about a new co-founder. Ultimately, there is no magic formula: team building is not paint by numbers. But working with someone you respect and who cares about the problem just as much as you do is a pretty good start. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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Flubit is seriously shaking up e-commerce but, as CEO Bertie Stephens reveals, it hasn’t been the easiest of journeys Before becoming one of Britain’s brightest entrepreneurs, Bertie Stephens, Flubit’s cofounder and CEO, was more familiar with blockbusters than business. During his first year of university – where he studied film production – he was drafted in by Warner Brothers to play Neville Longbottom’s stunt double in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. “I negotiated with my university to let me do all of my work remotely,” Stephens says. “I basically did it from the set of Harry Potter.” Soon after graduating in 2007, Stephens embarked on a production career. He created his first film, a 16th-century period drama about the first British settlement in the United States, and founded production company MWS Media with two of his friends. Yet despite his passion for production, one of the frustrations Stephens encountered was sourcing stock from the internet. “I would go online and it was very inefficient,” he says. “I went on eBay, Amazon and all of the other sites and while all of their merchants were selling at very similar prices, I knew that they all had different underlying margins. So if I was to buy from one, it meant somebody else would lose that sale.” Stephens realised there was something fundamentally flawed about the e-commerce market. “I was calling people and saying, ‘I’m about to buy this. Would you price match? Would you beat it by 5%?’ and they’d always say, ‘Of course we will,’” he says. “That showed me that there was an inefficiency in the market. I thought, ‘What if you could actually scale this up so you wouldn’t have to pick up the phone but instead do it through automated technology?’” The seed was sown and Stephens set about putting his idea into motion: a friend with whom he had been building an online radio station created an initial prototype. “It was rough round the edges but from that we started Flubit,” says Stephens. While Stephens had some money left from his Harry Potter gig, it barely scratched the surface of what he needed to get Flubit off the ground. Fortunately, he had been introduced to Adel Louertatani
A sweet deal
BY ADAM PESCOD
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FLU B I T
We just have to build the biggest company possible
35 million products in Flubit’s database
– Flubit’s co-founder and head of business development – when on the set of the film. He had helped Stephens raise money for his second film in the space of four weeks so Stephens turned to him again to find somebody who would back his new business idea. Stephens ended up with £50,000 of seed funding from a French businessman he’d been introduced to by Louertatani. But that’s not the whole story. “I said £5,000 would be great but at the end of our conversation he said £50,000 isn’t that much,” says Stephens. “It was very awkward trying to decide whether I should own up and say ‘I never said £50,000’ but he seemed comfortable with that amount so we went for it.” Within a month, Flubit had raised a further £950,000 in angel investment but the business struggled to pick up any traction in its first few months. It quickly became apparent that the platform was not fit for purpose. “One of the things I completely forgot about at the very beginning was the sellers, which is weird considering that’s how I came up with the idea in the first place,” says Stephens. “A merchant had to manually take a product from their website and upload it to Flubit. Today, I have thousands of merchants and some of them have 100,000 products. One of them has one million products. It was just totally unscaleable.” There was also a group buying element to the site
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The amount of funding raised by Flubit so far
that had similar problems taking off. “That could eventually work one day but it’s simply not feasible until you’re a massive company,” says Stephens. The company that Stephens had invested his life into – not to mention a lot of other people’s money – suddenly found its future hanging in the balance. “It was a very tough time for myself and the team,” explains Stephens. “We were in a situation where backers had given us cash, they had believed in the vision we’d sold them but we hadn’t executed it properly. We were sat there thinking, ‘What do we do?’” The only option was to build the correct technology for the merchants, which would mean shutting down and rebuilding the website’s back end. And it would be six months’ work. Thankfully, Stephens’ belief in his team – and the technology they had built – was enough to convince his investors to support the pivot. “I don’t know how we managed it but they gave us a bit more capital so that we could rebuild it,” says Stephens. “If they had said they couldn’t give us any more capital – which they had every right to do – that would have been the end of it.” Suffice to say, ‘Flubit 2.0’ is a far more attractive proposition. Customers simply copy and paste the URL for an item they have found elsewhere online into Flubit – it accepts URLs from 15 different sites including Amazon, John Lewis and Argos – and the company will negotiate with its merchants to deliver customers a cheaper and totally unique price for the product. “Our goal is simply to come back to you as soon as we can with a price that is lower than the one you were about to pay,” says Stephens. And, unlike Flubit’s first iteration, it’s a sweet deal for sellers too. “If you’re a merchant selling on Amazon, you will on average be charged around 15% commission; so you will net about £85 if you sell a product for £100,” says Stephens. “We say, ‘Why don’t you just come along to us and give us £85 as your base price? We will then negotiate a price above £85 to sell it for.’ So if we sold it for £92, the seller will still have their £85 and we will just take £7. We basically make sure our merchants don’t lose anything that they wouldn’t have lost to Amazon.”
F LUB I T
What's in a name While Stephens admits there was no divine inspiration for the name of his e-commerce startup – “I just liked the name; I thought it was catchy,” – he does have designs on it becoming a part of everyday lexicon. “We built the brand so it could also be a verb,” he explains. “I took inspiration from the whole concept of 'googling' and the ‘why don’t you flubit?’ concept just seemed to fit. “We do see some people online saying it, which is really flattering and works very well for us, but we are nowhere near it entering the dictionary yet. That’s the next aim."
