Badge yourself founder not CEO

Podcast transcription - 26th June

Alan Cowley:                    Welcome to the Invested Investor. I'm luckily sat opposite Emily Mackay who we've tried to do this once or twice before, we've finally got here today. So, Emily is an innovator using data to solve problems. She is a former CEO and founder of an online financial marketplace and an aggregator for online finance, which we'll hear more about. Emily has become a leader in machine learning and data technologies, which has led her to become head of AI and data strategy at genomic data analysis specialist, Congenica. So, thank you Emily for joining us.

Emily Mackay:                 Thank you. You're very welcome.

Alan Cowley:                    So, did you grow up in a world of data and entrepreneurship or where did that passion come from?

Emily Mackay:                 Honestly, not at all. I arrived at it through, I think trying to scratch the itch of my own frustrations. I like things to be done efficiently, I think. And that kind of drove me towards the world of data and seeing how data can make things work well. So, that's how I started my journey, really through my own curiosity. But I don't come from a world of entrepreneurship or innovation in any other way, no.

Alan Cowley:                    So, did that come from a university, or you just found that during school life, the passion?

Emily Mackay:                 My first foray into entrepreneurship was when I wasn't working because I was on maternity leave, and I was having a think about what I wanted to do in terms of renewable and energy installation, just for my own home. And the research there led me to realise what would actually be really efficient is some kind of online marketplace, let's call it the Amazon for renewable energy, where not only could I install the things I wanted to install, but also, I could invest in other people's. So,, in the UK at the time, we had quite attractive tariffs if you wanted to install renewable energy, you could then claim some money back from the government. Having done that and that still exists although it's changed slightly, but at the time it was really at its peak.

                                           And because I like things to be orderly and easy to access, I started googling for this, imagine thing I had in my head this, this marketplace, which would allow me to do these investments and there really wasn't anything. So, that frustration kind of got me started on the journey of, well, what if there was something, maybe I could do it on a bit about a few things here, maybe I can start doing that, So, that was the impetus behind Micro Genius.

Alan Cowley:                    When did you start at Microgenius then?

Emily Mackay:                 I formed the company in 2011, So, that feels like a very long time ago now. And this was the very first time I'd ever trust to do anything on my own like this. So, everything was brand new. How do the most basic things, things now that I just think we're laughably easy at the time were completely new. I didn't really understand what they meant. So, I had to learn everything from scratch. I had various supportive from around Cambridge, Cambridge being what it is, it's very supportive environment, even if you don't know things, people will help you. And I won a prize at Anglia Ruskin university, which was really, about trying to bring external entrepreneurs into the university. So, that, So, fitted quite nicely for me. And that costs some money and it carried mentoring with it. So, that was my first kind of formalisation if you like, of my entrepreneurial activities.

Alan Cowley:                    Your journey?

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay. So, what were those key challenges that you faced during those early days?

Emily Mackay:                 One of the big one was understanding the legal structure of a company. It's very easy to sort of dismiss that idea when you just set up a company. But there's a lot of different flavours. And at the time what I was trying to do was something that sort of bordered on a non-profit, which isn't a legal structure, but it's more of a principle that can be enshrined in a legal structure. So, what ended up being both the benefit, and the town full of the company was that I chose a non-traditional legal structure. So, not a company limited by shares.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah.

Emily Mackay:                 So, not even a cooperative, but a company limited by guarantee, which isn't that well known, but it basically means you don't have shares in the company, which at the time seem to accord with all the kinds of social principles I was trying to generate in the idea we weren't going to be doing this for profit, we're going to be doing this for the good of the need for renewable energy. But the challenge that set up was when I went to pitch for investment, there is no vehicle for them to invest into. And I didn't understand this. And I remember some very blank angel's faces and they were saying, "What do you want from us?" I was like, "Well, can we find a way of making some investment in this?" And they were saying, "Well," and I remember sitting with one of the Cambridge angels and working out how we could sort of wrap around the sheer structure around this company I set up. So, a lot of very basic early learning went onto that company.

