Monzo / Tristan Thomas / Head of Marketing / Crowdfunding

“We are on a mission to make banking cool…unofficially”

this quote comes from Tristan Thomas, Marketing Director of Monzo this week on the #ShinyNewObject podcast.

Today Monzo are launching their third round of crowdfunding. To put this in context their first round raised £1M in ninety seconds and their second raise of £2.5M was oversubscribed by around £10M. As of 3pm today, if you are Monzo customer you can invest between £10 and £2K in Monzo - all via the app.

But it’s not about the money, weirdly. Tristan admits that “it would be easier to raise the money elsewhere” but when a customer invests in the bank they are far more likely to tell their friends about it. The result Monzo get from crowdfunding via their customers is “incredible love” in return. Monzo’s ethos is ‘radical transparency’ and Tristan sticks to this principle by telling us “investing everything in Monzo isn’t a great idea.” As part of the investing process the bank goes to great lengths to make sure their investors have complete clarity of what they are getting into.

Tristan is excited about the future of crowdfunding as being the only way a company might raise its investment. Currently regulation stops this happening with a cap of £8M being the most you can raise. Also - there’s no mainstream appetite for shares based crowdfunding - but with people like Monzo and Brewdog leading the charge - this could change.

To give this announcement some context; Tristan’s previous job before Monzo was working with refugees in Egypt. He’s achieved a huge amount in a career that has lasted about as long as the waiting time to get through to most high street banks’ call centres. Once you spend some time with him you realise that Monzo are not interested in the orthodoxy and in fact ‘Monzo happen to be a bank - but we’re a startup first.’

An in true start-up cookie cutter fashion, they use slack as their central nervous system. But I was amazed to what lengths they have taken it. They have 450 people working for them and 900 individual slack channels. On top of this Tristan is their 5th most heavy slack user having dropped 250K messages in his three years.

This is probably why Tristan describes himself as “someone that likes extremes.” This manifests itself in him turning off all work related emails and calls after 7pm and refusing to discuss work with his partner or friends - even when they moan directly to him about Monzo. You may think this is a bit much but this behaviour came out of a hard lesson. After his first year at the bank he had “burned out”, feeling directionlessness and a loss of enthusiasm. He didn’t have time to process and recover for the amount of work he was doing. But he’s turned it around and he’s leading Monzo through a monster crowdfunding raise just so he can get to know his customers better.

He is crazily ambitious, bold and humble stating that “every prediction I make is wrong” but my bet with today’s announcement he’s most certainly going to be right.