Rory Stirling | Partner Connect Ventures – London seed Venture CapitalApple Podcast Spotify
Our guest in this episode is Rory Stirling – Partner at Connect Ventures – the London based Venture Capital seed firm is a product-focused, seed stage firm investing across Europe. They are singularly focussed on investing in purpose-led founders, obsessed with solving hard problems at scale, by creating products and companies that people love.
– Partner and co-founder at BGF Ventures.
– Partner at MMC Ventures.
Previous investments include…
– Software: NewVoiceMedia (acquired by Vonage plc for $350m), Triptease, Marvel, Masabi, Reevoo, Somo, Brightpearl, Base79 (acquired by Rightster plc).
– Marketplace: Appear Hear, LoveHomeSwap (acquired by Wyndham), Hubbub.
– Consumer: Gousto, AlexandAlexa (acquired by The Luxury Kids Group), Wool and the Gang (acquired by Crafts Group Holdings), Pact, Tyres on the Drive, PayasUgym.
Lloyd Wahed: Welcome to Searching for Mana. The podcast focused on tech innovation in finance fintech. I’m Lloyd Wahed and I’m a headhunter. I’m privileged to spend my days meeting with some of the influencers, leaders and founders in technology and finance from unicorn companies to financial disruptors. This podcast we’re gonna be hearing from these individuals and really trying to understand how they got into fintech, what they’re doing, what their company is all about, and perhaps some of the trends that they’re looking at in the market.
Lloyd Wahed: Welcome onto the show.
Rory Stirling: Lloyd, delighted to be here.
Lloyd Wahed: Full introduction. Rory Stirling, Connect Ventures and you were a partner with Connect Ventures here at Early Stage Venture Capital Fund based in London.
Rory Stirling: Absolutely. Spot on, so seed-stage firm based in London, investing across Europe. I can tell you much more about the firm, if that’s of interest to your listeners.
Lloyd Wahed: Absolutely. So we’ll go into a number of things. The firm will certainly be of interest. Searching for Mana, of course, is a show about careers in the fintech space at the moment. It could evolve into further sectors. But you are the first venture capitalist we have on the show for the audience.
Rory Stirling: Awesome.
Lloyd Wahed: Congratulations. They’ve all been queuing up. We don’t know if we want to go there, but you seem like you’re a half-decent guy, Rory. Say to give you some air time to…
Rory Stirling: There’s a lot writing on this.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah, exactly. So I think it’ll be interesting for us to do a few things. One, of course, is to position yourself in the firm. You have a focus on fintech in particular stuff. That’s great.
Rory Stirling: I personally do. Yes. As a firm and we’re much more generalists. I’m spending 100% of my time at the moment on fintech and financial services. Yep.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah. So we can go into your role within the firm. We can go into venture capital in a broader sense. But before we get there, let’s try and work out the career journey. This is taking me to this position now. Say I’m, certainly, in terms of what I can find. I can see you had an economics degree was it, from Edinburgh University?
Rory Stirling: Yeah. I mean, I am an econ grad. Sure.
Rory Stirling: Although I’m not sure that is particularly valuable or insightful in my current career, believe it or not. It’s funny. Like every piece I speak to thinks that they’ve got some unique journey into venture and everyone says there’s no one path. I feel incredibly lucky to have found something I love doing at a relatively young age. You know, I graduated in economics. I don’t admit this to many people, but I actually went straight into investment banking. I was in M&A for a period time, but I got really entrepreneurial, itchy feet very quickly. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My dad always runs his own. My mum and dad actually ran their own business when I was growing up. My brother was running a company. My older brother. And so I left banking with, you know, with it – my first-year bonus, which I thought was the most amount of money in the world. And sort of gave myself 18 months personal runway to start a company. And I was obsessed with technology at the time and this is back in 2007. And so the industry kind of tech startup scene in London was pretty nice. And I started a company. It was a social networking business. You have to really cast your mind back to 2006, 2007, when Facebook was just coming out of universities. And even back then, I managed to raise an angel round that business. And I did that. I think I will cut a long story short by saying I learn a lot very quickly. I also failed pretty quickly. But I don’t have zero regrets because everything that I went through then has led me to what I do now, which I love. And the kind of short version of that is during my building, this startup. I, you know, at the beginning I thought I was one of the only tech entrepreneurs in London because it really wasn’t as obvious or evolved as it is today. That’s going to meetups. I met a lot of other founders. Every founder I met was way more impressive than I was. They could write code. They could build a product. They were solving problems that they were passionate about. Luckily, I was just a, you know, an ex-investment banker that had an idea or ideas and could put a good pitch to act together in terms of raising money and building a model for it. And actually, when I met these other founders, I was way more interested in their businesses than my own. I had skills that some of these founders didn’t have and I ended up helping some of them out. And I guess the important thing for me is during that journey, I also met people that describe themselves as venture capitalists, and I had no idea that this even existed as, you know, as an industry or as a job. I had this perception that you could invest in startups, as, you know, as an angel once you’ve made your own money, which clearly I hadn’t. And so it was quite an eye-opener moment for me. As soon as I understood what venture capital as an industry was about, I was really hooked. And so when it became obvious that I wasn’t getting nearly enough traction in my company to raise more money and continue to scale the business, I sure made the decision to wind the company down, return most of the money back to my angel investors and really try and get into venture capital, which actually took some of, you know, a number of months.
Rory Stirling: Sorry, go on Lloyd.
Lloyd Wahed: So that brings us to, you know, how you got into venture capitalism. Which you say doesn’t necessarily make sense, but now you’ve explained it. It does. Let’s go back to a few things I’ve just picked up on that show. Because getting into it relatively young means that there must be some stuff underneath the surface that contributed to you being able to do the job well. And so. So we’ve just had some of that. You know, clearly that was a good education, good academics. You went into investment banking and probably could have done quite well at it, but decided that you know, maybe it wasn’t. You wanted to be entrepreneurial, set something up, just go further back. And you had entrepreneurial parents say you said they both run a business, so they run the same business.
Rory Stirling: Yeah.
Lloyd Wahed: So what type of business was that?
Rory Stirling: They’ve been in the music recording industry for several decades. It was a small family run business. But, you know, they did very well and gave us a nice lifestyle. But I just I was always used to the fact that my parents worked themselves. They, you know, they were entrepreneurs. They may not be running the scale of the company that we invest in today or had the same desire to, you know, completely change their industry. But, you know, absolutely. They were classic entrepreneurs. They had great times. They had terrible times. They went through recessions and I saw so all that pain and the good times, too.
