Jude Cook and Andrew Pickett set up ShareIn in Edinburgh in 2011, initially as a crowdfunding platform – back then one of the first of its kind in the world. They changed tack in 2014, to instead provide the technology to help other companies set up investment platforms.
As part of a new series of interviews with fast-growing tech businesses, I spoke to Jude for some insights into how she has grown the business in an increasingly competitive market. She hasn’t built your average fintech business: it’s profitable, not based in London and most employees are women. Here’s what she had to say:
It seemed obvious to use the internet to mobilise funding from friends and family. But this was back in 2011 when equity crowdfunding didn’t exist. And there were question marks over whether you could do it from a regulatory perspective.
I hadn’t realised how tricky it was to create a marketplace. Without deals, how do you attract investors? Without investors, how do you attract people to put their company on the platform? We were scratching our heads and we decided to just focus on what we’re good at – the tech, infrastructure and compliance. This means companies can focus on finding deals and marketing the investments.
Some of the first programmers we hired were women. It helps that I’m a woman and as soon as you’ve got a few women, then it’s less daunting for other women to join. Of our 24 people at ShareIn, 15 are women. And they’re in positions across all parts of the company, the engineers as well. We’ve got 13 or 14 nationalities with a diverse weight of experience. We’ve got some whippersnappers and some people with a couple of decades of experience.
I had about 10 years not being in paid employment. After I had children, I was working on ShareIn, but without getting paid until we raised money in 2015. I’ve got friends in similar situations who in the past had amazing high-powered jobs, but then after a career break they lack confidence and end up applying for some rubbish little job that they don’t even get. Not everyone’s crazy enough, like me, to start their own business.
Having tech unicorns like Skyscanner in Edinburgh is inspirational. It feeds the wider ecosystem. We’ve had some people join ShareIn when their partner got a job at Skyscanner; they needed a job too, so they joined us.
Jude was speaking to Chris Marshall, editor at BrandContent