About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

Intelligent Money by Chris Skinner – Book Review

intelligent

In Intelligent Money, Chris Skinner weaves together the intricate threads of finance, technology and human behaviour to create a compelling narrative that challenges conventional wisdom and invites readers to reimagine their relationship with money.

With meticulous research and engaging storytelling, Skinner navigates the complex landscape of modern finance, offering profound insights and practical advice along the way.

Skinner begins by exploring the evolution of money, tracing its transformation from physical currency to digital assets and the emergence of cryptocurrencies. Through insightful analysis, he examines the impact of technological advancements on financial systems, highlighting the opportunities and risks they present. Drawing on examples from around the world, Skinner illustrates how fintech innovations are reshaping the way we think about and interact with money, from mobile payments to blockchain technology.

One of the book’s most compelling aspects is its exploration of the psychology of money. Skinner delves into the deep-seated beliefs and behaviors that influence our financial decisions, shedding light on the subconscious biases that often lead to irrational choices. By understanding the psychological underpinnings of money management, readers are empowered to take control of their financial lives and make more informed decisions.

Skinner’s analysis is not limited to individual finance; he also examines the broader implications of financial intelligence for businesses and society as a whole. He explores the role of fintech in driving economic growth and fostering financial inclusion, while also addressing the challenges of regulatory compliance and cybersecurity.

inner emphasizes the importance of adaptability and lifelong learning in navigating the rapidly evolving financial landscape. He encourages readers to embrace innovation and embrace new technologies, while also advocating for responsible stewardship of financial resources.

In conclusion, Intelligent Money is a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection between finance and technology, offering valuable insights for individuals, businesses and policymakers alike.

Skinner’s vision of a more intelligent approach to money is inspiring and practical, making this book a must-read for anyone seeking to thrive in the financial world of tomorrow. Recommended.

Poem #1 of 30 – Laurie

Laurie 

Laurie Lee spoke to me today
As I staggered out one early spring morning
Through a past life
To the station. 

There were faces on the platform who I used to know
Who used to know me.
We all looked off in the distance
As the train pulled in.

I could smell the birdsong as I boarded
Something I hadn’t felt for some time.
After one stop I changed trains.

Thinking of a different Saturday morning in Bombay
Moons ago.
A monsoon morning and running across tracks
To change trains for the Malabar coast.

The second train today took me to the sea
Silver today.
Twinkling like a smudged piano.
On the horizon.

A country of clouds had arrived in the sky
With a sun in it.

As I stretched back one early Spring morning
Laurie Lee spoke to me today.

He pops up now and then
After disappearing into those past lives

And bringing me back into the world
Of wonder and woe.

Back to the possible
And probable determined future

The early sunshine of the speckled mind.
Foaming.
Not at the mouth or in the surf.
But foaming freedom.

Back from the dead.

Making The Cake Bigger: Q&A, Jeff Green, Founder 

cake

Welcome to Mob76 Outlook and our readers, Jeff Green

No worries. Very happy to be here, thanks for the invitation.

We’ll go into your career later, but you’ve launched a new podcast?

Yes, Indeed. The Making The Cake Bigger podcast brings real people with different stories, backgrounds and experiences into the investment committee room.

This is an environment that includes all humans, not just those born in the right place at the right time and where the next founders of Google, Facebook or OpenAI will emerge.

Making The Cake Bigger is a podcast that sets out to solve the problem of how to get a broader diversity of people into both public and private organisations by harnessing a more diverse set of experiences to bring greater innovation and ingenuity.

We want to help solve the world’s problems by giving everybody a slice of the cake, not just the Fat Cats who have been eating too much for too long.

What are the current problems it is addressing?

It starts with educating and shining a light on inequality whether that be financial, health, sport, gender, race or social and how to raise the tide for all.

The investment sectors of private equity, hedge venture capital and government institutions must bring ‘different thinking’ talent into the investment committee rooms and will produce better innovation, better products for wider markets and bigger financial returns. 

We want to bring more financially disadvantaged people into the sector of responsible investing, changing the face of the investment committee room to people from the so-called wrong side of the tracks and not based on what school they attended or their parents’ network or wealth.

The next founder of SpaceX/Amazon/Meta/OpenAI/Google will come from unexpected places, ones that were previously excluded.  

 No small task, how do you plan on going to do this?

