Insights from a disruptive fintech entrepreneur

Insights from a disruptive fintech entrepreneur
26 April 2017

Superbly engaging dinner talk by Inshaan Malhi, the founder/CEO of Trussle, the online mortgage broker. The company promises that it’ll be the only mortgage company you’ll ever have to sign up to, for the rest of your life. Started in August 2015, it has already raised two rounds of funding totalling $8m. It has attracted shareholders such as Zoopla (the property search giant) and Ed Wray (founder of Betfair). Among its content distribution partners is the Daily Mirror (national newspaper). Inshaan’s talk about how to build trust and grow your business was one of the best I heard recently:

Management needs to have constant self-awareness

  1. Never underestimate how (theoretically) straightforward it is to build a business. You define what problem you are trying to solve and then you build a solution for it. Also, never underestimate how complicated (in real life) other people will make that job for you.
  2. Ask yourself at the beginning of setting up your business whether you really are trying to solve a good enough problem. Do you truly understand quantitatively and qualitatively
  • What the problem is you are trying to solve?
  • Why are you the right person to solve it?
  1. Partnerships are the very best way to grow a business. Trussle has never spent a penny on Google advertising or Facebook advertising. The company will eventually have to do that, but for now, through clever partnerships, it has generated more growth than it can actually handle. E.g.:
  • For a partner like Zoopla (online real estate agent), it offers the possibility of giving prospective clients a quick answer if they can actually afford a specific property.
  • For a partner like the Daily Mirror, it offers genuinely interesting content for first-time buyers which the paper is happy to publish as it drives traffic and reader engagement.
  1. To create good partnerships, ask yourself how you can augment the value proposition of other companies in your space. Nothing drives credibility faster than authenticity. Explain to your prospective clients:
  • Here is what we are doing.
  • Why we are doing it.
  • How we are doing it. If that message comes across in a clear way, then your pricing will be of secondary importance to your clients.
  1. If you are authentic and have clear messages, nothing drives visibility in a better and faster way than PR. Nota bene, Trussle does all of its own PR.
  2. Create your key message in such a way that it ties in with something that people truly care about. E.g., no one really cares about the details of mortgages. What people care about are the memories they will get out of living in their own home.
  3. Management needs to have constant self-awareness. Trussle does regular retrospectives:
  • What are we doing right?
  • What are we happy about?
  • Are we delivering on our values and our mission?
  1. It’s imperative that the CEO doesn’t work *in* the business, a CEO works *on* the business. A CEO has to work on what will be important in 12 months. Senior staff can work on what’s important in 3-12 months. The rest of the team can handle day to day matters. If the company doesn’t massively gear the work of the CEO towards thinking then it will likely not succeed.
  2. In a world of abundant capital, don’t ever view fundraising as you pitching to investors. See it as an interview geared towards mutual benefits. Only ever accept investors that can also:
  • Help you with their network and expertise.
  • Can spend time on keeping the founder(s) in check.
  • Provide support for steering the overall direction of the ship.
  • Help the company see challenges ahead of time.

If a funder only has money to contribute, then forget about them unless you truly only need money and nothing else.

  1. Ask yourself every day if you just brought the business closer to delivering on the solution and the goal that you created it for. Being busy isn’t enough, you have to move closer to your big goal every day.
  2. The two key factors for taking you to your goal are brand and distribution.

Once again, this was a dinner where the lead speaker of the table did not object to anyone sharing notes with the wider public.

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