Now on his second startup, Aidan Rushby has raised over $100M to help transform the experience of financing your next car. His new venture, Carmoola, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like QED Investors, VentureFriends, InMotion Ventures, and NatWest.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The importance of having the right team, and the right market
- Pitching investors in person versus via video
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About Aidan Rushby:
Aidan Rushby is the developer of an online financial lending platform designed to reinvent how people pay for cars.
The company’s platform offers car loans, and car financing options at low-interest rates and attractive terms, which allow spreading the cost of the car into multiple payments, enabling customers to finance their cars in a hassle-free manner easily.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Righty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today. We have a very exciting founder. We’re going to be talking about lessons learned along the way because he’s built multiple companies and today I mean the one that he’s building right? now is a rocket ship. So again, you know we’re going to be talking about all that good stuff that we like to hear. Very inspiring his journey. You know as to how he was able to fight you know like the challenges that he found you know, being diagnosed with dyslexia early on dealing also with a businesses that were not as a rocket ship as the one that he’s leading now. But again, you know as we always day you succeed or you learn. But again super inspiring what we are going to hear today so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guests today adhan rushby welcome to the show.
Aidan Rushby: Hey thanks so much for having me really really excited to be part of this and share my journey.
Alejandro Cremades: So originally born there in the U K A then so give us a little of a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Aidan Rushby: Um, life was tough going on I yeah, it came from quite an entrepreneurial family like my dad was early on very entrepreneurial. He was and funny enough claimed to fame. He did the packaging. For chicken nuggets and launched something called the penguin bomb and ran an ad agency in the 80 s and 90 s which was really really successful and really struggled with it as we moved into the 90 s so life was up and down. Growing up and I struggled with dyslexia from a very early age and school was very very tough indeed like I couldn’t read or couldn’t write and struggled for a very long long way through. But you know, enabled me to come up with some really creative ways of thinking. And ways of problem solving that you just don’t get experienced from from and yeah like I’m super blesssed and very fortunate now that that ive struggled with that as it enables me to think differently other people really enables me to deal with a lot of the thirsty. And yeah, say no, not a straightforward childhood. But yeah make gone go through it now kind of and yeah, use it user as a strength.
Alejandro Cremades: You were you were talking about thinking about things differently being more creative give us give us a good example.
Aidan Rushby: Um I think like the the best way to kind of if you struggle to read and write your your brain is automatically trained to to like work out how you solve that problem. And I used explaining this to someone the other day and and I always struggle with foreign languages and I think it’s because the way I kind of know english is that her I memorized every single word and as a result of that and a well just to remember it. But. Like that’s one in a way of solving that problem I used to like or like as a kid I never used to read a book I didn’t read a book until I got to about 23 in way through university but when I discovered audio books. You know? For example, that’s just changed my life. You know like I listen to an audio book a week now and have done for the last ten years and that’s just the amount of knowledge and learning for someone like myself is just a revelation like absolutely you know love love audio but love podcast
Alejandro Cremades: He.
Aidan Rushby: And I guess like that’s a way of of solving solving the ability to learn and.
Alejandro Cremades: So so problem solving then Ahan you know what did that teach you about problem solving how to how to tackle problems because I’m sure that that has served you pretty Well you know, especially now that you’re an entrepreneur and that’s why you do for a living.
Aidan Rushby: Think like for me like you think it enables me to take a very high perspective and a high view on things and I don’t get to Bo down in the small minutia Always like to think big abandon industry and how to transform it. Um. My biggest motivation is I love helping people and I really see business as a way of of being able to do that solving industry problems and solving consumer problems for me is I The biggest is Madeta data and the biggest driver of of my why I feel like why? why? I’m here.
Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case you know like 1 thing led to the next and you ended up studying business. So what really got you into business. Do you think that that was perhaps what you had experience you know with your family you know with that entrepreneurial drive that you saw early on or. Or what really motivated you know you to to have that interest around business.
