Since accepting your new role as CEO, the team at iov42 has had the opportunity to get to know you a bit better. But for our partners and clients to get acquainted with you, could you please share a bit more about yourself and your business background?
Sure. I’ve had a relatively unconventional career path so far; I decided to join the navy after school and specialize in submarines, which I enjoyed. After qualifying for the submarine command course, I decided to leave around the age of 29. I then went off and completed my degree level education by doing an MBA.
I kicked off my business career working for Vodafone, when it was just beginning its journey into the world of cellular, and in particular GSM digital mobile phones. I spent about 6 years there doing a range of different things, including managing a bid for the UK National Lottery and starting [Vodafone] up in Germany.
I then transferred over to Granada, who I got to know through our Lottery bid. However, I started getting frustrated with the corporate world and the feeling that there was not enough scope to be able to do something exciting on a personal level, so I started looking for a young startup that I could join and I found this fledgling business called Paypoint, a payment service provider. I showed up at a very critical time, stepped up as CEO, and basically took Paypoint from a startup, to being a listed company, through to getting into the FTSE 250.
After 21 years with Paypoint, I left in April 2019, ready for something new that could take me out of the “everydayness of work.” I turned once again to startups, looking to work with bright young people who have great ideas and to help them execute their visions.
And that’s how I first got involved with iov42.
So what ultimately motivated you to join iov42?
I was really inspired by iov42’s vision to rebuild the internet with this identity-centric, DLT trust platform in a way that could completely disrupt the monopolistic corporations that were dominating the space at the time.
And as I saw iov42 approaching the transition from building the platform to needing to sell and really start executing, I thought I could help guide this process and make the pathway into the market more established.
Throughout my career, I’ve had to overcome different pressure points when it comes to execution, whether it’s about delivering projects or thinking through strategy clearly; I was keen to bring this problem solving experience to iov42, get execution going, and help keep our amazing team motivated as we move forward through this critical stage in our development.
What would you say makes iov42 stand out from other blockchain startups?
First off, when I initially heard about iov42, I found the idea of creating a novel operating platform that overcame the constraints of early blockchain applications very bold and daring.
The truth is, there wasn’t really a single platform that was able to support a wide range of applications for businesses and governments until we built the iov42 platform–that is what I find so exciting about iov42.
And what about this new position do you find the most interesting and/or exciting?
I’m super excited about the platform and the prospect of bringing the use cases we’ve been developing to life. The exciting thing will be to get customers as excited as we are about our platform and what it can do. When that happens, we have the opportunity to scale a compelling offering for a number of organisations around the world.
So, on the other side of that coin, what do you think is the greatest challenge you will deal with as the new CEO?
Every startup is challenging, because a startup implies you start with nothing and you have to create something really incredible; all of those journeys are challenging, and they’re challenging in completely different ways.
When it comes to iov42, we need to make sure the team stays focused and energized so that we can get the reputation of the platform out there, pursue work with new customers and partners, and continue striving for further growth as a company.
Of course, the global Covid-19 crisis has added additional challenges to the usual startup journey.
From an investor point of view, people haven’t really been looking around to invest in new businesses. But now, to a certain extent, we’re seeing Covid-19 getting more under control—depending on where you are—so I think even though there’s a long way to go, there are some green shoots on the horizon.
Another challenge is the lack of in-person encounters. We would normally be talking to prospective customers face to face and attending different events, but currently everything is done online, making it more difficult to network, make organic connections, and forge new relationships.
It’s worth noting that as a tech startup, we’re not as challenged as some other sectors—Covid-19 has been a big leveler for all sorts of sectors, but it has also shown the more general point that digitization of the workplace not only works, but is necessary.
Businesses are generally looking for new digital solutions that are ready to deploy at the operational level and iov42’s platform-based approach is right on the heart of what businesses are looking for in terms of potential to completely radicalize existing analog solutions in favor of faster, more effective, more efficient digital solutions.
What are your main goals for iov42 in the next 6 – 12 months?
We need to walk before we can run. The first few steps will be important, because they need to be moving us in the right direction. So we are working on some important proofs of concept now to build trust in our platform and what it can deliver. Then I would like to see us generate early stage revenues from customers beginning to use the platform more widely. These are the important steps that need to be taken in the next months to get us on the right path towards scaling iov42.
We are pioneering in an area where very few other companies are active; Very few blockchain companies are platform-based businesses…they’re driven by individual use-cases, building solutions on existing platforms. So we are definitely coming at this from a challenging perspective, but a very ambitious perspective, too. And that’s the opportunity that we’re going to have to focus hard on to deliver.
This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity.
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