It’s safe to say the decision to pivot paid off: Flubit now has 35 million products in its database – only Amazon has more – and it last year completed a series A funding round, taking its total investment to date to £8.9m. “Watch this space,” says Stephens, hinting at further investment to come. This rapid growth has seen the Flubit team double in size in the past year. As one would expect, the company goes the extra mile to ensure it keeps hold of its most valuable assets. “We spend close to £500,000 on making sure our team are incentivised beyond their payroll every year,” he says. “We are trying to scale this thing up very quickly; it’s going to take a lot of hours and hard work but we also want our team to enjoy it at the same time.” For now, Stephens is enjoying the rollout of BeFlubit, the company’s newest product that’s allowing other e-commerce platforms to take advantage of Flubit’s groundbreaking technology. A partnership with Barclays has seen the banking giant add a Beat My Price feature – powered by Flubit – to its bespoke offers service, while a
deal is also in the pipeline with an asyet-unnamed messaging app that boasts 300 million users worldwide. Stephens believes partnerships like this will make it easier for other companies to monetise with an e-commerce offering. “A lot of online companies use affiliates, which are messy,” he says. “If you are a computer game review site, there will be a link to a game at the bottom of each review, which will take people to Amazon and you might get 3% back if they buy on Amazon. But why can’t you keep that customer and turn your site into a web shop too?” The world certainly looks to be Flubit’s oyster – and Stephens has his sights set suitably high. “The great thing is that it’s just such a big market to play in,” he says. “If we get to 1% of the market we’ll be transacting £1bn a year and if we get to 20% of the market we’ll be a £20bn company transactionally.” But while Amazon might be running scared, Stephens isn’t looking to topple the e-commerce giant just yet. “We just have to build the biggest company possible,” he says. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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pleasure Pivots are an important part of many a startup journey but their success often hinges on the support of investors
BY ADAM PESCOD
In October 2012, Wahanda, the online spa and salon marketplace, shut down the daily deals service it had launched in 2010 and which accounted for 80% of the company’s revenue. It was a bold decision but, three years later, Wahanda is now reaping the rewards of its pivot, with a recent investment of £30m helping to propel its growth across Europe. As Wahanda founder Lopo Champalimaud explains, there was a solid business case for switching off daily deals. “It grew rapidly but the customer dynamics and economics stopped making sense as the space got more competitive,” he says. “We could see that consumers and merchants were becoming fatigued by the model.” Of course, Champalimaud still faced the challenge of convincing Wahanda’s investors to back the pivot. “I told them I couldn’t justify investing money in this area anymore and that we should focus on investing in our core business, which at this point was really growing faster than our daily deals business had ever grown,” he says. Despite the financial implications of the move, the investors supported Champalimaud and the company is now stronger than ever. “There was
Pivots are much harder than you think they are going to be Lopo Champalimaud, Wahanda
a period where we were basically treading water and in fact some months shrinking – that’s never fun for any investor,” he says. “But they understood the long-term vision and what we were trying to build so, despite some difficult conversations, they stuck by us.” The Wahanda story demonstrates that while taking the decision to pivot is far from easy, it’s often a crucial step in a business’s route to the top. “Pivots are much harder than you think they are going to be,” says Champalimaud. “They can have a huge impact on a business but if you really think the pivot makes sense, then you have to take the hard decision. It’s certainly paid off for us in spades.” One pivot is hard enough but Droplet, the mobile payment and rewards app, had to pivot twice before finally landing on a successful business model. The company launched in 2011 as a fee-free payment service for small businesses. However, despite some positive feedback from early adopters, the first version of Droplet didn’t quite take off as expected. The company soon came to the conclusion that their product wasn’t solving a big enough problem and, after taking a look at the market, decided to pivot the company into a peer-to-peer payment app. “We realised there are already lots of ways that you can pay businesses but there aren’t many ways that you can pay other people,” says Steffan Aquarone, co-founder and CEO of Droplet. “For example, if you want to send a friend some money for a meal that you’ve shared, there are only a few quite clunky ways of doing that; you have got to know their bank number or remember to bring cash with you. We thought that looked like a much bigger problem and that’s why we pivoted.” The resulting product looked like being something of a game-changer.
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“We excited a lot of people with it because nobody else at the time was letting you send money across the room with the click of a finger,” says Aquarone. “Apple even said it would give us PR support and publicise us on the App Store when we released it.” But the initial buzz once again dissipated when consumers didn’t take a shine to the product. As Aquarone admits, the problem that it sought to solve didn’t really exist. “We realised that if you were out with six friends and you’ve got to split a bill, there’s no way you would convince all six of your friends to download Droplet just for that one day,” he says. “When you start going out with the same group of people regularly, you just end up rotating who pays the bill each time; you don’t split it. That was obvious when we realised it but before then we were just chasing this fictitious problem.” Droplet found itself facing another pivot but, after taking a look at its user
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data, it was surprised to learn that the majority of people using the product were customers of small businesses. It suggested that it was on the right track with its initial iteration; it just needed a bit of tweaking. “We needed to talk to people who were still using it and understand what else we could do to strengthen it so that it would grow faster,” says Aquarone. “That’s where we came up with the whole rewards idea and that has really moved the dial in a big way for customers because now it’s not just a new way to pay; it’s a way to pay and collect loyalty points from the places that you go.” The company completed a seed round in May, raising £575,000 from 328 investors on Crowdcube, the equity crowdfunding platform. Suffice to say, things may have turned out differently if Droplet’s early investors had jumped ship. “We have really depended on the quality and character of our investors but at the heart of that has been communication and honesty,” he says. “If we hadn’t been honest about the fact that it hadn’t worked, we wouldn’t have got their ongoing support; if we hadn’t communicated before we had done it, we would have lost their trust.” Pivoting twice has helped Droplet unearth some pitfalls with its initial model, such as an inappropriate sales strategy. “We discovered that salesmen who work in phone shops were not good salesmen for Droplet,” explains Aquarone. “We now have ambassadors whose job it is to work closely with their local communities to get it off the ground.” Aquarone also admits that success could have come sooner if Droplet had listened to its early customers and sought some investment from outside the tech space. “Sometimes people with no experience in tech are even more valuable than people who have experience in tech because they see it from the consumer’s point of view,” he says. But despite twice enduring the pain of pivoting, Aquarone has no regrets. “You can’t really point at what has gone wrong unless it has actually all gone wrong,” he says. “We are now in the strongest position we have ever been; we are making revenue, we are growing fast and we know we have got the right product.”
We have really depended on the quality and character of our investors Steffan Aquarone, Droplet
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ON A MEXICAN WAVE WHAT HAPPENED WHEN TWO SKYPE EMPLOYEES DECIDED TO SET UP A MEXICAN RESTAURANT CHAIN? THEY CREATED ARGUABLY THE MOST EXCITING FAST-FOOD COMPANY OF THE DECADE: CHILANGO WORDS BY ADAM PESCOD PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMILIE SANDY
C H I L A NGO
they may be the founders of London’s hottest new fastfood chain but Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton aren’t your everyday restaurateurs. While the blondehaired Partaker has the presence of a Hollywood actor with his half-Norwegian, half-American drawl, his bespectacled British co-founder enjoys some serious street cred from those of us who grew up in the 1990s; Houghton interned at gaming giant Electronic Arts in 1996 and 1997, working with the team that created Theme Hospital in his second stint at the company.
The pair met at Skype back in 2004. At the time, it was evident the company was onto big things; so big that it was snapped up a year later by eBay in a deal worth £2.6bn, before later being acquired by Microsoft for $8.5bn. With only 30 staff working at Skype at the time, Partaker and Houghton were captured by its entrepreneurial spirit. “The environment at Skype was all about trying a lot of things out and seeing what worked,” says Partaker. “There was plenty of room for failure and autonomy and together these things give you the confidence to venture out on your own.” But this wasn’t their first taste of entrepreneurship. While Houghton founded TextMagic, a mobile marketing company, in 2001, Partaker’s moneymaking schemes began in the late 1980s. He moved to Chicago from Norway when he was five and took on his first paper round at the age of ten. Then, at 13, he started to branch out a little: mowing lawns in the summer and shovelling snow in the winter. “After a period of time, I had about 15 different homes, each paying me $10. Back in 1988, $150 per week was pretty good money for a 13-year-old.” Partaker went on to study finance at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign and, after graduating, joined McKinsey & Company, the global management consultancy firm. “When I was at university, a professor said, ‘If anyone in this room manages to get a job at the company I’m about to profile, I’ll fall out of my chair,’” says Partaker. “That company ended up being McKinsey. I had no idea what it was but the way he had positioned it caught my attention and I thought, ‘Hell, I’m getting a job there.’” Spending his first two years at McKinsey’s Chicago HQ, Partaker relocated to the company’s office in his native Oslo in 2001. The following year, he became the managing director of Venture Cup, a not-for-profit company that was sponsored by McKinsey. “The aim of that organisation was to stimulate new business development and entrepreneurship throughout
IMAGE CREDIT: Chilango
Elite Interview - Chilango.indd 3
C HI L A NGO
ngo Our one-word distillation for the brand is ‘vibrancy’ and we have aligned the entire company with that
he says. “I led that for a year before coming down to London and joining Skype in 2004.” Partaker had seen the potential of Skype early on and knew he had to get involved. “I had been using Skype well ahead of most people and thought it was amazing,” he says. “I just knew that journey would be something incredible.” Houghton arrived at Skype shortly after Partaker and the pair worked so well as a team that they agreed to go into business together one day. “Both of us got quite inspired by that environment at Skype to want to start our own thing,” says Partaker. “We made a pact that whoever had an idea first would tell the other.” Given their experience of the technology space, launching a business in the sector certainly would have played to the pair’s strengths.
