Business Transformation with Henry Lane Fox
Henry Lane Fox has been advising businesses for over ten years. He is a financial advisor who specializes in business transformation and innovation, with a focus on how to use finance as an enabler of growth.
The company, Futrli Platform, helps other companies overcome the challenges they face when it comes to financing their needs and goals while staying competitive in today’s economy. In this interview, he discusses the future of business finance and his thoughts on what’s coming next for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME).
A Little More About Henry Lane Fox
If anyone knows anything about scale-ups, 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 organizations 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.
In 2017, Henry became a partner at first-minute capital, where he became acquainted with Futrli as we worked towards our £4M investment raise last year.
What does business transformation mean?
Business transformations are bold, seismic shifts that organizations make to accelerate change and growth beyond typical incremental advancements. The scope is broad and strategic, such as switching to a new business or operating models.
Organizations undertake business transformations to create additional value. This may mean unlocking the potential of employees, harnessing intellectual property and proprietary technology for additional purposes, or becoming more efficient to maximize the company's potential.
It's important to have buy-in from the senior leadership team, and the sponsor of the transformation should be the CEO, CFO, or another member of the board. In fact, BIE research has revealed the CEO is the most likely program sponsor, taking the lead role in 41% of business transformations. The CFO is the next likely candidate, acting as the sponsor in 1 in 5 transformations (21%).
This is not surprising given cost reduction is one of the key drivers of transformation. And it is the CFO, alongside the Transformation Director, who tends to be most involved when it comes to setting up the new innovations of the company.
What is the best explanation of innovation?
Innovation is often defined as "the application of new ideas." It's a term that covers everything from radical invention to minor tweaks. Innovation does not only consist of product or service development, but also the process by which it comes into being and how that innovation interacts with markets and society.
A company cannot exist in a vacuum, so innovation must be introduced into the marketplace. A key question for any business is how to introduce an idea while minimizing risk and maximizing potential rewards. In this sense, there are two types of innovations: incremental (changes that enhance existing products or services) and radical (new ideas).
A chat about the future of business finance
The CEO and Founder of Futrli Platform, Hannah Dawson, began with, “Henry Lane Fox, welcome to Friday afternoon at Futrli!”.
As the well-known tech innovator he is, Futrli took advantage of Henry’s visit to their Brighton office, to capture his thoughts on their new suite of products, Futrli Platform.
The interview began with some questions and ideas to discuss what Henry's thoughts are on the company of Futrli Platform and where it may leave the future of businesses at.
Hannah: What, in your eyes, does Futrli Platform do that’s a big game changer for businesses? Simple and actionable, that's what we're all about.
Henry: “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.”
Hannah: “Simple and actionable, that's what we're all about." What advice would you give a startup in a period of hyper-growth?
Henry: “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.”
Hannah: What was it about Futrli that excited you and inspired you to invest?
Henry: “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.”
Hannah: Why as a business owner would you use Futrli Platform?
Henry: “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 are often no proof points around what you’re working on. 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 visualize 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 game-changer. So it’s the simplicity of the interface, combined with the complexity of what the machine learning is capable of doing in the background.”
Hannah: And, if you’d had Platform, would it have helped?
Henry: “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. This is because 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, that to me, is an absolute game-changer."
What is the future of technology in business?
The future of technology in business is simply to make your business more agile.
Technology will enable us to keep up with the pace of change and not get left behind by disruptive technology, because we’ll be able to innovate quickly without fear of failure. Futrli Platform is designed for this: it gives you insights that are easy to understand so you can act upon them.
Having a tool to help you make better decisions is invaluable, and with Futrli Platform the aim is to provide this for the customers. A sit down with Henry Lane Fox advising on business transformation was just what many entrepreneurs would've needed to hear!