7 things we learnt from Monzo founder Tom Blomfield
Tom Blomfield, founder of FinTech disruptor Monzo, set out to make waves in the industry. He was determined to enter a seemingly impenetrable space and create a user-friendly alternative to traditional banking.
But he’s certainly faced his fair share of challenges. Did the lows outweigh the rewards?
In a recent episode of Steven Bartlett’s podcast, Tom has an incredibly candid conversation about Monzo and the wider FinTech industry.
Early on, Tom admits that if he knew then everything he knows now, he never would have started Monzo, but it’s hard to imagine a world without the colorful tech startup (okay, we’re waxing lyrical a bit here – but we really do love to see data, efficiency and innovation win out).
In case you don’t have two hours to spare, we’ve put together the seven of the lessons we learnt from listening to Tom, so read on for his insights about running a business, the evolution of Monzo, and how he coped with the company’s tremendous growth.
- The single biggest predictor of success? Finding a way around an immovable object or challenge
If something annoys you – whether it’s an inefficient platform or a process being needlessly complicated – chances are, it annoys a whole load of other people too. A solution only really needs to solve one major challenge for people to get on board with it.
- Create a skilled team
Blomfield describes finding his Monzo team as luck, which it may well have been, but it doesn’t get away from the message at hand. Creating a varied, core team with one goal in mind will contribute hugely to your success. Some of the best companies are made up of huge teams of people, but your values and objectives need to be clearly defined early on.
- Be transparent (but actually)
Monzo is known for its witty push notifications and user-friendly experience, and this culture of transparency has been one of the brand’s keys to succeeding in the FinTech world. Through sharing internal information early on – such as their product roadmap and D&I reports – they built trust with their customers from the very first stage, and really stood out in the impersonal finance sector.
- Ignore the press
A lot of Monzo’s early life was colored by excessive press coverage, both good and bad. Praise for the challenger bank soon turned into vitriol against the ways they had dealt with fraudsters using the platform for financial crime. Tom’s answer to this? Ignore the press: ‘the good stuff is overblown, it’s not real life. The bad stuff’s also not true, so I just ignore it all’.
- Don’t avoid the difficult decisions
Many of the free features that made Monzo so successful cost the company a huge amount of money. This is just one of the examples Tom cites, but the overall message is not to hide from what could be the downfall of your business. Seek out these sticking points and try to solve them, rather than hoping they’ll magically disappear. According to Tom, finding and speaking to the doubters is where you’ll identify huge growth opportunities.
- Compartmentalize to maintain your relationships
It’s not only starting or leading a business that can feel like it’s taking over your life, even junior members of a team will burn out if they don’t properly enforce boundaries and separate work from home. Switching off the ‘work’ part of your brain and maintaining a level of detachment is crucial.
- It’s okay (actually, it’s great) to show vulnerability
Caveat: if it’s genuine. True vulnerability is a fantastic way of building trust and inspiring confidence; showing mistakes and worries is just as important as sharing successes.
There’s definitely more to learn from listening to the entire episode – from discussions about death threats, to crypto, to relationships – but we hope you enjoyed the seven key lessons that stuck out to us.
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