Graham Evans studied for a BSc in Banking & International Finance from 1986 – 1989, a period of time which included Black Monday. He has since gone on to forge a 20-year career as an Independent Financial Advisor and has now branched out into the start-up world. We sat down for a chat.
Tell me about your Cass experience!
I studied Banking & International Finance, starting in 1986. Back then, we all lived in the halls of residence on Bunhill Row called Northampton Hall (which is the tall building on left in this image). It was a huge building with 17 or 18 floors. I was at Cass for the crash in 1987, it was very interesting being in Moorgate with all the privatisations. Students were taking their loans and investing them in the privatisation until BP failed!
The Business School was in the Barbican then – Frobisher Crescent. I was partly based up in Angel, and partly at the Barbican, which made for an eclectic mix.
I’m still in contact with around half a dozen people from my course and university in general, and they are starting to retire! I’m just starting to start-up!
Do you attend many alumni events?
Until recently, I’ve only really seen fellow alumni on a social basis – I meet pretty regularly with my City and Cass group. I recently re-engaged with the school itself through the Alumni Office. I was invited to an event to give feedback on my alumni experience, and realised the power of the alumni network.
What did you do after graduating?
I went to Lloyds Bank, but I soon got bored with being office based every day. I then decided to set myself up as an Independent Financial Advisor and I have been doing that as my day job for the past 20 years. I tend to deal primarily with high net worth clients on tax.
How did the idea for Linccup come about?
When my wife gave birth to our twins, around seven and a half years ago, I thought that my income was ok, but I could do with some capital. So I put down my golf clubs and started looking for what’s missing in the world! For example, I’m soon to launch a new website offering free will writing after finding out that 70% of UK citizens don’t have a will. It’s being launched in conjunction with solicitors, who will sort out the probate at the back end.
Then, in between travelling to Bermuda, New York and Hong Kong for business, I sat there in my New York hotel lobby looking at all the other business travellers sat around on their phones. I thought that there must be a way for people to link up and find commonality. When you travel a lot on business, you get bored with room service very quickly, and I thought how much nicer it would be to meet people. I think most people don’t want to go out to a bar by themselves to find a bit of company. On LinkedIn you have your contacts list, but you can’t see where the person is – they may have gone to the UK and you’re in New York for the week, for example.
So I saw a big opportunity to take networking from 2D on the page, and take it out in to the real world, in 3D. Attitudes to privacy and data have changed enormously over the past few years, and we have so many notifications and followers etc. it’s hard to separate the useful information.
What is Linccup exactly?
It’s a location-based networking app with a business focus. For example, if you’re in New York for the week, you could search for nearby users in your industry who are happy to meet up for a drink, or for nearby users that are Cass alumni who are happy to meet for dinner. There are lots of ways you can search for nearby people, so that you get the most out of your time. You can also set alerts to tell you when contacts are nearby so you never miss another of those fortuitous coincidental meetings.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Initially, you have the idea, but the biggest challenge is that then you need to work out what to do with it! Finding the right people to work with is key. This was my first start-up, so we went down the consultation route but if I did this again I wouldn’t use this service again. You have to believe in yourself!
If you’ve got contacts, if you’ve been to university, if you’ve worked for a couple of years, you can do it on your own and you don’t need expensive hand holding! There are always people offering to help with a business plan but you usually end up having to re-do it yourself anyway.
Then you need to get out and use your contacts. I’ve worked on this with Rob Gandee, our CEO, and I must say his help has been invaluable. I’m also very excited about the power of the alumni group, and also the other support that Cass offers alumni in their entrepreneurial endeavours.
What has been the most rewarding?
I have to say, seeing the app on the app store – taking it to that level of actuality. Success or failure then is partly down to how well we’ve done, but also down to the whims of life. It’s validating to know that I’ve had an idea and people are interested in backing it.
And finally, it’s the quick fire question round!
Favourite place in London: Camden
Favourite holiday destination: Lake Maggiore
Must check everyday website: liverpool-rumours.co.uk/
Dream travel destination: Tokyo
Cheese or chocolate: How about chocolate cheesecake? Best of both worlds!
Download the Linccup app from the Apple App Store – Linccup is coming soon to Android.