Founder of London AI business eyes IPO
The entrepreneur behind crime-fighting FinTech ComplyAdvantage has outlined plans to double the size of the London-headquartered business.
CEO Charles Delingpole helped build MarketInvoice into a FinTech powerhouse alongside Anil Stocker before starting up ComplyAdvantage in 2014.
The data intelligence firm has developed a machine-learning platform for analysing the risk of financial crime and raised $30 million in funding recently, taking its total external investment to around $40m.
London- and San Francisco-based venture capital firm Index Ventures led the Series B round, which drew participation from existing investor Balderton Capital.
ComplyAdvantage has seen 300 per cent revenue growth in the past 12 months and has rapidly expanded in the United States.
“Companies like us are an asset class,” Delingpole, who describes Index Ventures as “super helpful”, told BusinessCloud. “There are many Software as a Service data companies that are growing at similar rates.
“The investors expect us to carry on tripling and eventually to IPO. We're a way off that at the moment – there’s no time-frame – but any company that Index invests in would be expected to do that.”
Delingpole, who also founded The Student Room and spent three years advising digital and media companies at JP Morgan, has no regrets about leaving MarketInvoice. The FinTech recently secured £56m in new funding while Delingpole still holds shares in the business.
“It employed 60 people when I left and was growing very quickly. As far as I was concerned, it was in a very good place. It was the right choice,” he said.
“Anil's a great business leader and he's done a great job at MarketInvoice. I felt it would do very well even if I wasn't involved on a day-to-day basis.”
Compliance is a huge problem across a multitude of industries, says Delingpole, which is where ComplyAdvantage comes in.
It helps companies make intelligent risk decisions more quickly. Its self-improving algorithms absorb and scour millions of structured and unstructured data sources daily to build a snapshot of an entity’s risk in real-time.
The firm has already partnered with more than 350 customers in over 45 countries.
“I had tons of ideas from talking to friends who were still in banks like JP Morgan. They were saying 'listen, compliance is a nightmare - it's our biggest problem'.
“I knew it was a problem at MarketInvoice. You have to lend money to people you've never met. And you also take money from all over the world.
“We had one client who wanted to invest a million pounds in a platform from an office in Jersey through six layers of trust. It was a complete nightmare.
“I'd built database systems at The Student Room while some of the companies I worked with at JP Morgan did this stuff too. I knew it from a technical, commercial and business perspective really well.
“I also studied politics at Cambridge so I was interested in terrorist groups and geopolitical sanctions. I saw it as a confluence of all the knowledge I'd built up – and everything I find interesting – in one: global, technology, finance and also a very important moral case in terms of allowing people to send money to their families overseas.
“It's nice that there's a societal benefit to it.”
Delingpole has seen ComplyAdvantage – which featured on our list of '101 FinTech Disrupters' last year – grow from “10 people coding in my garage and two sales guys in my living room” to an organisation which employs 160 people in Singapore, London, Romania and New York.
“We should be 300 people at the end of the year,” he revealed. “Building a company from scratch is super hard and I prefer not to do it again. I'd much rather double the size of this company than build two separate companies.
“I've got no intention to leave and there's no reason for me to do so – unless I get fired!”