If anyone knows anything about scaleups, it’s serial techpreneur, Henry Lane Fox. One of the early members of lastminute.com, Henry faced a growth rate rarely seen – recalling the two-year journey from four people, in a single room, to a few thousand. Not something to scoff at.
Since lastminute.com, he’s carried the trend with him. He’s now co-founder and CEO of Founders Factory, a London based, corporate-backed incubator and accelerator for tech businesses. And that’s not all. He also co-founded Founders Intelligence, dedicated to empowering at-scale organisations with industry-innovating technologies, as well as microlearning platform SmartUp.io and professional matchmaking platform, Grip.
Armed with a wealth of knowledge and experience advising on business-transformation, industry innovation, and simply put, the how-tos of building a great tech-business, he’s someone we’re always eager to sit down with.
Where did we meet? In 2017, Henry became a partner at firstminute capital, where he became acquainted with Futrli as we worked towards our £4M investment raise last year.
“Henry Lane Fox,” our CEO and Founder, Hannah Dawson, began, “welcome to Friday afternoon at Futrli!”. As the well-known tech innovator he is, we took advantage of Henry’s visit to our Brighton office, to capture his thoughts on our new suite of products, Futrli Platform.
What, in your eyes, does Platform do that’s a big game changer for businesses?
“I think the big game changer behind it is the ability to ingest an enormous amount of data sources and make complex, automated decisions that would otherwise take a very experienced individual to try and build out. Futrli Platform brings back simple, actionable insights that are of value, immediately.”
“Simple and actionable”, Hannah smiled, “that’s what we’re all about.”
What advice would you give a startup in a period of hyper growth?
“Hire well! It has to be the key. Don’t get too distracted by the multiple other opportunities that distract you in those stages. Remain relentlessly focussed on the important thing: building a brilliant team. If you build a brilliant team, the company will succeed.”
What was it about Futrli that excited you and inspired you to invest?
Henry chuckled. Speaking directly at Hannah, he admitted “First off, yourself. You are an incredibly compelling individual, as I’m sure you know, and talent is going to flock around you, which is really important.” A business can only be as great as its leader, after all.
“In terms of product, I see a huge space in the market. What you’re really trying to do here is come up with a different type of software category that hasn’t existed to date. We all know the flaws in current forecasting models, but this idea of having an integrated decision engine across all of the inputs of data sources that come into a small business, I find incredibly compelling and exciting.”
Why as a business owner would you use Futrli Platform?
“At the end of the day, I think it’s simplicity. I am somebody that loves geeking out over data. I can play with endless types of Excel spreadsheets, but having somewhere where I can visualise that data in a very simple format and actually share it through all the channels, whether it’s pushing it out on Slack or in the future pulling in some of my Salesforce data that’s, to me, a real gamechanger. So it’s the simplicity of the interface, combined with the complexity of what the machine learning is capable of doing in the background.”
What was your biggest fear in those early startup days?
“That’s a good question! I think there’s a limitless amount of fears that entrepreneurs face. But, fundamentally, you’re trying to make something very very difficult come to life and there’s often no proof points around what you’re working on.
The macro-level concern for all entrepreneurs is “I’ve got an assumption on how the market will look at this”, but in the future, does that turn out to be correct? At a more minute level, there are so many different things that you worry about, in the early stage of a business.
And, if you’d had Platform, would it have helped?
“Any system that can come in and take away some of that legwork around those existential threats is going to be very valuable. Keeping cash in the bank lets you pay your staff and know you’re still going to be here in a couple of months time. So, a product that simplifies the analysis of complex financials, gives actionable insights and is very straightforward to use, to me, is an absolute gamechanger.
There’s no doubt I’d have loved to have the Futrli Platform fifteen years ago, and we will be using it across all the companies we build in the future.”