Born in Glasgow, David Brown started his professional life as an engineering apprentice at Govan Shipbuilders before combining his background as an electrical designer by day and a fashion / music promoter by night.
After gaining additional experience in search technologies, e-commerce and payments, he founded Hi55 Ventures, the fintech start-up behind Hi group, a payroll platform that helps companies give their staff greater flexibility in paying salariesents and improve access to capital
What set you on the path to success?
I started promoting fashion and music at the age of 16, while studying to become an electrical designer. I worked with Craig Ferguson, Wet Wet Wet and a few others, helping to promote their gigs.
After 20 years as a promoter, I realized that business and promotion were pretty much the same thing. I have since turned to become an entrepreneur by promoting start-ups, full time.
Did you have a hero when you were younger?
Malcolm McLaren, promoter and manager of the Sex Pistols. Imagine the late 1970s: union strikes, anger and anxiety. McLaren was just brilliant, he understood the political mood of the country and brought to market a punk band that suited him. Even though the Sex Pistols were nowhere near as good as The Jam!
Do you have one now?
It still hasn’t changed. I would still say Malcom McLaren.
Are you easily bored?
Yes, but only if there is no challenge in my life. And today I can say that this is definitely not the case! But, I’m not complaining. Problem solving is a great way to live.
At Hi, our vision is to make the world a better place financially by reinventing the way people pay. It is not an easy task, but thanks to our Pay Asset Finance concept, we enable companies to operate their cash flow more efficiently, while also making it possible to pay employee salaries more quickly.
Who do you admire in business and in life in general?
Beyond Malcolm McLaren, I like a go-getter in general. To put it simply, someone who is successful and happy at what they do. Their success doesn’t have to be monetary, but they are happy.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I stick to two principles: being loyal and being useful to your team, qualities that are sometimes forgotten in today’s world of self-promotion and egocentricity. Any leader should be an advocate for their teams, and helping others should not be seen as a distraction from your responsibilities. It is your job as a leader to help and guide others, and to be proud of it.
What are your ambitions?
I have a fairly simple ambition which is to make a difference, to make it count. I apply it to my personal and professional life. Hi, for example, sets out to make a difference.
For most companies, labor costs are the most significant operating expense and wage deferral is hardly an option. For employees, a flat tire or any unscheduled payment before their next monthly paycheck could send them into a downward spiral of payday loans. We have decided to change this.
Do you believe in luck?
Absoutely. I often compare my life to bus trips: lots of stops. Sometimes, even though I’m not sure the bus is leading me in the right direction, I’ve come to accept that I can always get off and take another bus.
So far, most of the “buses” have taken me to many destinations, professionally, emotionally and geographically. They made my life what it is today and I wouldn’t change it.
What qualities do you look for in your colleagues?
I am looking for the quality of stars, hunger, determination, loyalty and kindness. You build a team and the performance of that team is important to how you change the game.
Micro-manage or big picture?
Big picture all the way, but I’m aware that it can’t be “big picture” all the time. I know the importance of delivery, so I made an active effort to build a team that is focused on delivering this image.
Do you think the company is valued by society?
It all depends on whether the company contributes to the betterment of society. If the company does, then yes, I believe the company is valued by the company. I believe that every business should contribute to society, if not, what’s the point?
Basically, that’s why we created Hi, which aims to enable better financial control and empower people with their income and capital. Obtaining pending B-Corp status and Social Enterprise UK accreditation testify to our ambitions.
How do you think business will change from 2021?
This year, we have seen many different dynamics emerge that will challenge our way of looking at work, the workplace and our role within it. Currently, there are two opposing points of view. While most employers expected the workforce to return when the worst of the pandemic was over, the majority of employees still prefer virtual work.
There are pros and cons on both sides. I think for most companies a hybrid working model will emerge from these two opposing perspectives very soon. In fact, this is already happening.
How would you like As business to change from 2021?
Employees and the workplace must become a top priority from 2021. The world is changing, and so are views on what employment should look like. It will require an overhaul based on what we have learned over the past 18 months and how we are creating the right balance to move forward.
Workplace benefits will also prove to be an important point of differentiation for employers. The days of office fruit bowls and gym memberships are long gone. Taking care of the financial and mental well-being of employees, whether it’s changing the way employees are paid or offering other benefits, will be crucial in attracting and retaining talent.
Here is a magic wand – what are you going to do?
How many wishes are in the baguette because I have a list …
My professional wish is to improve the financial well-being of the employer and the employee by completely rethinking the pay according to its objective.
What is your favorite time of day?
Dawn. You will probably surprise me enjoying this peaceful moment alone in my garden, away from family and work.
I am ambitious with Hi. Our Series A funding round will allow us to activate the next step in our growth plan to expand into the United States, Europe and eventually Asia, while continuing to develop our products and services.