What is your background briefly?
I would say entrepreneurship. I used to run a digital agency around the Y2K. Seeing the internet bubble burst, and how the industry kept going nonetheless was an interesting lesson considering the current state of the crypto market. After the agency, I worked in a variety of projects until finally landing on investment banking, and then wealth management, and then entrepreneurship again through several blockchain and innovation projects since 2014, after leaving JPMorgan.
> Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
Yes and no, I guess? My profile historically has been that of an outlier. I studied fine arts in a country that is all about football and -best case- watching the telly. I wanted to be a technologist and hacked computers but studied communications… later on in life I studied an MBA. I found no-one with a comms background in Business School. Speaking to my colleagues at Corporate Investment Banks, I found little points in common… but I think that is what makes the majority of entrepreneurs: people who you cannot quite label easily.
1 min pitch for what you are doing now?
I am in working with an amazing startup called Akropolis, that is trying to solve the massive issues affecting the pension industry through the use of DLT and decentralisation. It is very exciting to see innovation applied to an area that desperately needs a solution.
I am also helping a few other blockchain / DLT companies, like Billon Group, who developed a full stack for financial enterprise solutions that competes with traditional financial rails. They have had massive success in Poland and I am helping them to expand in the UK and further afield.
What tips would you give to people looking to build and grow their business?
Hmm, that is difficult. The first question that I would ask is why do they want to grow the business, and maybe how. More and more, it appears that you can be nimble in scale and amazingly successful as company. That said, if the goal is to grow, I would suggest to think of the one thing your company does, and nobody else is doing… and make sure you are better than everyone else at it. Maybe sounds a bit generic, but it is truth, scaling is horribly difficult and involves an enormous amount of externalities – therefore the safest way to make this without risking your business or yourself personally is to find that sweet spot for the business, and perfect it. This is not to say that the this recipe will guarantee growth, but it is the perfect environment to foster it. And if you risk venturing into other areas, you have a safe place to go back to.
Looking back what would you have done differently?
Hard to say… I am relatively happy with how some of the business that I founded turned out. That said, I could have made my life easier at times by taking what the Buddhists describe as the ‘middle path’ – now, in this case instead of the middle between austerity and indulgence, we are talking about the middle between innovation and status quo, as several times I saw adoption hampered for a race to extreme innovation. While it is a noble goal, a company needs to be cognisant of what the market is prepared to adopt, and making products so radical that only very few people understand or ready to use can is not always the best choice.
How can people find out more about you & your work?
Best way is to drop me an email! I frequently participate in Fintech events in London, which is another good way to get in touch. In addition, you can follow the progress of projects like Akropolis, Billon Group, Maecenas or Brickfund – as I have been involved in all of them in a way or another at some point in time.
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
There is a funny story story about how I got involved in the crypto world. It must have been 2011 where one of my friends who was at Foogle at the time told me about it. I installed a miner client in a rendering farm we had and completely forgot about it. If anyone ever finds that wallet, quite likely there will be a reasonable amount of money in there… Anyway, several years later we built a miner to start mining Litecoins – around 2013/2014. My partner nicknamed the machine ‘Thomas’. It kept my electricity costs high… but my heating costs very low! About 6 months in, and with the apparition of asic processing for miners, we decided to de-commission Thomas – at this point at I asked the guys we built the machine with “hey, it looks like we would be better off buying some of this stuff and sit on it for a while?”. The price of BTC at that moment was roughly $250 and I suggested to put something small like 10k into it. I will leave the story open for you to figure out whether we went ahead with it.