Sliips co-founder discusses the gender pay gap and how to succeed as a founder

In this episode of Cohoste our hosts Lloyd Wahed and Sneha talk to Patrick McConnell, the co-founder of Sliips, a technology startup focused on wage date, about big data, Artificial Intelligence, the gender wage gap and how he got to be where he is today. Check out the highlight below to listen to some top tips on startup success from Patrick himself and if you like what you hear catch us interviewing success stories from throughout the world of business for our new podcast “searching for Mana” coming soon.

Check out the full transcript for the episode below:

[00:00:16] Lloyd: Welcome to host. In this series, we’ll be focusing on the tech innovation in finance, fintech. This is the series where we meet the people shaping the future of finance. I’m Lloyd Wahed and I’m a head hunter. I’m privileged to spend my days with some of the most innovative and in demand minds in tech and finance from unicorn companies that ride in to fix our everyday problems to financial disruptors. In this show, you’ll hear from the founders themselves and hopefully pick up some awesome ideas for where you can invest and win big in the future. The future of tech belongs to the consumer. So listen up, hit, subscribe and get your weekly dose of host.

[00:01:03] Lloyd: Today, we’re talking about the gender pay gap. Automation and the power of data, whose hands should it be in. And how can it be used to benefit more of us in our employment and careers? Our guest today is Patrick McConnell, co-founder of Sliips, a startup that aims to set right the wage gaps that exist in work. They provide accessible data in your sector and across the country. This knowledge empowers you to earn the wage you deserve and make the right move for you, especially as we no longer have jobs for life. We have careers for life. Patrick, thanks for joining me. Would you guys have considered using technical consultancy, so, for instance, and I look forward to when your product covers different territories lets say across Europe. So you could see that, for instance, in Bucharest a developer the costs three times less than in the UK. Would you consider that?

[00:01:54] Patrick: Not not at the stage, not in the beginning. The first question you’re asked by any investor really is do you have tech in the team. And if the answer is no it’s not the best sort of answer to give. I think, You need to know your product. You need to know your business. You need to be able to hear conversations, whether you are trying to, you know, build something that someone wants to buy or someone wants to sign up for, you need to be in those conversations and you need to have the authority to be able to change it quickly. And also, you don’t have a lot of money to pay these guys at the start. This is another really, you know, limiting factor. So you need to know in and out, you know, what is. But then also have the authority to change it. And only the founders have that. Down the line. Yeah. Then it’s not cost efficient for Tom to build every feature and for me to test it. That is not scalable. But at the beginning,you need to be right in it.

[00:02:45] Lloyd: Patrick, one of the missions of host, further to the network of startups and technology being put in one sysnct place and hosted by us is really to try and make sure that the community has an awful lot of power moving forward, doing the right things. And your company is one of those, right? If it goes really well where you’re going to have this data, which, like you said, could be sold, etc. What is really encouraging is so many founders that we’re talking about seem to have great ethics, but it gets into the wrong hands and it’s a catastrophe. On that point what can we do to regulate startups?

[00:03:33] Patrick: I think that’s a really interesting question. Right. And I think it does. There’s the law there’s ethics and there’s morals in every sphere of life. Right. And sometimes they don’t all agree. Let’s take an example as we work through. And that would be Uber. Uber technically from just a pure taxi cab company. They kind of continue regardless and they kind of say whatever legal battles come, we will fight those on the beaches and it’s worth it, you know, for us to go there. Is that ethically or morally wrong? Also, we are talking about the ethical, moral dilemmas about how cheaper automated things in the workforce put people out of work. So, you know, it’s a really difficult thing when it comes down to just. So how do you regulate? I’ve no idea. Personally, I couldn’t tell you the answer to that. In terms of slips, you know, there’s kind of a reason why I come on this podcast and my face is on the website those times and we talk about what we do and explain clearly how he plan to make money by selling the aggregate data. Never anyone’s individual anything is the aggregate information and the big picture that’s important.

[00:04:44] Lloyd: Yeah. Agreed. And what’s encouraging is, you know, there are other founders that doing incredible things like, let’s say, Tom from Monzo. Sat on an awful lot of data right now and their whole strategy and this is also like Ricky knocks at tandem as well, is they’re going to allow the consumer to see how banks previously would have made money out of that data. And if it’s your data, how about we share in that profit? And I think that’s fantastic. And that’s why there needs to be a community. And I think how do you regulate tech is incredibly tough because humans always want to progress. So we don’t particularly want to halt it. But I think it’s getting a community of people who broadly have the right type of ethics together.

