Describe your career journey
After Cambridge I joined Operis, spending close to three years there building and auditing financial models and advising on PPP/PFI projects. I then took a year off to go to South America, before joining Lightsource at the start of 2015 where I helped close a number of deals at the height of the solar boom. I’ve been at Turquoise since the beginning of 2016.
What are the key ingredients to delivering innovation?
You need entrepreneurs with good ideas and the conviction to try and realise them. Then they need money. Thankfully there are incentives like (S)EIS that are effective at spurring investment in innovation (at least when used for their intended purpose) and otherwise it falls to VCs or large corporates to have enough faith in early stage technology to take some of the financing burden off entrepreneurs.
What’s been your biggest business challenge?
Getting back into the 9-5 after a year of earning a living playing poker in Colombia was quite a culture shock.
What is your proudest business moment?
I have completed deals at all of the companies where I’ve worked that were new challenges to me at the time – it’s hard to choose between them. The feeling of relief when a challenging deal completes is very enjoyable, as it’s invariably been so much harder to get to that point than it perhaps ought to be.
Who would you like to have dinner with – and why?
Nassim Nicholas Taleb – I’m interested in risk and our ability to judge probabilities, and, whatever you make of his writing style, his books are interesting and easy to understand.
What has been the most significant technological development of recent years?
I’ll go for 3G and 4G. It’s amazing how a lot of people, myself included, have become reliant in such a short space of time on having the internet everywhere we go.
What has been the most influential legislative change in recent years?
The introduction of the Feed-in-Tariff for solar and subsidies for renewables in general. They have been instrumental in bringing the costs of clean energy technologies down and the electricity generation mix has changed drastically in the last 7 years as a result.
How do you see the legislative environment changing through to 2040/2050?
I think it will continue to follow, rather than lead, the progress made in both the private and public sectors. You don’t want to set impossible or totally unrealistic goals so, as progress is made with new technologies, legislation will hopefully be introduced to encourage fast adoption.
How has the perception of cleantech, energy, environment and efficiency evolved in your view in recent years? What do you envisage for the future of the sector?
My opinion on this has been largely influenced by the people I sit around at Turquoise, as I haven’t been in the sector for long enough to know how it was perceived 10 years ago. From an investor’s point of view, it seems to have gone through a bubble where people got burned, then retreated and are now starting to come back. Hopefully, going forward, people will be willing to support good ideas again and entrepreneurs will have realistic valuation expectations.
From an investment point of view, what do you see as the key challenges for emerging technologies attracting finance? How do you see those being overcome in the coming decades?
I think its human nature to fundamentally misunderstand risk based on your own experiences rather than the collective experience of society. That results in repeated bad investment decisions, muddying the water and using up capital that could have been used for potentially better ones. The only way to solve this is through learning from the mistakes of the past, present and future, so will take time.
From a global point of view, what impact (if any) do you think political change is having on the energy, environment and efficiency sectors? How do you think this will change?
Add me to the list of cynics about the importance of politics. Whilst it would be great if governments could create policies and frameworks to encourage innovation and efficiency improvements to occur more quickly, the reality is that it’s more often reactionary. Businesses will innovate regardless or they’ll be left behind by someone who does.