Former Xero managing director Chris Ridd says he’s gone “from customer to CEO”, after taking the helm at Melbourne-founded wealth tech platform, Myprosperity.
The startup, which closed a $2.5 million strategic investment in February this year, was founded by Peter McCarthy in 2011. It uses cloud technology and real-time data analytics to help accountants and advisors better understand the financial health and needs of their clients. Among its investors is MYOB co-founder Craig Winkler.
Ridd, who began in the chief executive this month, says he was initially a customer of Myprosperity.
“My accountant put me on to it … I went from customer to CEO,” Ridd tells StartupSmart.
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After spending the past year assisting startup founders through consulting and investing, Ridd says he was drawn to Myprosperity because it’s “really well built” and fills a gap that he believes no one else in the market is tackling.
“There wasn’t really a product that managed everyone’s financial world,” he says.
After emailing McCarthy to learn more about the startup, Ridd became an advisor and now he’s decided to make it his primary focus.
“[McCarthy] is one of the best entrepreneurs I’ve come across,” says Ridd, with his excitement to be back in the captain’s seat of a growing startup brimming.
“The early days at Xero were so much fun, we were figuring things out, we were taking risks, the startup world is so much fun,” says Ridd.
“When I was at Xero I was around a lot of startups [and] I’d always thought it would be nice to do that again.”
With Myprosperity already serving 10,000 subscribers and 250 business partners, Ridd is keen to use his background in startups and financial advice to help McCarthy and the team develop a strong go-to-market plan and seize the market opportunity before them.
“I want to make sure we become a strong brand in this space,” he says.
After securing a share of the Australian market, Ridd says New Zealand and Asia will be next.
“We have our sights on becoming a global player,” he says.
However, his current focus is setting up the groundwork to ensure the startup and its team of 18 employees is prepared to meet market demand.
“At the moment the big focus is going into [developing] our systems and processes. Since we announced the capital raise we’ve had a lot of enquiries,” he says.
“It’s a good problem but we’ve got a small team [so we] need to make sure we can scale and can handle the demand in the market.”
Ridd says hiring more staff will be a priority.
“The nice thing about that is it’s a journey that I went on with Xero … I took us from six to 300 staff so it was quite a ride,” he says.
A word of advice to new startup chief executives
“Don’t panic,” says Ridd.
In the early days of leading fast-growing startups, Ridd says founders can easily get distracted with all the different goals and opportunities that come their way.
“You get in there and there’s just a mountain of things you should do and want to do,” he says.
But Ridd says the most important thing to do is find a business model and product that works and double-down on this.
“It’s about staying focused, setting a plan, getting the team’s input and really committing to that plan,” he says.
Running in with a clear strategic roadmap can also help prevent the team from burning out and going “off-course”, says Ridd.
“It’s about going hard but being methodical,” he says.