Lloyd Wahed: By the way, I wasn’t trying to fish for whether they were, you know, managing an on-scale business or not. You know, certainly, the entrepreneurs that I deal with were from all different types of background and have different types of examples. But each has their own that they’ve drawn upon to to to be able to be successful in their own way. And you saw from your parents that they are running their own business and the challenges and the merits. Did you get exposed to any of those businesses? Did you get any kind of you to know, were you in school so out-of-hours helping them with their business?
Rory Stirling: My first job absolutely was in their company. Pretty sure I was paid less than minimum wage. Yeah, that was fun. But honestly, I think the entrepreneurial sort of lost in life and background is definitely important. But I really felt that the biggest impact on my venture career was actually that time building, you know, start trying to start my own company because. Whilst I can’t sit in front of a founder and say that I built a multibillion-dollar business and scaled it, what I absolutely can actually do have is empathy. The founders on the journey. I found that if I’m being really open with you, I think, you know, I had one of those upbringings where you’re told if you work hard and do the right things, you’ll know you’ll get what you want. And at school and academically, I was able to achieve. And so up until the point, I was it. And then, you know, going into investment banking, all of my peer group works were going into that industry. And I got one of a great internship and then a great job. You know, I was used to live growing up into the right, which is great. But then I was found in my mid 20s study and started my company.
Rory Stirling: I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was completely on my own for the first time. There was no one there to like to tell you what to do. Every decision felt like a big decision and I didn’t know whether I was making the right one. And ultimately, like, you know, I call it a failure, but not a failure in a negative way. That failure taught me everything and set me on the journey that I’m on now. And I’m incredibly grateful for it. But it was extremely painful at the time. And so now I’ve got empathy for any founder is going through a fundraising journey because it’s like it’s just painful. You know, persuading people to come on that journey with you. And then I’ve got. A lot of empathy for founders because it’s an incredibly lonely journey. You know, the whole time you are selling, you’re trying to persuade people to go on the journey with you and persuade people that the future can be different from today and that you’re going to build it. And sometimes some days you believe that 100 per cent and other days you don’t believe it at all. And yet you’ve still got to keep that whole show on the road.
Lloyd Wahed: So, Rory, if you were in the investment bank again, what perhaps would you enlighten yourself with before having set that business up? Because, of course, in hindsight, those lessons that they have given you in your venture career, which which is really important, but nonetheless that there could have been some decisions he made that perhaps would have made that startup successful, perhaps you would have done it. What would you say to yourself now?
Rory Stirling: It’s a really good question. I’ve never been asked before. If I’m honest, I think I’ve written off my investment banking background as something that wasn’t particularly valuable or useful in building a company. But I’m pretty sure that’s not right. I think it gave me. Discipline in a structured way of thinking, a way of researching markets and sizing markets suddenly gave me an experience of working. You know, in a team and in an office environment, I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. You know, I am constantly amazed that we end up backing founders in their early 20s who’ve never worked in a professional office environment. And I think they you absolutely use that to their strengths. But it also creates it can create blind spots as you scale companies. Right.
Lloyd Wahed: I think it depends on what you’re going to do. So if you are going to create some deep tech traps and you are in a course at Imperial College or MIT in the A.I. lab. And then you go surround yourself with some commercial individuals, then you can go found a company that might be successful, right? Then you need that office environment. Whereas if you are looking at the product first and then it’s something to do with the pricing of the product or at some type of niche incremental improvement of a product in, let’s say, fintech then is probably useful to have been in the investment bank for more like several years and really understood the landscape and understood what’s going.
Lloyd Wahed: Well, what’s mediocre and perhaps where you can improve it depends, doesn’t it? You see an awful lot of in their early 20s entrepreneurs who just straight out of university spit out and do incredibly well as podcasting very recently. Hassan on Friday. And he did that very thing with a couple of co-founders from Oxford University. He had an economics degree like yourself and he was running the Entrepreneur society and started to get to know a couple of the guys, one of them was coding AI for facial recognition. And, you know, they looked and they looked to the bureaus and that was how one would you know if they were going to register to a bank, sign up. And it looked very archaic to them as they just went for it. And it wasn’t easy. You know, they had to raise six friends and family rounds before they got venture round over three years. But, you know, they kept believing in that mission. They certainly didn’t have any office culture that they learned from anywhere else.
Lloyd Wahed: And as I said, to ask them, how did you possibly know how to manage 300 people, which I think he manages now. Slightly more than that. Yes. Well, you know, when I saw Oxford, I was kind of running the entrepreneurs society. And I had to do that. I had to manage all these really bright people. It was kind of I was good at delegating projects. And I was good at creating innovation. And so he’s an outlier. You know, if you look at those guys colliding with their technical strategic skill sets, then I think that’s my point is if I went back he was talking to you as a headhunter when you were in the investment bank. Don’t say, Rory. You’re clearly incredibly bright and you can definitely scale a billion-pound business. But can you for that product, do it on your right? Perhaps not.
Rory Stirling: I think there’s a massive difference here between us. The skills you need to scale a company and the skills you need to found and build a business. I just think the best way I can describe it is as an investor. I’m not looking for well-rounded generalists. You know, I’m looking for extreme spikes or strengths in founders because it’s actually, in my view, got nothing to do with the skills that they would learn in an investment bank or in a consulting firm. I think there’s something much more sort of core within a founder that drives them to do the irrational thing. You know, owning a company financially is not a rational thing to do. If you look at the odds and the numbers and yet found the founders that we back have such a strong purpose. And what they’re doing that they do, that they do it anyway. You know that they’re obsessed with solving hard problems and then scaling those problems. They’re obsessed by building products and companies that people love.
Rory Stirling: And I think great founders can come from anywhere. I really do. And yes, there are certain things that they can tactically do along their career journey to maybe help them, you know, solve some challenges through that building company journey. But ultimately, lots of the company building. Skills that they might struggle with through a lack of like a structured background can ultimately be learned along the way or they can be hired into the team around them.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah, but if we look at the landscape of founders, which as you rightly say, you know, 2007 is just so different to 2020. It seems like now, you know, people who are winning Forbes under 30 top 30 accolades if you actually look underneath the surface, you know, it’s sometimes a sign. I mean, the company is not even doing anything.
