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Bootstrapping to $13 Million from the UK: David Lloyd, CEO of The Intern Group (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 27th 2018

Sramana Mitra: 2011 was when you started?

David Lloyd: January 2011.

Sramana Mitra: What were the circumstances? What was going on in the industry? What was going on in your own personal life? What was the idea that came out of both factors?

David Lloyd: I was working on the trading floor in Merrill Lynch in London. I recognized quickly that I did not particularly like the product. I was essentially selling hedge fund products to mitigate changes in interest rates. It wasn’t exactly aligned with a very higher purpose. I found my bosses at the investment bank extremely uninspiring but extremely well-paid.

One of my bosses had a guaranteed annual bonus of $10 million but had deeply unhappy personal lives. It wasn’t people who I thought were the epitome of stability, harmony, and family joy. I was looking at people thinking, “I don’t want to become like you. You may be extremely successful and extremely wealthy but you’re spending your life earning a lot of money but doing very little. I knew that I needed to get out.”

I spoke with friends and received a mixed response. Most of them would give that cookie-cutter response of, “You must stay there at least two years, or your resume will look very bad.” I left in a year. Even though I was very sure of my decision, it did give me a great deal of insecurity. I thought, “Maybe they’re right.” I had a strong determination to prove myself even though I was fundamentally sure of my decision.

I remember a few days after quitting, I was in a Starbucks with one of my best friends thinking about potential business ideas. We, together, remembered my experience in South America and how much of a help that overseas internship had been to impress recruiters in addition to being a wonderful experience personally. We thought that what if this experience that I had was just a normal thing that kids do at universities. Back in 2011, that was not normal. Fast forward seven and a half years, it has become a reality.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about the process of building that business. How did you get this off the ground?

David Lloyd: We didn’t take any funding. We sacrificed salary for about a year, which was possible because of my previous job at the investment bank. I just went for it like young people do. I have two co-founders. I shared the idea with them. They loved it. I brought a British guy and a Colombian lady in. We brainstormed business plans together. We thought it was important to do a pilot.

Sramana Mitra: How long did it take you to get it out?

David Lloyd: We started in January and we had our first pilot program during the FIFA World Cup in June.

Sramana Mitra: We’re talking 2012?

David Lloyd: 2011.

Sramana Mitra: FIFA World Cup in 2011?

David Lloyd: Yes, because it was the under 21 World Cup.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping to $13 Million from the UK: David Lloyd, CEO of The Intern Group
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