Elite Business Magazine April 2017

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Having launched her startup Moonfruit into orbit with its $37m exit to Yell, Wendy Tan White is back on terra firma, helping Entrepreneur First find the STARS of the future

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Wendy Tan White THE ELITE Interview

Moonfruit’s co-founder is no stranger to shooting for the stars. now she’s showing the next generation of tech entrepreneurs how to do the same 4


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CONTENTS 04.17 issue 42 APRIL 17

REGULARS 7 8 13 82

From the editor Upfront The big idea The crunch


columns 15 Jacqueline Gold 25 Sohrab Jahanbani 27 Alice Bentinck


Sweden the deal Stockholm’s startup

ecosystem is the winner that takes it all


BREAKING THE HABIT Habito is using AI to



your financial objectives throughout the business

of your staff boost productivity?

SEEKING A CFO How a CFO can thread

unravel the tangled mortage-application process



Good things come in small packages

Should startups ditch social-media superstars for micro-influencers?


INTheTHE KNOW startups serving up bite-sized learning

Measuring up Does more monitoring


SAFETY FIRST Cybersecurity startups are taking the lead on keeping the UK safe


AWhy tough gig is it so hard to get employment status in the gig economy right? APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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FROM THE EDITOR EDITORIAL Josh Russell – Editor josh.russell@cemedia.co.uk Maria Barr – Web Editor maria.barr@cemedia.co.uk Eric Johansson – Feature Writer eric.johansson@cemedia.co.uk DESIGN/PRODUCTION Leona Connor – Head Designer leona.connor@cemedia.co.uk Jenny Allen – Junior Designer jenny.allen@cemedia.co.uk Dan Lecount – Web Development Manager dan@cemedia.co.uk SALES Gemma Campion – Sales Manager gemma.campion@cemedia.co.uk MARKETING David Thomas – Group Marketing Manager david.thomas@cemedia.co.uk CIRCULATION Paul Kirby – Circulation & Data Manager paul.kirby@cemedia.co.uk ACCOUNTS Sally Stoker – Finance Manager sally.stoker@cemedia.co.uk Colin Munday – Management Accountant colin.munday@cemedia.co.uk ADMINISTRATION Laura Hyde – Administrator laura.hyde@cemedia.co.uk DIRECTOR Scott English – Managing Director scott.english@cemedia.co.uk Circulation/subscription

UK £18, Europe £38, Rest of World £60 Elite Business Magazine is published four times a year by CE Media Conference & Exhibitions Limited, 1st Floor, Regency House, 16 Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1NZ Copyright 2017. 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%, therefore CE Media cannot be held responsible for such variation. www.cemedia.co.uk

A balancing act D isruption is a double-edged sword. Innovative new technology can be empowering and enabling or it can threaten our very way of life. One area where the impact of technology is being felt most keenly is education. The proliferation of mobile devices, gamification and VR is fostering an education revolution, enabling startups to enable snackable learning on the go. Technology has also given rise to swathes of ondemand services but Britain’s growing gig economy is throwing up thorny questions about workers’ rights. Having seen the boom and bust of

the dotcom era, this delicate balance is something our cover star, Wendy Tan White, the Moonfruit co-founder, is well aware of. Perhaps the best expression of this dichotomy is that while Tan White is helping to bring the next generation of AI and machinelearning startups to market with her work as general partner of EF, she’s also keen to tackle the disruption that digital automation is causing. With Tan White on the case, I feel confident that we’re in good hands.

Josh Russell - Editor josh.russell@cemedia.co.uk


Jacqueline Gold From the way she holds herself in meetings to her use of social media, the Ann Summers entrepreneur has crafted a personal brand that’s unmistakably her own.

Sohrab Jahanbani With experience in wooing investors in all corners of the globe, the Bidvine founder believes startups should widen their net when looking for funding.

Alice Bentinck After jetting off to sunny Singapore for Entrepreneur First’s inaugural Singapore program, Bentinck sat down to pen her column on when to pivot in business.

Emilie Sandy Our resident photographer and mum-of-two popped by Entrepreneur First’s offices in London to capture shots of this issue’s cover star, Wendy Tan White, in her element.


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DOING THE ROUNDS The investment rounds that rocked the startup community last quarter

Funding Circle

$100m Series f With this new investment pot secured, the peer-topeer lending firm wants to support more businesses in Britain, the US and continental Europe.

Atlas Genetics

£35m Series D

The Wiltshire-based healthtech spinout impressed investors with its diagnostics tests and now plans to launch in Europe and the US.


$30.4m Series B The London-based biotech company is using the funds raised from its series B to develop innovative treatments for respiratory infections.


£24.4m Series D The payment startup’s latest funding round brings its total investment to $59.42m allowing it to set its sights on capitalising on the global mobile payments boom.


Online ad spend trumps TV Britain’s first TV ad, which depicted a toothbrush and a tube of Gibbs SR toothpaste encased in a block of ice, aired at 8.12pm on September 22 in 1955. Ever since, TV has enchanted marketers and eaten up the majority of ad budgets. But its long reign as the top advertising channel could be coming to an end. Zenith Media, the marketing company, has predicted that global internet ad expenditure will grow by 13% to reach $205bn this year, compared to $192bn for TV. As much as

36.9% of all ad spend in 2017 is set to be assigned to online platforms, up from 34% in 2016. And since social media is predicted to be biggest driver of this growth, prepare to witness a showdown among the big social platforms as they each vie for a bigger piece of the pie.

Octopus Ventures shopping for AI startups The VC firm has a healthy £120m pot to divvy out


ou can’t move for AI startups right now, with entrepreneurs using machine learning to disrupt everything from finance to advertising. In fact, Accenture, the managementconsultancy firm, has estimated that AI could add up to £654bn to Britain’s economy by 2035. And riding on the wave is Octopus Ventures, the VC firm, which has raised a £120m investment fund that will go to promising AI talent. The VC has a track record of picking strong contenders: it’s previously invested in UK startups such as Lovefilm, the video company, and Zoopla, the property startup. And it seems the company may have

developed a penchant for AI after investing in Magic Pony, the machinelearning startup that was sold to Twitter; Swiftkey, the predictive keyboard maker bought by Microsoft; and Evi Technologies, the natural language processing company snapped up by Amazon. The company has also said that it’s interested in taking businesses “the whole way” rather than selling out too early. So if you are a startup in the AI field with big ambitions, don’t be shy.


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UPFRONT Coming up

WhatsApp facing scrutiny F ollowing the attack in the heart of Westminster, fresh questions are being asked about chat apps like WhatsApp that use end-to-end encryption, preventing the security services from being able to get their hands on data they allege may point to a potential threat or shed light on a past attack. WhatsApp’s name has been in the spotlight because the perpetrator of the Westminster attack, Khalid Masood, is rumoured to have sent a message on the platform just minutes before his rampage. Home secretary Amber Rudd has called it “completely unacceptable” that these chat apps aren’t able to share their data with the government. “We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are

Literary Corner

April 10-11 Innovate Finance Global Summit 2017 Guildhall, Gresham St, London, EC2V 7HH

plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” she said. But her stance has been questioned by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Open Rights Group, which campaigns for internet privacy. For tech startups, the case is yet another example of the challenges they face when it comes to balancing users’ privacy with national security issues.

Originals: How Non-Conformists change the World by Adam Grant

Ebury Press Out now Price: £8.99

There are countless books on creativity out there, so in a way you could say that Adam Grant’s Originals isn’t, well, entirely original. But then Grant would probably admit that himself, since he acknowledges that because nobody thinks in a vacuum, there really is no such thing as a fully original idea. But what he does is explore how concepts that are “relatively unusual” come about. More than that, he explores how some of the world’s most renowned innovators have actually done something with their ideas. Feverishly grabbing lessons from business, politics, management theory, psychology, sport and film, the book challenges assumptions

about original thinking. Young people are more likely to be innovative? Not necessarily. Firstmovers have a market advantage? This could be overstated. Procrastination is the mother of sub-par work? Not if it’s done “strategically”, says Grant. He suggests that Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech might not have become so iconic had King not delayed polishing it off until the very last minute And while there’s a skew towards examples from across the pond, it’s a worthwhile read if you’re in a creative rut, want to establish a culture of curiosity at work or if you’re trying to pluck up the courage to act on a bold idea.

April 11 How To Raise Money Without Giving Away Equity WeWork Moorgate, 1 Fore St, London, EC2Y 9DT April 27 IP EXPO Manchester Manchester Central, Windmill St, Manchester, M2 3GX May 10 Accountex ExCeL London, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL May 10-11 Adobe Summit ExCeL London, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL May 17-18 The Business Show 2017 ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL June 5 Startup Grind Europe 2017 Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, SW1H 9NH A full event listing is available on our website: elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/ events


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Free movement of labour is easily the most sensitive issue for UK startups – the cost of talent and the pain businesses face in recruiting the best people is likely to go up. It’s essential that we recognise this and value overseas talent properly. Many UK startups have been founded by EU migrants but there’s currently no clarity on their right to remain after Brexit. They should be well looked after or the economy will really suffer. Douglas Bell, president, London Innovators

Pulling the trigger How can the government safeguard the startup community’s future as the UK begins official exit talks with the EU? Nine months after the shock results of the referendum sent the pound a-tumbling, Theresa May finally triggered Article 50 on March 29. By handdelivering a letter to the president of the European Council, the prime minister officially started the process to leave the EU and sever a relationship that had lasted for 44 years. As the divorce proceedings begin, UK startups are facing the uncertainty of what this concious uncoupling really means for them. How can the negotiators trying to find the best deal for Britain ensure that the UK remains a hotbed for innovative SMEs?

Whitehall should keep as many EU regulations as possible – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and rewrite every one. I would support a soft Brexit and access to the single market. However, my scepticism comes into play on this one as it’s unlikely to happen. Nevertheless, it would be great to see the movement of talent into and out of the UK being maximised. Small businesses need people with the right attitude and skills to succeed and grow. Johnathan Richards, CEO, breatheHR

If the prime minister sticks to her commitment to continue attracting the world’s best and brightest, then Brexit could represent an opportunity for UK technology – our economy’s fastest-growing sector. Reforming immigration to attract entrepreneurs and technical workers from outside the EU would allow us to better compete with Silicon Valley. This will require skillful negotiation and an immigration policy that protects the access to global talent that is creating British jobs and propelling our economy.