Alan Cowley:                    So, would you have done it differently looking back on it, would you have set it up as a limited company?

Emily Mackay:                 On balance, probably yes, I would have done, because you can then take investment.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah.

Emily Mackay:                 And you can still enshrine the more social principles in other ways. So, I think yes, I would have done, but it propelled me onto bigger things anyway. So, it was sort of happy mistake if you like, because it forced me to accelerate some of the activity. I couldn't go out and raise lots of capital, So, I had to make do with very small amounts and prove things very, very quickly. So, constraint of capital wasn't necessarily a bad thing because it forced that “learning journey” we're talking about.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay. So, what did the product look like or the service?

Emily Mackay:                 It was a website, a marketplace where those who were creating some, kind of community renewable energy project. So, solar panels on the roof of a school or a vintage wind turbine, could create a co-operative which has a legal structure, as well. And they could place effectively the share offering, the membership offering onto the website and invite investment. The challenges we had is it fell kind of between traditionally regulated investments and this non-traditional world of cooperatives. So, I learned a huge amount about FSA as it was at the time, regulations and cooperatives and the industrial providence society acts and companies acts and all kinds of things. So, again, a great, great learning curve, but the idea was somebody like me sitting at home with my desire to do something good and make an investment, could come on to this website and participate in cooperatives virtually if you like.

Alan Cowley:                    So, did you get a good customer base at all or what happened to the company because it was only around for about three years or So, wasn't it?

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah, so, it started, well the constraints on capital meant I was really limited in what I could do marketing wise and so, on. So, it was very much my own networks and reaching out to people that made those early deals happen. I remember the first cooperative we put on there was an extension, So, they basically raised quite a lot of money already to get this energy up off the ground and they just needed a little bit more. And I thought that's the perfect opportunity just to turn road tests what I built here and within about 48 hours we've got that money. It was a five-figure sum that we had to raise, and I was super excited. I remember being in Houston getting on a train and calling the co-op lead saying, "We've done it. We've actually exceeded it and doomed to close it because we've got more people coming on the site."

                                           So, that was a real kind of big proof of concept for me. But to scale it up to big deals when you're talking six and even seven figures, that's quite a little work when you're running on very small amounts of grant money. So, what actually happened was I spoke to the, there's a trade body that sort of looks after this domain in the UK and they just got an injection of government funding and they were quite excited, "I don't know what we could do with this." And I said, "Well, I set up this thing that I needed to find a future for, and I've done it because I wanted to see it happen, but there are no shares in it for me." So, this is another interesting story about the company structure. "There's no shares in it for me, so, it's not a traditional exit type story that I'm trying to create. Can we do a deal?" And so, we did.

                                           So, effectively, I did exit the company in that it went into new ownership. They then evolved it in their own way and absorbed it into their own activities and it has a life beyond me. And that was really satisfying, and that will happen as you say, within like sort of a two, three, year period.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay.

Emily Mackay:                 So, this sort of enterprise in miniature, if you like.

Alan Cowley:                    A good starter.

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so, like my starter company.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay, So, we've had the starter, let's go into the main crowd surfer. So, did you go straight into a new company as soon as you passed on Microgenius?

Emily Mackay:                 I basically did and that was a mistake. I think in hindsight, what would have been better for me and for the new company I was forming would have been to take time out, maybe do something else entirely and let all those learnings kind of digest down and settle for a while. Because when you've had a bit of time to reflect on things, the learnings sort of come a little bit more into focus. But because I was full of energy, and I really wanted to get things built and more efficient, I sort of sat in the start-up lab and scratched my head and said, "Okay, well I've done that. But you know, it wasn't quite as big and impactful as I wanted." And also, there are a whole range of other companies now springing out doing very, very similar things. And we call that world now crowdfunding.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah.

