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August 26, 2020

Sharika Chauhan talks to Solo Entrepreneur

Sharika Chauhan, COOLedgerComm, a London based Fintech on building a business, risk taking and Sunday night tech testing…..   

What is it that your business does and who are your customers?

LedgerComm has created an end-to-end tech solution to shake up the archaic 2 trillion-dollar corporate loan market. LedgerComm is a debt administration business with a tech USP.  

LedgerComm offers full vertical solution for loan market sales, trading, settlement, fee & interest distribution. Clients can book trades electronically, generate trade documents automatically and make and receive payments securely through our platform. Essentially straight through processing (STP) for loans. Our goal is to make the post-trade settlement process as painless and transparent as possible. 

Our tech identifies everything that can go wrong with a loan trade before it’s executed, this allows our clients to make better, more informed choices when they trade. There is no point in selecting a cheaper price from one bank if KYC delays mean that trade takes 6 months to settle. 

By cutting trade processing time, we make the marketplace more liquid and transparent.  We make loans settle quicker than they do today which is 51 days in Europe and 17 in the US. 

Our clients are institutional lenders – banks, loan funds, hedge funds and corporate borrowers.

What’s your background and motivation to become an entrepreneur?

After completing a grueling 10-week internship at Goldman Sachs and graduating with a Maths & Business degree at University of Manchester, I began my career in Operations within financial services, where I got a reputation as a ‘problem solver’ and someone ‘who will change processes’. To me, it made sense that if something could be done better, I needed to try and make it happen.

Looking back, I have always been drawn to taking adventures. At 19 I had backpacked my way around Brazil, at 25 I made my first angel investment in a Tech company, and by 30 I had I left a stable, well-paid, job to pursue a more challenging role. By 33, I had hiked the Himalayas, solo travelled across continents, and partnered at LedgerComm, to build the business from the ground up.

Being a calculated risk-taker naturally lends itself to being an entrepreneur, and it became clearer to me during my time traveling that I was ready to take the leap into a start-up career rather than return to the corporate world.

As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?

I feel that it is already an achievement to have been able to design a new tech solution for a problem that is notorious for being the most complex and tech deprived in the financial services sector. The loan market sends over 20 million trade confirmations by fax every year ! My ultimate goal is for our product to become a scalable offering that solves our clients’ needs and to have our technology adopted globally as a market wide solution. To be part of that journey, for me, is one form of success. 

Building a business is one thing, building a business with a culture that people want to be a part of is a harder thing. If we are going to succeed culture will be at the core of our success. Innovation, communication, diversity and hard work are the cornerstones of our culture. 

I believe diversity is key to new solutions. A diverse workforce can help achieve creativity and innovation to its best, especially when you re-engineer and build something from scratch. That’s why it is important to me that LedgerComm’s culture be one that includes women and people of color, two groups who are often not well represented in the financial and tech industries.

What are the top 3 tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a business today?

1) Trust your gut, it’s usually right

2) Build a business in an area you know inside out and you know needs disrupting

3) Maintain your passion for your business throughout your entire journey

What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?

When I’m in the thick of work, it helps me to plan out my time. Coming from the banking sector and having worked on trading floors, I have learned to stay calm when under pressure and multitask efficiently. It starts on Sunday evenings, which my team calls ‘Sharika’s Sunday Express’. It is where I dedicate a couple hours to planning the week ahead, which helps keep my focus. I also test the past weeks tech deployment, as I find that after a break away from the laptop, I pick up on bugs and workflow issues more effectively. It also gives me time to reflect on the last week’s productivity.

What would you describe as your key values?

Having a strong work ethic is a value that is a part of my identity. Like many Indian immigrants who fled from East Africa in the 70’s, both of my parents came from humble beginnings with very little in their pockets to start their life in the UK. Hence, like many British Asians of my generation who were bought up in the 80’s, hard work and education was deeply instilled from day one. My father worked hard to be able to graduate with an electronic engineering degree from the UK, so there were always high expectations for his children to follow, and I wanted to make him proud. From early on I understood that I needed to put time aside to work hard but I also discovered that balancing my work life with adventure is really important to me. 

I’m an avid traveler and adventure junkie which means my ‘wanderlust gene’ is currently in a deficient state, hence, I am itching to plan my next intrepid voyage (post lockdown). Travelling for me keeps me grounded, refreshed, and opens up my mind and soul.

Who have you taken inspiration from in business?  

Anne Boden (CEO of Starling Bank), simply because I think her boldness, guts, and tenacity to have founded a new bank in the UK is remarkable and inspirational (and to be the only woman in the UK to have done it).

Elon Musk, because he is a rare force of nature who I believe can literally change the world we live in, the way we live it and our future climate. I have also been captivated by space from a young age (I was convinced I was going to be an astronaut when I was younger!), so to see his innovations and explorations come to life is amazing.

For anyone looking to start a business today, what would be the number one bit of advice you’d give them?

Market yourself all the time, as you are your biggest asset for your business. People invest in people first, then the business. Echoing Elon Musk’s piece of advice – ‘constantly think about how you could be doing things better and keep questioning yourself’.

Where can people find you online?

You can find me on LinkedIn andTwitter, so give me a shout on there!