London’s financial technology sector has driven a record level of investment over the last few years. The number of Fintech companies has rocketed, but only a handful of those have established their presence. Silicon Investing, a Fintech brokerage startup, founded by Ryan Bertrand, Matthew Kirkham and Louis Bell, entered the scene in October last year and since then enjoyed a rapid growth.
We met Matthew Kirkham and Louis Bell in their new East London location. The co-founders believe they identified a gap in the market and work towards creating powerful and institutional-level tools for retail traders. With Silicon Investing, any trader gets a unique set of preferences and trading strategies to improve their trading experience. We decided to find out how was the idea born and what makes it unique.
We are now working heavily to gain international traction.
How did you come up with the idea of founding Silicon Markets?
Matthew Kirkham: While working on other projects, it became glaringly obvious that the retail trading industry was very behind in providing value and powerful tools to retail traders. The institutional industry, on the other hand, was behind in user experience and interface design. If you wanted to use institutional level software – there was a very steep learning curve, and very high costs associated making it inaccessible to the large majority of investors and traders. I wanted to change that. That’s where I met with Louis and Ryan, our other two co-founders.
Louis Bell: We wanted to provide people from different walks of life the opportunity to access professional trading software for no cost. It was my previous job in a proprietary trading firm where I realised the existing gap in the market – and how it had to be filled.
What are the three things you’ve learned being the co- founders?
Matthew Kirkham: It would be hard to reduce all the experiences to only three points. I guess the most valuable lessons we both can agree on are the importance of persistence, concentration and acknowledgement that the customer is never wrong.
Persistence pays off. People will regularly tell you how difficult something is, or that you are unable to achieve it. Simply never quitting gets you there most of the time. As for concentration, despite the fact you have to work on multiple things at any one time (which is seemingly unavoidable in today’s fast-paced environment) my best days are when I focus purely on one specific part of our business and dig deep. So many good opportunities will come and go whilst you are running a business. You simply can’t say yes to all the exciting tangents.
It is crucial to focus on vital propositions for your business.
Finally, the customer is never wrong. If you are doing a demo or displaying a product or service – and you receive feedback about a feature being too confusing, it means that it is confusing. If it needs explaining, tautologically it’s too complicated.
Louis Bell: For me – quality is everything; we aim to hire the most elite employees to carry our company to new heights. Setbacks are inevitable and are just something you have to learn to work with – and account for in timelines. It’s a no-brainer that working within the Fintech space is very competitive.
Was there any inspirational story or figure that helped keep you focused on your goals?
Louis Bell: There definitely are stories that push us to move forward, follow our passions and add value. I am an active observer of investment and Fintech industry developments and perhaps, my favourite example of company growth is Wealthfront. It is a very interesting case of a company managing to scale up so impressively in such a short period of time.
Matthew Kirkham: I find Elon Musk’s story incredibly inspirational. He manages to completely disrupt (and create) two different industries simultaneously – on scales never seen before. When I’m feeling burnt out, I like to reflect on his story and what he is achieving. It adds to my motivation; I quickly realise I have no excuse.
I’d also say my two co-founders Louis and Ryan both helped me stay focused and have taught me a lot. They are both naturally perfectionists and have very high standards. It has helped me strive for excellence in all the work I’m doing. A sort of personal pride. I feel very fortunate to be working with both of them.
You simply can’t say yes to all the exciting tangents; it is crucial to focus on vital propositions for your business.
What keeps you awake at night?
Matthew Kirkham: It must be caffeine for both of us (laughs). Well, in all seriousness, I really like creating genuine value for people. There are so many features, ideas, improvements that I want to bring to life. I go to bed with a sort of utilitarian focus on which problems to solve.
Louis Bell: Being involved in one of the fastest growing industries definitely keeps us on our toes. It is not only the competition that we are facing, but the wish to offer our customers the best solutions; it makes us find new ways to improve our services. Growing and expanding your presence takes a lot of energy, but it’s the challenges that make the journey interesting and valuable.
What is the next milestone for Silicon Markets?
Louis Bell: We are now working heavily to gain international traction. Not to give away too much, we have a number of innovative marketing ideas and campaigns planned for the coming months.
Matthew Kirkham: Definitely, international success is what we are working towards. To second Louis and not to put all cards on the table just now, achieving recognition in China would be promising.
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