Interested in starting your own tech business, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sharika Chauhan, a female co-founder at an exciting new fintech business called LedgerComm based in London!
What is it that your business does and who are your customers?
LedgerComm has created an end-to-end tech solution to shake up the very archaic trillion-dollar corporate loan market. Our co-founder and CEO, Will Nash, is an ex-credit sales trader who saw an opportunity to make the marketplace more liquid and transparent, so together we created and engineered our product from scratch.
LedgerComm’s single interactive platform allows for institutional lenders to trade, settle, and securely sign legal loan contracts and allows corporate borrowers to deploy our digital loan agency services. Our proprietary tech aims to cut the processing time to close loans deals from 50+ days to within minutes; a solution which currently does not exist.
What's your background and motivation to get into the solopreneur life?
After completing a grueling 10-week internship at Goldman Sachs and graduating with a Maths & Business degree at University of Manchester, I began my career in Operations within financial services, where I slowly got a reputation as the ‘problem solver’ or someone ‘who will change processes’. To me, it made sense that if something could be done better, I needed to try and make it happen.
Looking back, I have always been drawn to taking adventures. At 19 I had backpacked my way around Brazil, at 25 I made my first angel investment in a Tech company, and by 30 I had I left a stable, well-paid, job to pursue a more challenging role. By 33, I had hiked the Himalayas, solo travelled across continents, and co-founded LedgerComm to build the business from the ground up.
Being a calculated risk-taker naturally lends itself to being an entrepreneur, and it became clearer to me during my time traveling that I was ready to take the leap into a start-up career rather than return to the corporate world.
A huge motivation to make LedgerComm a success stems from not wanting to relive the sheer frustration of dealing with overly complex processes in the corporate loan market or having to wait almost 2 months to close loan deals. I also don’t want to deal with faxes or manual payment verifications ever again (Can you believe outdated faxes are still used in this industry?). Knowing that there is a clear need for this in the market, and that I can do something about it, makes the job exciting!
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?
I feel that it is already an achievement to have been able to design a new tech solution for a problem that is notorious for being the most complex and tech deprived in the financial services sector. The ultimate goal is for our product to become a scalable offering that solves our clients’ needs and to have our technology adopted globally as a market wide solution. To be part of that journey, for me, is one form of success.
Another form of success will be in the culture that LedgerComm is built around. I believe a diverse workforce is key to achieving creativity and innovation at its best, especially when you re-engineer and build something from scratch. That is why it is important to me that LedgerComm’s culture be one that includes women, people of color, and others who are often not included in the financial and tech industries.
What are the top 3 tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a business today?
1) Trust your gut, it’s usually right
2) Build a business in an area you know inside out and you know needs disrupting
3) Maintain your passion for your business throughout your entire journey
If there was one thing you could do repeatedly day in day out to help grow your business then what would it be?
I would happily promote LedgerComm’s revolutionary platform to prospective clients all day, every day, and execute my sales pitch with hundreds of stories of my painful experiences as a loan closer and a product specialist!
Nonetheless, re-engineering the processes within the corporate loan market, in my opinion, is the equivalent of being tasked with solving multiple 1,000-piece puzzles, simultaneously. I believe there are many possibilities open to us for strategic partnerships that would help us grow the business to the next level. I believe it will be a challenging yet rewarding task!
What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?
Coming from the banking sector and having worked on the bustling trading floors, I have learned to stay calm when under pressure and multitask efficiently. This trait has followed me through my career so far, so when I am in the thick of work, it helps me to plan out my time.
Recently, my Sunday evenings, which my team call ‘Sharika’s Sunday Express’ are dedicated to reflecting on the last weeks productivity, planning the week ahead and testing the past weeks tech deployment to pick up on bugs and workflow issues.
Having a strong work ethic is a value that is a part of my identity. Like many British Asians of my generation who grew up in the UK with parents who emigrated from East Africa in the 70's, hard work and education was deeply instilled from day one.
From early on, I understood that I needed to put time aside to learn and graft but I also discovered that balancing this with adventure is important to me. I’m an avid traveller which means my ‘wanderlust gene’ is currently in a deficient state since the Covid pandemic hit, hence, I am itching to plan my next intrepid voyage! Travelling for me keeps me grounded, refreshed, and unlocks my creative side.
Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs and best business resources/books?
Anne Boden (CEO of Starling Bank), simply because I think her boldness, guts, and tenacity to have founded a new bank in the UK is remarkable and inspirational (and to be the only woman in the UK to have done it).
Payal Kadakia, (ex-CEO of ClassPass). A keen ClassPasser myself (until the pandemic hit), Payal created a brilliant subscription-based business which lets gym enthusiasts find and book fitness classes at gym studios located throughout the city, I only wish I had thought of the idea first! She is also an artistic director of an Indian dance company and has been classed as a ‘dancetrepreneur’ from a young age. The Indian dance form can take years to master and one I was lucky enough to have started learning from a young age too.
Elon Musk, because he is a rare force of nature and a futurist who I believe can help change the world we live in, the way we live in it, and our future climate. I have also been captivated by space from a young age, so to see his innovations and explorations come to life is amazing.
I would highly recommend ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed (an international table-tennis champion). His fascinating book explores ‘talent myths’ and discovers that; a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice are necessary to break into the realm of excellence. It is thought provoking to know that if we had all been taught this concept from an early age then maybe we wouldn’t let the idea of innate ability hold us back and that anything is achievable with practice.
For anyone looking to start a business today, what would be the number one bit of advice you'd give them?
Market yourself all the time, as you are your biggest asset for your business. People invest in people first, then the business. Echoing Elon Musk’s piece of advice – ‘constantly think about how you could be doing things better and keep questioning yourself’.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story on becoming a tech founder that you'd like to share then hit Jonny up on Twitter, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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