When a business is looking for funding and they get rejected by a bank, they are now more likely to head to the internet.
Funding Options is a price comparison site for this exact scenario, working a bit like a dating site to match lenders with businesses depending on their specific needs.
According to founder and CEO Conrad Ford, Funding Options finances tens of millions of pounds in finance to businesses each year from some of the biggest lenders out there.
But the company wasn’t always so lucrative. Funding Options went through a few tough years when it began.
“There’s a few startups in fintech that seem to have got things right on day one and exploded from there and became unicorns,” Ford told Business Insider. “We certainly weren’t in that category. It was two or three years before the torch paper lit and we fired into life.”
Business Insider sat down with Ford to discuss his story and what he would recommend graduates do if they’re looking to get into the fintech industry. Here are 8 pieces of advice he learned from his own experiences.
1. If you’re offered a grad scheme, go for it.
If you want to get into the fintech world but you’ve also been offered a job at a big financial institution, Ford says you should always take it.
“I personally think that in the very early stages of your career, unless you’re extraordinarily entrepreneurial, joining a large institution that has a graduate program, it’s probably the best thing you can possibly do,” he said.
In short, after three years you will have made a lot of money and gone through a very structured program, which taught you technical skills around the industry. Ford says it’s also good practice to learn how to behave in an office. Moreover, you’ll be better equipped to take risks.
“The world of constant change is only going to accelerate, it’s not like the opportunities won’t be here in three years time,” Ford said. “And you’ll probably be better prepared for them when you’ve done that.”
2. Be prepared to be wrong…
When Ford worked in strategy for a major bank, it was very much a case of making small changes and having more or less a certainty of the outcome. When he started up Funding Options, he quickly worked out that the vast majority of what he thought to be true turned out not to be.
“I did customer surveys, I did desktop research, all these expert skills I learned at large institutions,” he said. “Every piece of desktop research told me something was a great opportunity, then when I tried it in the real world, it failed miserably.”
3. …Because failing is a good thing.
According to Ford, no business plan will survive the first contact with a customer. So there’s no point worrying about making something perfect the first time around.
“To survive and…