Alternative financing and disruption was on the menu when entrepreneur Anil Stocker spoke at the Mandrake in November 2012.

Anil’s business MarketInvoice offers SMEs an alternative way to access cash tied up in invoices to their larger customers, thanks to a digital platform which auctions those invoices to the highest bidders from a community of global investors. Practically everyone benefits: the SMEs get to access growth capital when they need it, the investors get a decent rate of return and Anil takes his slice too: in fact the only people who aren’t too happy about MarketInvoice are the banks, whose fusty, inflexible and expensive invoice factoring products are suddenly starting to look distinctly last-century.

Anil talked fascinatingly about the experience of being a tech-led financial services start-up too: the struggle to raise seed capital, the challenges of the platform build process, the agonising delay before the first customer came on the scene and now two years later, the whole new set of challenges offered by the need to change up a gear and take the business to the next level of growth. It struck a chord with his appreciative audience: in a nice ‘square-the-circle’ moment I realised Giles Andrews from Zopa was in the audience, nodding knowledgeably at everything Anil said. Zopa was of course one of the first tech-led businesses into the alternative financing space back in 2004 and Zopa’s co-founder Richard Duvall was our first guest speaker when the Mandrake itself re-launched in January 2005.

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