Tell us about your career before WeFlex – especially about your vast entrepreneurial, tech and fintech experience
For the first 12 years of my career, I worked in a more corporate environment. I started off as a finance lawyer in New York, and then in London, primarily in energy finance, both structured and leveraged. After that I moved to investment banking at HSBC, joining and eventually running an advisory and finance team focused on oil and gas companies, and managing a $4 billion loan book, which was all structured, and not dissimilar to the financing structures we offer at WeFlex.
I spent about a year between when I left banking advising start-ups and considering my next step which I knew I wanted to be more entrepreneurial. My father’s an entrepreneur, and has been for the whole of my life – he always found it very strange that I decided to go into law in the first place!
I went to work for TechStars to help them advise their FinTech startups which were part of an accelerator programme powered by Barclays.
I met the Paid team there and spent three months working with the founder before joining them as a co-founder. We raised various rounds of investments – around £4.5m of funding from angels and various institutional investors such as Crane Ventures, Seedcamp, Barclays, and TechStars.
We then spent the next four years building the company. Initially, when we first started building the company, our offering was based on invoice finance for gig economy workers, but then it evolved as we had a lot of demand on the buyer side for the software into a software buying tool for enterprises, to help them buy from their really small suppliers in a compliant way.
Tell us about WeFlex and why you joined the company
WeFlex is at the forefront of a relatively nascent and exciting, sustainable business, and Nicko and his team have done an incredible job of growing the company, including through the COVID pandemic which caused huge disruption to the ride-hailing industry. The company now has a fleet of around 2,000 electric vehicles being driven by ride-hailing drivers and has been growing about 60% year on year.
When Nicko and I spoke about the role and what they were looking for in terms of a COO (a new role for the business), I felt that it was a really exciting opportunity to use my existing experience in both finance and as a tech COO to help the company scale in an operationally efficient way. It was also an exciting challenge for me to grow and learn about large-scale logistics!
Obviously, WeFlex’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions is really fantastic and I felt we would have a real impact on helping drive the net zero agenda by facilitating companies like Uber and Bolt having an all-EV driver base.
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What is it about the electric vehicle and ride-hailing space that interests you?
Disruption and carbon neutral goals. It’s a super interesting space from a tech perspective because companies like Uber absolutely changed the way we thought about kind of mobility. And especially in London, where we had historically been so reliant on black cabs and hailing black cabs in the moment, the idea that you could order a cab on your phone, and then track it as it came to you, was transformational to how we thought about mobility and the convenience of transport.
Helping to further transform the space by building additional carbon-neutral capacity – through increasing the supply of EVs to Ride-Hailing drivers – has huge appeal.
What should we look out for from WeFlex in 2024?
We have highly ambitious plans for growth in 2024 and beyond. We are more than doubling our fleet in London and across the UK and expect to double the electric miles driven by our fleet to more than 150m miles, which equates to 25,116 tonnes of CO2 saved from production by diesel and petrol cars.
The team is also committed to leading the charge in choice and flexibility for ride-hailing drivers wanting to drive a shiny new EV and we’ll be introducing new features for customers like enhanced automation and self-service capability through our customer portal.