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Startup Lessons from the Corporate World with Huw Edwards from CyberFortress

Mike’s guest on episode 21 of How to be Moderately Successful, Huw Edwards, is a powerhouse of note, especially when you hear what he has achieved in life so far:

  • Mathematics degree from Oxford
  • MBA from Harvard
  • Goldman Sachs Investment banker
  • Bridgewater Senior Management Associate
  • Forbes Business council member
  • EO San Antonio board member
  • And to top it all off against us mere mortals, ultra-distance runner and two-time finisher of the notorious Leadville 100.

Huw is also the CEO and Co-Founder of his current focus, CyberFortress: an InsureTech startup that aims to reinvent the way online businesses are risk-assessed and priced. Huw has plenty of experience in the corporate world, so Mike decided to pick his brain on his switch to startup life.

Corporate lessons:

Fundraising

According to Crunchbase, CyberFortress raised $3 million during their seed round in 2019. As Huw is an experienced investor, Mike asks him what it was like being on the other side of the table; raising capital as opposed to providing capital.

“Looking at things through a FinTech or InsureTech lens, we did things a little differently,” starts Huw. “We bought Jungle Disk, which is a very established business with high cash flow. It was part of a corporate, so it was rather stagnant – and yet there was a lot of optimisation opportunity and customer nurturing opportunity. So with that there, when we started CyberFortress we incubated it under the umbrella of Jungle Disk for 18 months.”

During this time, Huw and the other founders were bootstrapping the business while Jungle Disk provided them with some cover. They did this to build the first iteration, and once they had a model they could demonstrate, they approached investors.

The value of reiteration is that you have something to demonstrate to investors beyond just an idea.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s never enough to just have an idea,” says Mike “Build something that demonstrates capability, value, understanding, and then ask for money.”

Corporate ideology

When it comes to corporate ideology, “we all know what the corporate behemoth does,” jokes Mike, before asking what lessons Huw took with him when he switched to startup life.

“There are lots of flaws and foibles with Bridgewater, but their approach to understanding the world at a fundamental level [is great],” says Huw. “They just go down to the most basic blocks that they can. And that requires a lot of analysis, technology, and collection of data. So that quest to figure it out and make sense of things is something that we took into the startup world.”

Another trait Huw adopted from Bridgewater and Goldman is the meaning of what it is to be the best, and the elements of excellence that they uphold. “That was a real inspiration for me, at Bridgewater: what it meant for them to be the best at that game.”

Looking at Huw’s track record, we’re pretty confident that CyberFortress will become the best in their field. If you’d like to learn more from Huw and Mike, click here to listen to the full podcast.

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