Access to the single market and a guarantee for European citizens that they’ll have the right to stay in the UK will be high on the priority list for the UK’s tech community. We need to look at what we can do as a community to navigate the challenges ahead. Being proactive about closing the huge skills gap in the UK will be critical. We need to nurture homegrown talent by encouraging young people to engage in STEM subjects, as well as upskilling and reskilling professionals that could be an asset to the sector.

Russ Shaw, founder, Tech London Advocates

Karen McCormick, chief investment officer, Beringea


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UPFRONT Lonely at the top

Millennial entrepreneurs are feeling a little bit sad Launching your own enterprise is an empowering experience, which is why 93% of the UK’s entrepreneurs are saying they love being their own boss, according to a new study from Aldermore, the retail bank. However, 39% are seemingly singing along to Eric Carmen’s All by Myself, with almost two-fifths of business founders reporting having experienced feelings of loneliness as they embarked on their entrepreneurial journey. And among people between the age of 25 and 34 that figure rose to 54%. Encouragingly, 82% of the 1,003 entrepreneurs surveyed reported that they felt a greater sense of control over their own destiny. That should hopefully help them change their tune to something happier.

getting closer to robots If you can’t beat them, join them

The same week as Ghost in the Shell premiered in theatres, the president of Y Combinator suggested that he envisions a future where machines will merge with humans in a similar way as the movie. Sam Altman took a break from leading the Silicon Valley startup incubator at the end of March to take to the stage at a London-event hosted by Mosaic Ventures. During the chat he said that rather than fighting the rise of the machines, people should aim to upload their consciousness onto a computer or using existing tech to nurture a closer relationship between robots and man. Let’s hope it’s a less dystopian vision than Masamune Shirow’s.

What’s the word?

“No doubt somewhere there is a hatter holding a tea party” Conservative MP Ken Clarke certainly didn’t hold anything back during his speech against Brexit

“We are noticing attacks against government networks on a daily basis” Arne Schoenbohm, president of Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, commenting on the country upping its cybersecurity efforts ahead of the upcoming elections

“It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber” The ride-hailing startup’s president Jeff Jones on why he’s stepping down after only six months Find us on Twitter @elitebizmag


Successful crowdfunding campaigns that have closed in the last quarter




The Wild Beer Co





2.83% equity

13.73% equity

10.00% equity

5.97% equity

The challenger bank formerly known as Mondo didn’t just reach its £2.5m target when the company turned to crowdfunding in the first quarter, the fintech startup smashed it almost five times over.

The smart-home-securitysystem startup successfully drew the support of 1,117 investors in March. Now Cocoon has earmarked the money improve the company’s ultrasound-based security product offerings.

Jordan Daykin, CEO and cofounder of GripIt, is not only the youngest entrepreneur to ever win investment on Dragon’s Den, the 21-year-old is also clearly able to raise impressive rounds through crowdfunding.

Brits love a cold pint so it’s hardly surprising that 1,687 beer aficionados jumped on the opportunity to invest in The Wild Beer Co in March, smashing the £1m target in the process. We’ll certainly drink to that. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Eating healthy This app aims to make it easier to stay fit and enjoy nutritious snacking on the go BY Eric Johansson


limming down is easier said than done. It’s a sad fact that while 48% of Brits have tried to lose weight in the last year, only a few have succeeded, according to a study from Mintel, the marketing agency. And as every up and coming entrepreneur knows, keeping track of your calorie intake is difficult when you live your life in the fast lane. All it takes is a long day chasing VC backing with no packed lunch and off the wagon you fall. However, the entrepreneurial minds behind Nutrifix, the app that helps users find healthy snacks on the go, aim to prevent that from happening.

Born out of founder and CEO Joel Burgess’s own experience with the trials and tribulations of losing weight, the app is designed to cut out all the fuss around eating healthily. The only thing the user needs to do is to set their weight and goals, letting the pocket nutritionist do the rest. And not only does it take note of how much users eat but it also helps them find places close by that offer meals suited to their dietary needs. Given the simplicity of the idea, it’s really a nobrainer as to why Nutrifix has already attracted 770 members since its soft launch in January. The fact that close to 9,700 food outlets and over 70 restaurants have signed up to the pocket nutritionist doesn’t hurt either. Nutrifix was also one of the first startups to be signed up when Just Eat kicked off its food tech accelerator in November last year. The app launched a crowdfunding round on Crowdcube in March and while it hasn’t closed at the time of writing , the simplicity of Nutrifix makes us want to bet that the startup is fighting fit for the future.


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Jacqueline gold ceo, ann summers

Why founders shouldn’t ignore brand You

From minding her posture to staying true to her belief system, Jacqueline Gold is consistently crafting her personal identity


hen you look at entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson and Dame Anita Roddick, you can’t help but admire how they’ve crafted their own personal brand. Branson’s personality is intrinsically linked to the Virgin Group while Roddick has stayed true to her core beliefs throughout her career as the founder of The Body Shop. Consumers these days want to see and connect with the individual behind a brand so paying attention to how you’re coming across matters now more than ever. Nobody wants to feel like they’re dealing with a faceless organisation that’s not really listening. And it’s much easier to communicate a company’s core values when its identity is linked with the person who leads the business. Social media is making it even easier for a company’s founder to showcase their personality and get close to their employees or customers. In many ways, Twitter is the new garden fence and I love using it to show people what matters to me and the other sides of my personality outside of my day job. It’s very important to be an authentic leader and social media’s a great tool to help you do that. My personal brand has evolved over time as I’ve changed and my business has evolved. That being said, there are some key pillars – things that are at the heart of what I stand for – that I’ve tried to keep constant. Every year, I give myself an annual review: I set myself new personal objectives, review how important these are to me and decide what focus I want to have for the year ahead. I’m equally mindful of my appearance and body language – first impressions count in this world. I’ve been guilty of trying to dress how I think others want me to look in the past but I’ve come to

realise that what you wear is less important than the fact that you’re in an outfit that makes you feel happy and, most importantly, like yourself. I’m also conscious of my posture: slouching will never make you look like a successful, confident entrepreneur. Whenever you’re in a meeting, try to make a point of checking that you’re sitting up straight and leaning forward slightly. Relatively simple visual cues can show the other person that you’re interested. As for projecting authority, some people have this false impression that a CEO or business heavyweight has to be loud, brash and aggressive to get people to listen but I don’t agree with that. I’m quite softly spoken but I don’t feel the need to be the loudest person in the room to command respect. If you’re true to yourself and have something to contribute, people will respect you. That applies to all aspects of personal branding. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to emulate other people and of course to an extent you do have to adjust your behaviour to your environment. But to craft an authentic public identity that people can buy into, you can only be yourself. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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ON’T THINK THAT YOU’RE SPECIAL. Dubbed the Law of Jante, in Sweden this widespread mentality suggested people who aspired to be innovative or to rise above their station should be met with condescension. But while this idea may have heavily influenced the psyche of Swedes in days gone by, a new generation of tech entrepreneurs from Stockholm are throwing the old rules out the window. “The notion that you shouldn’t consider yourself to be something is disappearing on the startup scene,” says Jessica Stark, CEO and co-founder of SUP46, the startup incubator. And there are certainly plenty of reasons for this change. Just consider the fact that before Tim Cook signed off on the launch of Apple Music and Jay Z gave birth to Tidal, the founders of Spotify had already seen the music industry’s future. And it certainly wasn’t the first time a Swedish startup had predicted the way things were heading. While there are now no end to video-conferencing tools like Google Hangout and FaceTime, the Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström and

his co-founders got the drop on everyone when they launched Skype way back in 2003. But it’s no secret how Stockholm’s entrepreneurs have been able to take this lead. “We have an infrastructure that works,” says Måns Ulvestam, CEO and cofounder of Acast, the podcast platform. “If you take the underground in London your 4G connection doesn’t work and you can’t even text, while in Stockholm you can connect to the internet.” Even though Sweden has a long history of inventors like Alfred Nobel and entrepreneurs like IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, the origins of Stockholm’s modern tech ecosystem has more to do with politics than any one person. Deciding in the 1990s to heavily invest in the country’s IT infrastructure, the government introduced highspeed internet and tax cuts for people buying a home computer. “These initiatives undoubtedly helped make the general population more aware and comfortable with technology,” says Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO and co-founder of Klarna, the provider of online payment services and one of the country’s six unicorns. “The government’s support has created a society that fosters innovation.”





The result of the Swedish government’s tech drive of the 1990s is that while Silicon Valley may be the undisputed champion of the world when it comes to producing unicorns, Stockholm comes a close second. According to SparkLabs, the seed-stage fund, the Californian city has produced 10.7 unicorns per million inhabitants, the Nordic city produced three and Tel Aviv, which came third, birthed 1.2. So it’s no wonder the European Digital City Index ranked the metropolis as Europe’s second best city after London when it comes to supporting its digital entrepreneurs. “In Stockholm, we’re really freaking good,” says Stark. But even though access to a solid infrastructure has proven vital in fostering this thriving entrepreneurial community, it isn’t the only factor. Equally important for the success of Sweden’s startups is the fact that that the nation has a population of just under ten million, which means new enterprises have to be thinking about international expansion from the get-go. “If you’re in London or Berlin, you have 60 or 70 million people in your own country to sell to so it makes sense to only focus on the domestic market,” says Henrik Torstensson, CEO and co-founder of Lifesum, the fitness app. “But it’s impossible to grow in this country unless you have an eye on the international market, which is why it’s in our DNA to go global from the start.” And the size of the country has also meant that Stockholm’s startups aren’t afraid to recruit talent from abroad. “If you’re running a startup with 50 or so people in your staff, you can



be certain that there are at least five different nationalities among them,” says Torstensson. When it comes to drawing in the best and brightest foreign talent, the Scandinavian capital has a couple of trump cards. Firstly, Sweden has a high level of English proficiency, which is only rivalled by two other non-native speaking countries – Denmark and the Netherlands. Secondly, the country has a solid reputation for equality, as evidenced by the fact it has the EU’s highest female employment rates, generous paternity leave laws and affordable childcare. “That has given us a really good reputation and has enabled us to recruit people who normally wouldn’t be interested in joining a startup,” says Karl Rosander, chief strategy officer and cofounder of Acast. While the healthy influx of foreign talent jumping on the opportunity to join Stockholm’s vibrant ecosystem is certainly a welcome contribution, the city also has plenty of homegrown talent on hand to help launch startups. “Stockholm provides really good education for engineers,” says Ulvestam. For example, KTH The Royal Institute of Technology is ranked as one of the best mechanical engineering schools in the world, according to the QS World


