MeetOurMentor: Farshad Nowshadi

Finance and Technology Expert, Farshad Nowshadi has been a valuable mentor at Level39 since the very beginning of Level39. For 25 years, Farshad has been one of the critical consultants to Reuters Financial global services providing financial services to global Banks (such as Deutsche Bank and Barclays), Stockbrokers and at Microsoft HQ in Redmond USA, on how they can best utilise financial/technological solutions.

We caught up with him to get a flavour of his expertise and advice for the Level39 members he recently mentored.

If a start-up is looking for an investor, when is the best time?

Nowadays, I believe that sophisticated investors and Banks are looking for mature Start-ups to invest in. If they go too early to investors, they will have little value and hence spend a lot of resources in overcoming the tremendous difficulties in obtaining the appropriate investment. They need to have a proof of concept first, or at least be of value regarding a significant market share or demonstrate they can produce revenue. Preferably the start-up should have passed the Financial Licensing authorities, all the relevant legalities and already have some real clients.
When a start-up is at this stage, and have a clear pitch prepared – then it is a good time to look for an investor.

What advice have you given in today’s sessions that is important for fintech innovators to consider?

An essential element of companies that provide online financial service is to have a clear and simple website. Be user-friendly and minimise complexity (Less is More!). It needs to be easy to understand and not have too much specialist language where you may need to look up every other word. Using simple language will not make the viewer feel excluded or confused which may lead to them merely clicking away. All too often I hear about innovators which scare away the corporates or institutions by using jargon or terminology. What clients want to know is what your Technology/Service can do to help them, in plain English.

What makes an idea work for a client?

A mistake I have seen entrepreneurs make is going to an institution and lay all their cards on the table. Meanwhile, the in-house developers are listening and making notes on every process you are employing. All the prospective client then needs to do is implement the ideas themselves and boom – you’ve lost the client. Instead give them just enough to make them understand the complexity and place emphasis on how long the product has been in development: crucially that you’ve got the talent, the implementation KEY and got it working perfectly. Now sell the idea to them on how it can bring convenience, increased revenue or improved market share for the client. Be careful not to give everything away!

In terms of maintaining relationships with clients or investors, what would be your approach?

One-to-one relationships are important. Don’t use an intermediary such as a broker. Instead, have regular meetings and follow-ups with your clients. One thing I find is that start-up founders don’t have in the early stages is to define a Business Development Manager to identify stakeholders, track progress and manage the sales process as well as have someone for that crucial ‘getting the word out there’.

You can follow Farshad on LinkedIn here


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