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Nick Morant - An Unlikely Tech Entrepreneur

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Summary

Not every technology pioneer is a young computer wizard straight out of Cambridge

3 min read

Former British Army officer Nick Morant does not fit the usual stereotype of a tech entrepreneur, but he took his mobile payments company from start-up to a widely publicised £33m exit in just six years.

His tech ventures have ranged from publishing to software and fintech and he spends much of his time advising growing businesses in the sector.

While tech entrepreneurs are often thought of as young graduates brimming with ideas and technical know-how but with little commercial experience, Nick is very different. He spent two years in the army when he left school before training as a barrister and then working as an investment banker in the Far East, specialising in technology.

At the age of 37 he decided to go it alone and started his first tech business in the publishing sector. In 2004 – three years before the first iPhone was launched – he took a gamble by licensing technology from Canada that allowed motorists to pay for parking using their mobile phones. While making payments using mobiles was uncommon back then, his timing was perfect and the use of smartphones grew at an astonishing rate.

“He took his mobile payments company from start-up to a widely publicised £33m exit in just six years”

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Nick’s enterprises haven’t always been focused on technology – he ran a chain of garden centres and his property management company sold for £80m in 2014 –but his fascination with the sector has gradually narrowed his focus. He is one of the founders of Sprint Enterprise Technologies, a fintech software company that helps financial advisers provide a smoother and more effective service.

“I’ve always liked a genuinely disruptive technology, rather than something that is super new and different,” he explains. “If you showed me the next Google, I couldn’t tell you whether it’s going to work or not. But with something like car parking, you already have a very large global market with millions of people parking cars every day. If you have a widget that does that service better, then you’ve got a very good chance.”

He also draws on his expertise to help other entrepreneurs build, scale and then exit their businesses through his advisory company Cormorant Ventures. He runs the business with Tanya Bird, who was formerly Acting Director of the Natural History Museum, a Trustee of Kew Gardens and Chair of Kew Ventures.

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Cormorant was brought in to advise the management team of Brunel, a company offering chauffeur services to blue chip clients, after the owner tragically died. While on the face of it Brunel doesn’t sound like a tech company, it relies on sophisticated software to ensure that cars can be booked quickly and easily in 480 cities across 75 countries. Cormorant spent three years working with the management, culminating in a successful sale of the business to Europcar last year. Nick remains an adviser to the board of Brunel.

He chose to bank with Coutts after the bank was recommended by a business associate who recognised the strength of our offering for entrepreneurs. He explains: “I must have been banking with Coutts for 10 or 15 years. They understand entrepreneurs and I’ve met some other interesting people through them. There is a value in the network, quite apart from the banking value.

“I don’t think the big banks now understand entrepreneurs and wealth creators, because people like me at any point in time have most of their money tied up in a complicated range of businesses, often illiquid. You need more intelligent banking for that because it doesn’t obviously fit into particular boxes. Coutts has a big entrepreneurs team and I think they genuinely understand that.”

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