Lloyd Wahed: It’s just being given to people for the fluff that they’ve generated around marketing. Where is your job? Is your job? That’s not always the case, by the way. Your job is, I suppose, in a smaller capacity. Mine is looking at the fundamentals underneath that and looking at, okay, well, how talented of a team, how good the coach. How strong is the purpose, you know? Is there a real business need here? And if I look at the venture capital landscape, that is really complex. So you start looking at trends and the trends of founders tend to be, you know, quite diverse, dominant. By the way, I’m not saying that that’s what you’re doing at all. But generally speaking, you know, more male founders are getting funding. Certain type of ethnicities is getting more funding. People who’ve had a couple of years in a strategic consultancy, horrid investment bank, who come from the same type of institutes are getting funding.
Lloyd Wahed: But listening to you doesn’t sound like those things are important to you, of course. So how are you looking through your lens and finding what you believe is going to be crazy the next successful business?
Rory Stirling: Was it a bunch of different things you touched on there? I mean, I think one point that I would make is whilst the industry is completely different today than it was 10 years ago, I think the bar to be successful as a… One blunt way to put it is there’s no way I’d get a job in venture capital today. You know, I got a job in venture capital like 11 years ago because I had the combination of being an ex-investment banker and also the entrepreneurial interest to go out and start a company and raise an angel round. And that was enough to get me, you know, several conversations with VC funds. I mean, I look at the calibre and quality of people joining venture capital today. There’s no chance that I would be among them. It just, it amazes me every time. I’m very grateful that now it’s considered a legitimate career path for so many talented people. And I see the same on the founding site. I mean, honestly, the profiles of some of the founders that we end up meeting and backing, I just you know, I look at myself and think, what was I doing in my teens and early 20s that, you know, was. These people have achieved extraordinary things. I think the other thing you touched on is just diversity, both in the venture industry and also in the startup industry. There’s no question if you speak to anyone in our industry that we’ve had a historic problem there and we still do. And there’s a lot of people that I know in the industry that are doing great work around that. In terms of servicing the data, we’re coming up with initiatives to address that.
Rory Stirling: I guess the way I’ve always thought about it is going to take time. It’s not something that we can solve overnight and it’s sort of a grassroots bottom-up talent problem. So we need to you know, venture capital is a sort of an apprenticeship business in the sense that you can there’s no one set path that you can go and learn venture capital and then become a venture capital partner. And so for the most part, I’ve seen it that we need to actually change our recruitment strategies at the early stages for the talent coming into venture capital in order that in five or 10 years time that the partnerships and the venture in the VC firms change. Yeah, it’s a subject that there are many other people more qualified to talk about than me.
Lloyd Wahed: And in venture capital now, for 11 years, that landscape changed in terms of, as you say, your awareness of people wanting to do that job, which is great. Let’s try and understand what’s going on in the actual venture capital firm if you will. So, we can get on to founders and businesses where you’re sitting on the board, which is fascinating to me. And you obviously want more say, but in terms of an actual firm, just to go over some of the rudimentary. How does it works, you guys? From my awareness, which is brief going and how to raise your own round to start, where could you start the journey there and explain how the fundamentals work?
Rory Stirling: Absolutely. Yeah, I think the unpopular or unsexy things say here is that you know, venture capital, that these CEOs are basically fund managers. You know, I think it’s being positioned is one way of describing, which sounds incredibly interesting and glamorous.
Rory Stirling: And you know, that’s one way I describing the other way of describing as we are fund managers, just like any other fund manager, we go through cycles having to raise our own funds. That is a, you know, a hard process in itself. And then we have to go about deploying that capital and making a return for our investors. So, you know, with fund managers, but I think it’s the most exciting and those on management. So that’s your question. Yeah. So it on your side.
Lloyd Wahed: I understand why it’s so exciting. And by that I mean then investing in the companies that you’re you’re trying to work out. You know, if they’re going to be super successful on that high net worth individual family office, who decides to part with their money into the venture capital business? Why did they choose that investment over others?
Rory Stirling: Brand and track record. I mean, ultimately, this, you know, why do LP or sorry. I try not to use jargon. Lp stands for Limited Partners, which is the description of an investor who invests in a venture capital firm. Investors invest in funds ultimately because they believe those fund managers will make them a great return on their money. And the best proof of that is, you know, historic returns. Which is obviously not possible for many new or earlier stage firms. And in those cases, the investor is much more taking a risk on the fund manager saying, I believe you cannot build a successful VC firm and generate returns here. And that’s normally to do with a thesis or a thematic way of investing that they’ve got, you know, belief that they may have proprietary access to certain types of deal flow, which, you know, is incredibly difficult to generate in practice. But, you know, there’s a belief that that fund managers somehow has access to better deals. So access or better picking those deals.
Lloyd Wahed: And this is a good point to tell us what is the Connect Ventures thesis is.
Rory Stirling: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. We describe ourselves as a thesis -ed firm. I think in the VC space, you’ll see people who are generalists and invest in everything digital technology related. There’s some that invest by sector. There’s some that invests in sort of themes like that, the maybe future of work, for example. And for us, it’s all about a thesis which is really about identifying the best product founders, building the best product-led companies in Europe. And by product. I mean both B2B and B2C companies. The key for us is the value proposition in that business. And often the defence ability is in the software layer itself as opposed to technology being used as some enabler. So you won’t see us investing in hardware or e-commerce or tech-enabled services. We love founders who are building companies where products the software product itself. It is the essence of what they’re building.
Rory Stirling: So, you know, City Mapper is one of our better known portfolio companies, for example. So there’s TypeForm that’s one consumer example and one B2B example, you know, both of those businesses. The core value proposition is in that software products, as I’m sure you’ve used, probably both those products at some point in your life.
Lloyd Wahed: Houssam, how’s the journey been with City Mapper?
Rory Stirling: I would love to expand on that, although I would be taking credit for it for a journey that I actually had nothing to do, and so I joined Connect in 2018 and we made that investment back in 2012. So I can’t take any credit for that.
Lloyd Wahed: But yeah, that’s something that. A lot of people would have used and explains your point about a product business. Well, because it’s of course, all about how great you experiences the user there. You know, if they can make your journey shorter and more efficient and if it can be delivered to you in a kind of nice way and use that product vs. Google Maps, for instance, which I noticed, I think it’s getting terrible recently by Google Maps. Obviously, nobody can actually leave their residence at the moment because we’re in the midst of.