Aidan Rushby: Think I was always going to go into business from a very early age I you know was running a car car washing business to a lawower business to a baby sydneyney business I where I was super young and then oh well. Ah, really wanted to go to university there’s no one in my family got a degree and so I really wanted to go and prove that I could do that and so after doing that I started working in property and for wow, there’s there’s a big opportunity here to to create and solve a problem for a consumer. And that was around renting long-term property rentals and and yeah spent 7 years going through multiple lessons I feel like what I achieved in 7 years was an absolute lifetime in so many ways of not how not to do things. Um, but honest life is a lesson ah of learning and it’s enabled me to accelerate like my current business. What would have taken like as a first -time entrepreneur you know years to achieve you’re now able to accelerate that so much faster than my yeah. My advice to people out there. Struggling is like really embrace it really take those lessons. Um and sometimes it’s not necessarily you as the entrepreneur. It’s the it’s the market conditions and and.
Aidan Rushby: Yeah, is all about picking the right market here right opportunity and then you can really leverage all learning and your skills but for a long time in my first business I I thought that I was stupid and I was very good. Um, and actually I think what’s transpired is actually I’m really good. Just sometimes it’s just not the right opportunity.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah, it’s like being a good athlete hey if you’re a good at soccer. You got to find you know that soccer now or football as they as we call it there in in Europe but they but in any case you know for you. This first company was move bubble. What what do you think was missing. You know obviously now. You know you’re in a rocket ship and we’re going to talk about it in just a little bit but looking back and and being able to reflect because I’m sure that you’ve you’ve had the opportunity to reflect a lot there. What do you think was missing. You know for things to click.
Aidan Rushby: Um I think there were a couple of things I think one I went into that business a lot less experienced and. If I look back I think the actual profit pool of revenue revenue pools in that industry just weren’t there. So I think that that was like number one and it was extremely difficult to to access the revenue pools because the network effects in that industry. Was so strong from the incumbents that even if you were able to deliver value to the consumer. The proposition wasn’t strong enough because you couldn’t get enough property listings on the platform because of the existing players had just monopolized the Market. And the network effects of the existing players just made it just impossible to penetrate and I think I ah got into this loop where I kept trying and kept trying. Because I won some of the investor or my friends and I felt massively obligated not to give up and I read so much about not giving up and pushing that forwards and I think I got into this loop where I was just kept trying and trying and trying and probably what I should have done um in in hindsight.
Aidan Rushby: Was stop and sometimes I think it’s really hard as an entrepreneur is to stop what you’re doing and reflect and do something different but in covid and we were just talking briefly I spent some time in new yorker. And really kind of reflected on what I was doing and what I wanted to spend my next ten years doing and I just couldn’t see an opportunity there anymore and it’s probably 1 of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life not been through a lot of struggles and I think. Deciding not to do it anymore and I was pretty profound and extremely difficult kind of decision but kind of got to the point where I’d realize that actually it was nothing to do with me and I kind of got over fear of failing. To enable me to take those learnings into the into the next business.
Alejandro Cremades: And I think that that’s so profound because I find that as founders and I guess especially as first -time founders we get to attach ourselves too much to the business I mean we think we are the business and I think that that creates the issue of you know and things don’t work out. You know of. 1 1 hinking that is a failure instead of hey the project just failed. You know, moving on to the next thing. So I guess being with failure and you were talking about. You know your time in myirca what what were you able to find you know about being with failure that allowed you the? um. The the possibility of of just saying hey you know I’m finally I’m I’m complete I’m turning this page I’m moving on.
Aidan Rushby: I’ll be I’ll be really open with you and I spent two and a half three years going through cognitive behavior therapy um, which for anyone out there I highly recommend link it really gets you to understand yourself. And and you really get to know yourself in a much more sort of deeper way and I was and I went through this like real transition when I was younger when my parents got divorced while I was struggling with Dyslexia and I kind of managed to get this. Ah, deep psychological psychological thing in my head where I kind of connected the 2 together and it kind of led me to believe I was stupid and and as a result I think I spent a long time. Trying to prove that I wasn’t stupid and in some ways this is you know, enabled incredible learning for me, but it was very difficult to live with because everything you did you kind of internalized that to believe that you failed and that you weren’t good enough so I was kind of. Every time you got rejected by a Vc or every time you something didn’t work as planned you kind of had this 2 2 really conflicting parts of you one which was just like kind of took it really hard and that really deep. But then there was this other part of you that was like.
