secretleaders | World’s youngest Dragon, with Michele Romanow, Co-Founder of Clearbanc

World’s youngest Dragon, with Michele Romanow, Co-Founder of Clearbanc

You can’t take your ears off our guest today. Born and raised in Canada, Michele Romanow has been building startups since university (a cafe which still operates today) followed by a venture in an industry she knew nothing about – caviar – right when the 2008 financial crisis struck.

“There I am, 21 years old, selling the world’s most unnecessary luxury product. I realised the world owes you absolutely nothing, that everything can fall apart in a second, that it can be your fault. It can be the market’s fault, it doesn’t matter. But I was gonna have to pivot if I wanted it to be successful.”

And pivot she did.

From Buytopia, to SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon), to Dragons’ Den Canada (‘I was the youngest Dragon ever’), to co-founding Clearbanc – Michele has done so much in such a short space of time.

She co-founded Clearbanc having seen dozens of similar pitches on Dragons’ Den. The idea is that ecommerce founders no longer have to give up equity in exchange for capital. Instead Clearbanc invests and gets paid back from revenues with a 6% – 12% fee on top.

“We have now invested more than $1.6 billion into 4,000 different founders around the world. We have backed eight times more women than the venture capital industry average.”

What a story. We hope you enjoy it.

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We chat about:

  • Starting her career in cafes and caviar
  • From Dragons’ Den to Clearbanc
  • The struggle of financing Clearbanc
  • The hardest part of being an entrepreneur
  • Never be comfortable


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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