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Gather and Grow Roundtable: Spinks & Investec

Earlier this month, Spinks, Investec Capital Solutions and Investec Wealth and Investment (UK) hosted an expert roundtable for CEO’s, founders and investors to share their experiences about their growth journey as an entrepreneur and provide valuable insights for others to take on board. In what was a fantastic evening, it was great to hear from such talented people in the scale-up industry, including three expert key note speakers who hosted insightful discussions about their individual areas of expertise.

 

Advice for founders

To kick the evening off, Philip Green, ex-CFO of Deliveroo and Amazon, talked about his experience as an investor and his role at Amazon, specifically focusing on discussing: “where is the value in a business?” and “how and when should you go to market in order to be successful?”. Philip focused on the need for businesses to be ambitious and to dream big enough in order to be successful long term and get the return out of the business – and how any financial model is just an output of ambition. Interestingly, he spoke about the need to focus on your vision and your “why” rather than the general forecast to ensure you keep your values and core fundamentals in check.

Ensure you know exactly what your strategy is, and more importantly, understand the steps you need to take to achieve your growth plan. Being a founder is difficult. You have to be obsessed with your goal and become extremely detailed orientated. But you also have to accept that people aren’t as interested in your business as you are – you have to be everything all at once and have to know all of the answers. It’s a difficult job and the bigger your business gets, the harder this becomes.

Leaning on his experience, one of the things Philip suggested to cope with this is focusing on building a community around your business to help with any hurdles or failures that occur along your growth journey, and to support and balance your beliefs and humility. Be willing to say this isn’t the right route and move on quickly – and be agile enough to ensure you don’t stay on the wrong path. Philip also talked about the importance of coaching and mentoring from leadership when on your growth journey. Ensure you understand the VC market – and have a high bar when it comes hiring, so that you get talented people on board who can support your growth. Making it your employees journey too – and not just yours – is an effective way of getting them on board and creating a high performance culture. Ensure you listen to your team, and make sure they keep you accountable! Often, your most passionate employees are the ones that make the most difference to your team – not necessarily the most talented – so it’s important to keep that in mind when hiring new employees.

 

Managing economic changes

Kiran Russell, Head of FX Dealing at Investec Bank, was the second speaker of the night. He discussed the current key macro-economic impacts that have caused the market to be as it is today, and went into further detail about what’s to come going into 2024. He touched on the main key drivers over the last few years:

  • Covid-19
  • The war in Ukraine
  • Uncertainty and lack of confidence causing the pound to drop further
  • US dollar continues to hold strong

Kiran discussed the likelihood of a mild recession over the winter into Q1 of 2024, with the pound getting more interest and therefore becoming stronger and stronger throughout the year - noting that the mortgage market is unlikely to be majorly effected by this as only around 30% of housing in the UK is mortgaged. If a larger recession hits the UK in 2024, there will likely be phased in changes by whoever is in Government – whether that be a continued Conservative or new Labour leadership. Kiran discussed how spending power in the UK is likely to change over the next two decades, and how you can manage this risk as a business using three main methods:

  • Do nothing and stick around.
  • Lock in at a rate and plan around that for the next 12 months.
  • Move back to a data focused strategy.

Using data and technology

Scott-Ashley Whiteley, Co-Founder of Blott.io, concluded the evening with his talk around creating user-centric technology in the Fintech space. Scott talked about how early stage founders often mix passion and bias with perception when it comes to creating user-centric technology for their business – often using their new product very confidently without having thought of their target audience, their customers, their route to market or potential problems that might occur along the way. This has a much bigger risk when going to market with a product that is based on passion – there needs to be a clear mission with defined objectives.

Touching on recruitment, Scott discussed about how hiring can be a challenge for new startups as they know they need resource but they’re often not exactly sure where to start. He recommended building cohesive product teams in groups of 5 for the first twelve months, which gives founders the opportunity to review their strategy, take a look at themselves and where their business is heading. Tracking data is essential for building a product and staying away from “passion-first” growth – as it allows you to leverage key data points to influence the product you’re building. Using the correct technology to track this data is also key, ensuring you invest enough into this to get the right data back will often influence just how successful your growth journey will be. Scott also discussed how future products are likely to become hyper personalised which will massively influence buying behaviour and the way you should define your go-to-market strategy. With the right governance, products are likely to become more focused around the individual – tracking key personal metrics and data.

Want to join our next expert roundtable? Get in touch with us at info@wearespinks.com to confirm your interest now.

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