However, while they were riding high at Skype, Partaker had been yearning for something since leaving Chicago. “I had grown up loving Mexican food in Chicago, which is home to the second largest population of Mexicans in the United States behind Los Angeles,” he says. “My family had also worked in the restaurant industry in the States so I was already familiar with the sector.” Suffice to say, Partaker had struggled to find anything in London that came close to matching the Mexican fare he had enjoyed across the pond. “I knew it could be so much more than what it was here,” he says. “It seemed like a great opportunity so I mentioned it to Dan and he agreed.” So, a mere three years after joining Skype, Partaker and Houghton took the brave decision to strike out on their own. All they needed was capital. In addition to investing £60,000 of their own money, they received the backing of Saul Klein, their former boss at Skype who, along with a handful of other former colleagues, stumped up £85,000. And with HSBC matching their investment with a loan guarantee of £145,000, Partaker and Houghton were all set. In August 2007, they opened their first restaurant in Islington under the name Mucho Mas, which translates as ‘much more’ in Spanish. The focus was on authentic cuisine and speedy service, the hallmark of Mexican fast food restaurants in the United States. Partaker’s numerous visits to Mexico over the previous two years helped ensure that customers were getting as close to the real deal as possible. “Going direct to the source on certain key ingredients helps protect both the quality and the flavour of the food that we serve,” he says. “One of our investors is the former global head of tourism for Mexico. He helped us develop direct relationships with farmers in Mexico to get our chilli supply, certain bottled sauces and tomatillos.” The people of Islington were soon queueing out the door to get their hands on a Mucho Mas burrito or taco. So phenomenal was the reaction that in March 2008 the company secured further investment to the tune of £1.1m OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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in a round led by Venrex Investment Management with participation from Ambient Sound Investments, which was established by four of Skype’s founding engineers. However, despite this initial success, Partaker and Houghton weren’t satisfied. While the food they were serving up was unmistakably Mexican, the name of their company didn’t quite fit what they were trying to build. A trip to Mexico City later, Chilango was born. “Our favourite place in Mexico is Mexico City itself. It’s just a riot of contrasts, energy and vibrancy,” says Partaker. “[And] Chilango is the term for someone from Mexico City.” The new name certainly struck more of a chord with the company’s character. “Our one-word distillation for the brand is ‘vibrancy’ and we have aligned the entire company with that,” says Partaker. “The food is vibrantly flavoured, displayed and presented and the interiors themselves are a combination of an incredibly vibrant colour pallet, neon and imagery.” The first Chilango site opened on Fleet Street in 2008. The company has since added a further seven sites across London; the ninth is set to open in London Bridge this month and the tenth is in construction in Soho. While the first seven were funded using equity investment and the loan from HSBC, the latter three outlets – including Camden, which opened last October – have sprung out of something that has well and truly captured the attention of the British public: the Burrito Bond. At the start of 2014, the company had been looking to shake up the way it raised capital. “We decided we could start looking to bring more debt into the company rather than purely selling equity to fund the company’s growth,” says Partaker. “We had created our own debt facility agreement, which is effectively a mechanism to loan money from people who are passionate about Chilango in exchange for 8% interest.” However, it soon became apparent
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£2M+ total investors
that a minimum investment of £100,000 was too much of an ask. The idea was put on the back-burner until Partaker discovered that Crowdcube, the crowdfunding platform, was launching a new mini-bond product. It caught their eye immediately. “The beauty of it was that we were able to combine the 20,000 people a week coming through our restaurants with the 75,000 registered users Crowdcube had at the time,” says Partaker. Chilango became the first company to launch a mini bond on Crowdcube on June 9, 2014 and the rest is history. The Burrito Bond surged past its £1m target ten days before the deadline – which was promptly extended. By the time it came to a close at midnight on August 26, the company had doubled its initial investment target, raising over £2m from 709 people with an average investment of £2,900. Along with an 8% interest rate, all investors received two free burritos, with those who invested over £10,000 receiving a Chilango Black Card – entitling them to a free burrito every week for the duration of the bond. The campaign therefore
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proved a tasty proposition for both Chilango and its new backers. “The Burrito Bond was as much an exercise in brand-building as it was in fundraising,” says Partaker. “Not only did we have the cash that we needed to grow, but we also had over 700 new brand ambassadors promoting Chilango after the campaign ended. I always thought from day one that it would be great if Chilango’s growth and success was funded by its guests and fans.” These fans included some high-profile names from the restaurant business who have since been appointed to Chilango’s ranks. David Haimes, the former CEO of Itsu, has joined as operations directors to help drive the company’s expansion at home and abroad. And further board appointments include Simon Kossof, chairman of Carluccio’s; Don Henshall, the former CEO of Krispy Kreme UK and current CEO of Farrow & Ball; and Chris Moore, the former CEO of Domino’s Pizza UK. “There are always people who have done it before and it’s great to surround ourselves with them because it helps us make the right decisions going forward,” says Partaker. Things are certainly moving apace for Chilango. Partaker says he hopes to double the number of UK restaurants over the next two years and open Chilango’s first international outlet; it is currently seeking master franchisees who can invest a minimum of $1m to help establish the brand overseas. Partaker is confident that the success it has enjoyed in the capital stands the company in good stead for international expansion. “What’s
There is no reason why Chilango can’t become a multibillion-pound global brand great about cutting your teeth in London is that it’s one of the most cosmopolitan and competitive markets that exists,” he says. “To develop the brand here, go through the hard knocks, survive the recession and successfully compete against some of the biggest international and UK brands in our space really sets us up to do well wherever we go.” On the face of it, Chilango has all the necessary ingredients to become an international success story. As Partaker says: “There is no reason why Chilango can’t become a multibillion-pound global brand and household name.” It’s little wonder he is already talking about floating the company down the line. “Chilango would probably at some point make an exciting IPO story, which would be a mechanism for us to fund even further growth and to continue pushing the brand.” But while Partaker and Houghton are currently taking all of the plaudits, there will probably come a point when they have to pass on the torch. “This brand and its ambition has far more mileage in it than I have years left on the planet,” says Partaker. “I am 39 and I will give it my best for the next 25 years but Chilango is a 100-year business plan in the making.”
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Matt Sansam, programme manager, IC tomorrow
British SMEs are leading the way in high-tech innovations
Tech startups in the UK are holding their own against their foreign counterparts when it comes to developing some truly groundbreaking products
The pace of change in Britain’s technology industry shows no sign of slowing down, with new products and services being launched on an almost daily basis by pioneering UK entrepreneurs. It’s harder than ever to pin down trends as the industry is constantly being reinvented but there are three areas in particular where we’re seeing incredible innovation. Wearables Wearable technology has progressed significantly in the last few years and is increasingly moving into the mainstream, with consumer devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone booming. The Unseen, the stylish, materialscience design house, is demonstrating the exciting things that can be done with wearable tech. Famous for creating garments from a blend of biological and chemical matter, The Unseen won our 2013 fashion contest. It subsequently went on to develop a colour-changing cloak, sensitive to human electro-magnetism, in partnership with Holition. More recently, an interesting winner which is likely to have a huge impact on people’s lives is the Db GLOVE by Intact. This device digitises several existing touch-based alphabets, such as Malossi and Braille, to enable blind and deafblind people to use all the features of a mobile device and communicate with others.