Emily Mackay:                 At the time it didn't really have a name. I was sort of like a clutch of, there's about 10 of us at the first trade association meeting and we all felt like outliers, but over a relatively short space of time it became a thing.

Alan Cowley:                    What sort of names were at that first meeting?

Emily Mackay:                 We had Crowdcube, Darren Westlake at Crowdcube. We had Jeffrey at Cedars, we had Julia from down, well, she's at Downing. A range of other people, some from the charitable side as well.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay.

Emily Mackay:                 So, again, because I like to keep things nice and orderly, I'd been keeping a little tracker, the list of all the companies that were sort of like me. Maybe I was paranoid about competition as well, but what I'd realised was there was a thing growing here, I kind of industry. And so, in scratching my head I thought, "Okay, maybe I shouldn't be looking at this on a single platform basis. Maybe I should be looking at how the whole market can be supported and scaled up. If there are other people doing this, then let's create some, kind of way of entering this whole realm." How does that usually happen? Well, you might go to a stock market if you're wanting to buy stocks or you might go to an aggregator of shopping, if you're wanting to buy something or there are ways of aggregating, you might go to an Expedia type service if you're looking for flights or something like that.

                                           So, I thought, "Okay, let's look at this aggregation search engine type idea," and that's the line of thinking I followed to create a company called Crowd Surfer, which later was rebranded as TAB and Crowd Surfer was supposed to be the epicentre for gathering data on what was happening across all these platforms. It's a bit like Bloomberg aggregating information from the stock markets.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah.

Emily Mackay:                 ... innovations.

Alan Cowley:                    So, how did you gather the data? Were you just asking the companies?

Emily Mackay:                 A combination of techniques. So, data is notoriously hard to get hold off when it's not yours. The first thing we did was we looked at all the permissions. So, what was allowed, which sites had APIs, very few was the answer, and what could we get that was readily accessible and not restricted.

                                           So, we started from that starting point, which basically meant we crawled websites having checked the terms and conditions and checked their robot's text. And I learned a lot about that as well. We amassed our first body of information through getting quite sophisticated at crawling.

                                           So, that kind of gave us a basis that then we could go out to other platforms and say, "Well hey, this is the information we gathered, and this is how people are starting to look at it and use it. How about we add you in as well?" And sometimes they had some plan to share the data anyway because everybody knows that it's a valuable marketing tool, if nothing else. And occasionally we got a knock back and they'd say, "No, we don't want to." We said, "Well why?" And usually that would be indicative of there was something, not quite right happening or they didn't want people to know everything maybe. We also, learned a lot about the art of persuasion and painting the story as well of what we're trying to do is not about trying to reveal something that doesn't want to be revealed. It's about supporting the industry and trying to gather together some momentum behind it.

                                           Yeah. So, we started piecing things together with crawling and then plugging into APIs. Sometimes people would send us spreadsheets, which was a pain, but at least they were sending through information. So, pieced together this big jigsaw, got pretty good at that. We prided ourselves on our ability to wrestle this ugly data into something that was actually quite clean and beautiful.

Alan Cowley:                    So, you didn't raise any money for your first company, and I'm presuming now you're a limited company with Crowdsurfer before you rebranded possibly. Did you go out raise funding from angels or VCs?

Emily Mackay:                 Yes, I did. So, I raised, I think it was three rounds, three or four rounds, but we had multiple closures in each round. So, I think we had six closures in total over the life of what became TAB because this was a company with shares, like a normal quote company structure and, yes, we started out with I think relatively small amounts of CIS type level amount of funding, and that each round we incremented on valuation and we incremented on amount as well.

                                           That was all the kind of textbook pattern if you like, but there was a whole lot of challenges along the way. Again, I was learning this all from scratch really.

Alan Cowley:                    As in the fundraising side of it?

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah, absolutely. So, how to value a company is incredibly hard.

Alan Cowley:                    Pull a number out of a hat.

