Tell us a little bit about your background?
I graduated from Brunel University in 2010 with a Business & Management (accounting) degree. I was enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, but I could not financially afford to become an entrepreneur or work in a start-up because I had a family to support. I went into a career in management consulting working at Ernst & Young with a deferred entry, which meant that I had a year out before starting work. While I was waiting to start work, I temporarily worked in a private equity firm’s accounting functions and a property firm. Once I had enough money saved, I went backpacking through South America for three months. Backpacking did two things for me: It opened me up to new experiences; it was also the catalyst to the road of self-discovery to understand my why, purpose, and things I care about in this world.
Following my time at Ernst & Young, I joined a start-up consultancy called Elixirr, which allowed me to travel and live in South Africa. I had the opportunity to travel to many different countries in Africa, like Kenya, Uganda, and Botswana, with incredible experiences, and memories.
The next stage of my journey where I joined Backstage Capital. Backstage Capital’s thesis was to invest in underrepresented founders, so women, LGBT, and people of colour. We ended up raising $2.5m and created accelerator programmes in Detroit, Philadelphia, LA, and London — investing in about 25 different founding teams.
This was a significant growth and learning experience for me; some were painful, some pleasurable. Firstly, two things that stood out to me were that we could only invest into 1% of the founders for which we received applications, making me acutely aware of the unmet need faced by founders in raising capital, which required the knowledge, networks, and capital. Secondly, we typically had to co-invest alongside angel investors to close a round due to the amount they needed. The gap existed with early-stage investors investing in underrepresented founders; what could we do to contribute to that gap eventually gave birth to the Angel Investing School.
I currently run an Angel Investing School that teaches people how to get started with investing in start-ups. I also run a product coaching service where I go into highly regulated industries and work with corporates on getting started with product teams. Besides this, I think most people know me for my advocacy and work in the UK tech ecosystem, where I work to increase founders’ and investors’ diversity.
How do you effectively manage your time?
It is important to be outcome-focused and goal-oriented because outcomes and goals help you make better choices. For me, I have my two and five principle where I have only two evenings a week to socialise with friends, attend or speak at an event; the remaining five, is for spending time with my family, and that is non-negotiable. I tend to measure my life in decades and not days. I always ask myself whether a decision serves my short-term interest or my long-term interests. It helps me make decisions that contribute to where I am trying to get to in the long term, even if I will not benefit from it today.
When it comes to time management, I am big on timeboxing. I am also aware that I am most productive in the morning. So, I lean into that and between 5 am to 9 am, I usually complete most of my work and have a few meetings during the day if necessary. It has helped me adapt to the current crisis because I can spend time with family and do home learning with my three-year-old, but still, get a lot of work done. I find that once you start building a brand of influence, you start receiving inbound messages on emails, social media or wherever you make yourself available online. To effectively manage the influx, it does come down to a level of selfishness over servitude and figuring out how to serve in a high-volume way, whether through a blog or podcast; a medium that can serve many people at once, because you cannot reply to every single message.
How do you manage your savings and investments?
I manage all the budgets and financial planning with my wife. We have a very transparent relationship around money, what is coming in, and how we will use it. We believe in the — profit first system — so, once we receive money into our accounts, we automatically divide it into relevant pots within our bank accounts. This way, I know exactly how much I am left with, to play around, buy things on Amazon with or buy the groceries. With stocks and shares, I am a big believer in averaging. So again, measuring my life in decades, not days, I intend to invest in every quarter for the next 15 to 20 years. In terms of my portfolio, it is very unsexy. I am not a big fan of single stocks and shares because I do not have much influence on them, although I do have about three single stocks and shares, mainly investing in brands I believe in. I am not interested in the up and down swings of a market, so I invest mostly in one or two managed funds, and a few index trackers. With property, the plan is to invest below market value, rent the property out for the next 20 years, and benefit from the net yield and the cash flow. Most of the properties that I am looking at are up north; I am flexible at looking anywhere across the UK and Ghana. I do not do refurbishments, options or HMOs. I do not do these things not because I do not know how-to, but rather because I am not interested. I have strategies that are working for me, I just need to play the long game and stay disciplined.
How do you manage your pensions?
Honestly, that is one area I need to improve on because I see my future pension as the assets that I am investing in and my properties. I calculate the kind of income that my properties will pay me continuously to help me live off in the future. I have a Self-invested personal pension (SIPP) and make contributions every month into it. I invest in a similar strategy averaging out over the next 15 years. But I need to be more conscious about tax planning, tax efficiency, and pension planning.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I am an avid swimmer, pre-pandemic, I was in the waters regularly. Since that cannot happen because of the pandemic, I have gotten into running three times a week. I also have some gymnastic rings that I try to use to build core strength. My daughter is a bigger fan of them already. I try to dedicate 5% of my earnings to charitable donations and another 5% towards learning. I recently completed a course on micro private equity. I am an avid reader, podcast, and audiobook listener. So, every week or two, I am listening to something new. I am currently reading Obama’s new book. I am trying to read more outside of tech and business and watch things on TVs, such as nature programming and climate change. I love David Attenborough.
How do you see the future of the investment ecosystem in the UK?
I think that, just as information on investing in stocks and shares has become heavily democratised instead of how it was twenty years ago. In the future, we will democratise the ability to angel invest further and allow people to participate in the brands and companies that they believe in. The other trend that I think is going to happen is around alternative funding and finance. Venture capital currently gets a lot of the media limelight and attention, but it is only suitable for a specific company type. We need more equitable capital, and we are starting to see it with revenue-based financing for the businesses that do not actually fit the VC model. I think there will be more options that are great because it drives down prices and drive-ups competition and innovation, and as a result, consumers will get better choices because of that. At the Angel investing school, we are just trying to keep up with this innovation by providing the education to fill that gap to understand their options and how to get started investing.
If you are interested in learning more about angel investing, register to the Angel Investing School’s Open Day here. This is a great opportunity to hear about the course and have any questions answered. The next cohort will be running in April 2021.
When investing, the value of your investment may rise or fall and there are no guarantees you will get back all the capital you have invested.