Founder Series: When Academia meets Investment Banking - Scribe

Different nationalities, different backgrounds and different interests. Rob, the CEO, has seven years of experience working in Risk for Barclays in London and Frankfurt. Emmanuel, the CTO, has spent eight years in Academia. After his PhD in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Sorbonne University in Paris, he joined University College London (UCL) as a Research Associate focusing on automatic persuasion methods for behaviour change. They probably would not have met if it wasn't for Antler.

antler

Author

Antler

The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

Why become an entrepreneur?

Rob: Working in Banking was a fantastic experience, you learn a huge amount alongside very smart people in a global, connected environment. Ultimately though, I wanted to be at the front of innovation, with a steep learning curve that comes with building a business. I saw some of the inefficiencies in the world of finance and wanted to do something about it.

Emmanuel: At the end of my postdoc I had three options for the next step: stay in academia and become a professor, go work for a company, or create my own business. Back at UCL, I created a company applying the research that I had done and turning it into a product. I went to a startup generator to find a CEO, but we didn't get funded. Then I joined Antler - and it worked! My ambition, that ties together my studies, my work in academia and the two companies I've created is to automate more laborious work so individuals can have more time for meaningful, creative tasks.

What were you looking for when you joined Antler?

Rob: I left my job as I wanted to build a business. I spent 6 months searching for a technical co-founder in London, attending endless networking events and pitch nights. I worked with a few great people but the timing was never right. I was also looking for someone to build my idea, which was the wrong approach. With Antler, I now appreciate it's more powerful to work with someone to address a problem and collaborate, rather than employ someone to just execute a solution. Antler has enabled me to maximise my experience and my time.

Emmanuel: When I finished in Academia I thought that I could do everything, I've done all of the research, I'm the one who knows best. So for my first venture, when I've been advised to look for a CEO by an investor, I was reluctant at first. But that was trial by fire, I learned the hard way that I could not do the business side of things - I needed someone. Antler was for me a second chance, an opportunity to apply what I've learned and not make the same mistakes.

What surprises you the most about your co-founder?

Rob: The power of Artificial Intelligence is incredible. Before meeting Emmanuel, I had no idea what is now possible with AI. The more we speak, the more that AI-powered opportunities in finance seem to unlock. Seeing our complementary skill sets in action has been really exciting.

Emmanuel: It's how fast everything is clicking on a personal and professional level. For the latter, he's an expert in his domain. I can show him something new and shiny, he'll always find something to apply it to. There's no time wasted finding solutions to problems. Instead, one of us knows the problems and the other one knows a possible solution. It's fast and efficient.

Did you speak to many other founders before you agreed to become a team?

Rob: We spoke a little at the beginning and it only took a one-off conversation to realise that there was a big overlap of interests. We kept in touch when lockdown happened and kept the conversation going on Zoom. In the beginning, it felt challenging to build trust remotely, but the more we worked together the more it felt it would work.

Emmanuel: Zoom calls kept cutting off after 40 minutes so we had to be very efficient in our conversations. We worked a lot on our idea. We were patient before deciding to become a team, but when we decided to track out and commit to Scribe, for me it was certain.

What advice would you give to your ex-colleagues or anyone wanting to start their own company?

Rob: If you see a big problem in your industry nobody is tackling - you may just be the best person to fix it. Speak to people who have already made the jump to starting a business, it'll help work out whether it's really for you. That said, the only way you'll truly find out is by making the jump and personally, I would have regretted not taking the risk. My advice to anyone joining Antler in the future is to speak to everyone. Challenge your assumptions. Review the kind of business you want to build. Have as many in-depth conversations as possible with people who you think might be complementary to you.

Emmanuel: I wanted to apply my research to something practical, after doing so much theory. Building a company is the only way to apply my research and not be driven by someone else's agenda. It's about doing what I want to do. So, my advice: Just do it! If you want to take a step back from Academia and apply your research to something meaningful, then create a company.

What's the weirdest question you've asked each other?

