People Behind The Future: Paul Bilokon
Before Paul Bilikon founded The Thalesians – a think tank dedicated to quantitative finance, economics, mathematics, physics and computer science, he was pursuing two very different careers – one in banking, the other in academia. This combination has gone on to shape his organisation.
“We combine a lot of practical knowhow, with advanced academic and technological knowledge,” he explains. “We come from an industry in finance that used to be very secretive, but we try to democratise it. We’ve started seminars and meet-ups – inviting students, attracting more people, in order to make things a little bit less cryptic, a little more democratic, to open it up to more people of different backgrounds.”
Paul says it’s the scalability of technology that draws him in. “You develop an algorithm once and then it can be applied across the board. It can be used to solve not just the one problem it was developed for, but hopefully a plethora of different issues.”
Level39 is the perfect place to interact with like-minded people, something Paul relishes. “I like working with other geeks! They tend to be very honest, very open people,” he says. “Everyone here is committed to making a difference, everyone here is really doing what they’re doing in order to make a difference.”
He adds that the ability to learn from and lean on each other is a huge benefit: “It’s a great environment to be in because there are quite a few people mentoring others – experienced entrepreneurs that have done it before that are keen to share their knowledge – a very vibrant, enthusiastic community. When my own enthusiasm dwindles, I basically become a bit vampirical, and start absorbing other people’s enthusiasm to keep me going.”
For The Thalesians, being based in London isn’t just convenient, there’s also a certain character in the capital and the UK that encourages inclusivity. “People from different communities around the world come here to do great things. The underlying English culture is very warm, welcoming, and when we become part of it, it’s very egalitarian. That really helps entrepreneurship.”