Getting to know our NED Gary Dolman
10 September 2020
Gary Dolman “The Expert”
Non-executive Director @ ELEMENTARYb
As part of our series in getting to know what motivates our founders to build Eb, we introduce our NED Gary Dolman in this second chapter.
“Start your start-up life earlier on!”
Is the advise Gary would give to his younger self. “Experience and knowledge work against you,” he reckons. “You need an open mind to be able to use tech to its absolute maximum!”
Gary is a very experienced NED, having co-founded tech poster child Monzo and another challenger bank. When he was presented with the concept of disrupting banking to middle market enterprises (MMEs), Gary liked both the energy from the team presenting it and the idea itself.
Right out of the gate, ELEMENTARYb (Eb) showed the ambition, leadership and a roadmap to create the future model of finance for UK MMEs. The team’s understanding that the explosion of data combined with intelligent options presents both real risks and tremendous opportunities was key.
MMEs in the UK are currently operating in a difficult environment. There has been low-growth for years. The uncertainty caused by Brexit and political dynamics remains a real concern and global factors such as climate change, shifting trade flows and Covid-19 are clouding the economic outlook. MMEs need solutions designed to help them through these tough times, to become more financially resilient, and support their continued sustainable growth.
Apparently, it just took three elements to win Gary over to the project:
First, Eb was an idea that he could relate to. Through his experience working with incumbents and challengers, he had a pretty good view of the limitations of the sector and how the gaps left adversely affected MMEs, creating a market ripe for disruption. MMEs are the under-appreciated backbone of the UK’s growth economy but they are woefully underserved by UK finance. Bankers, lawyers, accountants and tax advisors have all found the middle market difficult to service appropriately and profitably. Gary knows that MMEs need new allies.
“When it comes to the middle market,
incumbents do not service it well.”
When asked if wooing the MME market is going to be quite a different compared to retail consumers, Gary admits that there are challenges on both markets. A lot relies on community engagement which can be dependent on a number of partners sliced by industry and by geography.
Second, Gary felt that he could add value. The business model for Eb relies on a quick scaling process requiring agility and adoption of new technologies: “I have experience of that,” he concedes. One thing Gary can add to the collective wisdom of the team is that he knows first-hand what can go wrong when it comes to rapidly developing a challenger product proposition and acquiring users caught in the grip of incumbents.
The idea that access to MME data combined with unbiased models to provide deep insights, tailored options and bank-grade protection on a proactive basis is what differentiates Eb. The potential for the vast depth of stickiness of a new ecosystem, where British MME’s thrive, their accountants and advisors flourish, and financial services firms are given an opportunity to provide best in market offering, has got to be worth the effort.
Gary is honest about the challenges ahead. “One of the key challenges to scaling”, he highlights, “is to bring the right people, world-class people.” He stresses the fact that it is not only about finding people, but also onboarding, training and retaining them: “This is key to support customer acquisition.”
And last but by no means least, Gary respected the team. What really seduced him was the can-do attitude of people who were taking responsibility, moving forward with a unique proposition, and willing to learn. Well, what can we say?
When asked what he is most excited about in the project, Gary replies with a smile:
“It is great to see something
evolve from its infancy”
Reminiscing about his experience at Monzo, he admits he will never forget the first use of a Monzo card outside London. “I am part of that,” he muses with a twinkle in his eye.