There is something in the Water

My mate Andy Smith once said, referring to the amount of Entrepreneurs from within my home friendship group…

“They must be putting something in the water in Leatherhead”

He was shocked as many are that most of my friends work for or run their own businesses or charities

To name a few of my closest friends from a sleepy village in Surrey :  Oliver Hall, Simon Kelly, Andy Lindsell, Louis Cole, Mike Moore, Andy Gill, Alex Ball, all starting and running their own AMAZING organisations and I could talk about 10 more!

Nearly none of us went to university or did amazing at school but we have built a culture together that is accepting and encouraging of people pursuing their dreams. It is a privilege to find myself amongst such a great bunch.

Are Entrepreneurs born or made?

Firstly Entrepreneur is a Horrific term! it sounds poncy, elitist and unattainable.

Secondly I want to separate Serial Entreprewatsits from guys and girls that have one project or business.

The risk profile for Serials is very high and there is definitely a unique DNA of person required to live that lifestyle.

For lifestyle startups however I believe EDUCATION AND EXPOSURE are the two key elements holding people back.

In my town where we have built that culture MOST people have opted for it.

In this climate of uncertainty and with GDP growth @ 0.2% we need people to step up, innovate, rather others around them and go for their dreams. Even if after a year it fails I am convinced that if presented correctly you would be MORE employable than if you had spent a year in corporate.

I currently sit on a board at UCL designing a new Degree which is fun, one of the big things I am pushing for is the idea that going into Startup is not LESSER of an option versus a corporate internship, if anything it can do more to develop a person.  My friend Raj Dey is doing great work in this space :

In Summary : I believe that being entrepreneurial can be for almost everyone but we don’t get the education and exposure to build our confidence that it is an achievable and valid life path!

Either that or they really do put some weird stuff in the Leatherhead water! 🙂



Motivate Me

People always say to me “How come you get people to work free for you for 6 months?”

This obviously isn’t true but I have been fortunate enough to receive a lot of good will from those I meet and I have often thought about why this is….

I don’t promise the world in terms of financial reward or promotion but I do spend a lot of time getting those around me to understand the vision, the journey so far and help them see why their help would be valuable.

This AMAZING Video from RSA is the first thing I have seen that backs up what I have been seeing in practise.


If you don’t have time to watch it, it says, for people who have mentally challenging jobs bigger financial rewards DO NOT act as an incentive but rather, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are the reasons people get out of bed and work hard.

Dan Pink argues that Pay is a hygiene factor, that we need enough not to think about it but the above are real drivers.

I guess you would need to ask my guys and girls whether I have succeeded on this or not……





Social Payments


It has been a really interesting couple of weeks @ Cubate.

I started my first meetings with VCs and began to put our embryonic business into the furnace to see if it got incinerated. 🙂

I actually really enjoyed it, the VCs I met like Alliot from Octopus Ventures are just quick, smart people who need to understand within 10 minutes what you are doing, why you need help and how they will get their money back quickly.

VC meetings are not suitable for complicated visions or weird company structures.

The Power of getting out of the building and refining your business ideas through conversations with smart people is absolutely invaluable.

In our case nearly ALL the smart investors I have met have really latched on to the Social payments we have been exploring with Givey and soon to be Mosho. They believe this is where our niche value lies.

Through these conversations I have increased the visibility of Social Payment innovation within our model.

Here is another cool example of some guys doing a great job of extracting REAL WORLD VALUE out of Social media.

Pay with a Tweet – Case Study – OMG version from Leif on Vimeo.

In short once you have a good idea and have got it to a place of “Tangibility” so others can see it go and chat to AS MANY smart and some not so smart people to find out what they think and then……….

Reiterate, Reiterate, Reiterate both your product and your communications.

Don’t believe your Product girl or your Marketing guys, they are both as vital as each other.