Rob: I once had to ask Emmanuel whether he was automating his own coding using AI and watching TV instead (he wasn't).

Any last words?

Rob: You're not alone! It's not just you. If you find a partner you can do anything! London is a global hub and there are thousands of big problems to be solved right here, right now.

Emmanuel: Whether you are a tech or business person, with a rather specific or a very wide area of expertise, you'll find at Antler your counterpart, the second of the pair who will help you bridge all the gaps. Take the leap, the other side is not that far away.

A bit more about Scribe:

At Scribe, we're taking a research-led approach to Artificial Intelligence, bringing cutting edge technology into the finance industry and removing the friction of analysing corporates that banks lend to. We see the huge potential of this technology and are working alongside organisations to deliver real, tangible AI-driven solutions.

---------------------------------------------

If you are thinking about founding your own company and kick-starting your entrepreneurial journey, apply now.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
Insights
5 min read
The 2022 Benelux Unicorn Founder Roadmap: How to build unicorns in Benelux

As everyone anticipates the next wave of ultra-successful companies in Benelux, what does it take to get there? What do the successful founders of Benelux unicorns look like? This report is an in-depth look at the Benelux startup ecosystem and its brightest stars. And above all, it is for anyone who is helping build the next 50 unicorns in Benelux.

Insights
5 min read
The Angle: Why the long-term view is the hard but right one

The Angle is a new content series from Antler, featuring perspectives from our team members on the biggest events and trends impacting founders and early-stage investors today. Every article is that person's unique angle on a hot topic—what they see from their vantage point in one of our 25 offices around the globe—not Antler's stance. In our first edition, Jeff Becker draws lessons from the demise of FTX and turbulent tech moments in recent years. This article first appeared in Jeff's Monday Morning Meeting on Substack.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Jamie Bubb: The tech marketing venture developer connecting brands and content creators

Our new content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering wtih around the world. In our second spotlight, we sat down with Jamie Bubb, co-founder of Twirl, a remote content studio powered by top-quality creators that helps brands scale their content engines rapidly and cost-effectively.

Insights
5 min read
Venture investing in the downturn

We are living two simultaneous realities: the uncertainty of the current downturn and the unstoppable wave of innovation disrupting every industry. Against this backdrop, Antler's Kevin Brennan shares perspectives on assessing your position in venture capital for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. Might 2023 be the best vintage for the coming decade?

Founder Stories
5 min read
Emilia Theye: The psychologist using AI to democratize access to mental health solutions

Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. To honor them, we are launching a new content series—”It All Starts with People”—spotlighting the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they are building and the positive dent they are aiming to make on the world.

In our first spotlight, we sat down with Emilia Theye, the co-founder of clare&me—a mental health app that uses language-based AI to develop an innovative approach to virtual self-help.

News
5 min read
Backing founders from day zero to greatness

Today we are sharing our new brand that reflects that commitment and the reason Antler exists: to stand behind our founders from day zero and to keep backing them on their paths to greatness.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Seven ways founders can prioritize mental well-being as they build

Founders are the life force of the startup ecosystem. They give their all, betting on their seemingly “crazy” convictions and executing on abstract ideas that can potentially make our lives and work easier, faster, healthier, and better optimized.

But sometimes they do this to the detriment of their health. Being a founder means being beholden to customers, employees, and investors while balancing personal life. Often founders trade their stable, well-paying jobs to prioritize the restless inquisitivity of their mind. In the quest to answer the question “what if?”, they sometimes sacrifice their mental and physical health, only realizing the effects on their state of mind once they have impacted their ability to function as a leader. We have also seen how the mental pressure on founders can cause distress to those who depend on them for their livelihood and direction.

Insights
5 min read
A fresh take on early-stage VC: Harvard Business School publishes a case study on Antler

Harvard Business School (HBS) recently published a case study about Antler’s fresh approach to early-stage venture capital. Antler Co-Founder Fridtjof Berge shares thoughts on how the case sparks discussion about the best ways to identify and support great people anywhere on earth.