Rory Stirling: And this is true. And that’s why City mapper is such a great example. Because if you cast your mind back to 2012 when Connect invest in that business, you know, credits my partners, you know, everyone thought mapping was done. You know, it’s a solved problem. We had the ability, you know, with with with satnav in cars and then Google Maps to go from A to B and have that route planning solved. And yet, you know, that company up is the great thing about founders. They notice something that’s broken in the world. It’s almost like they’ve been to the future and they’re coming back to the present. So, you know, to build what they’ve seen and they recognize that that problem wasn’t solved at all. And actually, you know, urban mobility, it was not a solved problem. We like to think of it as product-love, you know, products built with love and loved by many. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for that, you know, early customer obsession with what the business is built.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah. Is this really good examples of that right now? Again, just to set the scene for any listeners who are listening down the path, we’re in Corona virus lockdown phase right now, both fostered in London. So you can’t move around. We’re all also jumping on to Zoom the whole time for video conferencing, which is, I believe, having its own challenges right now security-wise, because it’s just rapidly scaled. But nonetheless, the point there also is why would you’ve created. Because, you know, Skype had a market 10 years ago. Acquired by Microsoft and then some founders, like you say, must just gone to the future and come back. You just wouldn’t have bothered or certainly mean because you just don’t want that that’s been done right. But now Zoom undoubtedly have taken the whole market because perhaps, you know, Microsoft didn’t prioritize improving Skype in bringing up to speed wherever it might have been.
Rory Stirling: Yeah, I think it’s a great example because there’s many things where it looks like they are solved problems or solved markets and consumer needs. And yet someone comes along and completely rewrites the rule and builds, you know, these twos of that product. And, you know, the market just explodes in size. We’ve seen that a number of times in innovation cycles in the past. And so that’s what I love about founders. They have those unique insights and have the conviction and the resilience to go about building products and building a company around it.
Lloyd Wahed: So we’ll worry if we now think about what a day, week, month, whatever timeframe you want to present to us looks like if you’re in your current role. You took us through that. What you’re doing. So just to properly finish that question, you know, one of the tasks. How are you? How are you? How are you looking at the pipeline of talent coming for you, the funding? And how are you selecting?
Rory Stirling: Yeah, I’m conscious I didn’t really answer your question before about, you know, the structure of VC funds, I mean. So, you know, if your listeners benefit, VC firms are normally partnerships. So unlike a company, unlike limited companies, you know, in Connect, for example, with three equal partners, we own the firm together, we run the firm together, we make investment decisions together and we make operational decisions together. We raise a new fund typically every three years. We then invest that fund over it over the next three year period. From that, Connect will typically invest that fund in about 25 to 30 new companies. We will reserve half the fund for following investments into those initial companies. Today we’ve got about forty-five active companies in the portfolio that we work with. Each of the partners, suddenly Connects and most other VC firms end up taking board seats in the companies as they invest in. And so the time is really split between managing the firm, which you ultimately tried to get down to as efficient and little time as possible. And then the balance of your time is split between sourcing and meeting with new entrepreneurs that you might want to invest in. And managing our portfolio. And that’s ultimately working, working with both founders and the boards of the companies that we’ve invested in.
Rory Stirling: Don’t get me wrong in anything I say in this interview in the sense that these CEOs have a way easier right than founders. So any time I complain or anything, please don’t think that I’m turning, I’m not looking for sympathy like this is, I think, having a relatively easy ride. But I’ve always found in my career over overtime, actually, that the how and where to spend time has always been a constant challenge because this does ultimately never enough hours in the day, like when you invest in a company, you’re 100 per cent behind that company.
Rory Stirling: You want to work closely with the founders and help them as much as possible in that journey. You’re also trying to fly around Europe meeting founders. And ultimately, there is always more companies that you can meet than you have time to meet. And it’s definitely some ironies in venture capital, for example. And, you know, I don’t like being negative and highlighting the dots here, but we most VCs will probably end up, doesn’t like as an example we might get, you know, 500 to 2000 business plans a year. And we end up investing in about 10 a year. So there’s an incredible sort of funnel there. If you want to think of it like that, in terms of how you go from that deal flow volume down to actually identify the companies that you want to invest in. And so the irony here is that you end up saying no 99% of the time, which is not a great part of the job, but it’s an essential part of the job. And then even when that 1 per cent of the time that you say yes, you then end up going on to a 10+ year journey with founders. And often time we’re still wrong. You know, the if you look at the data in our industry. You know, it’s sort of an essential. It’s sad, but also a central part of it. You know, failure is a core part of what we do. And I don’t want to shy away from that. I think you can’t build our outlier companies without taking a lot of risk. And that risk ultimately kind of can ends up with not building the outcome that everyone wanted.
Rory Stirling: Yeah. And just to repeat a point, just so the audiences can visualize this. Rory’s operating in The seed and venture capital so that’s right at the beginning, you know. Yeah. Companies who are applying might have had a friends or family around which could look something like £10,000, £500,000. Something like this. Right. But they’re coming and they’re looking for somewhere around several hundred thousand perhaps to one and a half million max.
Lloyd Wahed: And so actually, you know, that’s probably where the most failure is likely to happen because this is right at the beginning of the journey. And so you’ve got you’ve got the most interesting of the jobs in terms of, I suppose, trying to look at maybe more than ever in the venture cycle. The founders, the individuals.
Lloyd Wahed: And that’s why when you talk about what you’re looking for in businesses, it’s so focused on that because you must have learned and seen that that’s the crucial thing at that point. You often hear venture capitalist saying, you know, look, we’ll invest in a team over the business or the sorry, you know, for the debt at this space isn’t the most important. And then, of course, as the next rounds come, a long series, A, B, C and so on and so forth. I suppose you can look at metrics, can’t you? You can study that more statistically and say, okay, well, this is the traction in the business. And now these guys are managing it well. And if we put this team int this business, in this phase, it should carry on doing well. So. That sounds to me like you’ve almost just temp, can I. You know, you said you didn’t want to be hard on yourself. Just did. Almost the hardest part in one perspective. But you’ve got the most fun in another.
Rory Stirling: Yeah, I totally, we investors these days because we think it is the most fun and interesting for sure. And you described it fairly accurately. I mean, the seed stage has changed a lot over the past five, 10 years. You know, seed rounds used to be a few hundred grand. And now that a few million pounds, you know, some of the rounds we invest in now are two or three million pounds. And typically, they will have raised you to know, in the UK, at least in SEIS round, which the tax-efficient way for angels to invest for friends and family round or even what’s called a free-seed round. But we actually invest across that full seed spectrum. So we’ll invest from like completely free products, literally a founder and a deck right through to, you know, early customer traction and early revenue. And we absolutely think that’s the most fun.
Rory Stirling: And to your point, I mean, that’s where our thesis is built around products because we think the only things that really are identifiable right to that earlier stages is the founder, which is a course we’re always taking bets on. But also that products most a lot of the businesses we invest in them in mobile and MVP may have early users, but even if they don’t, we can assess that the founder’s obsession and mindset around what they’re willing to build around products and how they’re thinking about that.