[00:05:32] Patrick: I 100 agree. You know, I think that concept of using about data and who owns it is really interesting. And clearly this GDPR thing is actually that the individual owns it, which is great.

[00:05:42] Lloyd: I’ve got a really exciting question for you. I know that you’re passionate about artificial intelligence, but I want to talk about how it might impact employment given what slips is doing. First, what do you think’s going to happen when automation really starts killing off jobs in certain sectors?

[00:05:58] Patrick: I think it will affect it all massively. And if we don’t take the appropriate steps, between government, society at large, media plus companies, we could really make a hash of this looking at Trump’s America today. You know, he ran on a platform of job creation, which is great. But kind of blamed international trade for it. A problem that is arising that’s not necessarily anyones fault is right home in America. Right. The West Coast and automation is the source of major job loss. And we need a response to that, because ultimately, you know, if you take a horrendous example. Right. Horses were our major form of transportation is the fastest way we could communicate, to travel, to get anywhere to Pull loads anything, whatever it was it was the horse. Say the horse population is 8 billion or whatever. I really don’t know the number, but it’s this percentage drop. It was just a massive decline in the population. That was because we didn’t need it. We didn’t have to breed it for anything. It’s for riding around what do you need a horse for. So I think you need a radical solution really to this problem.

[00:07:07] Lloyd: So with Sliips you guys started relatively recently, made some really good progress. I think you just got into another accelerator.

[00:07:18] Patrick: Yeah. That’s right we just finished the Bootcamp of an accelerator that was across the whole of the country called Entrepreneurial Spark, E spark for short and it’s wholly sort of funded by NatWest so it’s a free accelerator. They have different levels of the stage. You can apply at four stages. One is just you have an idea just set up where you want to come and get it tested over three months and pull it opart and then various stages ahead of that. So, yeah, we’re we’re on one of the later stages, strong partners into enterprise.

[00:07:48] Lloyd: How arduous was the process to be accepted?

[00:07:51] Patrick: A key principle, right, for anyone looking to do a startup is network is king unless you don’t have cash then the cash is king. Everything that has made sort of Success has been going through my network and then looking at getting introductions and who do I know? And I know everyone hates networking. I certainly like have a passion against it, but it needs to be done so that when we got our first funding, for example, I’ll tell a quick story. I left my job. I was living very kindly at a friend’s place. Who do I know in startups? I had one friend from university. The only one I knew who left instead on a traditional grad scheme thing. He went to work for Onfido and his name’s Ed Allen and he did really well. He was one of the very, very early employees. And he’s done super well there. So I sent him a message. Hey, man, would you check out my pitch deck? Any advice you have about startups having seen one and he did and he looked and gave me some feedback. The important thing he did was, I’m gonna pass this on to my COO, who is one of the founders and I learned another lesson there, he didn’t respond. I kind of went away and didn’t bother him again. I then got other feedback, made the deck a hell of a lot shorter. Sent it back to him. And he said I see you’ve learnt the lesson of brevity. Yes, you haven’t learnt the lesson of following up aggressively. You could send me an email every other day if I’m not getting back to you. And eventually, I would. I saw it. I wanted to help. I starred that. I wouldn’t go back to it. Everybody does that all the time. You’ve got to keep going back incessantly until they say, look, I can’t help you. No. Then you go away. And that’s how I approach e-mails. Anyway. He then introduced me to two people who funded him. I met them both. This is way too early for them. Then one of them introduced us to two angels who’d made a business like ours before contributed dataset business. We pull data from wherever we can and sell it. Essentially, we met them for a coffee and then they agreed to invest in us. And that was what gave us that sort of oomph for us to go. And it all started from just who do I know in a startup from uni. Some advice for any applicants ever tries and search for the human that’s going to read the form.

[00:10:01] Lloyd: Incredible advice. So as somebody who gets infinite business development emails on a daily basis. The way that I decide how to spend my time in responding is if there is a connection that’s brought that person to me and the connection can be a person, mutual contact or the connection can be some affiliated business venture, etc. So that advice is, you know, to people looking to go raise money or to potentially apply to a company that they want to work for is find the person. Brilliant advice. The best thing to do is typically ask for advice. Yes. And advice can turn into either capital or it can turn into a relationship or it can turn into a job.

