How would you like to take a huge pay cut, and then work way harder?

A tale of two companies: Bambu and Hatch Bali.

I met Ned Phillips for the first time at Ergo Sum bar, 13 Duxton Hill, which was down the road from our old Tigerspike offices. At the time Aki Ranin and I were spearheading Tigerspike’s ‘Fintech’ service line and wealth managers were a good place to start because they were years behind in technology and the industry was being disrupted.

Unlucky for some but lucky for Ned. 13 Duxton Hill.

Ned Philips was consulting for 8 securities which was Asia’s first Robo Advisor and had previously run Asia for E-Trade. He was 49 and had a pretty successful career: Moved to HK when he was 23, took the helm at a publishing company, became head of E-Trade for the region, and build two stock exchanges. Ned had made enough money to take a breath and think about what he wanted to do, and he was considering setting up his own Robo Advisory technology company but wasn’t sure exactly how the technology side would work.

So I chatted to Ned at the bar over some beers and cheese, and he asked if we could help him launch his Robo Advisory business. He had a potential customer already which was handy since Tigerspike charged $100k for what we called our “experience definition” engagement: A series of design lead workshops that took a concept or idea and brought it to life. The person at Tigerspike who was best at running these workshops was our head of Strategy for Singapore, Rebecca Yik (Bec), so Bec, Aki and I worked with Ned to launch his new startup “Bambu”.

The issue for Tigerspike was that our clients were fortune 500 companies. We weren’t equipped to work with startups and startup founders which was a shame because that was the work I loved but the board wasn’t keen on setting up a separate fintech incubator (which proved to be a huge mistake). Anyway, pretty soon Ned moved out of Tigerspike’s offices and hired his own tech team. Aki left Tigerspike soon after and went to work with Ned, and I would have too but we were in the middle of selling the company.

Ned was like many people I meet and chat to about starting something. Successful at his job, well paid, happy. If you would have asked Ned the question:

“how would you like to take a huge pay cut, and then work way harder?”

You would expect him (or anyone for that matter) to say no. But people who start companies say yes!

People like Ned who start companies work way harder for way less money*. And are way happier.

[* of course, there is a chance of a lot of money down the road if you are successful but that is very unlikely].

Ned is now like someone who has discovered some amazing secret to happiness and fulfillment. That secret is starting his own company. Being the boss, and deciding how to run things. Doing things the way you know they should be done. I experienced it when I quit KPMG and started Tigerspike. Ned is experiencing it at Bambu, and anyone who is reading this wondering why they are still working for the bank I urge you to quit and start your company! don’t even finish reading this article!…..

… Since you have ignored me you may as well look at some of the other articles I write about why you should quit.


Ned’s business, Bambu, now employs 40+ people and last year completed a $3m funding round lead by Franklin Templeton. They are delivering amazing technology to help the biggest finance companies provide lower cost advice to more clients, giving access to wealth management to more people.

The best story though, is when Bambu moved out of their co-working space to a new amazing office, the cleaning lady said “can I come and work with you, you are so nice to me, other people are not so nice”, so Ned took the cleaning lady with him into his new awesome offices!

If your company isn’t nice to the cleaning lady, quit and start your own company and be nice to the cleaning lady. That is the barometer of whether or not you are a good company.
Ned and Aki in Bambu’s new offices. In the picture is about 1/8th of the full window length

Hatch Bali

When I sold Tigerspike we moved as a family to Bali to spend a few years in a mid-career retirement (which I highly recommend by the way — do it between 35 and 45, before your kids are too old). When in Bali I ran into Rebecca Yik again (remember her? the badass head of strategy from Tigerspike I mentioned earlier?) who was working way too hard for too little money and wasn’t as happy as Ned because it wasn’t her thing. She was working for someone else. So I talked about Silkstone Partners, the angel network I founded that invests in women setting up businesses, and she decided to set up Hatch Bali, a company that works with entrepreneurs to set up purpose-driven businesses. Exactly like she did with Ned and Bambu. Bec believes that after some tweaking and rethinking, what we did with Ned can be replicated with other entrepreneurs, but for less than the $100k that we used to charge at Tigerspike. Knowing how transformational it was for Ned, and what an awesome executor Bec was, I didn’t hesitate to put money into Bec’s business, and she used her new methodology to launch Hatch.

Hatch opened its doors on 1 November 2018 and is already Hatching one amazing company, with many others lined up. I believe that there is a big movement away from working for big corporations towards working for smaller sustainable businesses, and this mega-trend is what Hatch Bali is tapping into.

Anyone we work with who quits their job at the bank to set up a purpose-driven sustainable company is a win win win win

  • Win for workers: entrepreneurs employ more people; happier people;
  • Win for the planet: Entrepreneurs and small companies care more about sustainability and doing the right thing by the environment (not just making as much money as possible);
  • Win for yourself: because what the hell are you doing? trying to make more money for your division of the bank so you get that shitty promotion? or doing something you care about that actually helps people and heals the planet.
  • …And my personal favorite a win for sticking it to the man (the bank) by nicking one of their (by definition because they are making the leap) best people.

Now go sing Kum Ba Yah and think about Ned and Bec. That could be you, so get on with it.