Philip Kelvin has gone from studying history to investment banking, to launching his own startup that seems incredibly well timed to help others through today’s financial turmoil.
On the Dealmakers Show Kelvin shared his insights on going global, financial cycles, navigating high interest rate environments, managing distributed teams, fundraising, and thriving through financial storms.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
Learning How To Navigate Turbulent Times
Philip Kelvin was born and grew up in London. His childhood had a big focus on education, working as hard as you can, and trying to reach the highest standards.
When it came time for university he chose to study history at Durham University in England. While, on the surface that may not seem like a natural segue into finance at Rothschild to everyone, he says he has found it valuable. Especially, when it comes to absorbing lots of data, figuring out what it means, and being able to distill and convey that to others. Everything else he says you can learn on the job. Though it certainly no doubt also helps to know your history when it comes to navigating business and economic cycles.
Right out of school Kelvin landed in the corporate world, in investment banking. A great fit for his skills in analyzing a lot of information. Just in this case it was company finances in the real world instead of just textbooks.
He considers the experience a great start for understanding the corporate world. How to work long hours, how to work efficiently, or not, how board meetings work, and more. As well as getting more insight into the world of business outside of his own lifetime. As many of his generation were too young to have really understood the impact of the last financial and banking crisis in their own lives. He then went back to academia undertaking postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge where he wanted to push himself further.
Learning How The Corporate World Works
The corporate world wasn’t far away and following that he spent some time in consulting with Bain who he had worked with at Rothschild previously There he learned how to do due diligence on companies. As well as how to very quickly become an expert in new industries in just a matter of weeks. The market, the competitive landscape, and to get to the root of issues fast.
Wanting to get his hands dirty, actually owning the responsibility for his advice and the P&L, and to be more connected to his work, Kelvin decided to join a startup.
Still in his late 20s he became the CFO of a mortgage company in the UK, right in the middle of COVID lockdowns.
His big takeaways from all of these experiences, including going through the current banking crisis with his own venture, are that despite your best plaid plans, your career and business journey will not be a linear path. That getting through it is all about adapting. The world will adapt to changes, and for your business to survive, you must adapt too.
That applies to financial crises, pandemics, wars, inflation, and periods of fast rising interest rates.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
Launching Your First Startup
Although Philip took his time through academia and other corporate jobs before starting a venture of his own, some of his top advice for others is to just get out there and do it fast.
He says there is so much technology out there today that entrepreneurs can get going with a MVP very quickly, the Y Combinator approach, put it in front of customers, gain interest in it, and just launch.
He warns about trying to perfect things first. Instead, he recommends to embrace the possibility of failure. Even if you fail, you can keep going as an entrepreneur. Every experience will only help you learn something, and become a better leader and person.
The mortgage business that Philip was CFO at ended up encountering more issues. Not just the pause on business that resulted from COVID lockdowns, but then how the capital markets contracted and froze.
All of a sudden it became very hard to raise money, and house moving stalled as people couldn’t leave their homes. So, they ended up getting acquired by Better.
After that transaction he had the opportunity to move out to San Francisco. There he got exposure to the Valley, and found that he already had a lot of shared experiences with founders despite having been the CFO. To the point where he thought it made sense to become a founder himself.
He partnered up with his former head of engineering, Beau Allison, and began looking at problems that they had the capability to solve.
They decided on financial services, but to focus on the B2B side of things this time.
Their startup Tranch decided to tackle the buy now pay later space. Enabling companies to get paid faster, while giving their customers the flexibility to pay for their products and services over two to 12 months.
After going through Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program Tranch quickly went global, with distributed teams in the US and Europe.
They’ve already raised over $5M in equity, and a $100M credit facility to help finance their customers.
The financial stress out there, and more recent banking failures, as well as high inflation and interest rates have only helped fuel Tranch’s business.
He says that 60% of invoices in the US are overdue, and that people still don’t have access to their money in SVB and other failing banks. So, they also stepped up to help these customers with their services, and have experienced an enormous surge in demand.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- How Tranch works
- Decision making
- The new banking crisis
- Debt versus equity funding