[00:10:55] Patrick: The maxim in startup land when you are trying to raise money is asking for money to get advice. Ask for advice get money. I found out that definitely to be true. Two good things I think people should read, can’t remember the name of the first one. But it’s actually how in Silicon Valley it’s called the art of the introduction, introductions are actually a currency. If you Google sort of, you know, Silicon Valley, West Coast. The art of the introduction. That’s just an important thing about how to handle email things as I was pretty awkward about it. overthought many, many minor emails. The second thing. Just on the form, you know, whenever you have a form to fill in, read Dropbox’s application to Y Combinator. I mean, when he was a solo founder. He built a lot of it. How to come across really well on a form. You know, he was just super honest, straightforward, concise and funny on it. And I just, read that as a good example because people get over formal with forms. Those two things are worth a read because you’re gonna have to fill in forms and you’re gonna have to do introductions by email. Those resources have been super for me.

[00:11:52] Lloyd: If you aren’t yourself in communication or in your job, then you’re basically working, right, because you’re having to put some type of game face facade on. If you’re just yourself, then you know even if you don’t get everything that you’re going for, at least you’re happy because you don’t have to think about it. So to finish up, what’s next? What have you guys got in the short term? And then where are you trying to get.

[00:12:21] Patrick: We’ve built the sort of the end-user sort of employee-side where a user signs up for free, tells us some information, we tell them some information that’s ticking over now we’re building up pictures of companies and industries in the UK. There are interesting conversations happening right now around the UK in terms of the gender pay gap, the ethnicity pay gaps. And you look at the combined thing there and our data shows There is a gender pay gap. It starts before the average age of motherhood. So what’s going on? You know, at the companies I mean, we’ve got data on, you know. That’s an interesting factor. So we are looking to develop essentially really in light of that, plus the fact that I truly believe most companies want to do the right thing. You know, A, I think it’s more productive for their employees to know and be certain about wages and salaries and how they’re being rewarded. B it’s a litigation risk if you don’t. And C it’s the right thing to do. Where it makes its money. Ideally, we build a product that helps companies answer those questions on total reward and also career progression so that they can intelligently talk to their employees about, look, this is how you’re rewarded. This is how it compares to the market. And ultimately, if you stay in this company for five years instead of three, this is where you’ll end up. And this is the progression that we will give you. This training course comes out of it and you will be in this position and then maybe it’s time to release you. And that’s that’s kind of why we’d love to get companies to the stage where, you know where they are that open with their employees and and they have the facts to back it up, take the hearsay out of the conversation, open the laptop point at the graph and say, this is it.

[00:13:56] Lloyd: There’s nothing more rewarding, actually. This is from my own experience than in due course, when an employee has shown loyalty and has been super productive and fitted into the culture than saying, well, right now, probably actually it’s a better thing for you to go elsewhere. Look, you know, you’ve learnt from us what you can. I think the tasks aren’t as exciting and constructive as you might want and there’s just good karma in due course. You know, these things can benefit even transactionally or it’s just a feel good. So I think what you’re going to be able to do is actually like visually, quantitatively show that. I think that’s going to be utterly incredible. [00:14:38] Patrick There will be an advantage by embracing this kind of transparency and getting ahead of the curve and being informed of it. I think for companies that is our bet doing transparency in the right way doesn’t hurt people and actually helps your company.

[00:14:52] Sneha: On a final note. Because you brought up gender and diversity. I don’t know if you’ve heard of FGM group or code first girls. Yes, there are two organizations that I really champion and look up to because they prioritize so much about the gender pay gap and getting women who’ve had children back into work and they allow them to enter the workplace with a bit more confidence, it’s kind of organizations like that. Are you working with any. Do you seek to work with any and would you in the future?

[00:15:25] Patrick: We absolutely do. You know, seek to work with the kind of organizations. And we’ve just started a conversation with the Low Pay Commission, which is a sort of government-backed organization to look at, you know, underpaying individuals. Now, you know, I talked about something, a massive societal change I think we need to make in 20 years time or whatever about universal pay for not doing any work. I think, you know, how we approach, you know, motherhood, paternity, maternity leave, reintegrating people. You know, companies need to do more to get this right. And actually, like everything as an eternal optimist, it will be in their interest to do it. You know, another good worker, passionate about your business, working for you. What’s wrong with that? It’s good that there are. It’s fantastic there are these kinds of organizations doing that kind of work. My hope for where slips fit into it is we can provide you with some unarguable numbers. I think that’s ultimately where Sliip senses. That’s unarguable data.

[00:16:14] Lloyd: Amazing. Patrick, I think what you guys are doing is awesome. And it’s nice to know that you’ve got such great ethics. Great having you. Cheers Patrick, thank you very much, guys.

[00:16:28] Lloyd: Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed that wide ranging conversation and have had your next big idea to share this show with like minded disrupters, investors and trend hunters like yourself. It’d be great if you could take a moment to rate or review the show on iTunes and you can find me Lloyd Wahed or host on Facebook, Twitter, linkedIn or