Date: 21 April 2022
Author: FINTECH Circle
Our focus at ELEMENTARYb is to help businesses thrive in an ever-changing world through the use of intelligent technology. Our SaaS platform “Sherloc” helps companies model the impact of future events, manage risk and navigate challenges successfully.
How would you describe your business in one sentence?
Eb’s Sherloc platform is a financial risk management solution that helps businesses navigate economic turmoil by acting as an early warning system.
Tell us why your company is a game changer for our industry?
Companies of all sizes try to predict a very uncertain future and attempt to have plans in place to ensure they can survive… In an interconnected, constantly changing world, excel is just not good enough anymore.
Sherloc by Eb, is an affordable, plug & play, cloud-based tool that helps businesses survive and thrive in today’s ever-changing environment with connected, intelligent technology in a single, user-friendly interface.
Once plans are in, Sherloc monitors and acts as an early warning system for companies, notifying them and their permissioned advisors/bankers when their best-laid plans are impacted by events.
Notifications include root cause analyses and options to compare & contrast using their companies’ own data to facilitate decision-making and mitigate that risk. Ongoing plans are then updated automatically.
Sherloc was specifically designed to help disintermediated SMEs with £2m+ of annual turnover, who typically import/export or trade across jurisdictions, who do not necessarily have full-time finance staff in-house and are very sensitive to changes in underlying supply chains, raw materials, cost of services, duties, exchange rates and other factors.
Current ‘similar’ solutions are expensive, require heavy up-front investment to set-up and ongoing fees to maintain, are not very user-friendly and do not capture non-financial assumptions used in managing a business (e.g. the size of a transportation fleet or space in warehouse) that underpin financial plans.
As Sherloc evolves, solutions will include an extended range of financial and non-financial products and services to mitigate risk, such as insurance, smart contracts, Transactional FX, utilities, etc, to help businesses save time, cost and provide with peace of mind that someone is looking after their interests on a daily basis, so they can focus on growth.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Eb announced the go-live of Sherloc at IFGS2022 and later at Money20/20’s World Tour Launch in the first week of April ’22 and has been registering early adopters since.
We had released our prototype with test clients in the summer of ’21, which was followed by a full-productionised and secure alpha within 6 months.
Eb has been nominated for a number of awards, most recently The Women in Payments Audience Choice Winner and Innovate Finance’s Pitch Finalists.
Our thought leadership pieces have been published by Trade bodies such as The ICAEW and the ACCA, international publications such as Financial IT and Finextra.
What has been the greatest challenge leading a start-up so far?
Eb was founded shortly before Covid changed the ‘traditional game’ of work rules – the combination of fundraising and delivering within a new working era was a challenge and a half!
First of all, raising funds via zoom/MST was very difficult as I was trying to convince people to trust someone they had never met before with their money, whilst the world outside was in a constantly state of panicked flux.
We didn’t take it as a setback and creativity took over as we noticed people found themselves with a little extra spare time working from home. We were able to integrate flexibility into our delivery model (evening meetings, workshops in the park!) to make it work for everyone involved and ‘barter’ for talent in exchange for share options so we could move forward.
Secondly, keeping people who have some spare time to dedicate to a new, greenfield, proposition motivated throughout a global pandemic, where every week something else happens, was really tough as well.
Awareness of the impact from the pandemic on people’s mental health has thankfully increased, but as a manager trying to keep people positive, delivering and motivated on a ‘side project’ throughout that time was a challenging balancing act.
To manage this, I chose to lead with human kindness instead of deadlines, noting where we – as delivery-focused, high-performing individuals – were our own worst enemies when our expectations didn’t meet our perception of our delivery capabilities.
Creating open channels of communication with our team and managing interdependencies without the stress found in corporate environments, openly discussing external or ‘main’ activities that trumped our expected deadlines, actually worked towards focussing people on the important things.
We were able to navigate hurdles (such as working out of hours or delivering designs without expensive tools) by working together and listening to each other’s’ suggestions. We were thrifty, resourceful and were able to deliver a working prototype with clients on a £250/month burn-rate as a result!
What’s your typical day like?
Ohhh, I’m not sure I have a ‘typical’ day as every day it’s different! If I’m working from home, my only constant is getting ready and everyone shipped out by 7:30 am and taking the puppy for a walk, back for work before 9 am. Then between fundraising, team meetings, client calls/demos, design/tech/planning sessions the rest of the day disappears.
I am usually in the city for client, investor, partnership or PR reasons at least twice per week and home-time depends on evening events.
Fridays I normally like to leave for admin and exercise, but client, rescheduled 121s and investor meetings are not a rare occurrence in that space nowadays
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your fundraising journey?
Hands down the biggest lesson for me is that fundraising is something that needs to happen face-to-face, particularly in the early stages of a start-ups’ journey when investors are trusting you and your team to deliver that value.
That message and the passion for why and how you’re doing this is very difficult to push through a screen and it’s been like day and night since we have started to meet people face to face!
Your advice to anyone starting out as an entrepreneur?
Close your eyes and jump! It’s one heck of a ride and there will be challenges along the way that will force you to think outside the box and stretch your mind and soul, which you can use as opportunities to learn.
If you never try, you’ll just never know just how breath-taking the view from the ride is!
Oh, and if you fall and bruise yourself, dust off your knees, think on it a bit and try again!
A start-up founder who has regularly worked with top tier banks and cutting edge FinTech firms appearing on the “Top 10 to watch” lists, as well as having nearly 20 years’ investment and corporate banking experience managing large-scale, global transformation programmes for UBS, Barclays, BNP Paribas and Lloyds. She is a strategic trouble shooter who is passionate about change.
Karen holds an MBA and started her career in the Canadian chemical engineering industry before moving to the UK to take advantage of the dot.com wave where she helped build a tech business that listed on AIM.
You can connect with Karen on LinkedIn