Investment entrepreneur Freddie Achom talks Entrepreneurship, Blockchain and Rosemont Group Foundation

Frederick Achom

Meet Freddie Achom, the man behind the internationally renowned venture capitalist investment company, Rosemont Group. Describing himself as a “traditional” businessman, Freddie began his entrepreneurial career when he was 20. Taking inspiration from a varied list of mentors, from the likes of Muhammed Ali to Richard Branson. Freddie now focuses on tech investment, financial services, hospitality, renewable energy, luxury goods and services.

Freddie Achom is British-Nigerian, he operates his businesses from offices in London, Paris and New York. He heads Rosemont Group Capital Partners and overseas the group’s investments into early stage tech start-ups and is particularly interested in disruptive technology and innovation. His private equity arm focuses on more established traditional investment opportunities and companies.

Rosemont Group’s recent investments include Bookee, Dabbl and Vivid Technology, a new cloud voice platform delivering customer services, based in Pakistan. In 2015, he lead the first tranche of investment in AppyParking, London’s leading parking App, which has just raised £10 million pounds and is valued at £50 million.

Now 44, Freddie has enjoyed more than 20 years at the forefront of investing in innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs. He’s committed to giving something back to help others become just as successful. To this end, his foundation aims to support and fund the next generation to ensure that “the less privileged can have a shot at succeeding in life.”

We caught up with Freddie at his family home in Paris, where he talks about expanding his investments during the rest of 2018 and into next year, where fintech and blockchain remain his specialist interest sectors.

Our fascinating Q&A reveals the secrets of Freddie’s business success, and his predictions for the future.

What’s your primary focus for the rest of this year and into 2019?

Blockchain remains the focus of business conversations in just about every sector. The technology is becoming ever more important to Rosemont as well. No-one can ignore it, and we want to capitalise on it.

We’re seeing more start-ups and entrepreneurs buying into the idea of creating tokens. The idea is to create an alternative or secondary commercial value. And the opportunity is very much there for start-ups, entrepreneurs and new businesses who properly grasp the technology that underpins blockchain tech.

As we move into 2019, more business sectors are recognising how important blockchain tech is. More major disruptors are exploring this avenue, and we’re even seeing governments and multinationals implementing it in ever-more innovative ways. Obviously, soon it will be a crowded market sector, but at Rosemont, we have the right experience to carve out a niche for ourselves. As our focus is primarily on fintech and virtual currency, this should tie in nicely.

Right now, we’re working with three tech companies using blockchain. I’m sure this will increase as our deal flow is growing exponentially.

Which markets do you specifically target?

We have always, and will continue to, focus on fintech. We’re aiming to build on our presence in emerging markets such as India, Pakistan, Africa and South America. Our presence in these markets is already solid, but we’re looking to be more active. These are the regions in which we see massive growth potential and the possibility of oversized return on investment.

What motivates you as a CEO and entrepreneur?

I thrive on being involved right at the start of a project. I’m energised by being an active part of the creative development that early stage start-ups go through. This gives me the same level of interest and excitement as when I first starting out.

The spark of a new idea, an innovative solution, advising and guiding start-up founders and entrepreneurs is my motivation as a CEO, entrepreneur and investor. At Rosemont, we’re prepared to engage with founders from the ground up. Depending on their status, we’re prepared to be as involved as necessary. Often, we become sort of virtual co-founders, and it’s this part that I love! Developing concepts and ideas, working with talented, innovative ideas… it never gets old.

How does the Rosemont Foundation benefit new talent?

It’s important to me that my foundation promotes new talent and gives young people a chance. I grew up always believing in myself and that I could own a business. I knew that I could achieve, and I was never concerned about my future.

This was my everyday normality. But I know it’s not the same for every young person, particularly for those from less well-off backgrounds. Many young people grow up cut off from the potential that lies in the business sector, and it doesn’t need to be that way. The Foundation aims to bridge this gap. We work to show every young person that there are opportunities for them within the corporate sphere. No matter their background. We all need more diversity in the boardroom and in every day working life.

There is a lot more work to be done in order to make it a level playing field. I love working with new talent, young people with fresh ideas and to help them understand that they can realise their potential. Aspiration and self-belief are equally important, and we try to help young people develop both.

I often see people with phenomenal ideas that they have developed while working for someone else. They’re often not able to share it within their role or to implement the idea as an employee, and this is a bit heart-breaking. Most people live to make someone else’s business dream a reality. Taking the right kind of risk is key for people like this.

Of course, there is a lot of stress and many sleepless nights involved when you start out alone. But running your own business and becoming a successful entrepreneur is incredibly satisfying. We are focusing on these benefits and promoting the positive sides of working for yourself.

How can schools help to nurture this raw talent?

I certainly felt that there was nowhere near enough encouragement when I was at school. It was incredibly limiting in terms of support for a corporate career. Back then, education was more about pushing you into a box of a career, in which you were expected to stay until retirement.

This was never of interest to me, and never featured in my plans for the future. In a way, school just wasn’t relevant to the path I took and my career successes. No one ever asked me what I actually wanted to do, or told me that there were other paths to take to achieve my ambitions. There is no doubt that we need much more education surrounding entrepreneurship and starting a business – and it needs to be of a higher quality.

These days, kids have to get lucky with the right sort of teacher to benefit. The current system is just not set up to produce the kinds of young, hungry, ambitious entrepreneurs that we know are out there.

What would you say to a start-up looking for investment?

I get a lot of pitches, and definitely have advice for start-ups who are on the look out for investment. Be concise and sharp. Demonstrate the depth of your understanding and knowledge. These are absolute musts.

And, if you can answer the following ‘killer questions’, then you’re ready to make a pitch:

  1. What is the user-problem, or ‘pain point’ your product or service solves? Do you really understand it in depth?
  2. Who are you really and why do you care about this problem?
  3. Can you succinctly explain your value proposition? What makes it unique?
  4. Do you understand the business landscape?
  5. Do you have a plan for effective distribution of your solution? Does it target your customer? Why should they care and why is it better than your competition?
About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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