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Manager as a Service for growth companies

October 26, 2014

Startups are always in the look for new talent to join their mission to conquer the world. Interim managers are the latest secret weapon for some.

What to do when you are starting operations in a new country? Recruit a local country manager, get outside help or do it yourself by relocating?

Sometimes the answer is to do all those selectively and in a sequence. Entering a new market requires getting to know the local habits, business environment and customer segments. All this takes time, effort and money.

The manager as a service hack is to hire an experienced local interim manager to get your operations started. From day one you have access to local business networks, clients, funding sources and an expedited route to have your operations up and running.

Interim managers are seasoned business people who love to get things done. They focus on results. They attitude towards work is all startup – no-nonsense and every minute counts. Interim managers can be deployed for a specific role or time period.

Where to find them? The best way is to ask around. High valued and sought after people are often busy working. Some work together with accelerators or other programs. Investors, lawyers and other entrepreneurs are good sources to get tips. Usually interim managers have local associations or LinkedIn groups. The Finnish group was formed in August. There are also interim agencies that can find you suitable candidates.

How to pick the right candidate? First, it’s important you have defined a clear objective and deliverables for the assignment. What are the things you want to achieve? It’s good to consider hiring an interim as an investment. There needs to be a proper return on investment. And as a project it has a beginning and end. Sounds simple but in a startup environment one thing tends to lead into other and the focus and needs shift along the way.

After defining the scope it’s time to find suitable candidates that have the required expertise and references. You don’t want to pay for someone to do things for the first time. Getting results from the day one is the key here. That’s what you’re paying for. Make sure you interview some of the interim’s previous clients. Are they happy and would they select the same person again?

Interims don’t work in an isolated environment. They need your organisation’s support and resources. It’s paramount that they have the backing of the decision makers behind them. Also, shoestring budget does not mean that everything should be done without costs. A realistic budget for the project is a definite must. Magic tricks are just that – tricks. Interims are no rainmakers even though they can do wonders with their expertise and experience.

What’s the catch? Interims are your hired hands. They are fine for a defined project or objective. You don’t want to use them for a long term or permanent role. It’s just too expensive. Flexibility and experience cost but sometimes that’s an investment worth making. The opportunity cost can be worse either in lost time, opportunities or money. Lean startups are about trials and errors. It’s better to pivot quickly but it’s even better to avoid some pitfalls and false turns in the first place.

Photo: Flickr/erikaow

Instant and cheap forex is here

May 15, 2014

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. We are in the early days like Internet in 1994. Yet, the ideas and concepts are opening new vistas to many fields and industries. Former Goldman Sachs partner recently commented that all the smartest guys in the room have all turned their attention to Bitcoin.

Venture capital luminaries such as Marc Andreessen (co-author of the first widely used browser Mosaic) and Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures are bullish on the Bitcoin technology in general. Wall Street grade trading platforms are introduced this year. Bloomberg service already quotes the Bitcoin price to its 320 000 subscribers.

In the banking field, the first bank has adopted virtual currency technology (Ripple) to its interbank and intra-bank operations overseas. This enables fund transfers with significant cost savings and faster delivery times.

For example, a regular international money wire from euros to dollars between a German and U.S. bank will take two central banks, two intermediary exchange trading banks and one to five days to complete. All the links incur fees and add to the transaction cost.

In comparison, a Ripple network based transaction involves only the two parties and if needed forex market-makers that are settled and selected by the network based on the cheapest prices at the same transaction instant. The transaction confirmation takes six seconds and there are no charge-back or cancellation risks. Still, trading partners need to trust each other unlike in the bitcoin-based transactions.

Cryptocurrencies are not without their own issues. Current bitcoin trading volumes are still low and the price is volatile. Price changes are something that are in the inherent nature by design for some of the cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. If you have a fixed money supply, unlike in the fiat currencies, something must give and it is the price. A large daily volume will even out fluctuations but they will always be present. Volatility vs. flexible money supply is one component of balancing the the impossible trinity (money supply, currency rate and counterparty risk) when launching a new currency. The fairly stable currency rates we experience in the fiat currencies force fluctuations in money supply that eventually create the booms and busts.

Nobel prize winner F.A. Hayek noted that we have always had bad money because private enterprise was not permitted to give us a better one. Now we have an opportunity to disrupt financial industry by innovation and better services. Millennials are already considering banking at the highest risk of disruption. 71% of the surveyed would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks are saying. Your future bank is not in the high street – it’s in your pocket.

Originally posted at Treasury Peer.

When fiat and decrees work no more for sovereigns

April 6, 2014

A sovereign has three means to finance its operations: direct taxation, debt, and inflation (i.e. indirect taxation). The first two are rather transparent ways to compel revenues from citizens. Inflation is the most hidden and has many benefits including the easement of public debt burden and providing new funds to sources close to the government and it’s franchisee – the banking sector. Continue Reading…