MEETOURMENTOR: Gary Watson – expert in business development and company culture

We caught up with our most recent mentor, Gary Watson, a former market trader turned business development expert. Gary has a unique focus on the commercial and social potential for financial inclusion and helps solutions gain widespread adoption. We asked him a few questions about startup growth and the European/African markets.

What is a common theme that come up when you are giving advice to startup tech companies?

Often a startup will ask about how to shift focus from the technology to the customer. There’s a lot of focus on developing the technology and making it great – which sometimes results in a lack of focus in other areas especially customer service. My advice here is to think about who your customer is and tailor your approach to them accordingly. Ultimately, customer service should be key.

How should a tech company approach presenting ideas to customers?

Cultural norms comes up frequently – I can give some advice here as it’s something I’ve been focusing on for a while now. How you present your product is important. You should challenge norms – don’t do what others are doing – use it only as guidance. Being vague is also not great as these days people value transparency.

What culture internally is important to have in a start up for it to have a greater chance of success?

A growth mindset is crucial. A company should see the potential of its product and be motivated to get to realising it. As companies get bigger they tend to shift their focus to preserving resources rather than putting them back into the business. Preserving capital is something that for example traditional banks are very focused on; however, startups should be constantly reinvesting back into the business.

As you’ve worked in both markets – what are they key differences between European markets and those in Africa?

Half of the world doesn’t have a bank account. The benefits to a fintech company is that it has a zero-marginal cost benefit. They have no added cost with adding more clients because unlike traditional institutions, they don’t have to go through a lengthy and expensive onboarding process which limits financial inclusion. Tech solutions require less time, cost and resources to add a new customer and therefore will solve the financial inclusion issue.


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