University Rankings. “Additionally we have people who’ve been working in the internet sector since the late 1990s,” continues Ulvestam. And the Swedish government has committed to continuing to feed this pipeline of domestic entrepreneurs: in 2009 it made nurturing entrepreneurial skills part of the Swedish school curriculum from pre-school up until secondary education. However, some Swedish tech superstars still don’t think this is going far enough to ensure the ecosystem has access to a sufficient supply of technical talent. In 2016, Spotify’s founders pointed out in an open letter to the government that tech startups need programmers. They proposed that coding should also be introduced to Swedish schooling so the country “doesn’t lose out on the existing talent and to prevent female programmers” from disappearing from the talent pool. And this isn’t the only stressor affecting the nation’s talent pool. The Swedish capital is also suffering from a severe housing crisis, which could limit startups’ chances to attract the expertise they need. “Housing is an enormous challenge in Stockholm,” says Torstensson. The problem isn’t the price – monthly rent for a 900-square-foot flat in Stockholm is around £1,660 compared to London’s £2,290 – but access to first-hand contracts. It was revealed last year that the rentcontrolled housing queue would require someone to wait for 20 years – something that nearly saw the city issued with a Guinness World Record. According to the Swedish National

With an estimated value exceeding $2bn, the e-commerce company Klarna perfectly represents the potential of Stockholm’s startup scene. Founded while its three co-founders were still studying at the Stockholm School of Economics, the business demonstrates how the country is often ahead of the curve when it comes finding technological solutions. “Back in 2005, e-commerce was still trying to find its way,” says Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO and co-founder of Klarna. “The main payment method was credit cards but people were concerned about giving away their card info and they weren’t even sure whether or not they would get the product they ordered.” Recognising that this was a golden opportunity for a startup to swoop in and solve consumers’ pain, Siemiatkowski and his co-founders launched Klarna. But Stockholm’s startup scene was still in its infancy back then, meaning it was difficult to get the resources needed to get a business off the ground. “Getting funding wasn’t easy back in 2005,” says Siemiatkowski. “Now incubators are much more common, providing support and funding to young companies.” Fortunately, they eventually came into contact with an angel investor who spotted them the money they needed to launch Klarna. And in 2007, Investment AB Öresund, the investment firm, backed the company’s series A to the tune of $2.2m. In the decade since the business launched, Klarna has gone from strength to strength: it now employs over 1,200 people, is operating on two continents and has become one of Sweden’s six unicorns. But the founders have no plans of taking their foot of the accelerator just yet. “We always have on eye on the future,” concludes Siemiatkowski.




Board of Housing, Stockholm would be required to annually build 88,000 new properties just to cover the current need. “You can get a subletting lease but usually with really shitty terms,” says Torstensson. “It really is a broken system.” Nevertheless, Stockholm’s entrepreneurs are still more than able to convince investors that the city’s ecosystem is worth their while. “International investors seem to appreciate that Swedes are really humble,” says Stark. “We’re honest and don’t exaggerate but tell it like it is.” This humility has convinced investors to take a note out of Abba’s playbook and take a chance on Swedish startups. According to data from Nordic Web, the data-analysis firm specialising in the region’s tech startup scene, $1.48bn was invested in Stockholm in 2016, which is a 200% increase on the amount invested in 2015. This corresponded to 54% of the total amount invested in the Nordics last year. “And while there may not be enough data for 2017 yet, it certainly looks like this year is going to become even greater,” says Stark. But Stockholm’s startups aren’t just attracting the interest of investors: they are also increasingly drawing the attention of those looking to buy. The community has witnessed some seriously Henrik Torstensson, Lifesum high-profile exits over the years, such as Microsoft’s $8.5bn acquisition of Skype and Blizzard’s $5.9bn purchase of King, the makers of Candy Crush. And this has enriched the ecosystem in more ways than one: not only have these success stories provided inspiration for budding entrepreneurs, they’re also supplying startups with new sources of capital. For instance, Skype’s co-founder’s VC firm Atomico invested $90m in the unicorn Klarna in 2014. “Entrepreneurs who’ve made a lot of money are obviously going to invest back into the Swedish startup ecosystem,” says Ulvestam. Given this healthy influx of money, most people in the startup scene seem enthusiastic about the future. “Stockholm will continue to be one of the leading cities in Europe,” says Torstensson. “We’ve created a strong foundation upon which to build a super-strong ecosystem.” It certainly seems as if the Law of Jante is on its way out: Stockholm’s entrepreneurs are proving themselves to be quite extraordinary.

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Sohrab Jahanbani CEO and co-founder, Bidvine

startups should tap into a global investor pool

Having successfully attracted investors from Singapore to Silicon Valley, Sohrab Jahanbani argues that entrepreneurs should cast their net further afield when scouting for funding


ore often than not, how excited an investor is by your vision, how relevant their experience is and what they have to offer is far more important than their postcode. There’s a global community of investors out there who go to the same conferences and have their eye on startup culture in Britain. Many of them are also really keen to have a UK-based technology business in their portfolio because of the reputation the sector has built for itself. So why limit yourself to British shores? Many entrepreneurs are so busy working towards the next milestone that they don’t have the time or headspace to look up and take advantage of a global investor pool. But

they could be missing out on some important opportunities. And if you have dreams of global expansion, looking for an investor with a strong network in a market you’re planning to enter can help you make useful contacts later down the line. But if nothing else, working with an overseas investor trains you to think globally and be open to opportunities beyond your own doorstep, whether it’s hiring talent from abroad or selling to new markets. Besides, if you’re about to embark on your first round of funding and your business is fairly young, you might not have a clear idea of what you need yet. As a result, the input you require from investors might be minimal and you probably won’t need to talk to them every day. While this may change later as you start to scale, these days technology like video conferencing means you don’t need to be in the same room as someone to develop a close working relationship with them. As for Brexit, if anything the impact of the vote on the UK’s exchange rate has stimulated overseas investor appetite, as it’s now cheaper for them. In my experience, foreign investors haven’t been spooked by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit so far and they’re often attracted by a startup that can offer them access to the British market. The only slight complicating factor to be aware of is the cultural differences that might exist, which can affect how decisions are made or how long the process takes. In some countries you might have to do a bit more follow up to get over the finishing line, while in places like the Middle East, face to face meetings are more important than they might be in London. If you’re sensitive to cultural differences like these there’s really no reason why your investor shouldn’t hail from the other side of the world. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Alice Bentinck co-founder, Entrepreneur First

Pivoting doesn’t mean starting from scratch

Pivoting is about refocusing on what adds value to your business, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater


ivoting has become a standard part of idea development, in no small part thanks to the lean startup movement. Ideas are no longer a static entity  –  they are a starting point from which you can test, iterate and correct until you reach product-market fit. No longer is it seen as a failure to have worked on an idea that didn’t pan out: it’s a founder’s badge of honour. However, if your company is going to flourish after it pivots, you need to ensure it’s a process that increases your idea’s value, rather than destroying it. Value-destroying pivots When it becomes clear that your idea is heading the wrong way, it’s time to change direction. Maybe you’ve had negative feedback from customers or maybe you’ve learnt how competitive the market is. Some founders react to this by dropping their existing idea and moving onto the next item on their idea list. Often this has no connection to the previous idea that the founders were working on. But this has a real cost. Every time you pivot in this way, you are discarding important assets that you have created: the knowledge, contacts and technology that you have built. For example, a founder may first try to tackle improving data analysis for consultants before realising that consultants already have good in-house systems for this. They then pivot, pick up the next idea on their list and explore making sales teams more effective. However, it then turns out the space is highly competitive so they try to go in a different direction again. With each pivot the startup loses the skills, knowledge and connections it has built and instead starts from scratch.

You need to ensure it’s a process that increases your idea’s value, rather than destroying it

Value-creating pivots A useful mental model for how to pivot well is to think of it as linear ideation. Instead of looking for your idea to fail, you’re looking for the upside  –  what can you learn from customer and market feedback that allows you to edit and update your idea? As you spend more and more time in the space, you become a deeper expert. Many founders win by being experts in niche problems. As you go through the process of testing your idea, you build your knowledge about the domain you’re working on, you develop your network and you start building a product. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, each change of direction acts as a course correction, refocusing your efforts on the part of the business that are yielding the best results. No idea is perfect It’s only through iteration and testing that you can get to a good idea. But it also requires perseverance and a recognition of the value you’ve created by going through this process. This may seem logical but many founders give up on this process after the first three or four pivots. Building a startup is a constant learning process and the best founders are those that persevere. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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NO-ONE KNOWS BETTER THAN DANIEL HEGARTY, the founder and CEO of Habito, how painful applying for a mortgage can be. “When I first applied for mine, one of the big, call-centre-based brokers submitted my application to the bank with three names on it: mine, my wife’s and my wife’s again,” he says. “It was rejected on the grounds that they thought I was a bigamist.” And sadly this was only the beginning of the debacle: after ten days, the form was finally resubmitted with just two names on – both of which were his wife’s. While the broker eventually managed to successfully send off an error-free application and secure Hegarty a mortgage, this experience stuck with him. “It highlighted to me how disempowering and frightening getting a mortgage can be and also just how dependent on manual processes the industry is,” he says. Reaching out to other brokers and mortgage suppliers, Hegarty began to see how pervasive this problem was. “It was a really byzantine process,” he says. “There was nothing: no APIs, no web services, no digital interfaces, just bits of paper, faxes, people copying data from forms.” And having spent many years as head of decision sciences at Wonga, Hegarty knew that – when it comes to financial services – data and machine learning had the edge over their fallible, fleshy




counterparts. “Humans are not necessarily the best at following the rules and copying data from one place to another but machines are” he says. “So we started mapping out algorithms and processes that could remove some of that human error.” Having hit on the idea that would form the heart of Habito, Hegarty knew he needed to raise some capital if he was to build these algorithms into a functioning startup. Fortunately two serial entrepreneurs he’d worked with previously were all too happy to oblige. “They gave us the first $200,000 to work this notion up into a sensible prototype, which we did,” says Hegarty. But this was just the beginning: soon the startup was drawing down a $2.2m seed round led by Mosaic Ventures that included investors such as Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise, Samir Desai, co-founder and CEO of Funding Circle, and Yuri Milner, the high-profile investor who backed Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. For a flourishing fintech brand, having this kind of experience at the board level was perhaps as valuable as the funds themselves. “More important than the capital is having really great people who have actually built businesses and can give you practical advice on what you need to do,” he says. But even with the help of experienced fintech entrepreneurs, Habito still had a major hurdle to overcome: ensuring the startup passed muster with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). “The FCA is allowed six months to respond to your application and we didn’t hear anything for five,” he says. “When you’re a startup and you’ve already raised some seed capital, it’s pretty terrifying knowing there’s this binary event in the future that could wipe you out.” Hegarty needn’t have worried however. Not only did the FCA soon authorise the startup but it came to play a pivotal role in helping it to develop, inviting it to join its innovation hub and guiding the development of its

service ahead of time. “They recognise that it’s not very productive to just turn up three years after the business has launched and say ‘oh no, you can’t do it that way’,” he says. “If they can provide input during the creative process, it’s much easier for businesses to build it once and build it right.” And this support and insight proved invaluable in helping Habito streamline the mortgage application process. “We created somewhere consumers could explore the entire mortgage market online, weigh up their options and make a real-time application,” Hegarty says. Once users have supplied a few initial details, they will be passed on to the startup’s digital mortgage advisor, a chatbot that will assess their life circumstances and suggest the best product to meet their needs. Then its proprietary algorithm will find and aggregate the best deals on the market, focusing on the overall lifetime value of the mortgages rather than the additional bells and whistles many lenders attach to them. “We’re not trying to find you the lowest introductory rate or the biggest cashback offer,” he says. “We include all of the discounts, all of the fees and look at the true cost over the life of the mortgage.” However, Habito doesn’t just help those looking to buy somewhere new: its product is also designed to help the many homeowners who already have a mortgage and are starting to feel like the honeymoon

