A former Googler is bringing a successful British startup builder to New York
- Blenheim Chalcot is opening an office in New York, it's first in the US.
- The company is a "venture builder" - it seeds and then supports startups in everything from fintech to education and media.
- The business has 20 companies and thinks it can have an edge in fintech, where it says London is a leader globally.
LONDON - A successful British "venture-builder" business is expanding to New York, hoping to show off Britain's expertise in financial technology in America.
Blenheim Chalcot, which was founded 20 years ago in London, is opening its first US office in New York. The office will act as a "beachhead" for Blenheim Chalcot-backed businesses looking to expand to the states.Blenheim Chalcot sets up startups and then provides support services to them such as legal, recruiting, IT, and other admin-type tasks, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on building their businesses. Blenheim Chalcot currently supports around 20 companies across fintech, education services, and media. It has assets of over $600 million under management and reinvests money from successes into its other businesses.
"One of the real strengths of the Blenheim Chalcot model is that we have a team of some 200 people that work across London, India, and now the US to create an ecosystem that helps our businesses to win," Dan Cobley, the managing partner of fintech at Blenheim Chalcot, told Business Insider.
A recent success is ClearScore, a free credit checking service that Experian is in the process of buying for $383 million, although UK competition regulators are probing the deal.
"We decided we wanted to go into the US and formerly put that capability on the ground so that as our businesses in London and Nottingham want to go to the US, they've got a beachhead, a landing pad, that gives them a lot of support," Cobley said. "We think that's really powerful."
Cobley was previously the managing director of Google in the UK, and cut his teeth at Capital One before that. He joined Blenheim Chalcot in 2014.
The US is already well served for tech startups, but Cobley believes Blenheim Chalcot's businesses still have something to offer."While there are some areas in which the US is well served, there are some areas in which the UK is leading," he said.
"In fintech, London does have incredible strength. London's the only place where you've got the tech, the regulator, and the banks all in the same geography all supporting each other and you've got a big unified UK market, which helps them get to a reasonable scale, versus the US situation where you've got Silicon Valley, New York, and Washington as three important geographies all quite well separated. And you've got different regulation in the different states which makes it harder for fintechs to get to national strength as quickly."
Blenheim Chalcot's new office will help launch two of its fintech businesses in the US initially: SalaryFinance, which lets staff borrow against future paychecks; and small business lender Liberis.
SalaryFinance is already working with Legal & General in the US, and Cobley said part of the rationale for expanding to New York was client demand.
"We've got a number of clients who are international and they're asking if we can serve them in the US. That gives us an obvious bridge," he said.
Blenheim Chaclot is helping to bring over seven of its 20 UK businesses to the US initially. Others include training platform Avado Learning and publishing business Contentive.