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It’s been four years since I first came up with the idea of The Market Mogul and unknowingly began the entrepreneurial journey that brings me to writing this article. It has taken me through Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Bain & Co, to where I am today: CEO of The Market Mogul, managing a team spanning three continents, with a newsroom of over 3,000 passionate authors. It’s truly been a roller coaster journey, with exceptional highs as well as unfathomable lows. I thought I would write about the key lessons I’ve learned.
It’s Great to Be a Dreamer, So Long as You Accompany it with a Serious Work Ethic
I’m a dreamer. Growing up, I dreamt of one day living in London (I’m originally from Birmingham). The next dream was to someday work for Goldman Sachs. This was followed by dreaming of one day having a team of driven people who shared my level of enthusiasm for disrupting financial media. Coming from humble beginnings, all one can do is dream, create a plan to make something happen, then put in the hours.
My dream, The Market Mogul, has become the home of some 3,000 authors. Readers from all over the world want their daily fix on the important events of the world from us. My current goal is for The Market Mogul to become the go-to place for everyone in the world who wants to read provocative perspectives on the aspects of finance, politics, and the global economy which are important to them. We are well on our way to achieving that – and rest assured, I’m working hard to get there.
Being an Entrepreneur Is Seriously Glamourised by the Media
It’s somewhat frustrating how the media portrays startups and entrepreneurship. They reduce startup life to playing ping pong, drinking beers, exponential growth curves, and raising 6,7, or 8-figure rounds of investment. In my opinion, this has given rise to the ‘wantrapreneurs’ who are lured in by this appeal, and build things like the ‘uber for dogs powered by big data and AI’ (my apologies if that’s your business and it’s thriving).
The reality is that it’s tough: miracles don’t happen overnight. As an entrepreneur, you create something out of nothing, which comes with inherent challenges each and every day. Every founder I know has experienced a combination of the following emotions on any given day, week, or month: stress, sleepless nights, insecurity, and fear, as well as the more positive emotions of euphoria, excitement, freedom and gratitude – to name a few.
The Most Important Thing You Can Do Is Understand Yourself
This is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned. Become brutally self-aware of who you are, what you stand for, why you do what you do, what you’re amazing at, and what you’re terrible at. By being true to yourself, and truly understanding this, you can really begin to take on the world, whether you work at BlackRock, the BBC, or Google.
Asking yourself what seem like trivial questions, like
What did you spend most of your days doing aged 8?
gives sobering and stark realities to what could innately be our life purpose, before it’s mired by societal influences. When I was 8, I used to spend all day building things. I loved it. From Lego to K’nex, I would spend hours in front of our fireplace building the most ambitious and intricate models. As funny as that sounds, it’s not too dissimilar to how I’ve reverted back to my own personal mean: I built a company and spent my days building on and developing ‘Version 1’ of The Market Mogul.
I encourage you to do the same. Having mentors can also help you in discovering yourself, and I am fortunate to have some that have truly helped me excel and get the most out of myself. As I learned at Goldman Sachs, perception is reality; so it’s better to understand how you are perceived not only by yourself but others, too – as quickly and effectively as possible.
Age Is Just an Arbitrary Number
This was a tough one for me. I started The Market Mogul when I was 20. As we continued to get exponential growth and traction, I felt as if The Market Mogul had grown in reputation to something bigger than my own boots, due to an insecurity about being seen as ‘young.’ It’s taken me time to understand that it’s not your age that is important, but the experiences you are exposed to, what you learn from them, and how they shape you into the individual that you are.
How you deal with successes and failures also shapes your character. Whether it’s pitching your company at Goldman Sachs; handing your in resignation to two places you always dreamt of working at; dealing with a bereavement at the same time you quit a job and began fundraising; working 120+ hours a week because you simply had no other choice; or making difficult decisions about hiring or legal issues; these don’t come intuitively to anyone. So, looking back, I feel very fortunate to have had all these experiences which shaped me into someone that I’m comfortable with.
Investors, Money, and Time
I’ve been fortunate to raise two rounds of funding for The Market Mogul. Whilst I am grateful to each and every one of my investors for believing in The Market Mogul, myself, and my team, it’s not charity. When you raise funding, you are a custodian of the capital your investors have given you, meaning you must spend it wisely to give as much runway as possible with which to hit your objectives. Money from investors gives you two things: time and expertise. It’s also a great way to get some validation for your concept. Are people willing to give you their hard-earned savings in exchange for a piece of the pie you’re baking?
