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The Birth of a Unicorn – Story 2

January 11, 2022

This is the second of a bi-weekly fireside chat, its 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.

I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of “The Birth of a Unicorn”, where we touched upon the need for a strong, collegiate management team. But as we launch three businesses closely together – the SuperApp, Merchant Payment Platform and Challenger Financial Institution, we are burning through cash, so I have to prioritise spend and resources.

So, I am not the most popular individual at the moment. But this is not about building friends. It’s leadership – friends later.

As we build out the various platforms, over and above all the operational pieces I have to juggle, I must keep a sharp eye on finances and fundraising. It’s not keeping me awake at night but I am having dreams about being chase. I think that’s just a reflection of the work load, but there are so many things the CEO has to keep an eye on. It’s tricky, but so much fun.

We do have few gaps in the Human Resources, obviously, and only funding can fill these, so there is a fine balance in not approaching the post-funding team you need (too early), but never leave it too late because there is the courtship / negotiations / contracts / and notice periods, so I’ve started. If you like the sound of what we are building do reach out.

I am lucky that I don’t have to worry too much about the IT development stuff as our CIO has built a great team and with developers spread across four continents. He is doing a stellar job following the sun with the code development. The risk with this type of build strategy is the shift handoff from one developer who likes to do it one way, and the next developer that that likes to do it another. So, the trick is to have a small team doing QA on each shift, so you know you are handing over well-built code. We are getting it right the vast majority of the time so it is working.

RAYL has built an affiliate marketing structure and we have found 8 amazing individuals called RAYL Senior Business Advisors. This is like our management team on a consulting basis. They started like all of us on a sweat equity basis, so we have managed to carve them out some stock and now beginning to pay small amounts for their help. One of my business partners is the lead on this side of the business. I have never really met anyone like him for his amazing hard work and worth ethic. I have a call with him EVERY day at 05.15 PST and he then does a full 14-hour day as a minimum. It is great to surround people that you can 100% trust as the portfolio of the CEO just gets larger and larger and be brave to change out people immediately if they are not pulling their weight, it will only get worse when the funding comes following in, not better.

A great tool I’ve found is to build a CEO tracker – it’s a glorified “things-to-do list” with a traffic light system, so it’s easy to track projects or dependant tasks that are going off-stream and pull them back online. An Individual called DC is the steward of this tracker and worth his weight in gold. We have weekly meetings to track the progress and it’s a perfect way for the team to get a regular update on every task. I love it because keeps the team focused, empowered, and ACCOUNTABLE for their deliverables.

Oh, the Vineyard story – you will have to wait for the next chat. Sorry I will tell you about it. I am sitting in the cellar typing this. It’s cool and quite – my space but an interesting parallel to running the company. The first observation is you will have hundreds of people saying you are not doing it right – listen you have two ears and one mouth. They might be right – but trust your gut and your moral compass.

If you have any questions specifically about RAYL or being a CEO of the “Birth of a Unicorn” in the making, feel free to drop me a line at njeffery@rayl.com.

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