I am a very experienced angel investor and as a man of colour I am familiar with the issues faced as an immigrant over the last 50 years and starting at the bottom of the career ladder. 

I had to do it the hard way, but I’m now in a position to give back. The podcast is the figurehead of my foundation and the mission is simple. More education of opportunities and access to those opportunities in a fair, transparent and scalable way.

So you focus on diversity essentially?

I’m not a great fan of that word, I think it’s over-used. While diversity has become the buzzword for bringing all types of people into the working world, it is more than that. 

While it is easier now for people of all backgrounds to be embraced by working practices and employment, there is still a huge lack of financial equality in spite of diversity improvements and too many are currently not part of the decision-making process. 

In the world of investing, more women founders from the emerging world seeking investment, are asked more negative questions and often in lower margin, lower-risk businesses. We need to get better and fairer at helping more diverse founders being funded. 

We need to avoid Groupthink; that is the mission here. The old boys’ network is dead. The decision-makers and changemakers of the new world are coming from different places that are not incestuous, familiar and same. The old model is no longer fit for purpose; the world has moved on.

So what do you think constitutes fairness and success?

There is an emerging body of research looking at what determines success, the role of luck and circumstances, and how this is linked to inequality and equality of opportunity.

This is very much a ‘live’ and emerging area as researchers develop new techniques and access to a greater number of data sources and is likely to be significant in terms of our understanding of ‘what works’ to improve ‘fairness’ or greater equity at a societal level.

Moreover, most researchers and social scientists agree that policy matters in terms of inequality – it is always a political choice with policy design significantly influencing the scale and nature of inequality.

It’s a tricky subject that we’re addressing.In terms of tackling inequality the simplistic ideological gap is between a ‘functional’ or individualist approach and a conflict or collectivist approach but there is no one ‘theory’ that all sociologists are willing to agree on.

You’ve had more than five decades in investment. So this experience is crucial in making the cake bigger?

I’m an angel investor who has made a lot of investments across a multitude of sectors, but like the podcast, I’m focusing on providing a bigger slice for everybody, not just the elite.

Even with such an unlevel playing field, there are some wonderful exceptions of entrepreneurs and individuals overcoming adversity. They are triumphed on the podcast and I can feel the landscape changing as innovation, access, and AI technology levels that playing field.

The world needs people who think differently and Making The Cake Bigger is about giving them the opportunity and education.

That’s inspirational, Jeff, thanks for sharing your story with our readers

My pleasure, we all have to work a bit harder now to create a better world for everybody… and to do something about it, not just talking.

Hybr Q&A: Hannah Chapatte, CEO and Founder

hybr

Welcome to Mob76 Outlook and our readers, Hannah

A pleasure to be here; thanks for inviting me

So, please tell us about Hybr, I understand you’re solving the ‘Hunger Games’ problem of student renting

Yes. Hybr is a platform that aggregates all available student homes, providing a curated and supportive customer journey for first-time renters.

We describe ourselves as the marketplace of student rentals for long-term and short-term tenancies. Hybr aggregates all available homes (across landlord profiles) and gives young renters the support they need at key stages in their rental journey, while allowing landlords to fill rooms fast with pre-qualified and engaged young tenants.

The motivation hits close to home, coming from my own experience navigating the Hunger Games that is UK student renting.

I launched Hybr out of frustration with the appalling lack of support first-time renters get in the UK and we’re now live across the UK, with more than 130,000 rooms managed by a team of 14.

We already partner with 25 UK universities and are building a product to address a market worth £46 billion alone in the under-30s rental sector in the UK.

What is the current state of play with rents rising everywhere?

This lack of housing support and the financial squeeze with rising rents has cost UK universities more than £13 billion in revenue with the highest dropout rates in 2022; more than ever seen before in the UK.

Universities are a huge contributor to GDP and should be a source of pride for our economy, but the housing crisis is a brand and financial issue for them as well as affecting the mental health of young people navigating their first adult issues and responsibilities.

At the same time, landlords lose out on over £2 billion of rent a year lost in voids due to the inefficiencies involved when trying to let out their portfolios.

We’re seeing a rise of institutional landlords in the UK and a great exodus of private landlords, (copying Europe & the US) meaning institutional landlords are looking for ways to reduce OpEx and build more scalable systems to expand their portfolios with the rising costs of being a landlord.