There was nothing: no APIs, no web services, no digital interfaces. It was a really byzantine process 30


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is over. “One in four mortgage holders have been moved onto a standard variable rate, which is often double what the introductory rate is,” says Hegarty. “These two million customers are paying on average an extra £3,000 in interest annually completely unnecessarily.” Aiming to save UK homeowners from having to pay their banks an additional £6bn every year, Habito has also created a pain-free mortgage switching solution that can quickly tell users whether they could be paying less. “With four fields, we can give you a pretty good guess about whether you’re overpaying or not,” Hegarty says. “And if you are, we can help you switch within 20 or 30 minutes.” By removing much of the friction from the process, Habito helps ease some of the anxiety that applying for a mortgage can engender. “Because it’s in relation to your home, mortgages are an emotive subject,” says Hegarty. “They are relatively complicated and quite large financial commitments so they make people feel very nervous and intimidated.” In light of this, rather than focusing on financial savings when communicating to consumers, Hegarty made a conscious decision to concentrate on how Habito could demystify the traditionally opaque mortgage process. “That was a big focus in our marketing messaging,” he says. “We initially pushed that out via digital channels like Google and Facebook and then had a lot of success with our Tube and bus campaign.” And while Habito has proven a hit with consumers, perhaps more surprising is

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When you’re a startup, it’s pretty terrifying knowing there’s this binary event in the future that could wipe you out

how the industry has responded, with mortgage providers embracing the startup with open arms. “They’ve been very positive,” Hegarty says. “They’ve given us good guidance on what we can do to make their lives easier, be a better provider and what’s important in terms of the customer.” And despite the fact that there has been pushback from the odd broker wary of their niche being disrupted, many are recognising that an infusion of fresh blood in the industry will just encourage everyone to up their games. “There’s a general recognition that perhaps the best customer outcomes weren’t being reached and change had to come,” says Hegarty. To meet the interest it’s receiving from homeowners and financial institutions, Habito is scaling rapidly. “When we raised our seed round, it was me and a few others at a kitchen table in my house,” he says. “We now have 30 people evenly split between engineers, analysts, in-house mortgage brokers, marketing and admin.” On top of this, in January this year Habito announced that it had just closed a £5.5m series A; alongside Mosaic and the startup’s seed investors, the round was led by Ribbit Capital, the leading Silicon Valley fintech investor. “We were over the moon when they signalled they would like to invest,” Hegarty says. Habito has this capital earmarked for some pretty ambitious plans. Not content with securing real-time approvals and smoother mortgage switching, the startup is now looking to automate the process even further. “Effectively, we’ll monitor the market for you every day for the rest of your mortgage-holding life,” Hegarty explains. “All you need to do is fill in the application once: from then on we’ll recheck it every day and let you know as soon as there’s a cost saving to be made.” So far from having to worry about their brokers cloning cohabitees, Habito is now making mortgages something homeowners can simply set and forget. “They can apply once and that will be their last mortgage application ever,” he concludes.

31/03/2017 19:51

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31/03/2017 09:38

C F Os

Seeking a CFO

There are myriad reasons startups can benefit from bringing a chief financial officer into their business. But finding the right fit is easier said than done BY JOSH RUSSELL


hen lining up talent for their c-suite, it’s likely most startups will first focus on roles like CEO and CTO. But the larger the business grows and the more capital and cash flow come to dominate every decision it makes, bringing on board a chief financial officer (CFO) becomes ever more vital. Perhaps one of the first factors that motivates a startup to seek out a CFO is that it has identified a gap in the strengths of its c-suite. “If you look across the founders team, what skills do they have and what are they missing?” asks Peter Bialo, CFO at DocPlanner, the healthcare marketplace. While many entrepreneurs might have the expertise needed to put a minimum viable product together or begin to grow their customer base, if they don’t know a P&L from a balance sheet, they’re quickly going to want to bring on someone who does. “If the company’s founder is highly analytical and has financial experience, you may not need a CFO at the beginning,” Bialo says. “But if you’re a technical or a sales person, you might quickly find you’re lacking that sort of legal, administrative, financial and analytical experience.”


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Entrepreneurs may also be tempted to bring on a CFO when the company reaches a certain level of complexity. “The larger you are, the more you use mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and the more funding and investors you have, the more you have the need for a CFO,” says Bialo. And that need to bring on more financial firepower only becomes more pronounced as startups begin to operate across international borders or create new distinct legal entities. “This introduces a whole bunch of complexity: you have a second business, a second currency,” he says. “There are a whole load of administrative, banking, tax and legal issues involved with that.” 36

Fortunately, even when faced by complicated corporate structures, CFOs can introduce a great deal of clarity into a business’s financial processes. “They’re coming on board as a finance beacon,” says Lauren Druce, partner at Cedar, the specialist finance and procurement recruiters. “They can establish what the risks and threats to your business are and identify what the potential strengths can be.” As they’re able to give startups direct insight into their financials, a CFO can help entrepreneurs more effectively react to rapidly changing markets and hopefully avoid any unpleasant shocks. “What they’re looking to do is unearth different trends and structures,” she says. “It’s about introducing processes to make sure there are as few hidden surprises as possible.” Given the insight they have into the business, one of the key roles a CFO can play is acting as a sounding board, helping to probe the company’s objectives and make sure that they are achievable. “A good CFO should act as a sanity check,” says Lee Clarke, CEO of Bink, the card-linked loyalty app. While it’s the CEO’s job to shoot for the moon, it’s the responsibility of the CFO to make certain that the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down in flames. By monitoring how the startup’s strategy measures up against the day-today realities of its business, a CFO can play a pivotal role in ensuring it is achieving its goals. “Being a CFO is about more than just the numbers,” Clarke says. “It’s about having an understanding of the market and where the business is going.” Evidently a CFO can prove invaluable for a growing business. But once a startup has established that it’s time to bring one on, it faces another challenge: identifying the right individual to entrust with its finances. In Bialo’s eyes, the best talent to pursue depends very much on the nature of the business in question. “If it’s just a simple operation with one market and one product, it might just need an accountant type,” he says. Conversely, if entrepreneurs are operating in a very capital-hungry vertical or are likely to be racing quickly from seed to series C, experience in


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31/03/2017 19:50

C F Os

handling investors is a must. “You might want to have somebody who’s a bit more focused on the investment side, someone who’s actually done financing and has some relationships in the VC scene,” says Bialo. As this suggests, experience is vital when identifying the right CFO for your business, particularly if they’re being brought into a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment. “If you’re talking about a startup, you can get a lot of value from somebody who’s come from that sort of background,” says Druce. While CFOs with experience of handling the finances of large corporates might be useful down

the line, in the early days startups are more likely to benefit from people who are used to working at the coalface and building processes from the ground up. “They’re going to have to roll up their sleeves and be very comfortable immersing themselves in the detail and the data,” she says. “What you don’t want is somebody so used to being high up in an ivory tower that they can’t bring themselves back down to do the day-to-day, hands-on stuff.” And while it might be tempting to focus on someone who has direct experience of your given vertical, going on the hunt for someone that has a familiarity with fintech or that knows the ins and outs of IoT, it’s important to remember that much of a CFO’s day-to-day work will be interdisciplinary. “In my experience, the CFO gets downloaded with a lot of the stuff that falls between the cracks in other functions,” says Bialo. “We do a bit of HR, a lot of legal, tax, financing, M&A: it’s quite a broad skill set.” Finding someone who ticks all of these boxes can be a tall order and, in light of this, Bialo recommends finding a generalist rather than a specialist. “First and foremost, you should go with someone who can learn quickly and is open to picking up a lot of different topics,” he says. Bringing the right CFO on board can evidently be transformative for a startup but is the only option to hire someone full-time? “If you’re going to be a much smaller organisation and your plan is to just scale to five or ten people then I don’t see any harm at all in bringing someone in part time because they won’t be as important in shaping the business,” Clarke says. However, if an entrepreneur has grand plans for their startup, it will be vital to introduce robust financial processes that can scale with the business and have someone on hand to oversee them. “Then the CFO is instrumental in ensuring that the structure of the business is set up correctly and the foundations are properly laid out,” he says. “That means you need someone who will fill that role full time and grow with the business.”

