Last week, the tech startup ecosystem narrowly missed disaster after HSBC acquired Silicon Valley Bank’s UK division in an eleventh-hour deal. For startup founders who held most or all of their capital with the specialist lender, it was a nerve-wracking 48 hours. One of those startup founders is Toby Mather, the CEO of edtech company Lingumi. In a special episode of the UKTN Podcast, Mather shares his first-hand account of the weekend that rocked UK tech.
“As a startup, you are taking a lot of risks. As an entrepreneur, you’re taking a lot of risks,” the Lingumi CEO tells the UKTN Podcast. “You expect to fail yourself in many many ways.
“You don’t expect your bank to fail.”
The edtech startup, founded by Mather and Adit Trivedi in 2016, held most of its funds with SVB UK. Like thousands of other startups, Lingumi worried whether it would be able to pay staff and invoices.
Mather tells UKTN Podcast host Jane Wakefield how he scrambled to withdraw funds from the collapsing bank as he was about to board a plane and his amazement at the “Dunkirk-style effort” in government to save the country’s tech startups.
Away from SVB, Mather talks about the impact of generative AI tools like ChatGPT in education and the “healthy” discipline the tech downturn is creating for startups.
Lingumi is a smart tutoring platform that uses AI to create interactive courses for young learners. It has more than two million users, mostly in Asia, using the platform to learn how to read and speak languages. Prior to founding Lingumi, Mather studied modern languages at the University of Oxford, and worked as an EFL teacher, during which time he began developing the idea for Lingumi.
The UKTN Podcast is sponsored by Deazy, a tech build platform enabling cost-effective, flexible and scalable development services.