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah, exactly. When you're an early stage, you're painting a picture of a future. You're not necessarily selling anything. We did have some early sales, but not sales that sort of make a material difference to evaluation. And you're trying to sell the story to investors. You're also, working against external forces. So, what's happening out there in the market? Where else might that money be being pulled? Who's just raised a fund? What's their appetite for fintech? There's a whole range of stuff that you really can't control, but you need to try and find a way through.

                                           So, as CEO, I spent arguably way too much of my time chasing around finance, trying to get that extra button, and rounds got stretched out and then we ended up by multiple closures. And what I found was the first closure was the hardest. And then when you have a follow-on period, oh a whole bunch of people come in then because it's sort of de-risked. They can see that people have definitely “closed”, they have signed the paperwork and transferred the money, and it gives them a lot of reassurance. So, subsequent closures sort of happened much more easily. So, that was another eyeopener affirmation we say.

Alan Cowley:                    So, you're obviously spending quite a lot of time raising funds for this company. What was your team like then? Were your team running the company mostly by then?

Emily Mackay:                 Yes and no. I was very much present with them day to day. So, from that sense I wasn't an absent CEO. Maybe I should have delegated more actually. Maybe that's another thing I've learned in this process. But the team was mostly only technical people and then we started to bring in sales and marketing, commercial people, probably sort of the later stages of the company, had a CTO co-founder who sort of came in at the first round of funding. I sort of spent the first year just trying to work out what was it that I was trying to articulate. How do I make that into a business plan? Where's the revenue in that? And then taking it out and pitching it.

                                           At the point where we were looking like, yeah, it's looking like there's going to be some money close on this, then I went out to try and find a CTO and Nick joined me to be that sort of number two in the company. So, when we written our biggest, there was roughly 15 people and then a whole bunch of contractors and associates all around. So, it was getting to a certain size on angel funds. That's where we got it to.

Alan Cowley:                    And what about advisors and mentors and the board? What did that look like?

Emily Mackay:                 Quite mixed, I'd say. We changed the board completely from the people who were very early in and supporters and mentors of me to people who were more experienced in the industry. That was a good decision. The evolution I think needs to be quite fast with your advisory pool when you're growing quite fast as a company. So, even 12 months in a company can change the kind of advice you need. I don't think I evolved fast enough there.

Alan Cowley:                    You personally or the company?

Emily Mackay:                 In terms of the advice we drew on, I don't think we evolved fast enough. I think we were not ruthless enough perhaps in what we needed to achieve and tried to take up too many contacts. That was another challenge I had. There was a lot of goodwill which ended up becoming lots of meetings and coffees in my diary. sometimes that was great and other times it was just noise that sort of took me away from other things. So, that was quite a big learning for me as well, to be politely ruthless and looking after your own time.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah, important. I'm personally realising that slowly. Let's move on to the rebranding. Why did you change from Crowdsurfer to TAB?

Emily Mackay:                 We still all know of the term crowdfunding, but at the time the industry was becoming a little bit hesitant about that term. I think it was loaded with some poor practises from early entrance in the markets and the regulators were becoming a little bit uneasy about the term. It had connotations of regulatory avoidance and the terminology of the industry was just like to change. We were talking about online investing, online marketplaces.

                                           We basically tried to swing with the times. I said, "Actually our brand isn't really helping us." Also, people didn't remember it very well or they had a slight variation on it. It got called crowd server or other things like that, and we needed to be unique. We reached the point where we said, "Okay, we want to gear up for Series A. Let's go into rebranding, come up with Something that was a little bit more sophisticated and positioned us in a bit more of a neutral way as well."

                                           So, we went through a very successful rebrand and sort of soul searching exercise to work out what actually do we want to achieve as a company, having learned what we had from the last couple of years, and then came up with the name TAB, the agency we worked with did. And yeah, we were absolutely thrilled by the rebrand. We got a really, positive response from it. So, that did its job.

Alan Cowley:                    Does TAB stand for anything or?