They’re coming on board as a finance beacon: they can establish what the risks and threats to your business are Lauren Druce, Cedar


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31/03/2017 19:50

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ROWING UP IN THE 1980S, WENDY TAN WHITE, cofounder of Moonfruit and general partner at Entrepreneur First (EF), didn’t have to look far to find examples of how women could excel in tech. “My mum was a woman in tech; so was her boss and her boss’s boss,” she says. “It seemed quite normal to me.” With her mother and father respectively working for the Digital Equipment Corporation and Racal, the company that would become Vodafone, having so many influential people on hand evidently had a marked impact on Tan White. She cut her teeth coding on a BBC Micro at age 11; by 16 she was polishing her programming skills via a postal correspondence course. “They’d give you a problem and you’d literally write out the program on a piece of graph paper, post it back and they would tell you whether you were right or not,” says Tan White. “Now that seems like a crazy way to code.” Given Tan White’s childhood was so thoroughly steeped in tech, studying computer science at Imperial College seemed like the natural choice. And while at this time the world wide web was scarcely a glimmer in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye, university gave her a chance to explore this new frontier. “I was actually linked up to the 40



early net,” she says. “I had a green-screen dumb terminal in my room at college that was linked to the local college wired area network.” But the course didn’t only offer Tan White the novelty of being able to play dungeon crawlers with gamers in the Valley: it also gave her a chance to work on graphical-user-interface design when much of the world was still facing screens full of blocky text. “It’s only looking back and realising the rest of the world hadn’t even seen the internet yet that you see how lucky you were to be able to access all of that,” she says. After graduating in 1992, Tan White took a position at former Big Five accountancy firm Arthur Andersen & Co before going to work at AIT, a software consultancy building CRMs for major banks. And it was while working here that she caught the eye of Richard Duvall, CTO of Prudential, who recognised she’d be the perfect person to help launch its latest project: an online bank that went by the name of Egg. “For the first time, I truly got to see a new brand being created,” she says. “That was where I caught the startup bug.” Helping to develop what was effectively one of the UK’s first fintech startups was a real eye-opener for Tan White, particularly when Egg was so hell bent on breaking all of the rules. Not only was the brand itself intentionally iconoclastic – Tan White recalls that BBH’s radical pitch ruffled more than a few feathers when it was first unveiled in Pru’s boardroom – but the new


bank’s outlook flew in the face of the one-size-fits-all approach that was pervasive amongst its traditional bricks-and-mortar rivals. “It was all about the individual: the product was personalised to you,” she says. “Of course personalisation is everywhere now but in those days it was radical.” And working at Egg led Tan White to a major revelation. While she was helping to build out the company’s CRM, part of her team’s remit was looking at how communities could be built online. But the entrepreneur began to realise that there was a major hurdle preventing the person on the street from expressing themselves on the internet. “There was no blogging and there were no website builders,” she says. “If you couldn’t code, you couldn’t publish.” For some years Tan White and Eirik Pettersen, a friend from her university days, had been kicking back and forth ideas for businesses they’d like to start up and they realised that helping non-coders create their own sites offered the perfect opportunity. “The idea was that there must be some way for non-developers to share their passions online,” she says. “That’s how we came up with the idea for Moonfruit.” After Pettersen and Tan White raised some funds from friends and family, they were looking for someone to build a prototype for the new plug-and-play-web design tool. And one name sprang to mind. During her time at Egg, Tan White had hired agency Sixzeds to build out the bank’s intranet: the entrepreneurs realised Joe White, the company’s co-founder and Tan White’s future husband, was the talent they needed to drive their tech forward. Coming on board as their business partner, White whipped up Moonfruit’s first prototype, which the entrepreneurs took to the Bain & Company incubator Bain Lab. “They actually funded us by passing the hat around all the partners – they literally said ‘this is a cool idea: why don’t you just put a bit of money in?’” Tan White recalls. “That was our first £400k.” Given every other website builder available at the time required serious coding skills, it was hardly a

surprise that the launch of Moonfruit caused people to sit up and take notice. “We’d made it designled: you could just drag and drop and make it look great,” says Tan White. “People had never come across something like that before.” Thanks to this word of mouth and a huge spread in the Guardian’s G2, Moonfruit’s user base started to grow rapidly. But it was when the startup raised another £6.5m from LVMH, (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) and Macromedia – the company that would become Adobe – that things really reached a fever pitch. One of the conditions of receiving the money was that the entrepreneurs would invest some of it in running some TV spots for the new business. “That’s what LVMH usually did with their fashion brands,” Tan White says. “But for the average startup, doing a £2m TV campaign was nuts.” For a while, Moonfruit was flying high. “We went through a very high inflexion,” she says. “It’s classic dotcom: we got lots of users, lots of publicity and very little revenue.” As with many tech businesses of the time, Moonfruit’s monetisation strategy was built around amassing users and attempting to target them with advertising. However, the online advertising industry was still in its infancy: without today’s sophisticated targeting and real-time bidding it was far harder for online services to maximise their ad revenue. “It just wasn’t enough to sustain a 60-person business,” Tan White says. “And then the crash came.” Without a doubt, this was a difficult time in Tan White’s journey. “Emotionally I found it hard,” she says. “If I look back now I was probably depressed: it took me a year or so to come out of that.” Keeping the company afloat required some brutal restructuring: Moonfruit shrank from 60 people to just two and even White had to temporarily step aside to allow the business to stay afloat. But while this was a tough decision, it gave the startup time to pivot to a subscription model – something that ultimately helped turn its fortunes around. “It’s the customer base that saved us really: enough of them loved it and said they’d pay to use it that it kept us going,” says Tan White. “It meant we could grow the business organically.”

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It’s classic dotcom: we got lots of users, lots of publicity and very little revenue After spending three years building the business back up, in 2004 Tan White got pregnant, leading White to suggest he tag in as CEO while she took her maternity leave. Never one to rest on her laurels, Tan White decided to use this as an opportunity to return to her studies. “I did a master’s course in future textile design at Central Saint Martins” she says. “I was really looking at colour-changing fabrics and soft sensors; I loved the creativity and the exploration of it.” By the time Tan White graduated, White had grown Moonfruit back up to ten people and the business was approached by Lycos to consider a leveraged buyout and merger with the domain registrar Gandi. “It was a ¤13m raise and I helped introduce investors to do that deal: they persuaded me to come back to have a look at the business before I went on to do my own thing,” says Tan White. “Of course I got totally sucked back in.” In 2010 Tan White retook the helm at Moonfruit, just as another startup was in the ascendent: Twitter. Realising the enormous potential the micro-blogging platform had, Moonfruit decided to run a short competition giving away ten MacBook Pros. “We just pushed out a little campaign, which asked ‘what is Moonfruit?’ into the Twittersphere,” she says. “The first tweet that came back was ‘is it a gay astronaut?’” Before long the company was inundated with tweets of cartoon strips and photos of individuals dressed as moons eating fruit; a young Charlie Puth even tweeted them a song. This campaign resulted in Moonfruit trending for seven days. “At the peak, 2.5% of all tweets were about Moonfruit,” says Tan White. “We had 400 tweets a second coming in and we looked at them all: it was just crazy.” 44

Not only did this have the effect of creating a 20% uptick in subscriptions over a single weekend but it also created a substantial user base for the brand in the States. “We had ISPs and US B2B customers wanting to distribute us,” says Tan White. “We just started to increase in size and scale.” Investors like 500 Startups’ Dave McClure began clamouring to back the company, while businesses like Intuit and GoDaddy started sizing it up for acquisition. But it was when Yell made an offer to purchase Moonfruit for $37m that the entrepreneurs knew it was time to let someone else take up the reins. “They had 1.3 million small businesses around the world that wanted to move online and they had a massive salesforce,” Tan White says. “We felt they were a great way of distributing globally in a way we never could. Having stayed on to manage the transition, the entrepreneurs helped Yell to distribute Moonfruit’s platform and increase its revenue from $10m to $150m before finally stepping down in 2015. But while many would have kicked up their feet and taken a well-earned breather at this point, Tan White and White wanted to use some of the experience they had built up to further support the UK ecosystem.


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Tan White’s first instinct was to enter government: she nearly accepted the role of chief cabinet officer until Labour peer Peter Mandelson counselled her and encouraged her to reconsider. “He said to me ‘it would be like running an oil tanker after running a speed boat’,” she says. “But the government was really supportive and said ‘why don’t you come onto our digital advisory board instead?’” Following on from this, Tan White was also invited onto the boards of Tech City UK and her alma mater Imperial College, before eventually going on to join that of the Alan Turing Institute late in 2016. “From a machine learning and artificial intelligence point of view, the professors there are doing some amazing work,” she says. But Tan White didn’t just content herself with helping from afar. Having made some investments in AI, robotics, machine learning and IoT startups, she and White found their way onto the radar of Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford, the co-founders of EF. And they were so impressed with the pre-seed investment programme’s model, that they eventually helped raise its new fund and joined as general partners. “Everybody has an exited entrepreneur as a mentor from the time they’ve formed a company right through demo day, fundraising and up to 12 months beyond,” says Tan White. “That’s quite unique.” And this isn’t the only area the programme has the edge. While EF has always focused on assembling teams of talented entrepreneurs, it now spends up to two years tracking and sourcing candidates: it’s increasingly bringing together PhD educated technologists and talented entrepreneurs with an industry edge. “We may have a great recipe for creating companies but that’s no good if you don’t have great ingredients,” says Tan White. However, while much of the industry is waking up to the importance of sourcing the best ingredients for startups, many still seem to be neglecting one half of the pantry. “ Some cultures – like those surrounding gaming and brogrammers – have put women off tech,” says Tan White. “Women who have tried to get into it have sometimes felt quite isolated.” Having grown up surrounded by female tech role models, it’s hardly surprising that Tan White has dedicated much of her time to challenging this and championing tech as a potential career for young women. “We’re making inroads everywhere so I hope by the time my daughter comes out that it just won’t be an issue,” she says. “But it’s like all industries: you have to do positive things to shift that conversation and the more role models we have the better.” Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like there’s any shortage of those. In 2016 Tan White was recognised alongside Bentinck, Love Home Swap founder Debbie Wosskow and Unruly founder Sarah Wood in the Queen’s birthday honours. “Honours are funny things,” she says. “But


love them or hate them, having so many women in tech honoured in the last couple of years is a great thing.” And her MBE isn’t the only recognition that has been heaped on Tan White in recent times: she was named one of the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in European Tech by Inspiring Fifty in 2017 and Business Role Model of the Year at the Women in IT Awards just this January. Despite this, she emphasises that taking advantage of the opportunities these things present is far more important than the titles and gongs themselves. “It’s more about what you will do with that profile,” she says. “Can you carry on making a difference? That’s probably more what I’m interested in.” While it may sound [counterintuitive] given that EF is helping to create some of the UK’s most disruptive AI and machine learning startups, one key area Tan White is keen to make a difference is the disruption caused by automation. “It won’t just affect lower paid labour jobs: it’s actually going to affect the middle classes as a whole,” she says. “So we need to think about the impact that has on education and what our future job roles will be.” Additionally, with tech increasingly consolidating capital in the hands of a wealthy few, Tan White believes that one of the biggest challenges facing us is the way we structure our economy. “The old mechanisms of redistribution through shareholder dividends or even taxation don’t seem to work anymore,” she says. “If that’s the way the future is going, somebody has an ethical, societal duty to find solutions.”