I was fortunate to be in a position where I could be picky and choose investors I thought could add the most value to the business. My investors are from various backgrounds, ranging from Rajeev Misra, head of Softbank’s $100bn Vision Fund, to a VC backed by an investment bank and other senior figures in finance. They have given not only their capital but also their time, expertise, and network in order to help me achieve my goal.
Relationships Are Important – Invest in Them
Your family is very important. They are inherently your biggest fans and have unconditional love and support for you regardless of whether they really understand what you do on a daily basis. It’s important to make time for your family. I call my brother in Switzerland and my mother most days to see how they’re doing and ask for advice, as I don’t get to see them very often.
Friends, too, are so very important, and most of the time we take them for granted. I have some great friends that help me make sure I always remain myself as well as having my back, whether it’s through their blunt honesty or booking tickets for a holiday because they know I will always put it off.
The people who you work with are also so important. They join you on your mission and believe in your vision enough to quit their jobs, change their lifestyle, and give you 100% each and every day. I’m very lucky to have my team, they are awesome, driven, and hilarious – and honestly, I don’t thank them enough for all they do.
Your network is really your net worth, as clichéd as that sounds.
Having senior people in the industry as sounding boards, for guidance, or even for financing when you think you have a breakthrough idea is important. Whether it’s to learn about how to hire people or otherwise, you are able to ask people who have built successful businesses and hear about their successes and mistakes. If you want to raise capital, for example, why not ask a senior investment banker or fund manager about the best way to do it?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and you would be surprised as to how willing people are to give you their time and provide you with support and guidance, so long as you do it in the right way. And remember: if you reach out to someone and they don’t reply, never take it personally. They are simply busier than you, and their priorities are different. Just be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer.
“How Does The Market Mogul Make Money?”
I’ve been asked this question countless times. Our readers are surprised when they can read high-quality, thoughtful content – written by passionate people with globalised expertise from local perspectives – for free. We don’t charge our readers anything.
Many subscribers have said our Breakfast Briefing is better than anything else they read in the morning, whether it’s the Economist Espresso or the offerings from the FT.
Growing up, I had to do a paper round in order to pay for my copies of the Economist and FT (which aren’t cheap!) and I imagine countless others face similar or worse obstacles. I truly believe the high cost of reading quality content on finance and the economy has led to artificial barriers to entry in the financial services industry.
I believe that people should be able to inform themselves and get top insight, for free.
Our authors are surprised as to how they can have the support of our editorial, graphics, and social media teams as they write their articles. Our teams are there to make sure each article an author at The Market Mogul writes is as good as it can be, as well as making sure it looks good and is optimised to feature prominently on places like Google News.
One issue for any startup is when to monetise. Start too early and it can kill growth prospects. Too late, and – well… you run out of money. We at the Market Mogul began monetising towards the tail end of last year. Just as individuals possess thought leadership and are able to share it with the world – and do so on The Market Mogul – companies also have similar thought leadership that remains dormant somewhere in industry white papers or their website blogs, inaccessible to a wider public that could benefit from it. Therefore, we have partnered with some great companies who have the same forward-thinking mindset as us, helping them convey their thought leadership and in return charging a fee for our creative, editorial, and tech expertise.
As we continue to develop and the number of partnerships increases, we will always make sure that everything we publish remains in the reader’s interest and something they can get value from. This helps us to ensure that we can continue to provide the service that our readers and authors know and love – and to continue growing and launching new initiatives, whether it’s our podcasts, our videos, or our app allowing articles to be read offline.
This way, our readers are not compromised in terms of reading experience, or the value we provide to our authors, whilst making sure we have a successful business that continues to thrive, so we can reach the goal I dream of: to build a global media company free from editorial and political bias, ensuring you are able to read all perspectives and ultimately making the world a better place. Here’s an article I wrote on how the media failed us over Brexit.
I hope you found it useful to read this, whether you have a career, are a fellow entrepreneur, or a student. My email address is [email protected] – feel free to email me with any thoughts, comments, and feedback, and I hope you enjoyed this article.