Rory Stirling: So we think and the market would be the third, although I would go as far as saying, you know, all the time when you’re trying to build outlier companies, the market opportunity is not yet clear. You know, you can’t do market sizing estimates and in all cases. but we’re definitely looking at kind of market and products and founder. And when I think about the market, what I’m really looking for is a pain. You know what? Whether that’s a consumer or whether that’s a business or pain they are experiencing and what problem are we solving or is this product solving in that market?
Lloyd Wahed: And if you think about that founder with that free product. Then in that instance, I think probably looks very different to what you look at if somebody is raising a 3 million seed round because at that point there may well be the product, maybe some type of attraction or indication of it and perhaps a few founders or more. What? But it’s interesting, isn’t it? Just think of the guy which is with his idea. Say everybody has that. But what are you looking for trend-wise to. I don’t see it going to a lot. They’ve got to be obsessed with their products and sounds hopeful. But at that point, you’re looking for someone who’s already done it. That would be one get indicator?
Rory Stirling: Also, just off of the let me tackle the repeated entrepreneur question first. And I mean, you talked about seed rounds, there are a few million pounds and needing commercial traction. I mean, actually, there are examples today where repeat founders, for example, may raise a significant seed round literally with a deck and no traction.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah, I think that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you look at some of the guys in the fintech space, you know, the guys he founded Go Cardless, for instance, you’ve got, you know, Tom, then the CEO and founder of Monzo. So it’s quite a good indication, isn’t it, somebody who’s already done relatively well. And at that point, they’re networked into venture capital and they come and talk to you and say, hey, I’m going to do this. You’re like, okay, not definitely. But this looks like one I’m going to pay serious attention to. They’re probably going to attract more money. And he’s brilliant because I’ve seen it happen before. So I think that’s not saying it’s obvious, but I can understand how those guys can just raise 10 million on day one. Right. Yeah. Is it because it’s always a fight to invest in them sometimes, whereas the guy with his dad where you’re assessing, you know, they’re not repeated founder. And that’s the truest form of entrepreneur.
Rory Stirling: Yeah. And ultimately we love backing first-time founders and then if you know they’re being in reality, that is the majority of the founders. You know, first-time founders. So I don’t know. I think there’s a lot of characteristics that I often looking for. And, you know, in founders and I think, you know, some of them are obvious. And I do not want to kind of realize all of the cliches. But I think for me, too, that I respect and value the most. First would be a growth mindset. You know, I really. Value people who have a hunger to learn and get better. And I just. I’ve seen it play out so many times with. Founders that I’ve worked with where their role in the company changes like drastically every six months because the company is scaling so quickly and you need to have a mindset to continue. Thinking ahead to what your role is going to become and how you need to grow as an individual leader and CEO to develop into that role. So growth mindset for me is understanding.
Lloyd Wahed: And I know you’re going to talk about the second point. How do you assess for that, Rory?
Rory Stirling: But without being too obvious, there are certain questions that I have. It’s part of meeting founders that more or things that I’m looking for. I think it’s always really telling when you ask people about failures that they’ve had in their life and even immediately how they respond to that question. You know, some people tense up. Some people don’t want to give don’t, you know, have good examples that I want to give. Good examples. You know, the growth mindset person, in my view, is the person who absolutely jumps into that question and says and knows it. You know, just like that and tells you exactly not even what went wrong. But what they did about it, how they grew from it, what it led to afterwards, like what they would do differently again next time, like, I think it tells you a huge amount about how someone thinks about failure.
Lloyd Wahed: And he said there was a second…
Rory Stirling: Actually know, I think most of all. And so let me do three. The second will probably be selling. And I don’t mean selling in the end. In the context of what most people might think of a salesperson.I just think it is essential if you think about the journey of a founder from even before starting the company. They are persuading people to go on the journey with them. So it may be that that partner at home that they’re persuading that they need now they’re going to give up their job, they’re going to start a company. The next one is like finding a co-founder. Finding their first employee. Finding their first angel investor. That first VC,their suppliers, their customers the whole time. They are pitching a vision of the future that doesn’t exist yet today and persuading people to go on that journey with them. And everyone can do this in different ways. But I think that requires real skill. I call that, I would call it selling in this context.
Rory Stirling: And then the third is just resilience. And I think it’s probably obvious, but I don’t think it can be underestimated. I mean, if we talk, if we use the current context this week when we’re having this conversation as an example. I am in awe and have ultimate respect and gratitude for the founders that I work with because they are making such tough decisions over the past two weeks that they wouldn’t have even dreamt of four weeks ago. I know no one, you know, it was a black swan, no one saw it coming. And the ability to synthesize a new reality and adapt to that reality and make really difficult, decisive decisions and ultimately get stronger. From what you know, when things go wrong, I just think that resilience is crucial in building a company, because whilst we all think of lots of startups as overnight successes, like it’s a complete myth, you know, every company that I know of, it’s been a huge success, has had extremely difficult times through that journey.
Lloyd Wahed: So to be a huge success in the lens of venture capital fund. Think. You need to lookout. Seven minimum, you know, forever more maximum. But let’s say, broadly speaking, 7 to 15 years where, you know, the return of investment gets really interesting for the venture capitalist along the way. And so, you know, somebody who looks a lot of these decks myself from a slightly different lens. You’re looking at can this business get to valuation to start with, a few hundred million. And then, of course, they kind of become a unicorn. And then, you know, what’s the opportunity after that? So some good examples in the fintech space over the last five years where companies have taken themselves to call me Unicorn. But with very little revenue along that path.
Lloyd Wahed: And then a lot of the guests who are right now able to speak openly saying, you know, the next five years is very much about getting these businesses to really increase their revenue, but move towards a business that can pull levers and become profitable. To you again. Right. Start looking at businesses now in fintech particularly and trying to work out just a number of things. You know, the individuals, full of growth mindset so they can manage the different phases in the business. Do they have not necessarily anything beyond, you know, fantastic products from day one that can keep on delighting either Enterprises or customers? But at some stage, this business is going to get valued at something that’s interesting for our fund so that we can return a profit overall from the fund. And so with that kind of mentality of the responsibility of the fund, then you look at the moment some of the press around venture capital where the sentiment isn’t great. You know that there was a lot of hype from venture capital firms about how much they care about their founders over the last 10 years of a bull market, right. And suddenly we read headlines, the rounds might be being pulled. You know, businesses are going out of business. You know, rounds aren’t going to happen as prominently. And I’m not pointing anything to say that’s good or bad.
