Nick Hungerford knows a few things about dealing with rejection.
In 2010, the 34-year-old Englishman was going to meeting after meeting in California’s Silicon Valley, trying to secure funding for his business idea – Nutmeg, an online-based investment management business. And the first 45 wealthy investors he pitched to all said no.
“It was horrible,” he says. “The feedback was very personal. “Some investors said they liked the idea, but that I couldn’t do it. Others said they didn’t like the idea, and some simply said I wasn’t good enough. “It was really brutal, I hugely questioned myself.” At the time Mr Hungerford, who was in Silicon Valley after completing a Master of Business Administration from nearby Stanford University, was sleeping on the floor of a friend’s house, and working out of his garage. “I was living the entrepreneurial dream that had turned into a horrific reality,” he says. It was the autumn of 2010 at this point, and Mr Hungerford was running out of money, maxing out his credit cards to cover his living expenses. He says: “I drew a line in the sand, and said that if I haven’t got a ‘yes’ by December I would go and get a job.”
Then Mr Hungerford secured another investment meeting, his 46th, this time with a man called Tim Draper. Mr Draper may be little known outside of technology circles, but he was an early investor in Hotmail and Skype, and is worth an estimated $1bn (£620m). After listening to Mr Hungerford’s pitch, Mr Draper was quick to say yes. Other wealthy investors soon followed suit. “I felt so vindicated,” says Mr Hungerford.
With “tens of millions of dollars” now behind him, he never did need to look through the job advertisements. Instead, he was able to start Nutmeg in early 2011, choosing to return to the UK to launch the firm in London. Nutmeg itself is an investment management business. You give it your savings, and it will invest them on your behalf in everything from shares to property, and bonds to currencies. While there are thousands of such firms around the world, Nutmeg’s difference is that it claims to have been the very first to base itself online.
So instead of having to phone your investment manager at some big bank in the City of London, or relying on a statement sent to you in the post every six months, you simply log into Nutmeg’s website, and you can instantly see your portfolio and how it is performing.