Aidan Rushby: And now I’m going to prove them wrong and to push on I’m going to make this work and and I managed to get to a point in my in my in my own sort of psyche and and hell like health. Really it’s more than anything else where I could live with myself for failing. And understood that this is not necessarily about me. It was to do with market conditions things that went outside of my control and I really wanted to take everything that I’d learn not only like about myself through the therapy but also like 10 years of experience and say you know. Let’s build a ground baking company. That’s really well thought through from the beginning where there is or a real opportunity and it was extremely hard to do and I guess that’s a very honest kind of reality of what it was like but it was some very dark days. And in that process and yeah extreme amounts of guilt to you to let lots of people down because I knew I was walking away from lots of people that personally invested in me and believed in me. Um, but a long term I knew it was the right thing to do not only from their investment because.
Alejandro Cremades: Strong.
Aidan Rushby: I could have taken more money from them. But I just just felt it was the wrong thing to do.
Alejandro Cremades: And very profound they and I’m I’m sure that this is going to have a tremendous impact too on many of the entrepreneurs that are that are listening you know and tuning in because this is so important right? I mean it’s a that attachment that people have to their own business and and I think that first time founders really really struggle with that now. In your case, you know you were talking about those dark days at what point you know that’s the light you know because as they say clouds. They’re always temporary at what point you know do the clouds pass and all of a sudden you know the idea of carmulla you know, comes knocking.
Aidan Rushby: So I um, there was a couple of things that were happening at the time I was looking at so I I got 2 little sausage dogs and I needed a car to drive down to new yorker and so I went through the process of financing a car and thought wow. This was terrible like it was a terrible experience and said they said that that was kind of 1 thing. Um I’d seen ah, one of my best friends while was running a buy now pay later solution. And so kind of see like new lending technology coming through and I thought that was really interesting and then the kind of final straw was I was looking at this was at the time when the kazoo ipo was at its peak and sort of 8 or nine billion usd and I remember reading the prospectus thinking. Selling cars at less what they’ve paid for them just to get to the finance which is the main profit pool I thought to myself. Wow, there’s got to be a way of eating like not only is this a huge market. A. I didn’t believe the existing players were going the ballot in the right way and I thought you know if I could combine some of the user experience of buy now pay later of Klarliner and the likes and combined with like attacking the used car finance market.
Aidan Rushby: Ah, thought there was an opportunity to build a direct-to-consumer and fully automated car finance lender and a result of building this on technology I felt that I could bring car finance not only easier cheaper and I could definitely make it faster as well. And so Carmila was kind of born from an experience of bad kind of person experience of going through the journey as well as kind of wider context of what what was happening in the industry at the time and reading and research and knowledge and I thought wow I was looking at that 4 or 5 new ideas. But when I kind of sort of got deep into the research into Carla Muller I was like wow this is really excited me. It really excited me because I thought I could really empower consumers and bring them a significant cost saving. But. Ah, thought it was very well placed as well as an entrepreneur like some of the skills that I had probably uniquely to bring it together very quickly kind of really understood brand marketing really understand product had ah amazing access to and. Some really strong tech talents in in my two cofounders a Ukrainian Regan and Eagle and then also like understood capital markets as well. So it was very unique, uniquely placed to bring our proposition to market.
Aidan Rushby: And that’s exactly kind of what it did very very quickly.
Alejandro Cremades: And what was that a process like obviously you know at this point you’re like you’re clear. This is this is something that is meaningful enough for you to take action. But at what point the youria are you like hey those are the people that that I should be calling why why? Why do you thought they were the ones and how did you.? How did they come you know in into your radar.
Aidan Rushby: I was already working with them. So like yeah one of the the good things about movebobble is that we’ve created an incredible team there and if like 1 of the things I it made me realized that you can have an incredible team and attack the wrong market.
Alejandro Cremades: No.