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Good things come in small packages

BY maria barr



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marketers are increasingly turning their attention to micro influencers, rather than going for the biggest stars hen vlogger Zoella posts a video about her latest Primark haul, she gets 1,671,280 views within a day, along with a stream of enthusiastic comments such as “your hauls are literally the best”, “I legit went to primark and got some of those things on Sunday” and “WHERES YOUR LAMP FROM X”. But not all brands can afford to partner with likes of Queen Z or get past their gatekeepers, which is partly why microinfluencers with slightly smaller networks are now finding themselves being courted by marketers. Taking a stab at defining what micro-influencers are, Time Out recently divided influencers into two categories: shakers – celebrities and socialmedia stars with massive followings – and makers – people who are very knowledgeable about their area of interest but have a more modest following. The magazine’s research found that makers are 10% more likely to successfully influence somebody else to take an action, despite having fewer followers. Meanwhile, Takumi, the micro-influencer marketing platform, recognises that the average person might have as many as 500 connections, consisting of friends, family and casual acquaintances they maybe met at a party one time. But it believes that it’s when a person’s network

starts to grow beyond that inner circle that their ability to influence other people’s behaviour starts to get more powerful. The platform classes micro-influencers worth pursuing as people who have anywhere between 1,000 to 150,000 followers, though the average is around 12,000. “You often find that people with slightly smaller networks tend to have more conversations with their audience,” says Solberg Audunsson, the company’s co-founder. “12,000 followers is a good number for you to start to see genuine back-andforth interactions because people realise they’re more likely to get a response than if they were messaging Kim Kardashian.” But while being part of a more tight-knit community is what makes micro-influencers so valuable, this tendency to fly under the radar also makes them difficult to discover in the first place. Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools that promise to take some of the hassle out of the search process by automating a lot of the work. These tools have algorithms that can scan social media and blogs, looking for people with a certain number of followers and engagement rates. The work doesn’t stop there though. Influencer marketing has become a lucrative trade and some people are taking part in like-for-like schemes using certain hashtags or simply paying for bot followers. And since the last thing brands want is to splash their precious budget on someone who doesn’t have that many genuine followers, many tools can now tell when a follower’s fake. “The algorithms are very good at detecting the giveaway signs, like comments that aren’t on topic or lots of activity from private accounts,” says Audunsson. He also acknowledges that there is some element of human judgement involved: Takumi is constantly refining its pool of influencers, putting some on the no-go list if they’ve been found to have misled a brand about their following. “Just like Uber manages its driver pool, we manage our influencer selection,” he says. Not everyone’s convinced that this level of automation is necessarily the best method of screening micro-influencers however. “In my experience a lot of tools tend to point you towards the biggest and most obvious people: you need to dig down a layer to find the really


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Consumers are getting better at recognising marketing tactics and have become more skeptical: they don’t like to feel like they’re being misled Jodi Mullen, Yard Digital

niche influencers who can help you make a difference,” says Jodi Mullen, influencer marketing lead at Yard Digital, the digital marketing agency. “A lot of it comes down to having your ear to the ground and knowing what’s going on in your industry and whose content is being shared. You then need to judge for yourself if a real conversation is happening and, crucially, if there are any signs of people actually being influenced.” But this approach is clearly very resource intensive, which is perhaps why you don’t see more startups working with micro-influencers. And once an influencer is on board, brands need to resist their control-freak tendencies if they want to get the most out of the partnership. “Not giving influencers creative control is a huge mistake many brands make,” says Alice Bates, a blogger and social-media star who uses the Influencer platform to connect with brands. Bates has even seen marketers commit the ultimate faux pas: handing over their own corporate-looking photos and expecting her to post them – something she would never do. “At the end of the day, I’m influencing a person’s decision to buy a product based solely on what I’m posting and I have a certain responsibility to them,” she says. Micro influencers like Bates have created strong connections with their networks. To their followers, they’re not just some out-of-reach celebrity: they’re a lifestyle coach, therapist and even a friend. Brands need to respect that relationship and recognise that an influencer’s first responsibility is serving their audience. 50

Besides, influencer marketing works precisely because it’s more subtle and authentic than traditional, in-your-face ads. Ramming your brand down people’s throats via the medium of an influencer isn’t much better than bombarding them with push messages. “Consumers are getting better at recognising marketing and have become more skeptical: they don’t like to feel like they’re being misled,” says Mullen. “If you force-feed people content rather than trusting that the influencer knows their audience better than you, you’ll rub people up the wrong way. There are lots of cringeworthy examples of that out there.” And of course new regulation introduced by the Committee of Advertising Practice now puts a bigger onus on brands to clearly label when a piece of third-party influencer content has been paid for. But that needn’t make your campaign any less effective. “Most people understand that influencers need to make a living and consumers are actually very open to branded content, when it’s done right,” adds Mullen. If handled the right way, working with micro-influencers could see you rack up the shares and retweets. However brands shouldn’t get too distracted by shiny engagement stats in isolation. “Generating a million likes is all well and good but you need to ask what it means for your bottom line: did you sell more products? Did you get more subscribers?” he says. “If you can’t show a correlation between influencer marketing activity and those figures, what’s the value?”


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A one-off binge early on in life is no longer good enough: people are continually snacking on learning opportunities BY MARIA BARR


T’S NO SECRET THAT THE MORE EDUCATED YOU ARE, the higher your earning potential is. In fact, the London School of Economics found that five years after graduating, people who managed a 2:1 or higher can expect to earn 7% to 9% more than their peers with a lower degree. But that’s by no means the only reason why so many people are choosing to continue learning long after they’ve left university. For a start, to keep up with the pace of technological change and get ahead in the age of automation, it’s not longer good enough to rely on a qualification gained years ago. According to PwC, the professional-services firm, breakthroughs in AI could mean that ten million UK workers are at risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years. “The shelf life of a skill is less than five years already and, as uncertainty grows over the future of work, people are starting to realise that they need to adapt,” says Daniel Sanchez-Grant, director of sales at Rungway, the mobile app that allows people to have one-on-one conversations about work and life problems. “This means they’re starting to think differently about self-improvement APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK



and development.” Of course new types of jobs are likely to be created too but to stay marketable most people are aware that this is no time to rest on their laurels. It’s learn or be replaced. Technology has also helped cater to this thirst for always-on learning and a host of edtech solutions are cropping up that are on demand, portable, personalised and easy to dip in and out of – hardly surprising in an era when competition for our attention is fiercer than ever. “We find that people are learning in more bite-sized chunks and that’s largely down to the fact that we’re constantly on our phones and looking to snatch learning opportunities on the go,” says Alyssa Demirjian, director of content and partnerships at Skillshare, an online learning platform that offers short, video-based lessons created by subjectmatter experts. “Mobile devices have become this tool you keep in your back pocket that can help you learn everything from coding to how to be a more effective leader.” And as Demirjian alludes to, it’s not just technical skills that employers or workers crave. While the UK does have a digital skills gap that online learning can help address, people are often seeking out soft skills too. A recent survey of business owners by charity Central YMCA revealed that 15% said that their young employees had problems with listening, while over a quarter noted that many young people didn’t seem to be able to grasp what appropriate mobile phone usage in the workplace looked like. “While there’s massive interest in digital courses, many of our users are also looking for courses on soft skills like leadership techniques,” says Demirjian. Whether it’s a new hire wondering how they can influence the company culture or a manager struggling to delegate, university life just doesn’t prepare you for these sorts of scenarios so people are turning to online platforms to find the answers. And as machines get better at doing specific tasks, it will become even more important for individuals to be equipped with people skills like empathy, as well as high-level technical knowledge. But a desire to get ahead at work and future-proof their careers are not the only things spurring people on to adopt lifelong learning practices. Whether it’s brushing up on their French, teaching themselves how to make pasta from scratch or swotting up on the history of photography in the Victorian age, many just want to learn for the sheer pleasure of it. And according to Stephen Somerville, director of business development at FutureLearn, the online learning platform formed by the Open




LEARNING FOR GROWNUPS: MAPPING THE EDTECH SCENE MEMRISE: A learning app that uses scientific methods like constant testing to help reinforce what people have learned. Founded by a grand master of memory and a Princeton neuroscientist specialising in memory, the startup has raised $6.28m since being founded in 2012.

SKILLSHARE: Offering more bitesized lessons, this online learning platform enables 2.5 million members to pick from 15,000 different classes. Subjects range from coding to cooking and are taught by professionals. Its latest funding round in 2016 attracted $12m, bringing the total to $25m.


FUTURELEARN: This spin-out from the Open University caters to students looking for both shortand long-form courses. Founded in 2012, it’s the largest MOOC (massive open online course) provider in Europe and caters to a global audience.

RUNGWAY: This mobile mentoring app allows people to pose workrelated questions as and when they crop up. Algorithms matchmake you with someone who might have an answer and then leaves the two of you to speak in private. OPENCLASSROOMS: Founded in

PLURALSIGHT: Styling itself as the Netflix of professional learning, this US startup equips people with digital skills such as coding, 3D animation and ethical hacking. Since 2012, $162.5m has been invested in the startup over two rounds and it’s already made eight acquisitions.

France in 2016, this online learning platform offers vocational training and digital qualifications to over two million members across Europe in a bid to boost people’s employability chances across the continent and beyond. Investors have poured in $9.69m in three rounds to date.

NHANCE: Based in Singapore and Bangalore, this mobile app uses interactive games to encourage busy professionals to take in small nuggets of information every day and make learning a regular part of their lives. Having launched in 2015, the startup went on to raise $300,000 in seed funding in 2016.

VEO: This app-based edtech spinout from Newcastle University helps people with their professional learning needs and is now working with corporates like LV=, the insurance company. Since 2015, it’s raised over $228,870 in seed funding.