Walk us through the user experience

A student comes on to the platform, searches for a filter and finds a property to make an enquiry, book a viewing slot, or skip to the offer stage. They will then receive immediate feedback about whether they match what the landlord is looking for.

They will then secure the booking, and be introduced to the landlord with clear next steps where they can request additional services such as bills.

Landlords plug-in via API to upload their listings, we vet them based on compliance documentation, we understand their affordability/referencing checks, and we market their listings.

Landlords plug-in via API to upload their listings, we vet them based on compliance documentation, we understand their affordability/referencing checks, and we market their listings. We only send over pre-qualified tenants ready to move in that match their requirements. We automate void management, and accelerate lease up across their portfolio by offering a connected student marketing and booking journey that prioritises their tenants experience.

What has Hybr achieved to date?

We have helped more than 25,000 students find suitable housing, transforming their rental experiences.

Over the last 12 months, Hybr has experienced substantial growth. The company’s portfolio has expanded more than 350%, growing from 22,000 rooms to more than 100,000 with an additional 100,000 rooms in the pipeline.

Crucially, Hybr has generated more than £15 million for their clients.

How have you funded this impressive journey?

We have evolved from a bootstrapped one-woman band, funded by winning university competitions and grants – to raising a pre-seed round of £975,000 in April 2022, Last year we completed a staggering £3.24 million seed round in November 2023.

How have you found it being a female founder?

There is a disgraceful lack of funding that goes towards women entrepreneurs in the UK, where businesses founded exclusively by women received just 2% of all VC funding in 2022.

Only 30% of senior management positions in Real Estate in the UK are occupied by women and only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female: a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses! In the PropTech founder community, it is mostly men.

Moreover, the property industry has the biggest gender pay gap, so I’m proud to have raised pre-seed and seed as a woman… and what was a very tricky VC climate in 2023.

What inspired you to set up Hybr?

While I was a student at the University of Bristol, I got a First studying Liberal Arts, but more importantly experienced first-hand the anxiety, confusion, and panic of renting as a student.

There were fights between students and landlords, there were stolen deposits, there were drop-outs over mental health issues caused by housing concerns, and there were tears over unknown fines. I knew this was what I wanted to spend my time solving.

What did you do before founding Hybr?

My career started like many university students do, as an intern. As an intern at Lucozade, I worked on the first Love Island campaign where I got to experience targeting Gen-Z for the first-time.

I then went on to work at Africa’s first Unicorn, Jumia (an online ‘Amazon’-esque marketplace), in customer service.  The valuable life lesson of turning a negative experience into a positive one was learnt quickly, after being screamed at Swahili by angry customers.

After leading student ambassador teams at Red Bull and Student High Street while I was studying, I saw how easily brands can mobilise student communities by building great referral networks.

Why do you think you are you better than your competitors?

We are the only platform focused on the first-time renter that is more than just a Purpose-Built-Student-Accommodation (PBSA) aggregator focused on the international student.

This is a young consumer player – we will be the global aggregator of all homes (not just PBSA) for young renters and lock young renters in with our financial support, risk assessment model & all-in-one platform.

We care about the customer experience, and we’re not trying to create a jack-of-all-trades. We want to be the best at matching students to vetted landlords, optimising for a happy tenancy through a platform that cares. We see competitors as partners. Our approach is to add value to the end-user and partner with different players in our ecosystem to do so.

What are your plans for 2024?

Customer acquisition. We want to increase impressions, sessions and enquiries. We need top of funnel demand and supply by growing our student user base and engaging with students and parents.

Moreover, we want to grow our landlord community – onboarding institutional and private landlords. We want to be a household name. We want to tell our story and showcase our student-centric brand, and mission to ensure that every student has the support they need when they rent in the UK.

We deeply care about every student – we care that their individual needs are met, that they find the right house that matches what they are looking for, that they find the right housemates, that they understand the rental process, that they’re never alone no matter what happens before or during their tenancy.

Specifically over the next 12 months, we are on track for 5X revenue growth.

That’s awesome, Hannah, thanks for sharing

My pleasure, I hope your readers find it interesting.

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Grapes Q&A – Dan Beasley, Co-Founder

Grapes

Grapes has done amazingly well, so welcome to Mob76 Outlook and our readers, Dan.

Thanks for having me, looking forward to sharing.

