Tendr: Lex Deak
The serial entrepreneur on finding and retaining the best talent, moderating your ego and increasing efficiency in the alternative investment space...
Name: Lex Deak
Company name: Tendr
Date launched: 04/06/15
Tell us what your business does:
We’re a simple mobile aggregator of crowdfunded deals that utilises a Tinder style interface to improve access to investment opportunities.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As the founder of a funding platform myself I recognised how, in most cases for early stage investment, 80% of the decision making process for investors comes down to reviewing 20% of the information – specifically the what, who and how of a business.
In an attempt to make our communications as concise as possible I realised that you can boil down the essence of an opportunity into a short pitch. Thus Tendr was born.
How did you know there was a market for it?
The market for alternative investments in the UK is around £2bn and it’s rising fast. The number of platforms are also increasing and, as more specialisation appears, the need for an aggregator is clear.
It is important to represent investors first and foremost, but we also see Tendr as a tool that the whole start-up community can benefit from.
What were you doing before starting up?
I founded QVentures, a global investment club for sophisticated investors. It is a partnership with the world’s leading lifestyle brand, Quintessentially which has offices in 60 countries and provides access to the largest network of high net worth individuals on the planet.
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Prior to that I have built and sold businesses in retail and hospitality and have been lucky enough to work with the premier entrepreneurs club, The Supper Club.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, from selling papers at school. I never really considered working for anyone else – though I have and have learnt a lot from the experiences – being a business owner is what I have always wanted.
How did you raise the money?
We utilised our own network to raise money privately.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We plan to generate an affiliate commission by taking a small percentage of any funds raised through the Tendr platform, in addition to this we have the option to monetise our data although this is not something we’re considering immediately.
For now we’re just focussed on building a superior product, providing value and traffic for our platform partners and increasing efficiency in the alternative investment space.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
So far we’ve enjoyed a relatively smooth ride with Tendr, although the hard work has only just begun.
On other businesses, the main challenges have involved raising money (rarely fun) and building the right teams, it’s a cliche but finding and retaining the best people is the most important and hardest aspect of building most businesses.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Founding and selling an eBay drop-off shop called Sell It Shack; it gave me the confidence and reputation to take things to the next level. Although I was a little young and didn’t capitalise on it as much as I could of.
I let my ego, and what others thought of me and my business, cloud my focus and this is something I would urge younger entrepreneurs to be careful of.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Invest more time into market research: look at your own skills, contacts and the space in which you are intending to operate. Be realistic about who you know, how much they will be able to help you and how much the market is likely to want, and pay, for your offering.
Aim for scalable markets if you’re looking to make money and approach the right investors for your proposition to avoid losing motivation by rejection. Family and friends, angels and VCs all have a different focus and preferences – keep it relevant.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I would like the business to be an ambassador for financial technology globally. Aside from the monetary rewards the most important driver for me is building products and services that people find useful and hopefully important.
In five years time, I hope Tendr has matured into the primary access channel for alternative investment in a number of countries; increasing transparency, investment and ultimately entrepreneurship for the next generation.