University, employers that can cultivate a culture of curiosity or attract people who are hungry for knowledge will create a healthier breeding ground for innovation. “While the value of learning about something seemingly unrelated to a person’s job might not seem immediately useful, that’s exactly how people form connections and links that result in innovative new ideas – something the most forward-thinking employers realise,” he says. And what’s different about this new suite of online learning platforms is that they’re not just more snackable but they’re also becoming better at using personalisation to keep people engaged. For example, video-based corporate learning app Veo allows people to tag content to tailor the course to suit their needs while Skillshare invests in algorithms to learn about people’s interests so it can share personalised recommendations for new courses. “Learning has to be relevant and useful and technology has enabled this in the last few years by creating a culture of personalisation,” says Demirjian. “Just look at Netflix: sure it offers great content but what keeps people coming back is that it’s able to recommend new, relevant shows for people to discover.” APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK



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Le a r ni ng te c hno logy

And given how much online learning content there is out there, personalised solutions that allow people to get even more relevant answers quickly have cropped up. Rather than taking an entire IT course, many people are adopting a problem-solution approach instead. “People want to access specific, tailored knowledge and find answers to their questions without having to trawl through irrelevant content,” says SanchezGrant. Via the Rungway app, knowledge-seekers can post questions and be matched with someone who might be able to help. And with the option to ask questions under the cover of anonymity, many feel more comfortable raising their hands and admitting there’s something they don’t know. “Women are twice as likely as men to pose questions anonymously,” he adds. Many of these platforms also have one key element in common: they tap into people’s intrinsic desire to help each other, share knowledge and tell stories. “If we have a course on, say, cancer, we’ll have healthcare professionals, students and people affected by cancer all speaking to each other and exchanging experiences,” says Somerville. “Rather than learning passively, people are collaborating with each other. And we know that the more people we encounter and the more serendipitous connections we make, the better we learn.” What’s more, several edtech startups are borrowing a few tricks of the trade from the world of gaming to make learning more immersive, visual, competitive and fun. Take languages app Memrise, which encourages a healthy dose of competition by allowing people to compare their scores with their friends while notifications motivate them progress to the next level. And this style of learning may be particularly appealing to the younger generation. “Millennials in particular are constantly measuring and compiling stats on themselves as if they were playing a video game, so as they enter workplace they’re looking to continue that approach to self-improvement,” says Somerville. But these aren’t the only lessons being learnt from the world of gaming: VR and AR are set to play a much bigger role in courses in the future. “We’re seeing learning become more gamified and there’s a real opportunity for startups that can combine AR or VR technology with course material,” he says. FutureLearn already offers a course titled Virtual Hong Kong: New World, Old Traditions, which allows students to discover Hong Kong using a combination of 360-degree

We’re seeing learning become more gamified and there’s a real opportunity for startups that can combine AR or VR technology with course material Stephen Somerville, FutureLearn

video and VR, something that could become more commonplace in the future. But while it may be tempting to cram in a bunch of bells and whistles to win over millennials, it’s important to remember that to really reach the people most in need of lifelong learning these platforms also need to be accessible for everyone. “Too many learning interfaces are stuffed with features that don’t need to be there, which can make them alienating – especially for people who aren’t digital natives,” says Somerville. “An online learning tool needs to be streamlined and instinctive like Uber, rather than feel like a chore. That way, you might have a fighting chance of reaching people who are perhaps slightly less confident with technology.” One thing’s for sure: as the UK continues to grapple with a skills gap while simultaneously gearing up for a potential post-Brexit brain drain and a robot revolution, demand is only going to increase for platforms that make adult learning easy, convenient and even fun. According to EdTech UK, the body aimed at accelerating the sector’s growth, there are now over 1,000 edtech companies in the UK and on a global level the market is set to be worth $220bn by 2020. The major players and investment rounds tend to originate from the US but the UK is gaining ground. And given that Britain currently exports over £15bn worth of educational expertise each year and our education system is widely respected overseas, the opportunity is there for home-grown startups to make a splash on the world stage. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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09/01/2017 13:42

Mo n ito r ing p rod uc ti vi t y

Measuring up By MARIA BARR

Is the rise of surveillance technology turning work into a stressful performance sport or does it herald the start of a golden era of productivity?


ritain has a long-term issue with productivity. But Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, said in a recent speech that a “lack of management quality is a plausible [explanation]”. In a bid to ramp up output, underpressure managers are being seduced by the increasingly sophisticated technology cropping up that promises to track and analyse people’s behaviour while they’re in the office. According to Fairsail, a cloud-based HR software company, 79% of HR leaders in the UK believe all personnel decisions should be based on data and analytics but only 34% are managing to achieve this. But

what’s the net effect and how open are most employees to having their employers know so much about them? Of course people have to an extent been conditioned to be more comfortable with their data being tracked, albeit anonymously. Consumers are used to marketers using cookies to personalise their online experience, while the health conscious have been monitoring their sleep, heart rate and daily steps using fitness trackers for a while now. But although many are used to every element of their personal being scrutinised, this quantified, Fitbitised existence has really only just begun to seep into the workplace. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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M o ni to r i ng pr o d u c t i v i t y

Encouraging the monitoring trend to take hold are a slew of analytics companies that promise to help managers make more informed decisions about their teams. They do this by using sensors to learn about everything from people’s stress levels to how long they spend in meetings. In fact, about 202 million wearable devices were given out by companies accross the globe in 2016 and ABI Research, the marketing company, believes that number will rise to more than 500 million by 2021. Humanyze, for example, has created digital ID badges that keep track of an employee’s movements and even the tone and volume of their voice. It then anonymously aggregates data to identify patterns like how much time an employee spends on the phone to customers versus the time they spend in meeting rooms with colleagues. But it’s important to identify the right kinds of data to track. Enlightened managers realise that productivity goes beyond just bum-on-seat time and that an employee’s health, happiness and wellbeing play a role too. After all, research from Vitality Health, the insurance company, found that employee ill-health costs the UK economy £73bn a year in lost productivity. “Data allows you to catch issues around stress before they become a problem and affect performance,” says Ben Waber, Humanyze’s CEO. Other companies are also keen to optimise their offices for innovation and there’s a popular school of thought that suggests that the more employees bump into each other and have serendipitous conversations – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, the online shopping company, often talks about “collisionable hours” – the more likely they’ll be to come up with creative ideas. For example, one of Humanyze’s clients discovered from its trackers that workers who spent more time interacting with colleagues were more productive. After introducing an extra break into the working day to allow people to socialise more, it found that productivity increased by 10%, the amount of stress in workers’ voices fell by 19% and staff turnover was slashed by 70%. “It’s not that useful to look at an individual person’s data but, in aggregate, you can derive some valuable insights that historically you would have had to pay for a consultant to uncover,” says Waber. The trouble is while you may be able to spot CCTV cameras or even mystery shoppers, modern surveillance takes less conspicuous forms. It’s in the 64

sensor under your desk, the software running in the background of your computer or perhaps built into the office furniture itself. And this might not sit well with everyone. Looking at perceptions of tracking technology at work, a study by PwC, the professional services company, found that only 46% of workers would accept a free piece of wearable technology if their employers had access to the data recorded. Four in ten said they don’t fully trust their employer to use their data for their benefit. “Early studies show that the potential advantages brought by digital surveillance are undermined by a number of disadvantages such as reduced trust in the organisation, lack of privacy and stress,” says Stella Martorana, research associate at the CIPD. “If employees feel like their privacy is being violated and don’t understand the reasons behind the monitoring, they may resist it.” To understand the impact of these levels of monitoring, Jamie Woodcock, an ethnographer from the department of management at the London School of Economics, went undercover in a call centre and found that by monitoring breaks and calls to the second, staff often looked for novel ways to extend breaks and reduce their output without anyone finding out. “It’s an update on a very old fashioned school of

It’s not that useful to look at an individual person’s data but, in aggregate, you can derive some valuable insights Ben Waber, Humanyze


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M o ni to r i ng pr o d u c t i v i t y

management that believes that any moment a person’s it as a Fitbit for your career,” says Waber. “If you know not working they’re being unproductive,” he says. “Do that top sales people spend 8% more time on the phone you really need to know how they’re performing and than you, for example, that’s objective data you can use how hard they’re working every second?” to benchmark yourself rather than relying on opinions.” And on top of the danger that more tracking But Woodcock’s not convinced that this sort of could spur employees on to deliberately misbehave, data is the way to get results. “How long you spend Woodcock believes that being watched in meetings or on the phone at all times can be incredibly stressful. is not what makes someone “If you put people under that much successful,” he says. “What pressure you may eek out a little bit more works for one person may work but you also create awful working not work for another because conditions, which might undo all the people are individuals.” So gains,” he said. “I can’t think of anything rather than obsessing about more stressful than a name badge that numbers and disempowering monitors you: it’s like the worst bits of people by introducing high 1984 writ large in the workplace.” levels of surveillance, managers The rise of tracking technology should perhaps consider doing could also be part of a wider distrust things the old-fashioned way of employees and a growing culture of and simply speak to their teams. surveillance. A few years ago, Marissa And the question of privacy Mayer, who was Yahoo’s chief executive remains, even when the data at the time, raised eyebrows by coming is anonymised and employers Jamie Woodcock, the London School of out against flexible working because she are only doing it with the best Economics wanted everyone to be visibly present. of intentions. Although the Meanwhile, Amazon allegedly tracks the European Court of Human movements of warehouse workers to the Rights ruled that an employer second in a bid to maximise their productivity and the was within its rights to snoop on a worker’s Yahoo Telegraph has reportedly used sensors to measure how Messenger chats, data laws are starting to look out of much time people were spending at their desks. date. Even the biggest champions of the quantified However, some proponents argue that being able to employee movement want governments to update compare their stats with top performing teams will legislation to reflect all the new ways that employers motivate – not stress – employees. “We like to think of can collect data on staff. “The government needs to catch up and regulate rather than leave it up to employers or there’s a danger that they might misuse the technology,” Waber warns. Beyond complying with data privacy laws, though, Woodcock argues for a more democratic working environment where people feel like they have a degree of autonomy. This is already happening in some workplaces. Felicitas Betzl, founder of Serps Invaders, a digital agency, says cutting the company’s working week to four days and being down with staff taking duvet days has actually boosted productivity, while Sidonie Warren, co-founder of Papersmiths, the stationary brand, believes that presenting the company’s finances – warts and all – to her team helps motivate them and show them the impact they can have. “Above all, workers should feel like they have a say in their company culture and should be treated like human beings,” concludes Woodcock. “Managers should think carefully before digitising people’s working lives or you start treating people like robots.”

