Digital Bulletin
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Digital Bulletin

A Life in Tech

Paul is a serial entrepreneur who formerly worked for Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank as Head of Strategic Investments. Here, he tells Digital Bulletin about getting a company ready for investment, the evolution of machine learning and why he founded Previse

I would describe myself as energetic, optimist, relentless, curious, kind.

What attracted me to technology was impact. Simply the realisation that technology has huge potential to make an impact by changing things for the better.

I am massively future positive and believe that humans can solve our problems, and technology will be a large part of any solution. In my view, the two biggest challenges of our time are inequality and the climate emergency, and technology can be the key to solving both.

My parents were a huge influence. They are both terrific role models of mission-driven people. They each, separately, left their lives in New Zealand (Mum) and Australia (Dad) to make a difference to the people of Papua New Guinea. My mother as a nurse in Bougainville, and my father improving agriculture in West New Britain (where I was born). They taught me that life is about making a difference. Be a missionary, not a mercenary.

My hope is that we reflect on COVID-19 in two primary ways, which at first blush may appear antithetical, but are actually entirely consistent. Firstly that we became more human, and secondly that technology can make life better, and serve that first purpose, if used wisely.

“What attracted me to technology was impact. Simply the realisation that technology has huge potential to make an impact by changing things for the better”

I think that the pandemic has made it clear that many business functions can be performed just as effectively remotely. While that may be true, there is still much value to be derived from face-to-face interaction with colleagues, clients, and partners.

Ultimately, I think we will see a hybrid of remote and physical working, at least for the foreseeable future. Digitalisation was well underway before the pandemic and will no doubt continue, albeit at a much faster rate than before.

I established Previse because B2B payments are archaic. Suppliers send invoices and wait and chase for months to get paid. This is a huge, global, macro-economic inefficiency. And in this day and age, there is a better way. Previse was founded in 2016 by a small group of people who believe that business can be done much better. We believe that technology can change this, and that the answer is in the data.

The evolution of machine learning methodology has been incremental in the last few years, but the applications of machine learning have evolved significantly. It is now heavily utilised behind the scenes to enhance many products and services that we interact with every day, such as search engines, e-commerce, medical diagnosis, drug discovery, financial services, digital photography, traffic management, weather forecasting and much more.

This has been made possible by the evolution and maturity of free and open-source machine learning tools, better availability of data, and cloud computing platforms making computational power more scalable, cost-effective and accessible.

Companies looking to invest venture capital are looking for three things: team, TAM (total addressable market) and traction. The product or service doesn’t necessarily have to be completely mature — and it often isn’t for startups — but the idea itself and the problem it is looking to solve should be sound.

I think that the pandemic has made it clear that many business functions can be performed just as effectively remotely. While that may be true, there is still much value to be derived from face-to-face interaction with colleagues, clients, and partners.

Ultimately, I think we will see a hybrid of remote and physical working, at least for the foreseeable future. Digitalisation was well underway before the pandemic and will no doubt continue, albeit at a much faster rate than before.

I established Previse because B2B payments are archaic. Suppliers send invoices and wait and chase for months to get paid. This is a huge, global, macro-economic inefficiency. And in this day and age, there is a better way. Previse was founded in 2016 by a small group of people who believe that business can be done much better. We believe that technology can change this, and that the answer is in the data.

The evolution of machine learning methodology has been incremental in the last few years, but the applications of machine learning have evolved significantly. It is now heavily utilised behind the scenes to enhance many products and services that we interact with every day, such as search engines, e-commerce, medical diagnosis, drug discovery, financial services, digital photography, traffic management, weather forecasting and much more.

This has been made possible by the evolution and maturity of free and open-source machine learning tools, better availability of data, and cloud computing platforms making computational power more scalable, cost-effective and accessible.

Companies looking to invest venture capital are looking for three things: team, TAM (total addressable market) and traction. The product or service doesn’t necessarily have to be completely mature — and it often isn’t for startups — but the idea itself and the problem it is looking to solve should be sound.

I think that the pandemic has made it clear that many business functions can be performed just as effectively remotely. While that may be true, there is still much value to be derived from face-to-face interaction with colleagues, clients, and partners.

Ultimately, I think we will see a hybrid of remote and physical working, at least for the foreseeable future. Digitalisation was well underway before the pandemic and will no doubt continue, albeit at a much faster rate than before.

I established Previse because B2B payments are archaic. Suppliers send invoices and wait and chase for months to get paid. This is a huge, global, macro-economic inefficiency. And in this day and age, there is a better way. Previse was founded in 2016 by a small group of people who believe that business can be done much better. We believe that technology can change this, and that the answer is in the data.

The evolution of machine learning methodology has been incremental in the last few years, but the applications of machine learning have evolved significantly. It is now heavily utilised behind the scenes to enhance many products and services that we interact with every day, such as search engines, e-commerce, medical diagnosis, drug discovery, financial services, digital photography, traffic management, weather forecasting and much more.

This has been made possible by the evolution and maturity of free and open-source machine learning tools, better availability of data, and cloud computing platforms making computational power more scalable, cost-effective and accessible.

Companies looking to invest venture capital are looking for three things: team, TAM (total addressable market) and traction. The product or service doesn’t necessarily have to be completely mature — and it often isn’t for startups — but the idea itself and the problem it is looking to solve should be sound.

“An often under-appreciated attribute a the team is resilience — because building a startup is far harder than anyone who hasn’t done it can ever appreciate”

The people are critical and having a strong leadership team that understands their respective industry and is passionate about it will always help. An often under-appreciated attribute of the team is resilience — because building a startup is far harder than anyone who hasn’t done it can ever appreciate. We are blessed at Previse that we now have a brilliant and resilient team, the biggest TAM there is, and now we are proving the traction.

My advice to aspiring technologists would be: Remember, that at the end of the day, it’s all about the people!

I have a wonderful family — a wife and two teenage children — who do a great job of keeping me grounded and present. We are all vigilant about literally “switching off” — extended periods where no technology is allowed. I meditate, run, swim, do yoga, surf and ski. The ultimate for me is surfing — being immersed in the ocean.

Previse’s core focus will always be the problem of slow supplier payments. But, there are so many pain points that SMEs face in securing and maintaining cash, that invite many solutions in turn.

Slow payments bankrupt small businesses and are a huge culprit for frail supply chains.

The problem is worsening, but the solution is obvious and the technology is ready. We just need businesses to adopt it.

I’d like to be remembered as a husband/ father/ friend/colleague, who was kind, curious and left the world, in some small way, a better place!

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