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Barclays Black Founder Accelerator 2021:
The Long Term

 

The Long Term is a personal finance platform that aims to utilise open banking technology to show users their current financial situation. By using analytics, forecasting and financial planning tools, the platform helps users create their own financial plans for financial independence.

In addition, the platform equips users with the knowledge and skills to improve all facets of their finances with a financial literacy course, coaching and live sessions from seasoned professionals. Users will also benefit from accessing the platform's community for support and professionals to render additional services such as mortgage advice, financial planning, insurance and tax. Our platform aims to show users what's required to achieve financial independence and give them the tools and knowledge to make it a reality.

Why did you join the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator?

I decided to join the programme because I want to take my business to the next level. I would love to receive guidance and direction from other successful entrepreneurs to allow my business to progress. This mainly focuses on developing the tech product that will consolidate all aspects of personal finance. One of my main goals is to build the company using an efficient strategy, which will enable the business to progress quickly through various phases.

Not only do I want to leverage off the experience of entrepreneurs, but I also want to build my professional network. Having access to an extensive professional network also provides me with an ecosystem of support where my team and I can liaise and learn from other start-ups and other firms. This will be crucial in developing skills to better serve the business.

Lastly, joining the programme also provides the opportunity to gain exposure and access to funding when required. The funding will be used to further develop the product.

I am confident that the Accelerator programme will help me build the business, and the opportunity to work with seasoned professionals within Eagle Labs and Foundervine will be invaluable.
 

Why did you want to start your business?

I launched my company because I wanted to help today's generations address their finances using innovative software tools, practical education, and guidance that's easy to implement so they can achieve their future goals and objectives.

Millennials and the Generation Z cohort are far more self-sufficient than any other generation. They've grown up with the internet, are not afraid of technology, and are quick to embrace new, innovative ways of doing things. Many have benefitted from the vast improvements in fintech, such as personal finance apps and the abundance of financial literacy on social media. But, on the other hand, some have found it challenging to navigate.

With all the buzz regarding financial independence and financial freedom, no business has put together a structured financial plan for individuals to achieve this. From my experience working within investment management, I've realised that financial freedom is synonymous with pensions, retirement and financial planning. Therefore, I wanted to share this knowledge to educate and prepare individuals to reach their financial goals and objectives.

Through my business, I created financial plans that show people what's required to achieve financial independence whilst also providing them with the guidance to get there. I wanted to create a business that will help people build confidence in their finances, and in the eventuality that they do need advice, they'll know what questions to ask.
 

What would be your desired outcome from this programme?

I believe there are many desired outcomes from the programme that the business would like to reach. The first would be to develop the company's long-term strategy. This would enable the business to scale up whilst targeting a much larger audience and in the most cost-efficient way. A secondary outcome from this is that the company would have a better sense of direction.

Another critical outcome would be working with professionals and seasoned entrepreneurs who can impart knowledge on various ways to improve the business and aspects that the company would need to be aware of and avoid, such as any pitfalls that may affect the business. The aim would be to build a professional network that we can leverage off. Their experience will be vital in helping us run the business efficiently, grow at a faster pace and, most crucially, gain traction and exposure.

Finally, I also wanted to know what support is available to develop the product. Whether this is through funding or attending other courses.
 

Which entrepreneur inspires you the most and why?

The entrepreneur who inspires me the most would have to be Shaquille O'Neal. This is because O'Neal was able to pivot into several business ventures following his retirement from basketball. He currently earns more from his business ventures than when he was playing in the NBA, which is a testament to his entrepreneurial success. However, what really inspires me most is that O'Neal did not rest on his very decorated NBA playing career. He wants to be and do more with his life and leave a legacy in the process.

I love his approach to investing in companies. O'Neal simply assesses a business idea's potential, creates a plan, and then makes it happen by speaking to individuals on the ground. His ventures range from real estate, food franchises, tech and gym franchises which is not surprising as a former sports athlete.

All of those businesses have gone on to perform strongly following his endorsements. His most significant investment was notably in Google following a conversation with two gentlemen in a restaurant. He has a diversified portfolio of companies which he owes to being in the right place at the right time and, if he likes the business case, proceeding with an investment.