Emily Mackay:                 It's an abbreviation to tabulate. So, the idea we were creating structure from mess essentially, we're tabulating the data.

Alan Cowley:                    All right, So, you've got the company up to 15 people or So, with extras. What happened next? What was the next part of the story?

Emily Mackay:                 This is where things didn't quite go to plan. We wanted to raise a Series A. We had experimented with product market fits, but in the eyes of investors we hadn't quite got it. At the time appetite was for Series A companies to have a very clear product market fit, and where we were selling there wasn't, sufficient replicability of that type of sale.

Alan Cowley:                    Did you have customers at this point?

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah, we had customers. We had quite a range I think also, with the challenges we had. We had almost a sort of consumer level relationship on relatively small but recurring amounts of money, So, monthly subscription. And then we'd also, done bigger deals, which is more like consultancy, one off chunks of cash. The challenge was that it wasn't clear which we were, and which was going to be replicable anyway. I think in hindsight, if I was to be in that position again, you need to treat it as a hypothesis to be tested very rapidly and you need to keep changing that hypothesis as you learn more. And I think we were too slow to take that testing approach.

                                           Towards the end of the company we had a completely different idea of how we could commercialise the information and we started testing that out. But we'd been out of the runway before we really completed the tests thoroughly. So, if I was to start another company now, I would be ruthless about what the hypothesis is and how much time I was going to allow myself to prove it or disprove it. And off course, do that on a really lean basis because you don't have burning money in case it doesn't work. But to define that, I hypothesised that this market requires this value at this price and the way of delivering it will be this. And then just test that ruthlessly.

                                           And don't be optimistic in the way you view the results. In fact, be very pessimistic because then you can iterate quite quickly and work out whether there is value in the thing you've created. Better yet, if you have pull already from the marketing, you're trying to find a solution to that problem. I mean that's the ideal. But sometimes you're trying to lead a vision, which takes a slightly different approach.

Alan Cowley:                    So, you pushed on with this to the point where you didn't have any more money in and you didn't quite reach at Series A?

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah. And then came another twist in the story, which was that our investors didn't quite want to let it go either. So, I suppose, yeah, the options are, you can close a company, you can put it in a sort of dormancy where technically exists, but nothing's happening. You can find a new path for it. So, maybe you take the assets and do something else with it. Or you can get investment to do the thing you wanted to do.

                                           So, there's all these companies and our investors weren't keen to let it completely die and want to show them had a new thought for it. So, I said, "Okay, well it's not my vision, but if we think we can create something new from this, we haven't found product market fit with what we're doing, but if there's another avenue, then great. I mean, nobody's got anything to lose by that by giving it a go."

                                           So, we went through a whole restructuring, which involved a completely new team and a new strategy and vision, but, based on the same assets. So, the same data that we'd pulled together in data systems.

Alan Cowley:                    So, where you no longer a part of that anymore?

Emily Mackay:                 No. It's somebody else's now. Yeah, it's fascinating to see the evolution of the company into something different. So, yeah, I'm still in touch with them and I really, really wish it well. I hope it's going to do something different, which is where my passion lies. But it could be something really, interesting. So, yeah.

Alan Cowley:                    You don't need to answer this if you don't want to, but are you still a shareholder in the company?

Emily Mackay:                 Today, I am, yes. Right now, I am.

Alan Cowley:                    So, just like completely change the team and then take two new CEO and everyone?

Emily Mackay:                 Right. Yeah. So, then I get see things from the other side. I see things through the eyes of investors, and yeah, the sort of paperwork and things and updates that they see, I get to see that now. So, I'm really learning that the whole spectrum of being involved in a company is fascinating.

Alan Cowley:                    There's a podcastee that we've had in the past called Dominic Hill, who talked about understanding

Alan Cowley:                    ... the founders should realise they're a shareholder before they're a CEO, in that order. How do you feel about that comment now after everything that's kind of happened?