It’s becoming harder than ever to pin down trends as the industry is constantly being reinvented
Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality The Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (AR/VR) sector has huge potential and the global market is forecast to hit $150bn revenue by 2020 according to Digi-Capital. There is now a great level of excitement surrounding startups in the AR/VR space with the launch of Microsoft’s HoloLens, Samsung Gear and Sony’s Project Morpheus all grabbing headlines. The UK is also home to some worldleading companies in this sector, with Surreal Vision, a winner of IC tomorrow’s 2014 Entertainment on the Move contest, being acquired by market leader Oculus Rift this May. Although the focus has been on gaming primarily, this is a broad technology with many possible applications. We are currently running a contest that looks for ways we might use VR and AR in healthcare, education, retail, construction and music. All of these have the potential to be enormous growth areas in the coming years. Digital health Digital health is also an area to watch and precision prescription is one exciting aspect of this. Our previous contest winner, Geneix, has built a product in partnership with the British Medical Journal and University College London that analyses patients’ DNA data in order to prescribe more personalised treatments. The prototype will launch later this year. A key area for developers to look into is the application of healthcare data. Once we can harness the amount of digital health information that people are already collecting through apps and wearable gadgets, there will be huge benefits in early diagnostics. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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Collaborating with another brand is a savvy way for startups to gain new customers
joining forces BY ADAM PESCOD
The majority of startups aren’t blessed with bulging pockets of cash from the outset. And while some may secure investment early on, it’s difficult to win over investors without evidence of a loyal customer base. Suffice to say, successfully reaching one’s target market is a challenge when there is next to no capital to spend on marketing. However, plenty of companies have started off on a shoestring budget before going on to become market leaders. And many of them haven’t done it on their own; instead, their success has been founded on teaming up with other brands who share a similar audience. Quite often, this can be a far more effective way of reaching customers than pumping out press releases left, right and centre. “It’s not just publications that have your target audience; there are also other brands that have it,” says
Christina Richardson, founder and CEO of Brand Gathering, the online platform that helps connect companies with other brands. “When you are just starting out, you can’t really buy reach in classic marketing terms but by finding other businesses that have the same target audience as you – and that aren’t competitors – you can gain that same reach.” For Ride25, the cycling holiday company, partnering with other brands has been absolutely essential. “We started from a contact base of zero,” says John Readman, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We wanted to build a brand and build our audience quickly so we tried to identify businesses in the same sector as us that were non-competing and to whom we thought we could add value and that could add value to us.” Especially when the brand a startup is targeting is more established – which it often is – it’s important to demonstrate that they have just as much to gain from a potential collaboration. “You have to be looking with an open mind at the assets that you have and how you can benefit the other partner with those assets, while coming up with ideas of how you would like to be promoted via their assets.” says Richardson. “It’s about looking at all the touchpoints that you as a business have with your customers and then seeing how you can integrate a partner into those touchpoints as well.” The collaboration that Ride25 struck up with Wiggle, the online sports retailer, certainly brought benefits to both parties despite some initial scepticism. “At first, Wiggle thought that it would just be doing us a favour but we quickly established that we could add something to Wiggle as well,” OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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It’s got to be of genuine commercial value to both parties John Readman, Ride25
says Readman. The company ran an online competition with Wiggle that offered winners a free Ride25 cycling tour for two people. While the offer of a free holiday was a nice brand booster for Wiggle, it also delivered some significant commercial benefits. “We were able to help Wiggle capture more customer data,” says Readman. “And while it cost us a couple of holidays, we were obviously happy because we got the email addresses of thousands of potential customers.” Ride25 has also teamed up with SigmaSport, the cycling and triathlon retailer, whose customers receive a discount on Ride25 tours. Again, by clearly outlining how it could deliver value to a larger player like SigmaSport, Ride25 was able to reach new customers. “We invited Ian Whittingham, the managing director of SigmaSport, on one of our rides and he understood what we were about straight away,” says Readman. While he has enjoyed success with the likes of Wiggle and SigmaSport, Readman has struggled with some smaller players in the sector. “We tried to establish partnerships with the top 20 independent bike shops in the UK but some of them just didn’t get what we were trying to do,” says Readman. “They said they were just focused on selling bikes.” Readman is confident there will be more success as Ride25 picks up speed. But, as he says, it’s the quality of partnerships that matters, not the quantity. “We would be keen if it’s the right proposition but I am not just going to partner with somebody for the sake of it,” he says. “It’s got to actually work and be of genuine commercial value to both parties.” 50
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A common way that brands collaborate is by launching a product together. Seasalt, the fashion and homeware brand, has recently partnered with Heyland & Whittle, the soap and fragrance manufacturer, to launch a new range of candles and diffusers in its UK stores. For Heyland & Whittle Heyland & Whittle – founded in 2003 by Paddy Heyland & Ursula Whittle (now Heyland) – it presented an opportunity to take their brand to a new audience that aligned with its existing customer base. “Seasalt is a middle market brand and we are also middle market,” says Ursula Heyland. “We have got a good quality product and they specialise in quality design so the two things sit together very nicely.” While it had to invest in the production of the Seasalt range, the retailer’s commitment to stock it in all of its stores gives the partnership some real commercial value for Heyland & Whittle. “We feel that we are really feeding from the success of Seasalt,” says Heyland. “Its brand name is very strong and, with it committing to us as it has, it is encouraging customers who have never heard of us to buy into our product range.” But for a partnership to really work, it’s not just the brands that need to align; the people behind them also have to get along. Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue where Heyland & Whittle and Seasalt were concerned. “Seasalt is a husband and wife team and Paddy and I are obviously a husband and wife team so there’s been quite a nice little synergy there,” says Heyland. “It’s a lot to do with personality and the ability to be flexible.” Heyland admits that she used to be sceptical about collaborations but the partnership with Seasalt has made her see the light. “My mindset was always, ‘We are here to build our name. I don’t want to be associated with trying to build up somebody else’s brand,’” she says. “But I think you have to get to a certain size to actually realise that sometimes it’s a bit of a lift to your brand to be associated with another brand that has got a great reputation.”
We feel that we are really feeding from the success of Seasalt
Investors and entrepreneurs everywhere are getting excited about fintech – And the UK is at the very centre of it all BY JOSH RUSSELL
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Fintech is undoubtedly booming. And the UK is providing the gunpowder. According to Accenture’s report, The Future of Fintech and Banking, released in March, investment in the UK fintech sector has grown by 136% in the last year alone, whilst in Silicon Valley it has grown just 117%. “When you think about it, fintech is the only sector where we can legitimately say that we’re growing at a faster rate than Silicon Valley,” says Eric Van der Kleij, head of Level39, the fintech accelerator. “The UK’s been really charging ahead – and London in particular.” The massive disruption that the financial sector has seen might have been unimaginable just a decade ago. “You had
an oligopolistic market, in the sense that you had only five or six banks, very few entrants in the last 50 years and not much innovation,” says Anil Stocker, CEO and cofounder of MarketInvoice, the online invoice finance platform. And whilst at one time there may have been something reassuring about the stability this provided, the financial crash in 2008 and the subsequent recession broke the spell. “There was a loss of trust after the last credit crisis; some people became disillusioned and wanted to change things,” says Stocker. This presented a golden opportunity for disruption, as the failings of the financial sector had never been more apparent.
