RAYL Insider

The Birth of a Unicorn - Story 1

January 3, 2022

This is the first of a bi-weekly fireside chat, and will be about bringing a multi-faceted startup to market in the “FINTech” space, while at the same time building a runway for RAYL to become a Global “Challenger Bank”.

In this environment where the CEO needs all the skills known to man and women.

“The birth of a Unicorn” is all about the Trials, Tribulations, and hopefully the Triumphant story of RAYL as it unfolds, as well as running a Vineyard halfway between Budapest & Vienna. To give this series of articles provenance, I thought I would give you a little background on myself. I am the CEO of RAYL Innovations, but my career has equipped me with numerous skills which make this a perfect role for me as the company comes out of the gate.

I started my career in Global branding as a graphic designer, before the age of Apple, becoming the owner of some of the World’s leading marketing communications agencies during the ’80s. In those days we were called the “brand custodians”. Interestingly all the strategic intellect was in the advertising agency and design company side, during the hay days of companies like Ogilvy and David Peters. Mine was a boutique shop in London and NY called Ginn Jeffery Plc where we looked after J&J, Kodak at its peak, and Reebok.

I then moved into technology when web hosting was in its infancy, with the peak being rescuing PSINet Europe out of bankruptcy, for the crazy sum of 9m Euros, two years later selling half of the company I was responsible for 95m Euros.

So, I get the branding and know-how to build a Globally trusted icon, and I cut my teeth in web hosting, online security, and storage. Both are very different, but that’s a long story, maybe one for later chat.

Then Banking, I joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is a slightly schizophrenic Institution as its title says. But I joined as the head of strategy and Investment planning for the Telecoms, Media, and Technology business.

This taught me how to raise and deploy money and for the first time, I was on the side with the checkbook, so I sharpened my business plan understanding and appreciation, as I saw hundreds and deployed millions of dollars.

So, let’s turn to RAYL, as the initial CEO of a FinTech where I have just the right resume. I say initial because I know there are a few people out there who have a deeper understanding of each of the three business silos, so as part of my stewardship, a big part of my task is to bring on board and groom for succession.

RAYL Innovations is a massive undertaking being three businesses simultaneously, RAYL.Apptive, Pay & Financial. The first being an open-source platform developed from the ground up, so onboarding a founding partner who has Global teams at his fingertips is critical. As CEO looking after this business silo, it’s about support, stewardship and managing the progress and spend to make sure the project comes in on time and budget.

Within RAYL we are fortunate to have an executive team where the team have worked together before, and six out of eight have been CEO’s of their own companies or enterprises. To be honest that’s a blessing and a challenge for the CEO, I can spend a lot of my time managing the thrust and direction of the business, its passion not politics, but it needs to manage. Following all the conversations and whiteboarding someone must decide and that invariably has be the CEO. I don’t like to second guess, for example, technology with the CTO or sales strategy with the CRO, but you do need to make timely decisions. We run a CEO tracker video call every week called X-Box, where I take every executive member through an update on every single project – it only takes an hour but it’s a great discipline to keep everyone one aware of inter dependencies.

CoVid has been an accelerator for our business and helping to focus the strategy. Video has brought the team closer together, especially as we have software developers and executive team members on four continents. The next chat I will continue the conversation about building an open-source SaaS platform and start to explore some experiences on raising initial capital.

Oh the Vineyard story – you will have to wait for the next chat, seemed like a good idea at the time – but an interesting parallel to selecting a company to join as the CEO.

If you have any questions specifically about RAYL or being a CEO feel free to drop me a line to njeffery@rayl.com.

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