Emily Mackay:                 I think it's very true, and I also, realise that just because you're a founder, doesn't mean you have to be the CEO. There is a sort of pattern, and I'm not quite sure where it's come from, but there is a pattern that if you come up with an idea for a company and you start it all off, you badge yourself CEO.

                                           The skills of a CEO are very particular, and you may be a brilliant technical lead. You bring me brilliant scientist. You may be the creative brain behind something. Those skills may be extremely valuable to the company, but not the CEO. One thing I learned about myself in the process, I did exactly that. I myself, was the CEO and I got started because I was the only person executing to start with. But a good skill set for a CEO is somebody who can tell stories and be the public face and be quite evangelistic about their mission and their vision, and that side didn't sit So, comfortably with me.

                                           I'm much more of an organiser. I'm good with the paperwork. I'm good at making sure that all those shareholders had the right bits of information that they needed, and everything was signed and dotted and watertight. But if I had to stand on stage and evangelise, that took me outside my comfort zone. Again, if I was to do this all again, I wouldn't necessarily myself CEO. Badge yourself founder. Give yourself that status, that's cool, but you can be a founder of something else. You can be the founder operating officer or finance director or whatever your skill set is.

                                           I think it also, can create challenges as the company grows. At some point your passion will not be enough because you need certain professional skills to take the company to the next stage. I've seen it elsewhere. It can create friction because that founder CEO wants to retain that title because they feel like they've earned it by virtue of their input into the company and all the energy and sleepless nights they've had, but actually having that awareness that you don't have to do that.

                                           You can still be the founder, you can still have your shares, you can still have your exit, but have a different role is a good realisation to have. But I don't think that conversation happens with investors. I think it gets sort of almost glossed over until the point where actually, do you know we need somebody who can really go and pitch to this kind of company and can close this kind of deal and so, and so’s not really that. What do we do about it?

                                           Better might be to have a plan between the founders and the investors that gives that founder a career path and a sense of progression and the status and So, on that they want, but recognises their skills and or says, "Okay, to be the CEO of a company, you're going to need to do this." How do we put that training, those skills, that coaching in place So, that you can be like, "Do you want to do that? Do you want to be the person who goes on the Chinese trade missions, or would you be happy if somebody else did that and stay actually in the software?"

                                           I'd really encourage those conversations to happen. I don't think they are, at the, moment. Certainly I didn't witness or have it myself, but I think it would be a really healthy thing, and also, give a sense of that everyone's on the same page with how things are going to unfold, rather than it getting squeezed into a corner and then having to make some kind of decision.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah. I think that's a great learning for both entrepreneurs and investors. That conversation does need to come a lot earlier if not right at the beginning when you invest.

                                           You talked about quite a few challenges along the way on both the companies. What do you think after tab, what were the key challenges and problems that you face that you kind of wish you had known five years beforehand?

Emily Mackay:                 When I started out, I was quite idealistic about what I wanted to achieve and that's good. You need to know what impact you want to make on the world, but you also, need to be extremely ruthless in the value that you're exchanging. So, why is somebody going to give you money for the thing you're creating? What value are you adding to them? If you understand that in a lot of detail before you start your company, it just sets you So, much further ahead.

                                           If you start your company, as I did, even though the actual legal creation of the company before I even really formulated the hypothesis, it makes it a little harder. The other thing I learned is you don't have to actually create your legal entity until quite somewhere down the line if you don't want to, because as soon as you start that clock ticking, you have legal obligations as a director of a company. That's sort of structural challenge.

                                           The other big thing I've learnt is business is 90% about people. People inside your company, people who are associated with your company, people you're trying to sell to, people you're trying to influence, people who are influencing you. We use the term soft skills and emotional intelligence a lot, but it really is those things.

