What do you currently do?
I am the Chief Executive of GapCap, an invoice finance provider for high growth businesses, predominantly SMEs. We remove the time lag between when a company raises an invoice and when it is actually paid by its customer. Weak cash flow is an extremely common problem within the SME market, and I set up GapCap in 2014 with the aim of providing a simple, straightforward solution to these problems.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Before GapCap, I worked for a while in private equity, and met with a lot of different businesses looking to grow. After hearing the same story from several – expanding too quickly, weak cash flow, problems forecasting budgets – I realised that, in these kind of cases, they probably didn’t really need equity finance. What they needed was a straightforward cashflow solution. If they could find that, then there was no need for them to give away control of their businesses, especially when they already had their supply chain and orders in place.
After looking into the Invoice Finance market, I realised it was ripe for disruption. All the providers out there were either legacy banks with restrictive contracts or those using invoice auctions to fund their clients, I couldn’t find any serious players who operated using a fund-based platform, as GapCap does. So I went for it!
What defines your way of doing business?
I think that, being a relatively young Chief Executive, I am used to a world where customers demand better service than ever before and that is what we look to give our clients. They can finance however many invoices they want, when they want, and aren’t tied to us in any way.
Who do you admire?
Elon Musk – he seems to be able to turn his hand to anything, and I really admire his relentless quest to make the world better and more efficient – despite his eccentricity!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
In the business’ early days it felt like every decision was urgent and had to be made for the moment. In hindsight, sometimes it would have been useful to have just taken a pause for thought and made sure that the decisions we made took into account the business not only as it was in that moment, but how we wanted it to look three or five years down the line.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Make time for yourself. Starting any business, never mind a successful one, requires a great deal of late nights, hard work and persistence. This can take a toll on your well-being and ultimately, reduce your enthusiasm and motivation. It’s important to make sure you keep some portion of time to yourself in order to stay balanced and not lose yourself. Whether it’s going to the gym, playing football or doing the weekly pub quiz, spending some time to clear the end makes a huge difference. You have to throw yourself headfirst into your business, of course, but if you are entirely consumed by it, you’re at risk of burning out.