Lloyd Wahed: I’m just on the fence trying to understand this thing and provide that to the audience. So it’s obviously a terrible time from a health perspective. And the economy is in some type of either recession or depression, depending on just how bad this does get. But be interesting for you to enlighten us on. It doesn’t just have to be how your funds operating through this but know what’s happening in the V.C. space. Now, when they say, okay, we’re now into a full-on recession or depression. And this is how we should consider either protecting some of our portfolios or letting some of our portfolio, in essence, go out of business.
Rory Stirling: Yeah. Well, you said that you weren’t pointing fingers, but you should let me know. I think investors have a responsibility to the companies they invested in. And we should be held accountable. And so I think it’s great that there is that sort of increased focus or more pressure on accountability. And if I look at a historical context over the past 10 years, I think the quality of these VC firms and individuals of behaviour in the market just continues to get better. It’s a more professionalized industry. And I think founders get better. Service from VCs, I mean, ultimately VCs as a service business. You know, we invest capital and capital is our product, capital is our commodity. You know, Founders can get that from anywhere. So the best founders are assessing theses for the value they can provide on that capital. And I think. One thing. The people often forget when they talk about the value add coming from VCs is the value as a spectrum. It runs from not just from zero to positive but runs from negative to zero and then zero to positive. So, you know, I will I bang this drum for a long time. I think the one thing the founders or the best founders do optimize for when they choose their VC investors is, you know, first and foremost, do I want to go on a 10+ year journey with these people? Do I trust them to make decisions in the best interests of the company, to not act from fear and greed, you know, to remove their own ego from the boardroom and decisions? And I really care about that stuff. And obviously, I can say I care about it. Ultimately, we can only be judged by our behaviour. But I think it’s worth stressing. I think there’s been a lot of focus on value-added behaviour and what an investor can do for you. But ultimately, when times get tough, you really want to be in the relationship with an investor that you trust your company, your baby with.
Rory Stirling: And I feel when I want to touch one other thing, Lloyd, in this whole context, this conversation, because I don’t know the demographic of your listeners, but it’s worth stating that venture is not for the vast majority of companies that get started in the U.K. or Europe each year. You know, venture capital is a very specific product. Financial products and investment product for companies that want to build outcomes that are bigger than would otherwise be possible. And so like most companies started in the UK each year are profitable. I do want to be, you know, sort of dismissive, I mean, this in a positive way, that lifestyle company in the sense they create a profit for their owners. Right. And venture capital is designed for building outlier companies. And so we fund losses in companies so they can build an industry, defining an industry, changing companies that wouldn’t be possible without that investment.I think it’s helpful to sort of make that statement, because then when you come when you start thinking about the behaviour of investors and founders, that needs to be, it needs to be assessed in that context if you like. Once a founder chooses to take a venture capital into their company, they are on a path where they have committed to their shareholders that they want to build an outlined high growth company.
Rory Stirling: And that, you know, requires, you know, lots of difficult decisions along the way and different decisions than you would be taking if you were building a lifestyle business just for profitability. So that’s why I guess we’re willing to fund losses in companies for a prolonged period of time because the rewards are being proven or can be at the end of that, even though the odds are stacked against you. So having said all of that, I am going to come back to your initial question, which I’ve forgotten. So what haven’t I answered?
Lloyd Wahed: So that’s what context is useful for the audience. And I’m sure someone understands that mentality. And some are trying to understand how venture capital operates better and that that sets the stall out really well because.
Rory Stirling: You want a strict accountability in the behaviour through this crisis, right?
Lloyd Wahed: Yes, I do. But that was a useful context to understand it. I think that there’s actually, even before the crisis, been a period of probably people start to hate on venture capital a little bit or just actually start-ups who look like they’ve been frivolous with their funds and with the famous one like Wework now, perhaps. Well, you just if you’re not in the world and even if you are in the world, look at a fund like Softbank, you know, throwing hundreds and hundreds of millions of rounds into these businesses. And suddenly there is, you know, visually the business on every single corner of a city around the world and they’re haemorrhaging money. And you just don’t understand, you know, what the strategy is, too. But that’s, of course, what you’re saying.
Lloyd Wahed: That’s where, you know, investors in the business have decided. Right. We’re going to try and create something huge through losing a lot of money, because then when we get there, then it will ultimately be a fantastic business service, quite late a profit. And those things can just, you know, combust a lot of the time. Right. So it is useful to think about that context. But yes, then there’s the second question was really the behaviour of venture capital through this period. And that’s why I was saying I’m not pointing any fingers because I understand that there are different duties to different entities here. Part of your own venture part is to your investors or is to the businesses that you’ve invested in. And of course, part the job is sometimes saying no to that. Sometimes the job is saying no to a round of funding. And sometimes that might be great fundamentals in a business that’s been invested in. But actually, it doesn’t look like it’s got a prospect. That’s interesting enough. So it’s complex and perhaps you could talk us through that. In this particular moment where we’ve gone from a bullish market into a recession and it could be depression.
Rory Stirling: Yeah. I honestly think the current crisis is going to be generation-defining. I know we haven’t sort of thought too much about it in this discussion yet because it’s nice to talk about some fun, positive things rather than negative things. But, you know, history books will write about this period. I think every single founder building a company right now will remember these specific weeks and months, you know, forever.
Rory Stirling: And it’s been fascinating as an investor being in the industry because everyone’s mindset was catching up with reality at different speeds. And, you know, depending which country they were on in, when or how their governments were responding and the impact they were seeing. So the best. Sort of a way to think about this. I was discussing recently was really that risk tolerance in our industry, in the startup industry, increases in small increments through a bull market, through a strong market such that no one at any point in time notices a significant increase in risk and risk tolerance there. I think the best proxy for risk tolerance in our industry is probably the amount of money that companies are burning at an acceptable level that they are spending and burning. The difference in a down market or when there’s a crisis or a downturn is that risk tolerance disappears, doesn’t it? Diminish slowly in small increments, it disappears almost overnight and. I think that’s what we’re seeing today. I think we will see a complete, in my view of reassessment of what the norms in our industry are around the size of funding rounds, the amount of risk and cash burn that’s successful within a company. The associated growth rates expected within those companies. The valuations of those companies, because all those things are totally interconnected. If you think about it, the valuations of companies in our industry really are triangulated, not just on the stage and commercial fraction of the company, but how much they’re raising and how much that raising is really dependent on how much cash burn investors and founders will tolerate in that company and how quickly those companies are expected to grow. All of these things are completely interconnected. But just to reiterate that point, we see a gradual increase in risk tolerance through a bull market, which we’ve had for 10 years plus. And we’ve absolutely seen that the profile of funding rounds and cash burn and companies today is completely different than it was 10 years ago. And through this current crisis, we will see that reset pretty, pretty damn quickly. In my view. Yeah, I did, whether that’s helpful.
