secretleaders | OakNorth: The pathway to building a unicorn with Rishi Khosla

OakNorth: The pathway to building a unicorn with Rishi Khosla

Today’s guest has been a high achiever since he was a kid, completing his computer science GCSE at 11, his A-levels at 13, and receiving a Masters from LSE by the time he was 20. Some child geniuses burnout before they achieve great things, not Rishi Khosla.

Rishi, according to LL Cool J, is something of a phenomenon in the world of entrepreneurship, and we are wont to agree with him.

Co-founding OakNorth, Europe’s highest valued FinTech company having raised over a billion dollars in funding to date, in only four years, Rishi is considered one of the stars of the industry.

And OakNorth is just his most recent headline.

He’s an early stage investor, investing in several businesses including PayPal and Indiabulls. He’s already co-founded a company, Copal Amba, a financial research firm which was scaled to 3,000 employees and sold to Moody’s Corporation in 2014. And he helped establish the family office of the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal amongst many things. With OakNorth he estimates they’ve created about 12,000 new jobs in the UK and 13,000 new homes.

And has anyone ever thanked him?

“How can I put it? I guess, I’ve always been sprinting through life, recognition hasn’t been what I focused on. I focused on results.”

His advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? You need to have enough hunger inside of you, you’ve got to have fire in your stomach, to say ‘there’s only Plan A’.

We chat about:

  • Working with Jack Welch at GE
  • Establishing the family office of Lakshmi Mittal
  • Meeting Peter Teal and Elon Musk
  • Building Copal with business partner Joel, brick by brick
  • Meeting Son at SoftBank and how he pitched him
  • Why only 5% of unicorns are profitable

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The Secret Leaders podcast features interviews with key figures from the UK tech and creative ecosystem. From entrepreneurs (both early and latter stage), to journalists, VCs - and even royalty - the series profiles those who have helped shape the nation's culture of innovation and growth.

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