Hey, I'm Sharika Chauhan, and I run LedgerComm, based in London.
What is it that your business does and who are your customers?
LedgerComm have created an end-to-end tech solution to shake up the very archaic trillion-dollar corporate loan market. Our founder and CEO, Will Nash, is an ex-credit sales trader and saw a need 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 gruelling 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, then I needed to try and make it happen.
Looking back, I have always been drawn to taking risks. 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 well-paid, stable job to pursue a more challenging role. By 33, I had hiked the Himalayas, solo travelled across continents and partnered at LedgerComm, to build the business from the ground up.
Being a risk taker naturally lends itself to being an entrepreneur and it became clearer to me during my time out that I was ready to take the leap into a start-up career rather than return to the corporate world.
My 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! Knowing that there is a clear need for this in the market and that I can do something about it, makes the job easier and more exciting! I also don’t want to deal with faxes or manual payment verifications ever again (yes, faxes are still used in our industry believe it or not…).
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?
I feel that it is already an achievement in itself to have been able to solve and design a new tech solution for a product that is notorious for being the most complex and tech deprived in the financial services sector. Our ultimate goal would be for our product to become a scalable offering that our clients want and need and to have our technology adopted globally as a market wide solution. To be part of that journey, for me, is true success.
If, during or after that journey, I can give back to the wider community by whichever means, or be able to help others on a professional level, then that would be an added bonus.
What are the top 3 tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a business today?
1) Trust your gut, its usually always 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 collaboration possibilities open to us, to help grow the business and open doors to strategic partnerships so we can take our 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 trading floors, I have learnt to stay calm when under pressure and multitask efficiently, however, I have always made sure I maintain a healthy balance between work and life.
Workwise, it starts on Sunday evenings, which my team call ‘Sharika’s Sunday Express’. It is where I dedicate a couple hours to planning the week ahead, which helps keep my focus. I also test the past weeks tech deployment, as I find that after a break away from the laptop, I pick up on bugs and workflow issues more effectively. It also gives me time to reflect on the last weeks productivity.
During the week, I like to keep active with virtual gym training, walking, hiking or cycling, so I can leave the evenings to relax with my foot massager and a good book or box set!
I’m an avid travel and adventure junkie which means my ‘wanderlust gene’ is currently in a deficient state, hence, I am itching to plan my next intrepid voyage (post lockdown). Travelling for me keeps me grounded, refreshed and opens up the soul.
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 who I believe can literally change the world we live in, the way we live 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 practise are necessary to break into the realm of excellence or for the acquisition of expertise in a complex task. 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 practise.
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 advise –‘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 #SoloStories that you'd like to share then hit Jonny up on Twitter, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.