By Sarah Shields, Executive director, direct and channel sales, Dell
There are many reasons why people decide to strike out and become entrepreneurs. For Diana Paredes, co-founder and CEO of Suade – an open platform for financial regulation – it was to challenge the status quo and develop innovative, futureproof solutions for the financial sector. Leaving her career at a major global bank, Paredes, decided the best way to deliver change was from the outside, looking in.
I caught up with Paredes to find out more about her story and her advice for those thinking of becoming entrepreneurs.
What led you to found Suade?
I was in banking, and really enjoyed my industry, but realised the part of my work I enjoyed the most was doing innovative things that weren’t part of my day job and challenged the status quo. I decided the next step was to leave and become an entrepreneur. I had an idea for a company I believed in and moved into an accelerator to get the company off the ground.
What makes Suade unique from other financial technology solutions?
Many current financial technology solutions have not been designed with regulation in mind. Furthermore, banks do not always nurture an environment suited for innovation which is why the agility of a young company like Suade can be more effective to create a new solution with regulation at its core. Our biggest differentiator is that we are able to look at regulatory requirements from many different angles and build great solutions that will be future-proof. We always say we are bringing modern technology to regulatory IT.
How has your jump into entrepreneurship differed from what you expected?
It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be! There’s a lot of apprehension before you dive in. I went straight from university into banking, so was used to the safety net large corporations provide and that isn’t there in the same way when you’re an entrepreneur. However, there is so much happening in the tech scene in London and there is such a buzzing and supportive community that it is a great time to be a tech entrepreneur. Accelerators are also good, you can learn a huge amount, and it can be effectively like doing a mini MBA.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking the leap and becoming an entrepreneur?
Just do it! When I left my banking job I was scared by the unknown of being an entrepreneur, but I still did it and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It can be a lot more straightforward than you might think. I’d definitely recommend everyone tries entrepreneurship at least once in their careers. While it’s not for everyone, you don’t know until you try it. If it doesn’t work out you can go back to your previous career, but if it does work, then you’ve struck gold. Either way you win and learn. For me, entrepreneurship has been like falling in love and it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
What has been the most challenging aspect of moving from employee to become your own boss?
You have to completely rely on yourself. When you do work for a large company it’s a relatively safe environment. Being an entrepreneur means it can feel like it’s you against the world. I was lucky to go straight from my previous role into an accelerator with a great community of startups. To be able to share problems with friends definitely helps along the way. Also, working in the financial technology scene in particular gives great opportunities to meet and learn from others to solve our problems together.
The other main challenge can actually be yourself. You are permanently questioning what you do, what it could mean and that can be difficult to get over. But if you can find a balance between uncertainty and excitement and take one step at a time you will find a way through. If you’re prepared to take the challenge and go on an adventure it is well worth the ride. Ben Horowitz, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, puts it well: “The Struggle is where greatness comes from…. Remember that this is what separates the women from the girls. If you want to be great, this is the challenge. If you don’t want to be great, then you never should have started a company.”
If you could go back to when you first struck out on your own, what piece of advice would you give yourself and why?
I would say just do it, and don’t be afraid about what is and isn’t possible. I wish I’d known that at the beginning of my journey as it’s something every entrepreneur worries about, even those who now run major companies. From the outside it appears that they were lucky enough to have a great idea and everything went smoothly, but many have spent years trying to figure out what will work, and have worked on their businesses out one day at a time.
What does the future hold for Suade and what’s the next step in your entrepreneurial journey?
The next step for Suade’s is keeping momentum going by delivering innovative solutions to our clients. Personally, I want to continue challenge the status quo and delivering innovative services that make a difference.
You can follow Diana at @Dianartemis3 on Twitter