From Tom: Founder Diary — Week 4
4 weeks in and still going strong. Another cross-continental working week of building EdAid, broadening cultural horizons with Nike as the new Nike Women’s NTC app in Arabic sees exponential growth and even a very rare (small) glass of red wine.
Friday 22nd January
I was challenged today over dinner by a buddy who had built and sold an incredibly successful financial brokerage business for an 8 digit exit. He was aghast at how we at EdAid are not charging any interest fees on the loans we facilitated. Even more shocking to him was that there is no annual management fee.
After hearing I was bonkers, I was told “stop throwing good money after bad, shut the business and join him to make some real money!”
Despite getting the business model instantly, it took him a while to shake off his old school brokerage mindset (fees were typically 12–15% upfront with a 0.5% annual management fee, and even trail fees on performance). When he finally got his head around the total available market and what % of the market we could obtain, the conversation turned swiftly to funding and investment.
Finally, he understood that by reducing the costs, bureaucracy and inefficiency of traditional student loans that EdAid has a compelling and scaleable business model.
A promise to let him know when we are fundraising was a nice way to end the night, although I did end up picking up the tab. Hmm.
Saturday 23rd January
There’s nothing else that sorts my head out better than running around like a headless chicken ‘egg-chasing’ on a Saturday mon.
Sunday 24th January
Financial forecasts, tax returns and business planning was the order of the day. I only managed about 17 hours sleep over the previous 4 nights. Which is simply not enough. Anyone who celebrates the fact that they can get by on 4 hours sleep a night, is probably full of shit. There is no glory in burn out or severe adrenal fatigue.
Another Emirates flight went by fairly painlessly and I am super-thankful for seat 41c. It’s the first exit seat, by far the best seat in economy. Economy yes, that’s right. Whenever I get tempted to fly business I then realise that one flight would pay the salary of a full time developer for a month. In a month a developer would have a massive impact on our business and as such I had better suck up any temporary discomfort. My flight was made far more enjoyable & insightful by learning from the impressive Ana Botin of Santander Brasil on Bloomberg.
Monday 25th January
One of the less pleasant, but incredibly valuable (for all parties) elements of running a business is having to terminate the contract of one of your team.
Building a team and recruiting talent seems like the hardest part of leading a business. Yet actually it is simply the start of a never ending roller coaster of attracting, hiring, coaching, mentoring, inspiring and retaining great people. A ride that will be deeply challenging, as you are dealing with people’s lives, and as such becomes, very personal.
We only have one shot at life, and to be able to go to work, fire on all cyclinders and do meaningful work is incredibly important. However, if there comes a time when an employee is no longer aligned with the collective values, work ethic and quality of the team then it’s your responsibility to manage their exit from the business positively.
It’s incredibly important for the business, but more important for the individual concerned that any decision is communicated swiftly and in person.
Tuesday 26th January
Great to see old friend, and fabulous #fintech founder Nick Hungerford of The Nutmeg Team showcasing the impact his platform is having in opening up wealth management industry to every day Joe’s like me. You can invest as little as £1000 and get expert advice and support from Nutmeg’s super smart squirrel squad.
Wednesday 27th January
Overnight my facebook was exploding with ‘Be Like Bill’ images. After 12 hours of this is stupid, and why would anyone bother. I found myself jumping right in…
Remember “Tom is smart. Be like Tom’.
I hardly ever drink alcohol, it’s not that I am anti in any way, it’s just that when you have to squeeze a great deal of life into a hectic 24 hours each day, I don’t have the bandwidth for hangovers. However, there’s always time to try a super tasty Bordeaux in the Emirates lounge. A tiny glass of red to accompany the awesome steak that they have in the lounge.
Thursday 28th January
Back in Dubai to switch my head, and the team back onto all things Nike Women’s Week.
Yoga on the beach was preceded by time trials. Who thinks that they are fast enough to beat the speed trap?
If you are looking to build competitive advantage, once you’ve exhausted all of the ‘work smarter’ avenues, some days you just have to slog it out. All of that hardwork though pays off tenfold when you get a backdrop like this to work to.
Originally published at medium.com on January 29, 2016.