Lloyd Wahed: This is really helpful. And if it goes to a deeper point on when I suppose, that sentiment towards these businesses that have been raising large rounds and then their valuation is based on the larger rounds that they’re accumulating, and then you look at the fundamentals and just question how it can possibly be valued at that amount. And of course it can be because it’s the value of the businesses, whatever people are prepared to price out until either IPO, an event and then gets a true valuation, which is why perhaps or we work and step away from that valuation and combined.
Rory Stirling: Ultimately, valuations in our market are always still about what investors believe that company can be worth long term at scale. And you know, one simple way of thinking about the whole venture startup industry is that it’s one big R&D or innovation budget. Like if you think about the way companies spend money on R&D, you know, a lot of their R&D budget will be put towards things that don’t work or never turn into products. And if you think, if you apply that to the venture, start-up industry is could have one big external industry which is designed to create innovation. Ultimately, the hundreds of billions of dollars that go into startups need to produce outcomes which are greater than that level of investment. I know it sounds utterly obvious, but it’s true. And all of the dollars that go towards failures or things that don’t work are ultimately an essential part of creating that those think those things that are successful.
Rory Stirling: So it comes back to my core point earlier, which is that risk and failure are a core part of success. You can’t be successful in our industry without taking a lot of risks and having failure along the way.
Lloyd Wahed: So then we come to this period of time where, as you say, the risk tolerance is off a cliff compared to what it’s been, which has been increasing over a decade of market. But they’re not. I’d got a question. Why? Because why don’t you keep or increase that risk tolerance and take the market at this point?
Rory Stirling: And so say that again.
Lloyd Wahed: Increase the tolerance and take the market. So am it’s I think it’s easier for us to focus on a particular business. So a business right now who’s just raised a significant amount of money. Go raise more money if you can go take the market. All right. Because the premise here is that we are innocent type of research and development scenario where we’re spending money to get to a point where then there’s a huge outcome where it doesn’t have to beat in the next six months or a year. If if the investors perspective is any way that that might be in three, five, seven years time. Let’s go even larger.
Rory Stirling: Well, is a couple of different ways of addressing this. The first is when I talk about risk, I don’t mean a fall in appetite to black entrepreneurs that a building outlier companies. So I think that the common thread in startups of VC is that we’re all here to build industry-defining companies and outlier companies. What I really meant by risk was just the method for achieving those outcomes of how much capital you willing to burn and lose along that journey.
Rory Stirling: And I think cycles are actually really helpful phenomena. Generally, I’m sort of not talking about the current crisis because clearly, it’s a humanitarian crisis first and foremost, and that’s not so incredibly sad and not remotely helpful, but cycle, the economic cycles generally I think are helpful in the sense that they sort of overcome human nature, which is I’m not the conservatism that existed in our industry post-2008 crisis was probably not correct in terms of the limited amount of money going into startups. And maybe the peak of our market is also not, you know, the right level and maybe we need to be level set somewhere in between. So I think one positive thing that comes out of cycles like this is that it reintroduces a certain level of discipline and realism and a more sort of lean-approach.
Rory Stirling: I mean, ultimately we back technology and software businesses because we believe that they can scale with less capital because technology makes them more efficient. The whole concept of zero marginal cost of your product means that you should be able to scale to a level we need and more capital-efficient way. And so I kind of think that some founders will actually realise that is an opportunity. I think coming to your second point, though, as to why some companies don’t just see it as an opportunity to take the market. I actually think they will. There are some areas where companies are very well-capitalized. The current crisis for a number of reasons will actually accelerate behavioural change, which drives consumers and businesses towards digital products more quickly.
Rory Stirling: So actually there’s a bigger market opportunity for certain products. I mean, you use the example of Zoom earlier. I’d say anything that’s within video conferencing or messaging or at-home entertainment,at-home fitness, naming it. You know, there’s a huge opportunity there, and not just in the short term, but also the fact that, culturally and behaviorally, like people will change their behaviour towards these products and some of that will stick in the medium to long term. So I actually think some founders and some investors will still see it that way.
Lloyd Wahed: And if we think about and if we think about now what you’re looking at in the fintech space in Europe, then what are the trends that you’ll be looking at that you think would now do even better because of this change in dynamics?
Rory Stirling: I think it’s a really interesting question to think about. And I’m not pretending that I’ve got the answers yet because no one’s got the answers around this crisis yet. But we could hypothesize for sure. I think the of interest the way that I’ve been thinking about. Companies in the current climate is this.
Rory Stirling: They probably fall into four buckets. There are companies where they are direct winners, either huge new demand for their products to those that directly benefit from our home B2C or B2B demand : remote work tools, messaging, entertainment, food, fitness, etc… The second bucket, it’s probably the losers i.e. demand for their products has disappeared almost overnight. And lots of those are offline businesses: travel conferences, bars, restaurants, but there are certainly some digital equivalents. The third bucket was really a derivative of the second, which is if you are exposed, those industries now have no demand, i.e. you’re in the ad-tax base or you’re in consumer marketing software. And actually in the fintech space, for example, payments would be an interesting example. You know, some of the payments businesses will have seen payment volumes obviously fall off a cliff over the past couple of weeks. And then the fourth bucket for me is what I would call staples. And I think a lot of fintech would actually fall into this bucket. It’s, you know, things that people need anyway and theoretically shouldn’t be impacted by the current crisis, but they probably will be. Just because people are distracted or, you know, we go into a prolonged recession where consumer demand is subdued or even just delayed spending around some of these things. You know, if you take your insurance, for example, you know, the current crisis. You know, if your house insurance probably isn’t not going to make a difference whether you need that insurance or not, but your renewal or your ability to change supplier in the current couple of weeks, you’re probably a bit distracted from. I would describe those as staples. So in the FinTech context. I mean, we could do a deep dive on how I think about some of those areas. I mean, would that be helpful?
Lloyd Wahed: Brilliant. Yeah.
