At Stone & Chalk, we believe that mentors are critical to the success of startups. We chatted to Allen Clennar, former Standard Chartered Bank CEO, about his mentor experience with mentee Simon Costello, Co-Founder and CEO of Frankie Financial. Frankie Financial is a fintech providing banking infrastructure to power financial institutions including neobanks.
ALLEN: I met Simon through the Mentor Program, but we had actually spoken briefly before. Stone & Chalk suggested that given my banking background, it might be worthwhile for me and Simon to connect.
For me, a mentor is someone that you can bounce ideas off in times of need and get a sanity check or another view point. No one’s got all the answers so it can be helpful to get a fresh perspective. I was very impressed that Simon had already been successful with two other startups. He inspires confidence, is articulate and well connected.
A lot of companies will struggle when it comes to the fundraising side. On this particular round, Frankie sailed through. They captured a VC, a High Net Worth Individual from Melbourne; and even I invested.
When I first started talking to him, he had a business model in mind, and then after doing some research and checking out the competitive landscape, he revamped the whole thing. Simon introduced me to the other members of the team. I know from my time as a banker, you’re only as good as the people you’ve got working with you. I was very impressed by the team and the different skills they added to the startup.
I am a long-standing banker having spent 31 years at Standard Chartered Bank. I retired at the end of 2017. I began my career in Financial Markets in the dealing room in Sydney as a Client Advisor. I worked in that dealing room for seven years and then transferred to Standard Chartered Hong Kong for six years. I came back to Australia in 1999 and reinvented myself as a Corporate Banker.
For the last 12 years of my career, I was the CEO of the Australian branch of Standard Chartered Bank. I surpassed the average tenure of an Australian CEO, which is something I am proud of.
If I look back at my career and my 31 years as a corporate company man, you could say that I took quite a conservative path but it served me well.
My philosophy is always to do fewer things properly rather than take on everything. Better to walk before you can run.
Advice I share with young companies is that it’s all about credibility, as clients or potential clients give you one chance to impress them. Another important factor is to manage the cashflow side of the business. And lastly, ensuring that you have the right number of people to enable you to deliver what you have promised.
I’ve had a very good experience doing the Stone & Chalk Mentor Program and have enjoyed meeting my fellow mentors. I’m a firm believer in the importance of networking and keeping doors open.
To find out more about our flagship Mentor Program designed to help our Founders grow their customer based, secure funding, access vital subject expertise and commercialise at scale, click here.
3 September 2019