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“A generation of people who went through the economic crash saw that the banking model was very inefficient and actually didn’t serve the needs of its customers,” says David de Koning, head of communications at Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer lending service. The explosion in fintech startups has inevitably sprung from this, with a newer generation of businesses turning to tech to address some of the financial sector’s endemic problems. “What you’re seeing are companies that are sidestepping the traditional to create something much better and much more efficient for customers,” de Koning says. And although the explosion we’ve seen in fintech startups is most definitely a global phenomenon, certain factors have made London a crucible for financial innovation. “In London, we have this massive concentration of every conceivable kind of financial firm in the City and a tremendous, technology-
Fintech is the only sector where we can say we’re growing at a faster rate than Silicon Valley Eric Van der Kleij, Level39
136% growth of the fintech sector last year
orientated startup culture,” says Mike Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud, the cross-border payments platform. With these communities operating in such close proximity, it was perhaps inevitable that the two worlds would eventually collide and begin to produce a new breed of startup. But location is not the only thing that has helped secure the UK’s place in the global fintech market. “London has an incredible amount of talent in financial services,” says de Koning. And whilst the UK doesn’t quite have as strong a trade in developers as Silicon Valley, it does have an increasing stock of technical talent looking to flex its coding skills. “You’ve got a very talented group of entrepreneurs who understand financial services, have good experience and great ideas and you’re marrying that with a strong developer base,” he adds. Feeling flush One only need look at the huge funding rounds secured by TransferWise and Funding Circle this year to see just how excited investors are by the fintech sector. Part of the reason for this is that, for the first time, fintech is opening up opportunities that were once monopolised by the banks. “What you had previously was this monolithic service provider,” says Laven. “Suddenly what you’re getting is a cloud-based, API-based, customerfacing series of services that is helping to disaggregate what the bank owns.” Rather than services like payments, FX or investment being locked away in a bank’s portfolio, they are being
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Cornering the market MarketInvoice
The idea for MarketInvoice first came about when co-founders Anil Stocker, Ilya Kondrashov and Charles Delingpole realised there was a paucity of online lending that catered to growing businesses. “Fixing what was broken around banks
seemed to focus on helping the bigger companies and not the smaller ones,” says Stocker. “We spent a lot of time with small businesses and realised there was a huge opportunity.” To begin with, gaining traction in the fintech space was hard going. “Peer-topeer was nowhere near as well known,” says Stocker. “Companies were a little bit unwilling to be guinea pigs for new platforms.” But as MarketInvoice started to build up a portfolio of customers, this helped the startup shift perspectives of the nascent industry. “One way we built credibility is by doing thoughtful partnerships, whether that be with the British Business Bank, KPMG
exposed to both rapid innovation and investment for the first time. “The investment community is betting on that and betting it’s going to be big,” Laven says. This is evidenced by the fact that both TransferWise and Funding Circle have secured valuations of over $1bn this year. So while it may have once been claimed that creating true unicorns was beyond the UK’s reach, fintech seems to have resolutely changed this perception. “Big companies can be built here,” says Laven. “They don’t have to be built in the US.” As the investment market has become increasingly globalised, certain regions are finding it easier to capitalise on their competitive advantages. “You used to have to be in a certain geography to access the money to build businesses,” de Koning says. “But that’s not the case anymore.” This means it is now far easier for the UK to build disruptive fintech startups into global businesses. “Fintech is one of the largest industries in the world so it’s always going to be one of the sectors we’re best placed to take advantage of,” he continues. Despite this, some have questioned whether the high valuations that fintech is seeing are a sign that a bubble is forming, akin to that of
We’re really delivering lifeblood to businesses, so having a revenue model is much easier Anil Stocker, MarketInvoice
or Sage,” he says. “That’s been good for us in terms of building awareness and trust.” MarketInvoice has since been seeing some impressive growth. It is now providing £500m of funding annually and has issued more than 7,500 loans to over 1,000 companies. In August, the business made headlines when it secured £6m of funding from existing investors Northzone and Paul Foster, before making a splash again just last month when it secured an additional £5m from the British Business Bank. This is allowing MarketInvoice to expand its product range and begin to look at allowing retail investors to use the platform. “It’s an exciting time for our business,” says Stocker.
the late 1990s. But Stocker feels that the UK is now looking at a radically different picture, in part because its fintech startups have much more concrete fundamentals than their dotcom predecessors. “Previously there were a lot of companies about with no revenue models and loads of hype surrounding them,” he explains. “A lot of the businesses that we see now are making revenue and it’s much easier to understand their unit economics.” Whilst many tech startups are breaking new ground and creating products and services for which no clear revenue strategy exists, fintech is serving the needs of a very mature market. “We’re not coming up with a new algorithm or search engine; what we’re doing is using technology to solve very clear problems,” says Stocker. The fact that fintech startups are each fulfilling a specific use case and meeting the demands of such a huge market means there isn’t a glut of pre-revenue startups that are yet to monetise. “We’re really delivering lifeblood to businesses, so having a revenue model is much easier,” Stocker adds. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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A run for their money? As with any industry feeling the effects of disruption, it’s fair to say that many of the traditional financial institutions’ first reaction to the boom in fintech was denial. “There was an element of ‘if I close my eyes and put my fingers in my ears, it might go away’,” says Matt Cooper, head of business development at Crowdcube, the equity crowdfunding platform. “But it’s definitely not going away.” Fortunately, as fintech has increased in profile, the relationship between startups and the old guard has become much less adversarial. “The disruption has occasionally taken one or two people by surprise but you can now find a whole suite of accelerators and incubators around London,” says
The investment community is betting on fintech and betting it’s going to be big Mike Laven, Currency Cloud
Another level Level39
Level39, the fintech accelerator and incubator, naturally came about as a fusion of the City and Shoreditch. “Canary Wharf was interested to know if it held a strong proposition for tech companies,” says Eric Van der Kleij, head of the accelerator. Obviously given tech firms’ propensity for being attracted to heart of a community, the Level39 team thought there could be no better place to base the new accelerator than at the epicentre of the UK’s financial sector: Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square. “It was playing to the natural strengths of the area,” Van der Kleij says. Eponymously taking its name from its new home on the 39th
floor, Level39 soon started to act as the lynchpin between the finance and tech sectors. “Most western banks come here for access to innovation days; they bring their teams here for meeting fintech companies and to learn about the latest thing,” Van der Kleij says. It also accrued a roster of mentors from many of the financial institutions around it to provide guidance to its startups. “That helped create an ecosystem,” he adds. Level39 has gone on to become one of the largest incubators for fintech companies in Europe. More than 1,500 startups have applied for its programme and 178 have passed through its doors. It has now spread onto other floors within One Canada Square, picking up two ‘high-growth spaces’ on floors 24 and 42 that have been utilised by projects such as UBS’s innovation lab, IBM’s BlueMix Garage and Innovate Finance. “It’s really exciting for us because it gives us a terrific cross-section of companies across the fintech industry,” says Van der Kleij.