Tell us about Grapes and what you’re doing?

Grapes is the biggest and most successful blockchain project launched in 2023. We launched in the midst of a bear market and saw more than $110 million flow through the project, which was a combination of NFT volume and our token launch.

We are backed by the biggest and most reputable investors in Web 3 including Animoca Brands and we’ve raised $8 million as part of our strategy to be a recognised global entertainment brand.

What type of entertainment do you offer?

We entertain consumers in a number of different ways. We develop exciting and addictive games, build IP, foster an interactive sense of community, partner with huge global brands and create token and DeFi products for the native web3 community.

We like to think we do it differently by creating games content in Web3 and utilising them there, but also taking that content into Web2 and making it highly accessible for everybody.

We aren’t building games and experiences that require huge knowledge, massive gaming PC rigs or numerous wallets and bridges. Everything we do is available in places that consumers are already familiar with and comfortable in using, such as  the Apple Store, Google Play, Roblox, Steam and others.

So you’re a Web3 games company?

Yes, but more importantly, we’re a global entertainment brand that was born on mobile, but is relevant in all forms of entertainment categories.

It’s not just other Web3 projects that are our competitors. It’s any company that offers entertainment on mobile, so it could be King or it could be Spotify or Netflix. All of us are all competing for people’s attention.   

We are building a long-term, trustworthy, sustainable and profitable business model. The Grapes IP is designed to appeal to all age groups and we offer a simple front door into the world of web3 through games, experiences, products, tokens and NFTs.

Where did you get your inspiration for Grapes?

The mobile game Angry Birds back in the late 2000s changed everything for mobile games. It became popular because of its simple, yet addictive, gameplay, fun characters and widespread availability and Grapes is seeking to emulate this. 

The inception of Grapes was born from our years of experience looking at what scales globally in entertainment on mobile in particular combined with what was then the current art style and project thesis in Web3.

We felt strongly that there was a huge opportunity for a fun, playful and entertaining brand to be born in the space that had no limits on where it could develop in the future.

What’s the back story of the company?

Grapes was founded by myself and Ben Cusack, veterans of mobile content, but from significantly different backgrounds. 

Ben started in mobile games in 2004, building content, games and studios for some of the planet’s biggest gaming IP.  He led the Square Enix Mobile Gaming Studio in Europe for more than 10 years, taking mega gaming franchises to mobile, including Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Space Invaders, Championship Manager and many more.

I started in mobile in 2006 taking David Beckham to mobile and has more than two decade’s experience in mobile gaming and entertainment and has been integral in taking many influencers and TV brands to mobile for the first time, including David Beckham, Who Wants to be a Millionaire with Sony Pictures, X Factor, Mr Bean and KSI to name but a few.

Between us, they have created more than 500 million downloads and countless No 1 games to our names. 

Where do you think you stand with your competitors?

Our goal is not to smash Web3 lingo at the wider audience. Anyone can play our games. If you are a Web3 fan, you can connect your wallet and get various unlocks (special tournaments and so on). Also, soon players will be able to use $GRAPE to play each other.

In Web3 in particular we would count Pudgy Penguins as best in class as of today. Alongside elements of Yuga (BAYC / MAYCprojects, Memeland and Mocaverse). 

But when it comes to our gaming infrastructure, we are miles ahead of our Web3 competitors. We have four games in the market already and decades of joint experience on how to scale these.

Grapes was designed with product expansion in mind and we built our team ahead of launching. Other less thought-out projects from potential competitors are now struggling. Their strategy of NFT collection first saw huge initial success in that space, but are now backpedalling to create utility with no previous experience.

Web3 content seems to have hit a significant bump in the road, what are your thoughts on the market?

Web3 and crypto is going through a transitional period, from its dark underworld reputation to FTX headlines of chicanery and fraud to a need for a more regulated industry, but the crypto winter is thawing and arguably, we’re in the early stages of the bull market.

Bitcoin ETFs have dominated both industry and retail news over the past few weeks and have opened a huge new market for potential investors. Consumer interest is building again in these sectors with positive global sentiment moving apace.

We built in a bear market preparing for a bull market and we believe that this strategy will enable us to grow and scale rapidly throughout 2024.

Exciting times, thanks for sharing with us

My pleasure. Looking forward to catching up in 12 months’ time in early 2025.

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