Edward Cahill: Life at a Big Corporate Is Very Easy and Much Better Risk/Reward. So Please Don’t Do This for the Money

September 26, 2022

Edward Cahill of ONBORD.

Tell us about yourself?

I have spent most of my life building risk models in finance and have done so for various top tier investment banks. ONBORD is the result of decades of thinking about fraud and credit risk and how to manage it.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

Life at a big corporate is very easy and much better risk/reward. So please don’t do this for the money, you have to be driven by a belief that what you are doing makes sense and can make a difference (or alternatively you can probably just be delusional).

It is a hard slog and although there is a lot of literature which romanticises the life of a founder, the reality is it is very hard work and only for a small subset of people.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Write it all up and create all the supporting materials without actually creating an MVP. VCs seem to reward a well thought out plan over a scrappy functional product.

Once you get going, you have to move fast and hit revenue targets on a regular basis.

You have more time in the beginning before the clock really starts so make the most of this preparation phase.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

In a startup with limited funding, you have no choice but to sacrifice part of your personal life – that is the nature of the beast. If work/life balance is the most important thing to you then don’t found a company.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

The financial crisis in 2007/8 (when institutionalised fraud in the US mortgage market nearly brought down the world economy) was a big influence as is the level of fraud we see today across the economy.

I should also add that, whilst not an influence per se, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the consequent sanctions have also prompted new features and caused significant adoption of our technology.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

As a team we understand the problem better than anyone else and we are extremely efficient at how we build software which enables us to move faster in a space that is constantly evolving.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

When you have product market fit, you will know. And if you don’t know that you have it, then you don’t have it, so you need to change things.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge every startup (except a lucky few backed by Y-Combinator or some other Silicon Valley titans) faces is cashflow.

You just have to hustle and raise funding in any way that you can. We are raising on Seedrs right now.

What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?

Our business makes a lot of sense to be based in London.

Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?

Well it’s not an issue but every tech founder must wish they were in California where there is just much more risk taking capital available.

How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?

Most of our developers have now moved out of London and work from home which was more a consequence of the pandemic than cost of living pressure.

If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?

Belfast – a lot cheaper than London and lots of talent to choose from given there aren’t as many big employers there.

How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?

Not so far but if the UK diverges from Europe too much on AMLD6 and GDPR legislation that would cause us issues – not insurmountable issues but issues nonetheless. The harmonisation of legislation has been a benefit to us.

What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?

To be the best at what we do and see onboarding established as a category.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

Email me – [email protected]

Follow ONBORD on Twitter or Linkedin.

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