Steve Perry, founder and co-creator of Visa Europe Collab, Visa Europe’s international innovation hub. Taking in Barclays Accelerator, Santander’s and Monitise’s joint fintech investment fund and indeed Visa Europe Collab itself, there are no shortage of major financial brands getting involved in supporting the ecosystem. “For every bank I speak to, whether it’s from the Nordics, Ireland or the UK, it’s all about change, innovation and disruption,” adds Perry. However, it’s not just traditional financial institutions that are going out of their way to support fintech startups – regulators and politicians alike are eager to smooth the way for those looking to create new financial solutions. For example, the Financial Conduct Authority has set up Project Innovate, which allows innovators in the financial sector to seek regulatory advice, whilst in July David Cameron announced he was backing fintech membership body Innovate Finance’s FinTech 2020 manifesto that calls for $8bn of technology investment and the creation of 100,000 jobs in fintech by 2020. The message this conveys to the world is clear, claims Van der Kleij. “On a global scale, it shows we’re really taking the lead as a country and sends a signal that we’re serious about fintech.” OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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BY JOSH RUSSELL
WHILST GROWING A BUSINESS is difficult at any size, there is still a world of difference between running a startup where you see the same five faces each morning and a company that spans multiple countries. Ensuring you have the right people and processes in place offers a firm foundation for a startup to seriously scale down the line. The first resource any company interested in scaling needs in place is perhaps the most obvious: talent. “The really hot companies spend an enormous amount of time finding the right talent to grow the business,” says George Whitehead, venture partner manager at Octopus Ventures, the VC firm. Not only can this provide a scaling business with the raw power it needs to successfully build itself up but top-class talent can often help a company attract more of the same. “It creates a momentum of its own and increases the magnetic field of the business to draw in the best talent,” Whitehead explains. But if a startup looking to scale wants top talent that will grow with the business, it needs to be prepared to reward it commensurably. “As the company grows, you need to make sure that employees’ interests are aligned with the company’s,” Whitehead says. Whether it’s offering equity for senior talent or having decentsized share options across the company, it’s worth having attractive incentives to ensure staff remain committed as the company scales. “Incentivising them just on salary is fine but if you really want them to be up all night trying to grow the business, then you want them to have a piece of the pie,” he adds. Making sure a scaling company’s pool of talent doesn’t become too homogenous is also important. “Organisations really need to be as diverse as they possibly can when they’re recruiting,” says Janet Coyle, managing director of Silicon Valley Comes to the UK, the international mentoring and events organisation. “You want to try and avoid groupthink, so you need to recruit from different backgrounds, experiences and outlooks.”
Bringing your first few hires on board and sketching out a mission statement are comparatively easy. But, as a business starts to scale, handling your people and purpose becomes much harder
SCALEUP FOUNDERS SHOULDN’T ALWAYS LOOK TO HIRE ENTREPRENEURS LIKE THEMSELVES; THEY NEED TO BRING IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT SKILL SET Janet Coyle, Silicon Valley Comes to the UK
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This isn’t necessarily purely about diversity in terms of race, gender or sexuality but also about introducing a range of perspectives and ways of thinking into the company. “Scaleup founders shouldn’t always look to hire entrepreneurs like themselves,” she says. “They need to bring in a slightly different skill set.” However, having grade-A staff that can bring new perspectives and ideas into a scaling business is only of value if founders can learn to trust in the talent they’ve put in place. “To begin with, the CEO basically makes decisions on every aspect of the business,” Whitehead says. “But it comes to a point where they have to delegate.” Learning to grant a degree of autonomy to the teams you’ve hired sounds simple but for a founder who’s used to being so hands-on with every element of the business they’ve built, it can be a difficult transition to make. “Much of it is down to genuinely empowering staff to make the decisions that they need to in order to make the business really successful,” adds Whitehead. Talent isn’t the only vital ingredient that a company needs to scale: laying out the company’s culture is also key. As a founder becomes less able to oversee every element of a company themselves, it becomes essential they are able to formalise their vision of their startup. Having handled culture and employment branding at Facebook as it grew from 500 to 5,000 employees, there are few better placed to comment on how enshrining culture can help shape what a company will become than Molly Graham, now COO of Quip, the productivity suite company. “Very frequently in startups, the personality of the company and the personality of the founder are inextricably linked,” says Graham. Being able to outline exactly what shapes the spirit of the company and what it wants to achieve can help insurmountably as a startup continues to scale. “You need to write down things that you want everyone to internalise; that you want every single person that comes into the organisation to live and breathe,” she continues. Whilst formalising culture might seem a bit excessive
Those who have taken the time to think about who they want to be can much more effectively scale Molly Graham, Quip
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for a team of 20 who see each other on a daily basis, having this built in at an early stage can prevent serious growing pains down the line. Graham has worked with plenty of CEOs who haven’t been prepared for the cultural transition between 30 and 60 employees. “They just have this deer-in-the-headlights look,” she says. “But those who have taken the time to think about who they are and who they want to be tend to hire better and can much more effectively scale their operations.” Another potential challenge for startups looking to scale is ensuring that one hand knows what the other is doing. “When staff are all located in the same place, it’s relatively straightforward,” Coyle says. “It’s when businesses start scaling internationally that they need to make sure that they maintain a really strong method of communication.” Making use of tools like Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts and ensuring that the relevant parties make regular visits to offices overseas helps ensure various segments of the business feel wired in to the overall culture. “Especially when things are changing rapidly, the main thing is to keep your international staff feeling they’re very much part of the team,” Coyle adds. A concern for any business that’s looking to scale is potentially losing the very agility that sets them apart. But if a company is able to hang on to an openness to innovation at every level – even as it introduces more processes – then this needn’t be a problem. “If you have people with that entrepreneurial spirit who are keen to solve problems, find solutions and think outside the box, it helps keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive,” Coyle says. “That’s how those companies will scale and grow to another level.” Nevertheless, perhaps the most important thing for any business looking to scale is to plan for growth. Ensuring that certain traits are built into a startup’s DNA means they will naturally be replicated as it grows. Graham compares laying out the foundations of a company to the formative stages of human development, during which a lot of our personality is fixed. “The infancy phase, the toddler phase and the teenager phase are extremely important,” she says. “You can change a company later on in its life but it just requires a lot more effort, self-awareness and work.” Ultimately, whilst scaling up can be hard work, putting just a few provisions in place can help today’s small businesses become tomorrow’s giants.
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Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer to deliver technology masterclass at MADE 2015 We often hear that technology is making work easier and more efficient but we also hear of the stress, depression and anxiety it sometimes brings to employees. But could the way we use technology be the solution? This is a question that Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer of Microsoft UK, will look to answer when delivering a masterclass at MADE, the UK’s largest festival of entrepreneurship. Providing business leaders with an insight into the future of technology in business, Coplin will explore how the rapidly rising volume of information is affecting business and the lives of employees. In particular, Coplin will discuss how small businesses could in fact increase their productivity by using technology in the right way and removing the stresses that can be caused by technology not working for the user. The masterclass will also look at the problems that face business leaders, the mistakes and assumptions made and how people should be using technology to reimagine how we live, work and do business. As a self-confessed technology ‘alchemist’, Coplin is passionate about 66
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turning the base metal of technology into valuable assets that affect the way people live, learn, work and play and in so doing, move the focus from the technology itself to the actual outcome. “The success of our future depends entirely on our ability to grasp the potential that technology offers us,” said Coplin. “As a result, our aspiration should be to do things differently, not the same things slightly better.” As well as being Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer, Coplin is also a successful author. His first book, Business Reimagined, provides a view of a new working environment based on collaborative and flexible working. And his latest book, The Rise of the Humans, provides a further call to action for both individuals and organisations to harness not hate the digital deluge, to rise up and take back control of the potential that technology offers society. The topics covered in both books will also be discussed during Coplin’s masterclass at the festival as he speaks in front of around 2,000 budding entrepreneurs and successful business leaders. Prior to joining Microsoft, Coplin spent 13 years delivering IT strategy
and solutions within the professional services industry in the UK, Canada and the Netherlands, helping to build the foundations of a global IT infrastructure. He is also a regular contributor to a range of media articles, conferences and forums all relating to the goal of making technology less visible and more valuable in our daily lives. Coplin will also be joined at MADE by former member of JLS turned farmer, JB Gill, and multi-millionaire entrepreneur, Annabel Karmel. MADE will also welcome Innocent Drinks’ Joe McEwan; Petra Wetzel of Scottish brewery West Beer; Jude Ower, CEO of innovative, philanthropic gaming company Playmob and Checkatrade founder Kevin Byrne, among others. Tickets for the festival are now on sale with more events and speakers due to be announced over coming weeks. For up to date information and tickets visit www.madefestival.com or follow @MADEFestival on Twitter.