Rory Stirling: Ok. So one observation about fintech and I’m sure lots of your interviewees on the podcast have talked about this before, is that lots people want a bucket, everything in fintech. So, you know, you look at these fintech research reports and you see companies in that aren’t obvious or immediately fintech, but they’ve been sort of boxed in that space. So I always try to think about this. Take a step back and think about it from a high level. I think about if it was to be quadrants, I’d think about a B2B spectrum versus, so B2B versus consumer spectrum. And then I’d also think about a spectrum of fintech to finserve. So I don’t think this differentiation has pulled out enough in the industry. You know, fintech for me is about core payments, movement of money, storage of money, including sort of core banking. So if a company makes its money, its revenue stream is around payments or movement of money, then I think of it as kind of core fintech and then Finserve, if I think about everything else. So all of the products and services, the consumers and B2B, you know, it’s the customers need. So that’s capital markets. It’s in the consumer’s base. It’s lending. It’s savings, it’s insurance. It’s wealth management.
Rory Stirling: So I think about that unexplored vertical and horizontal axis like which bucket you and B2B versus consumer and Fintech versus Finserve. And then the final sort of separate bucket I think about is really that the is software selling into the financial services industry, which is also a huge opportunity. And so my summary for thinking about those areas is we’ve seen a ton of innovation and big businesses being built in that pure fintech space over the past 10 years. Like we can all name payments businesses and neo-banks that have multi-billion dollar valuations currently in that kind of core fintech space. My view is that we will continue to see innovation in those areas and more multi-billion kind of opportunities to be had, particularly around payments. I think that’s, you know, continues to be a great innovation cycle there. But I’m also really excited by the financial services, which I love, which hasn’t been touched by new software. And the exciting way for me to think about it is that a little of that core infrastructure fintech infrastructure has been rebuilt and new software. So what services can we overlay into that infrastructure and how will consumers and businesses access those in future?
Rory Stirling: So how can we use best in class software products to augment financial service professionals or products or in some cases replace those professionals completely so that we can democratize access to the best products and services. I think wealth management is such a great example. You know, wealth management is seen as a product for the wealthy, but ultimately everyone needs to plan, you know, financially, plan for their future. And with software and humans combined, I believe we can create much better product experiences for consumers on that front.
Lloyd Wahed: So do you invest in or looking into the blockchain and crypto space then?
Rory Stirling: Yeah, although I see that I didn’t describe that in the before because I see that as a new infrastructure that is that can apply to all of those areas. So for example, all of the financial services industry and lots of the infrastructure industry can be rebuilt on blockchain. There are no businesses tackling that. And then also it creates a lot of fun. B2b and consumer kind of application-level solutions, too. So actually at Connect, we haven’t made a blockchain investment yet. Although I will admit that, you know, of the reading that I’ve done, particularly a couple of years ago, it’s some of the most exciting and interesting stuff that you can read because, you know, if you think about it, my whole career invention in VC, the past eleven years we’ve been investing in. Like bringing products and services online. We’ve been investing in software and blockchain for the first time was an innovation, which for me, which completely rewrites the way that the Internet works or can theoretically work in future and in a decentralized way. And the reason we haven’t made any investments yet is the way I think about that is I think some people are obviously proving this wrong now and we’re entering a new phase in crypto in blockchain, but ultimately we’re looking for solutions which are just not just technology innovations, but actually create user delight and solve a pain point today. And for the most part, over the past few years, as I’ve met founders in that space, we’ve got very excited about the technology innovation, but we don’t, we’re not yet convinced that they found the killer application or the use case for that technology. And that’s definitely changing now.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s it. That’s interesting to see how you thought that through. Because a few years ago it would be something you didn’t want to be deeply reading into and networking around because there were a lot of signs that this would be of the future. But you have not gone into it because you’re focusing on something that provides a user-case now had been correct because there’s not really been particularly many. But now I had a few people on the podcast so far who you committed to that space who have been in more conventional fintech businesses previously. And that’s one of the things as a headhunter I use as an indicator is where the talent is moving and trying to get insights from the mass to why they’re doing.And when you see enough chairmen, board members, C-suite individuals from traditional industry go in and fully commit to something new, it tends to be a good sign that now today is our volume where it has some type of future. Whether it completely changed everything is to be seen. So keep it up and keeping an eye.
Rory Stirling: We have, Lloyd, you and I haven’t made this comparison yet, but you and I are actually in the same business, which is, you know, assessing and picking talent when we make our returns in different ways. But ultimately, you know, this is when the talent business, too. And you’re absolutely like we were looking for where those most the best and the brightest people are willing to spend their time and attention.
Lloyd Wahed: It’s different. The difference is really that Rory get to tell two thousand people who apply no. Over the course of the year and we’re reaching out and two thousand people are telling us, no.
Rory Stirling: I’m not convinced that either one of those things is necessarily easier or nicer than the other. I tell you that it’s one of the worst parts of my job saying that.
Lloyd Wahed: Yeah, absolutely. I can. I can understand that. It’s just a different screening process. We have to be very careful about who we work with because this is a headhunting firm and not recruitment one. We can only have a small number of firms we can only partner with.
Lloyd Wahed: And this is another deeper comparison. So, so many firms. So we have to really look at the fundamentals. So I worked with some crypto companies a few years ago, and so I had to, you know, do an assessment and look at their GitHub and see, right. Is this actually a proper proposition who the code is working on there, you know? Do I think that there’s interesting work for our candidate pool over the next period of time, which is so hard to assess because everybody was working globally remotely. You know, that product could have been just a white paper or a puff of smoke and says it was really interesting for me to deep dive into those type of businesses and try and see where the fundamentals were. And I made a few of them. I got it really right. And they’re great businesses and they’ve you know, that you name the companies. I think people would probably know now. And that’s been really fun because we work with a lot of data analysts and full-stacked technical individuals. And some of the most exciting work has been within those businesses. But like you say, the actual user, the user proposition has only started to mature from those businesses. So it’s very much been a techie world and now you’re starting to get individuals going to who bringing, I would say, more of a product expertise so you can, Connect Ventures now might start to look at it. Okay. Rory, that’s I think that’s given us a really full view. So thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you wanted to get across to the audience on the podcast?
Rory Stirling: No. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you. We’ve covered sort of broad ground by I mean, I could carry on talking for hours, but from my perspective, that is great. Thank you.
Lloyd Wahed: I’m just the last thing out I’ll ask. Is there a particular founder that you’re working with or know of that you recommend I reach out to and get on to the show that be really interesting for Searching for Mana audience.
Rory Stirling: Will not be, you know, allowed to choose favourites, Lloyd. But I will actually give you some recommendations offline.
Lloyd Wahed: Okay. I appreciate it. Thank you, Roy.
Rory Stirling: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks, Lloyd.
Also published on Medium.