It’s like the worst bits of 1984 writ large in the workplace



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HUMANKIND HAS NEVER BEEN as connected as it is today. Thanks to the technological leaps the world has made over the past few decades, everything from romance to banking can be easily organised with a few swift swipes on an iPhone. “But criminals’ capacity to disrupt our lives has evolved at the same rate as technology,” says Paul Holland, CEO of Beyond Encryption, the cybersecurity startup. Fortunately an emerging startup ecosystem is rapidly turning the UK into a hotbed of innovation dedicated to protecting the digital frontier. While technology has been used to protect the UK since Alan Turing developed the first modern computer to crack the Enigma code during World War Two, there’s a higher demand than ever for products that defend people, companies and countries against digital breaches. Fortunately, rapidly responding to pain points is one of the areas in which startups excel. “The whole point of entrepreneurialism is to spot problems that no one is solving adequately and come up with a solution,” says Gary Stewart, director at Wayra, Telefónica’s accelerator. Over the past few years, it’s become easy to see the need for these services. “There have been a lot of incidents recently where big attacks have affected a large number of people,” says Stewart. Not only have hackers allegedly meddled with US presidential election but companies like Ashley Madison, Facebook and Netflix have also fallen prey to the malicious intent of digitally savvy offenders. And dealing with the fallout of these breaches isn’t cheap. For instance, Yahoo had to shave $350m off its price tag in February during its sale to Verizon after it was revealed that over one billion of its users’ accounts had been breached. SMEs aren’t left unscathed either: the Federation of Small Businesses estimates that small British firms annually spend £5.26bn dealing with cyber attacks. “The level of attacks we’re seeing is driving a lot of companies to understand their responsibility and the importance of cybersecurity,” says Poppy Wood, founding member and chief of staff at CyLon, Europe’s first cybersecurity accelerator. Responding to the actions of laptop-wielding larcenists has now become a lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike. “There’s a lot of interest from investors,” says Wood. In the last year alone, cybersecurity startups like Darktrace, ZoneFox and Garrison Technology have respectively raised £50m, £13.6m and £12m in their funding rounds. And it’s not just companies ready to scale that benefit from this surge in






£5.26 38% £1.9 bn

The amount the Federation of Small Businesses estimates UK SMEs annually spend dealing with cyberattacks


The growth in the number of digital attacks in 2016, according to a recent report from PwC

The amount the British government is set to invest in cybersecurity by the end of 2020

funds: investors are increasingly interested in cybersecurity startups raising seed rounds. “Angel and institutional investors can invest somewhere between £200,000 to £1m in these rounds,” says Wood. And it does seem that the UK is rapidly becoming a leader in this space. Between 2012 and 2016, only two countries’ cybersecurity companies received more VC investment than British ones. According to data from CB Insights, the venture-capital database, during that period 75% of global VC investment deals in cybersecurity went to US startups and 8% to Israeli ones, while UK startups received 4%. A reason for the disparity is that the two world leaders have long traditions of establishing close ties between startups, corporates, governments and academia. “The US and Israel are both far beyond anything in Europe,” says Stewart. “Ecosystems where governments help kickstart cybersecurity startups are more successful.” Fortunately over the past 18 months the UK government has significantly stepped up to support the emerging cybersecurity startup scene. “They understand how important this is,” says Stewart. Having launched its cybersecurity strategy for businesses in November 2016, the government has pledged to invest £1.9bn in cybersecurity by the end of 2020, launch an innovation fund to support startups and establish the Cyber Security Research Institute, a virtual network of British universities collaborating to boost the security of connected devices. Additionally, GCHQ, the intelligence agency, joined forces in January with Wayra and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to launch Europe’s second cybersecurity accelerator. “The US and Israel may be dominating the sector but we’re now at the early stages of something that could become very important,” says Stewart.



C y b er s e cu r i t y

Global Cybersecurity funding deals





VC investment in cybersecurity companies between 2012 and 2016, according to CB Insights



However, there are still hurdles to overcome before the UK’s cybersecurity ecosystem has fully matured. “The biggest challenge is access to customers,” says Wood. While companies are acknowledging the importance of protecting their digital infrastructure, they are simultaneously unwilling to support startups by providing them with access to the data, workspaces and the manpower required for evolving those solutions. “If you can’t work with a customer to get a proof of concept, you’re going to struggle with whatever comes next, including raising capital,” says Wood. In light of this, it’s easy to see why Wayra and CyLon are both working to bridge that gap by having established companies come in and mentor on their programmes, as well as providing Poppy Wood, CyLon entrepreneurs with a sandbox to test their concept. But even after startups prove their worth, they may find themselves struggling to access capital on this side of the pond and have to look for investment stateside – as companies like Darktrace demonstrate. “The status quo in the cyber sector is to look west for this investment as the US appears to have a greater appetite to invest in cybersecurity startups,” says Stuart Laidlaw, CEO of Cyberletic, the cybersecurity startup. Ensuring there’s a pipeline of investment to support companies as they grow will therefore prove essential in keeping successful enterprises in Britain.





And even when they’ve overcome these obstacles, entrepreneurs in the sector still face the challenge of finding the right people. This is particularly tricky considering 43% of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) vacancies are hard to fill, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. And given that Theresa May has triggered Article 50 and kicked off Britain’s official divorce negotiations with the EU, filling the skills shortage may not become easier any time soon. “Many of our founders were understandably shocked by the result,” says Wood. “They were very vocal about the downsides of it.” While it remains to be seen exactly how leaving the EU will affect cybersecurity startups’ chances on these shores, thus far the impact since the referendum has been relatively mild. In fact, big tech giants like Snapchat and Facebook have doubled down on their presence in the UK. “That was quite the opposite of what we were expecting,” says Wood. “We’re seeing quite big investments in tech in the UK rather than these companies leaving. Long may it continue.” So despite some of the hurdles it may face, Wood is envisioning a bright future for Britain’s emerging cybersecurity sector. “I don’t want to sound naive,” she says. “Of course there are going to be a lot of future challenges but the UK is strongly positioned to become a leader in cybersecurity.”

The level of attacks we’re seeing is driving a lot of companies to realise their responsibility and the importance of cybersecurity



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Gi g ec o no my

A tough gig with startups like Uber and Deliveroo facing tribunals due to the way they define those working for them, gig-economy entrepreneurs better get their heads around employment law BY Eric Johansson


The gig economy has been hailed as a flexible and highly profitable solution for workers and startups alike. However, a string of tribunal hearings have recently revealed the many legal pitfalls entrepreneurs risk stumbling into when they choose to Uberise their workforces. “There has never been a more critical time for businesses to understand their responsibilities and the rights of the people working for them,” says Raphael Prais, lawyer at LHS Solicitors, the business law advice firm. In March, Deliveroo became the latest startup to be called to face a tribunal for defining its riders as self-employed contractors. Over the past year, courier company Citysprint, ride-hailing startup Uber and plumbing company Pimlico Plumbers have all faced and lost similar cases. Uber is currently appealing against its tribunal ruling, while in February Pimlico Plumbers lost a similar appeal after a tribunal stated it had wrongfully defined a worker as a selfemployed contractor for six years. While it’s important to recognise that all these cases and rulings rest on their own individual facts, they clearly demonstrate the importance of defining the relationship between startups and the people they trust to provide their services. But given that working practices have changed enormously over the past few decades, this is easier said than done. “In the good old days, employment law was very simple,” says Stephen Morrall, employment partner at Hunters Solicitors, the commercial-law firm. “People were either employed or self-employed: they either had a contract of employment or a contract to do the work and get paid for it.” Nowadays, things aren’t as clear cut. Squeezed in between contractors and employees is a third category: workers. “A worker has a status that


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Gi g e c onom y

Workers and those found to be workers do not enjoy all of the rights that employees enjoy Frank Ryan, Vardags

has neither all the protections and benefits of being an employee nor all the flexibility and advantages of being self-employed,” says Morrall. This status is the cause of much of the current confusion. In the eyes of those who support the gig economy, the benefit of defining workers as self-employed contractors is that it gives them total control of when and how they choose to work. Contractors enjoy significantly more freedom than employees, in that they’re entitled to choose what work they take on. “In the gig economy, individuals are paid per job as opposed to a regular wage,” says Frank Ryan, employment lawyer at Vardags, the divorce law firm. “They’re usually understood to be self-employed – or at least that’s how employers have sought to label the relationship.” And on the face of it, it may look like workers benefit from this arrangement. Indeed, they do enjoy many of the same rights as employees, such as paid holiday, national minimum wage and protection against discrimination. But workers aren’t entitled to some of the benefits that employees enjoy, which usually include sick pay, parental leave, protection against unfair dismissal and time off for emergencies. “The obvious downside is that they don’t have all the protections of an employee and therefore sacrifice job security for professional autonomy,” says Ryan. While there’s no fast and hard rule for distinguishing

whether someone is a worker or a contractor, there are some telltale signs to look out for. “What companies in the gig economy can ask themselves is if the people they engage with are truly independent,” says Morrall. The more restrictions a company puts on a person, the further away they are from being a contractor. For instance, in the Pimlico Plumbers case, plumbers had to hire and drive branded vans, wear the company’s uniform and work for at least 40 hours a week. In the tribunal’s eyes, this meant that the company exercised more control over the worker than it would have if he was self-employed. Having recognised the difficulties in defining workers in the gig economy, it’s hardly surprising that the government launched a formal review of current employment legislation in November 2016. And while it remains to be seen exactly what the government will recommend when the review is published later this year, there’s a good chance that the way the gig economy employs workers will be one of the things it seeks to address. “It’s not impossible that we might see legislation specifically aimed at protecting gig-economy workers,” says Ryan. But in light of the reputational and financial damage that falling foul of employment laws can cause, it really is worth gig economy startups looking at their relationship with their workers before any new laws are brought in. APRIL 2017 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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31/03/2017 21:08

THE CRUNCH The stats that matter – and some that don’t


of UK workers have asked their mum if they should accept a job offer

36.8% £639m of workers hate it when colleagues eat smelly food

was spent on TV ads in 2016 by online businesses


fewer Europeans have searched online for work in the UK since the start of 2017

Increase in the total number of UK SMEs since 2010

8.3% 12%

of workers hate it when colleagues drink alcohol over lunch

of UK workers have asked their mum for help to hand in their notice

of male entrepreneurs have secured $100,000 in funds during their career

48% 44.3% of new jobs created since 2008 have been filled by EU workers

6% £23,000 of female entrepreneurs have secured $100,000 in funds during their career


is the estimated annual cost per SME of not accepting card payments


of UK businesses know they’ve experienced a major cyber attack in the last 12 months


is the average numer of known attacks UK businesses have experienced in the last 12 months

Sources: CV-Library, Hampshire Trust Bank, Expert Market, Trend Micro, 99designs, Thinkbox, Indeed



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