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DRONES ARE CERTAINLY A CONTENTIOUS TOPIC. BUT NOT ONLY ARE THEY PROVING AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FOR STARTUPS, THEY COULD HAVE A SIGNIFICANT POSITIVE IMPACT ON SOCIETY BY JOSH RUSSELL
here are few technologies proving quite so compelling – or controversial – as drones. But despite the ambivalent public feeling toward the technology, startups are swarming into the sector, eager to stake their claim in the new frontier that drones represent. “It’s such an unexplored area at the moment,” says Giles Moore, co-founder and CEO of Airstoc, the drone video marketplace and stock site. “That’s why it’s so exciting.” Development in the sector is now so rapid that potentially revolutionary innovations are emerging on an almost daily basis. And, unsurprisingly, many startups want in on the action. Part of the reason drones are providing such potential for innovation is they can offer untold efficiencies for a range of sectors. “We’re hearing about new applications all the time,” says Moore. New use cases seem to be emerging on an almost daily basis, whether that’s keeping homes secure, monitoring the health of crops, inspecting power lines or surveying disaster zones. “No one really knows where the industry is going to go, where it will stop or how many applications people will find,” he adds. But hardware and services don’t present the only opportunity for startups looking to get in on the act. “People don’t really appreciate the size, shape and scale of the data market that drones are creating,” says James Harrison, co-founder and CEO of Sky-Futures, the drone oil and gas inspection service. With drones becoming more ubiquitous and being fitted with increasingly sophisticated sensors, the sheer quantity of data they’re acquiring is creating the potential for a whole new ecosystem of data and services startups. “That’s a big opportunity that people haven’t really even looked at yet,” Harrison says. Unsurprisingly, the potential of the drone sector has gotten investors salivating. Tech giant Intel recently made a massive $60m investment in drone manufacturer Yuneec Holding. Meanwhile DJI, perhaps one of the most famous drone manufacturers in the world, netted a colossal $70m this May from Accel Partners and partnered with the VC firm to set up SkyFund, a $10m investment pool for early-stage drone startups. “There’s a lot of interest from the investment community in this industry,” says Joel Smith, VP of business development at Trace, the auto-follow filming drone startup. “Many people are talking about how much it’s going to grow.”
OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
DR O NES
However, the huge level of interest that drones are attracting does mean there is a risk of some people getting carried away. “It’s an area that has a huge amount of hype,” says Harrison. “There are very few companies making any money at all; half of the services don’t even have a product, let alone revenues.” Because of this, there are almost certainly some pundits who feel that drones, like wearables before them, may become the victims of their own hype. Fortunately, it seems unlikely that drones will struggle to get off the launchpad. “If you look at all the great products in history, success has “But the industry needs to be leading regulation, been down to how we communicate the use cases not the other way round.” If all stakeholders for them,” says Smith. The iPhone succeeded in involved – regulators, the public and the industry changing the world because it had so many clear itself – are allowed a seat at the table, coming use cases, whilst the Apple Watch has failed to up with regulations that protect everybody’s because it didn’t. Unlike wearables, there is a interests becomes much easier. And, if worked huge range of pain points that drones can solve, out properly, effective regulation will offer a whether it’s tracking the spread of disease or level playing field that will allow new players the monitoring algal blooms. “The applications are room to innovate. “If you have clearer rules or essentially endless,” Smith explains. legislation, that will actually drive innovation as But no matter how excited investors and the opposed to inhibit it,” Harrison adds. wider industry get about drones, it can’t be As long as there’s legislation that everyone Giles Moore, Airstoc denied that, amongst the public, they still have an is happy with, there is no end to what can be image problem. “Last year there was a lot of bad accomplished. “It’s going to sound cheesy,” press about drones,” Moore says. Concerns over admits Smith. “But the sky’s the limit.” privacy and safety mean the incipient introduction of the technology hasn’t been met with the warmest welcome. But Moore feels that the hostility of Trace’s vehicle systems, it will toward drones comes from their kneeautomatically integrate, launch Trace with the autopilot functionality and jerk association with surveillance. There are few companies that can use the visual intelligence data to “Drones aren’t out there to spy on demonstrate the future potential power that vehicle,” Smith says. This people,” he says. of drones quite like Trace. The allows users to easily film live action As the public begins to understand business was born from a chance footage on the go, whilst their every and experience the benefits that drones meeting between Cameron Chell, move is effortlessly captured by can deliver, it will likely start to allay CEO of Business Instincts Group, their drone and uploaded straight to some of these fears. “The more that we the venture creation firm behind the Trace Live Network. demonstrate applications for drones image and product recognition But Trace isn’t content with merely that are saving time, money or lives, startup Slyce, and Paul Beard, the cornering the consumer market. “It perceptions of them will improve technologist and entrepreneur. became clear to us that Trace has an greatly,” says Smith. He explains there “They came together with an idea opportunity to really capitalise on are already plenty of news stories to allow an unmanned vehicle to the commercial sector as well,” says emerging reflecting the good they can follow a user autonomously and Smith. To this end, Trace announced bring; one of the drones produced simultaneously stream the content in July that it had acquired by Draganfly Innovations, a drone it’s creating,” says Joel Smith, Trace’s Draganfly Innovations, a commercial manufacturer acquired by Trace, is VP of business development. drone manufacturer operating in currently displayed in the Smithsonian Fast forward 18 months and Trace sectors such as law enforcement, as the first to save a human life. “Drones has created a camera system that agriculture and surveying, with are doing good for humanity and that’s plugs into autonomous drones – an aim to bring the strength of its going to be a continuing story,” he says. be they aerial, ground-based or image recognition and tracking Inevitably, however, regulation is tripod-mounted – and will track technology to commercial drones. going to be vital in winning public and film the user wherever they As Smith says: “It really was a match go. “When you click it into one made in heaven.” confidence. “You need to have a legislative framework,” says Harrison.