Aidan Rushby: And it can can be painful. But if you take that incredible team and attack the right market it can. It can be transformational so I was already working with them and I’d met them in fiver City years before and I’d promised them on my next business that I would cofound it with them. Is say just incredible. So it was Roman Eagle who kind of looked after the the tech side of things and then Amy as well. He’s just incredible product amonging her person. She’s also my wife and so we work together. Ah, kind of and non-negotiable. She she was to be involved and so and delay we met and had worked together for like 8 years prior to that so that was kind of the core founding team to to get the project off the ground.
Alejandro Cremades: And for the people that are listening. You know to um to get it. Why ended up being the business model of Carmulla How do you guys make money. Yeah.
Aidan Rushby: As So carmilo is a directto Caino Ender say we borrow Wholesale Capital from large financial institutions one price and we lend at a higher price to consumer. And we made a difference between the 2.
Alejandro Cremades: And in terms of um of financing you know here I know that you guys you know have raised ah quite a bit of money and and the last round you know was a smashing round to so how much capital have you guys raised to date and what has been that journey of raising the money like so.
Aidan Rushby: We have raised about 110,000,000 and so far and some of that is debt. Some of that is equity. Ah, it’s not been straightforward like I think we are kind of we. We did our first.
Aidan Rushby: Pre-see ground in January Twenty Twenty one probably raised that in about 10 minutes um so so some great angels and some of that vinta angels and a couple of my contacts I remember speaking to it’ one of the guys and I was like oh yeah i’ just get a funding done. And I like I started it like two o’clock and had it finished by six o’clock so that was just like people I knew and it’s relatively straightforward and then like five months later we closed a seed round which was led by the incredible team at venture friends. And Jangular Landrover as well as clocktowwel ventures which are usvc and so we closed that in sort of April May Twenty Twenty one and then we just literally closed our series a in. September ah were September Twenty Twenty two so it ended last summer and just to kind of draw people’s memories back to that period in time it was absolutely chaos in the Uk I think we have. Free pirate planet prime ministers in less than like eight weeks and it was extremely challenging, extremely challenging. Probably the worst funding environment ever to get in that kind of deal done. But I’d known you said for qed for some time.
Aidan Rushby: And I just got turned down from from somebody that was very certain coming through but pretty damning kind of feedback from that I see and literally like I was in new yorker again at the time and. Yeah, in a very sad and depressing place. Well it’s be on my only holiday for the last two and a half years then yeah Yousef Cool Ben was that super excited just got back off his holiday day and was really excited and they they’ve been incredible. Just such massive value a investors very very smart, very very knowledgeable about financial services and not a huge value to the business. But yeah it it was it was a challenge like I think the pitched to like 8 or 9 I sees during that summer and yeah got to to accepted I think I see is like the final process in fundraising journey. One of the things that I think was quite useful to share with other other people is that I personally found the ic process. Extremely difficult and think I think there is a massive difference between the Aidan rushby that you see on a vehicle to the Aidan brushbe you see in real life and I really struggled to translate my kind of energy enthusiasm through the camera.
Aidan Rushby: And especially when you’re talking to someone that is like there’s lots of people on very small screens and being an extra bar like I ah lost my energy very very quickly on those calls as like deteriorated and I’ve turned into like a monotone. And so it got really bad feedback and that wasn’t very interested and actually if you you know people that leave me in real life. But obviously a huge amount of energy. They tried a very very skilled team. And so yeah, really really challenging and something that I would highly recommend to people and especially in today’s world you know since then I’ve had lots of coaching and training around video calls and video conferencing. But yeah, it was a real challenge. Um and a bit of a shit show. From my side and yeah big learning and so much of it’s now very few had done face to face and I think and yeah, it’s like ah, a really really interesting challenge that I had to kind of overcome the.
Alejandro Cremades: And obviously this a last round that you guys did with QEd was saying was incredible. I Guess say you know just to um to give some perspective you know because I’m sure that there’s a lot of people that are you know tuning in now and they’re perhaps you know in their own fundraise or thinking about fundraising. How did you meet. Ah, the guys had Qid and and how long did it take you know from the moment that you connected with M and T you receive that day that phone call saying we’re in.
