Ben Wynne-Simmons on Investing in Startups and the Future of Mobile [Podcast]

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Welcome to episode #06 of the Fliplet podcast!

This week we were joined by investor, Ben Wynne-Simmons. As you’ll find out in the podcast, Ben comes from a background that has encompassed a range of industries and roles, including engineering and private equity finance.

With that in mind it’s of no surprise that we covered a variety of topics…

Who is Ben Wynne-Simmons?

Ben graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Engineering. After swiftly moving into a career in the financial sector, he found himself working as an investment director in a private equity role.

It wasn’t long before Ben started yearning for a life outside of the corporate world. That’s when he moved into angel investing and setup Coral Reef, an early-stage investor in startups focussed on creative technology.

Currently, Coral Reef are invested in 8 startups, one of which is none other than Fliplet.

Investing in B2B versus B2C startups

Ben pointed out that there are naturally some differences, from an investors perspective, between B2B and B2C companies. For a B2B business seeking investment, they will generally need to show evidence of revenue being generated from their product or service.

For a B2C startup charging customers is more difficult (unless it’s an amazing product). Rather than looking for signs of revenue, investors in consumer facing startups will be looking for high-adoption rates, rapid growth, and low marketing costs.

By following a process of offering free services or products, followed by premium services or advertising, B2C companies give themselves greater opportunity to excel in the long-term.

Building businesses as an investor

An interesting concept that is discussed in the podcast is the business builder model, which is, “akin to VCs that straddle the divide between founders and investors.”, according to the Coral Reef Managing Director.

Using this model, Coral reef has spun-off a separate business, TantrumXYZ, which is essentially a modern take on parenting services. With a focus on millennials, TantrumXYZ is a magazine, community and shop for tech-savvy, design conscious parents.

The state of the parenting market as a whole is discussed, with Ben estimating that it’s a £5 billion per/year market. Despite the high potential, it’s made clear that like all other startups, TantrumXYZ has had to take appropriate measures, and a lean approach, to mitigate risk.

The impact mobile payments are having on retail

For those in retail, particularly those who run online shops, payment options are an aspect of the buying process which has seen little disruption since the introduction of credit/debit cards.

Now, with Apple Pay and Android Pay introducing themselves into the market, customers can literally make payments in stores, both online and offline, in seconds, with only their fingerprint.

If you reduce the difficulty of the user buying process you will naturally increase conversion rates of sales. “It’s opening up the Amazon one-click to a lot of other businesses”, said Ben.

This also eliminates the need for your browser or password manager to have an auto-fill feature, which is the same principle as Touch ID or mobile payments, but one which is considered by many to less secure.

Uncertainty, confusion and frustration faced by many customers when trying to purchase goods with their 16-digit credit card and billing address is removed by Touch ID paving the way for further innovation.

What impact can Touch ID have on enterprise

So how can this technology be integrated into enterprises? The possibility of Touch ID technologies being used by organizations to replace signatures, amongst other things, is something that may excite many professionals.

We’ve already established that mobile technology has had a profound impact on enterprises across the globe. Consider a B2C company like TantrumXYZ, who receives 85% of their traffic from mobile devices.

The rise in mobile usage translates across industries and sectors, but as is pointed out in the podcast, many users still prefer to use mobile devices for discovery, and opt for a larger screen for conversions/purchases.

That being said, the general consensus is that there are increasingly fewer reasons why employees or individuals actually need to use a desktop computer.

Do you think Touch ID technology will find it’s way into enterprise in the near future? How do you prefer to pay for items – via mobile payment or credit card?

Thanks for tuning in for another episode of the Fliplet podcast. Get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, or comment below if you have any questions for us.

You can reach Ben via LinkedIn, or Twitter. Be sure to check out Coral Reef, and TantrumXYZ.