His drive is him wanting to own and work with reputable businesses. For him, his investment thesis is based on the number of peoples' lives he can impact. This is evident as O'Neal actively gets involved in the companies he owns by appearing in their advertisement campaigns to showcase how good the underlying business is and why people should purchase their products.

I admire and resonate with this as I want to highlight the benefits of having solid financial literacy in place whilst also making a significant impact in people's lives. I want to use the Long Term as a vehicle that allows me to do the same in other areas within finance, business and tech.
 

What has been your biggest win in your entrepreneurial journey?

I would definitely say that the most significant win on my entrepreneurial journey has been the creation of the minimum viable product and the course. The MVP is a spreadsheet that allows individuals to input all of their financial information and see the effects of their financial decisions in real-time. The spreadsheet can also forecast individuals' probability of achieving their financial goals based on their current circumstances by harnessing that information. As mentioned earlier, the spreadsheet also creates a plan that individuals can use to make changes in their lives to give them the best chances of achieving financial independence.

The second aspect was creating the course. The course is the A to Z of financial literacy, starting from money mindsets to financial planning. Because most professionals and organisations all have their own niche within personal finance, I believe it was necessary to have a course that consolidates everything in one place. For me, this was a remarkable feat to get this all curated into a course that people can use, which is user-friendly and, most importantly, practical and relatable.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge has been getting the right people to work on the project. I have had people leave the initial team as they didn't share a similar vision for my business. However, there are still partners within my team who have remained. They are from similar fields and are motivated because we share common goals for the company. Paying for jobs to be completed can be financially challenging, and this was the reason some left. The same applies to dealing with content creators and product developers and getting them to produce high-quality work. It was sometimes costly to do. This challenge will remain apparent if I'm unable to obtain the right people willing to come on board because they share the same beliefs and help drive the business forward.
 

Where did you go for business advice and how did it help you?

Initially, I found it challenging to obtain business advice, and the reason was that I did not know where to start. Especially as a black individual, as I was not within certain professional circles, it was difficult for me to find the guidance and support that I needed to help me with my business.

I previously joined a business mentoring programme organised by a well-known British entrepreneur. As this was the only mentoring programme I knew of at the time, I signed up, but in hindsight, I do not believe my business was ready. It was also relatively expensive to join. In addition, the programme was not as informative as I expected it to be. Most of the education came from the online masterclasses on zoom, and there wasn't any offline material that I could work through in my spare time and apply to my business. Furthermore, the community for the program was on WhatsApp, which was not the best platform for communicating.

Currently, I obtain most of my business advice online by attending free events run by venture capital firms and launch pads. I also utilise search engines and social media quite heavily to get information on starting a business and new trends to keep my business updated.
 

What drives you to make your business a success?

My drive is based on the fact that I have a strong desire to help people improve their financial well-being. The idea is bigger than me. The positive economic impact on others is immeasurable. I have been fortunate to have worked in positions related to investment management, pensions and retirement planning. The wealth of knowledge that I have gained from these roles has shaped my thinking today. However, the planning aspect of financial independence has been missed, and it's evident in today's generations. Financial freedom should be discussed in the same field as retirement planning, but that isn't the case, especially when targeted to the Millennials and Generation Z cohort. Financial independence is not just about amassing large sums of wealth. It's about building knowledge to make better financial decisions that can be passed on to future generations. This ability to pass on knowledge from financial literacy is what also drives my team and I to make the business a success.
 

What advice would you give other founders thinking about starting their own business?

The advice I would give to founders starting their own business is to detail as much about their business, potentially using a business plan or a draft pitch deck. By doing this, they would have created an initial guide that details the type of business they want to set up, their target audience, their competitors and offerings, the business USPs, and highlights any potential problem areas that could arise. By doing this, they can solidify their business case.

The second piece of advice would then be to ascertain what tasks they can complete without money. When people think of starting a business, sometimes they can be put off because they believe enormous amounts of initial capital is required. That's not true because so many things can be done now for free using web-based applications to create products and social media to drive awareness and traction to their business. It also shows that they have also put in a significant amount of effort, making others more likely to help move the business forward.

My final piece of advice would be to attend events held by launchpad companies, venture capital firms and founder communities. These events will give you a great insight into what's required to start your business and potentially gain access to entrepreneurs and investors who can support your business. They'll also have excellent reading material that can help improve business strategy and execution.

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