                                           If you can persuade somebody of your vision, if you can persuade someone of your strategy, if you can persuade somebody that you're worth trusting, if you can help somebody when you sense something's not right in your team, if you can have those antennae that kind of spot something before it becomes a big issue, you're going to be a lot more successful because you can have the best value proposition in the world and the best technology in the world, if you're a tech company, but if you haven't got rapport with people and you don't really understand how you're influencing them and how you're perceived and what people are going to do as a result of the interactions with you, then it all kind of falls apart.

Alan Cowley:                    Yeah. We've moved on from TAB and now you're at Congenica as the Head of AI and Data Strategy. How different is that for you? You're not running your own company now. You're in a different sector. What's it like?

Emily Mackay:                 It's brilliant. It is very different, but I'm really, really loving it. Congenica is a, again, a software company that deals in data, but this data is genomes. somebody who's experiencing a very debilitating, rare disease might have their DNA sequenced, and that information, but it comes a data file, and somebody has to interrogate that data and work out what's gone wrong in this genome, if anything, and can we find it. That's essentially what the software allows a specialist clinical scientist to do. There are obviously some great overlaps for me in terms of aggregating data, interrogating information, doing that through the medium of software. But of course, it's in life sciences So, I'm learning a lot there. As you said, this is not my own company. I've had to change mindset a little bit. I hope I'm doing it successfully, but probably not for me to say.

                                           But yeah, I am delivering somebody else's vision now. It's not something I've never done before, but it's a different change the last sort of eight years that came before it. Yeah. I think the things I've learned in the past are, definitely useful. I am having to add to that as well now to understand how that vision needs to come about, what that vision is. In a way it's a bit like being an investor in that you're trying to draw out what is it you're trying to achieve? Paint me a picture and then I need to play my part in that picture.

Alan Cowley:                    Yup. How big is Congenica then?

Emily Mackay:                 Right now, there's about 75.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay.

Emily Mackay:                 I'm building machine learning group. something we did at TAB was to interrogate the information using NLP techniques. You're trying to find patterns with information and this is essentially what Congenica's doing. We've got lots of genetic data and other scientific information at our disposal. What we're trying to do is find patterns which could help point to a potential variant in that DNA that could be causing someone's illness. Again, pattern recognition, sort of the core of machine learning. Yeah, I'm building a team there. That 75 is going to grow a little bit.

Alan Cowley:                    Oh, brilliant.

Emily Mackay:                 Yeah.

Alan Cowley:                    Oh, that's fascinating. Obviously, you're contractually committed to Congenica, but let's talk about it though. Let's talk about what the future holds. Do you think in 10 years, time you might ... or five years, time you might get that entrepreneurial bug again and try another company?

Emily Mackay:                 I think once you've got it, it's hard to shake for sure. It would be great to do something again in the future, not anytime soon, but I think I've learned a lot and I'm still learning, So, hopefully if I ever did again, then it'll have a different shape to it and I'll be able to recycle some of that that I've learnt.

Alan Cowley:                    Is there anything you're curious of in terms of industries, new industries or ...

Emily Mackay:                 I think my theme is data and I'm good at the strategic side. I'm good at motivating people, challenges, resources into solving that thing and working out what to do with the data. I think that theme will remain.

                                           But there's a vast opportunity now with data because everything is being saturated in new data So, yeah, the industry could change. But in terms of what can be done with data, I think the world of machine learning has got a long way to run yet. The hype around AI, in general, I think will die down a bit, but the core of using statistical techniques and using techniques to understand data structures and be able to predict from that, I think it's fundamental. I think that's here to remain. Hopefully my future's going involve more of that.

Alan Cowley:                    Okay. Emily, it's been absolutely, fascinating, and we'll look out for whether, or not there is another company in the next five or 10 or however many years it is. Thanks very much for being So, open, honest, and that's a cracking story. Cheers.

Emily Mackay:                 You're very welcome. Thanks.

Peter Cowley:                  Thanks for listening to another Invested Investor podcast. You can subscribe to all future podcasts via our website or via, a number, of podcasts platforms online. Remember, you can order our book online, and be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to get the most up to date, interesting and insightful content from the Invested Investor.