It’s such an unexplored area at the moment. That’s why it’s so exciting
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A matter of faith Making allowances for different religions is good business practice â€“ but the challenge is striking the appropriate balance BY ADAM PESCOD
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ithout a doubt, there are compelling individual to perform something that they don’t reasons for businesses to embrace want to do for religious reasons,” she says. diversity at every level. “There are In other cases, an employer may look to lots of studies that show that the accommodate staff of a certain faith even if their more diverse a workforce, the more beliefs mean they can’t carry out their role. In successful a business is likely to December 2013, Marks & Spencer announced be” says Michelle Last, consultant that its Muslim staff could refuse service to solicitor at Keystone Law. customers purchasing alcohol or pork products. Yet by accommodating people from different countries It came following reports that Muslim checkout and racial groups, businesses also open their doors to staff at the retailer had asked customers buying a variety of faiths and religious beliefs. And employers alcohol to wait for another member of staff should be well-prepared for the impact this can have to become available. “That was one extreme on day-to-day business. “If people follow a particular example of an employer wanting to be so religion, that could have an implication on the way that flexible and accommodate employees wherever they operate in practice,” says Last. “For instance, they possible, which most people would say should may need to take some time off work for a particular be commended, but there was a bit of a public religious festival.” outcry,” says Last. Off the bat, there is no obligation on behalf of an Indeed, other major retailers said they didn’t employer to accept an employee’s request for a day off – or adopt such a policy and instead ask that all of their flexible hours – even if it is on religious grounds. If there employees handle alcohol and pork, even if their is a strong enough business case to do so, an employer religion prohibits their consumption. “It just goes has every right to decline a request. “It might come at a to show the balancing exercise that employers particularly difficult time for an employer,” suggests Last. face,” says Last. “But the main thing is they need “Perhaps it’s a Jewish festival and the employee to be able to show, whatever approach wants to take a Friday off but lots of completions they have opted to take, that they have happen that day.” careful considered it.” However, even if an employer has sound reason Successful religious discrimination for refusing a request, this must be communicated claims might be rare but, as concisely to the employee. “The employer demonstrated by a case involving shouldn’t dismiss any request out of hand; it Tesco two years ago, employers can be should carefully consider each request and punished if they’re deemed not to have provide a measured and thought-out response,” reasonably accommodated the religious says Last. “Employees are well aware of their needs of staff. Two Muslim men right to be able to practice their religion without working at a Tesco depot were awarded being discriminated against. So if an employer an undisclosed sum after restrictions behaves unreasonably, the individual could have a were placed on the use of the on-site claim of discrimination.” prayer room, which an employment Some people will also dress according to their tribunal deemed to be discriminatory Michelle Last, Keystone Law faith or exclude alcohol and certain foods from on religious grounds. their diet. Last believes employers may have It’s safe to say however that an less of a leg to stand on if they raise issue with a employer should have no issue when it small alteration to somebody’s work attire. “Where the comes to cracking down on the airing of views that employee’s religious belief doesn’t impact on their work – would be deemed offensive by other employees. for instance when an individual wants to wear a cross and “If an individual has a religious belief that has a it doesn’t impact on their health or safety – a tribunal is negative impact on either their colleagues or their likely to require the employer to adopt a more reasonable clients, an employment tribunal is less likely to position and try to accommodate the employee’s request find that they have been discriminated against,” wherever possible,” she explains. says Last. “The business interest will essentially But there are circumstances when a person’s religious take priority above any kind of personal interest.” beliefs mean they are unable to do their job effectively. Businesses ultimately live or die on their Last makes reference to a case where a relationship reputation so the way that companies counsellor refused to offer counselling to a same-sex accommodate people of all faiths is more than just couple and was dismissed from his role as a result. “In an internal concern. As Last says, “Who wants to those cases, a tribunal tends to say that the employer holds be seen as the employer that discriminates against the trump card if it has a justification for requiring an individuals based on their religious beliefs?”
if an employer behaves unreasonably, the individual could have a claim of discrimination
OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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What should your business do? Should employees be entitled to backdated pay? There are still some details that need to be made clearer and, inevitably, will become much better defined over time. However, one may look to take into consideration recent case law on holiday pay. Employees are prevented from claiming any deductions made more than two years before the claim was brought.
Travelling time is working time What has happened? Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, ‘working time’ means ‘any period during which a worker is working at the employer’s disposal and carrying out their activity of duties in accordance with national laws and/or practice.’ The ECJ has ruled that in circumstances where workers do not have a fixed place of work, time spent by those workers travelling between their homes and the premises of their first and last appointments will now constitute ‘working time’. As such, these workers must be paid for time spent travelling to and from their first and last appointments. What is the impact for your business? This ruling is likely to have a significant impact on employers. The potential ramifications of this decision could be immense, adding significant costs to businesses and interfering with long
established business practices. It may also have repercussions for business growth and job creation. Companies that already employ mobile workers who spend a lot of time travelling between appointments and/or have no fixed place of work will need to address the ramifications of this ruling quickly. The decision will most likely create a burden for companies at a time when there is already a lot of pressure to increase salaries, what with recent case law on holiday pay and further increases to the national minimum wage just around the corner, not to mention next year’s new national living wage for over-25’s.
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customer is looking at four suppliers of a product and they are all quoting roughly the same price but one is offering the opportunity of claiming and receiving 50% or 100% cashback in 12 months, it is not hard to imagine where the sale will go. So if cashback is so important when making a purchase decision, how can the charge to participating merchants be just 12.5% of the amount written on each voucher? Providing a customer is happy with the product purchased and service received, the cashback voucher becomes less and less important. In 12 months, the actual percentage of potential valid claims will have gone down significantly. That said, valid claims can be much higher when customers are not best pleased with their purchase or customer service. Apart from customer satisfaction, valid claim levels are affected by holders getting their registration and / or claim
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codes wrong, forgetting to claim, getting the dates wrong or staff leaving without passing the claim information on. Promotional terms appearing on vouchers and at www.cashback.claims, the promotions exclusive voucher holder site, are very clearly stated and every holder confirms at registration that they have read and understand the terms of their voucher and the site. The main cashback site for merchants is www.cashbackpromotions.net. There you will see information on every aspect of the promotion, details on thousands of paid claims and testimonials from merchants who doubled their sales through cashback. Cashback won’t make anyone buy anything they don’t need or want but those in the market for a product or service you sell will want to know about your cashback promotion. That will give your sales people a massive closing advantage and your competitors an equally massive headache. For answers to any specific questions relating to the promotion you can click contact us on the site and receive a reply within 24 hours. Cashback is administered by accountant trustees of the Charter Trust through a fully insured clients account. Cashback is administered by accountant trustees of the Charter Trust through a fully insured clients account. OCT 2015 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK
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THE CRUNCH The stats that matter. And some that don’t
Value of gold.co.uk, the most expensive domain name in UK history, recently bought by BullionByPost
The amount that Banksy’s Dismaland is estimated to have generated for Weston-super-Mare’s economy, as reported by Visit Somerset
Value of brand Beckham, as estimated by London School of Marketing
£14,000/ annum £6.50/hour Advertised wage for an erection specialist, Welwyn Garden City, on CV-Library
Advertised wage for a strolling elf, Watford, on CV-Library
Average weekly overtime worked by 16 24-year-olds, according to OfficeGenie.co.uk
Average weekly overtime worked by 35 44-year-olds, according to OfficeGenie.co.uk
Revenue generated per employee at Google, as calculated by Expert Market
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IMAGE CREDITS: Beckhams - Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com.
Advertised wage for a bull head catcher, York, on CV-Library
Revenue generated per employee at Apple, as calculated by Expert Market
Proportion of UK workers that have transitioned from using desktops to tablets, as revealed by EE
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HOT STUFF: Dan Houghton and Eric Partaker were high flyers at skype before launching chilango. Now their Mexican fast-food brand is all set...