Aidan Rushby: I think it’s a it was a long period of time and then multiple people involved in enabling that to happen I I first met Yusef when I was at move bubble back in probably 11 years before and. Men face to face a few times are bumped into him events and say a kind of built a bit of a relationship that I think that’s really important is that you you don’t want to just go to these people straight away with with you know the business. You’re trying to pitch them at time it was. It’s a long time in the making and then also like we had a lot of angels that were interlinked with qidd which were really important as part of the process some incredible angels like Mark Ransford Dan Cobbley will kneel and they were will say like you know in in. Qidds here of influence if you like and I think it’s important they have those relationships can kind of bolster and and build your own credibility as an entrepreneur. But once we like use it for this incredibly transparent like of all vcs like. For for an entrepreneur. It’s really beneficial just to know where you stand you know a lot of Vc play games where they don’t answer your calls or yeah, go quiet and then you know like use it as just incredibly straightforward. Very very honest about what the problems were what the challenge were.
Aidan Rushby: Where the issues were and so from you know, starting the process. We started the process properly in September and with closed by. We had a term sheet by October closed by November no in november.
Alejandro Cremades: Well, that’s amazing now Obviously Vision. You know what’s a big one you know with a with investors I’m sure so talking about that just double clicking imagine if you were to go to sleep tonight right? then and you wake up. In a world where the vision of Carmulla is fully realized what does that world look like.
Aidan Rushby: Really great question and something I often think about I think before I answer that question I think the vision grows they they would be afraid like yeah, the vision grows all the time and I think. Vision now is that commier becomes the world’s largest car finance company that expands into various other financial products so wed see a world where car Miller is the go to car finance platform for. Anywhere in the world say you’ll be able to finance the car in minutes at the lowest rate and just have an awesome experience end to end.
Alejandro Cremades: I love that that sounds like a beautiful world. So a then. So imagine I mean we say we’re talking about the future now but I want to talk about the past and doing it with a len of reflection if I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time. Maybe to that moment where you were you know, studying business in Bristol and and you were wondering you know about a world where you would also you know bring a company to life just like you were seeing your parents you know without entrepreneurial drive. You know for you to do that same thing and let’s say you were able to have a sit down without younger. Even. And being able to give your younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Aidan Rushby: Hundred percent choose the right market I think market is the most important thing and really make sure that you can access that market number one is there is every route in to start driving revenues. And make sure that the revenues are there and the profit pools are there to build a substantial business with your first product. What you don’t want to be doing is relying on a second and third or fourth product to build ah a huge business like what made car build are very straightforward and very easy to execute on. Is that the first product is in a huge market and the route to market has been. You know is very very clear and I think say like I’ll give it 2 points of advice like 1 make sure you pick a big market. And don’t sell yourself like you need to be really rational and really honest with yourself about the realities of execution and so like a way I kind of bring that to light is that when I first started carmulla was. Be very clear that the business model would work so it tested every avenue of that business model I could without spending any money you know to the point that I would test the acquisition channels would work. You know we set up landing pages with very paid search. We built the proposition.
Aidan Rushby: Very clearly to make sure that we wouldn’t lie to ourselves and so I think like make sure the market works and make sure your approach into that market is well tested before you even start and because it’s very easy once you start to keep. Telling yourself and kidding yourself that it will work. But the reality is some some of those core things just don’t change and then you can burn huge amount of time. So I think and you know number 1 like you know I’ve seen average founders do a really good job in ah in a. And a bad in ah in a great market. But I’ve seen great founders in a poor market. You know, equally do do a poor job. So I think it’s it’s all like for me, it’s all about market and then second like how to approach that.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s incredible I mean I couldn’t agree more I couldn’t agree more now a than for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.
Aidan Rushby: You know.
Aidan Rushby: Ah, drop me an email like I always try and respond to everybody I can say yeah feel free to drop me an email. My email address is Aidan so a idan at car lula c a Rn. . double low l a dot co dot u k yeah so feel free and free that to to reach out to me.
Alejandro Cremades: You say enough? well aan. Thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us. Okay.
Aidan Rushby: Thank you so much and hopefully ah very useful for for some people out there.
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