The idea for the business came after I started working for the US Department of Defense in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001. I focused on simulating insurgencies and counter-insurgencies. I moved on to building simulations for gas, oil and insurance companies and worked for the Bank of England for five years. My drive has come from a disappointment at how our leaders make decisions.
At Simudyne, we want to simulate the entire world. The financial sector is just one vertical. We’re going after oil, gas and transportation. We’re building a Star Trek computer. You don’t want something that works one time in 1,000 – you want a strategy to ensure it works 800 out of 1,000 times. And even where it gets it wrong, it should alert you quickly so you can change direction based on new data. Simulation has a proven track record, allowing you to put in place mitigating strategies to prevent the downside. You might lose money but you’re not going to go out of business.
Barclays’ decision to use simulation as a competitive advantage is just one expression of their focus on innovation. We’ve signed our deal with Barclays and we need to gain good commercial traction. We want to raise significantly more capital, add staff and expand. My dream is that where now people search Google for information, in the next five years they begin to ask Simudyne for answers. We want to get in touch with the consumer. If somebody is buying in a certain area, they could ask Simudyne SDK if the risk is too high – and it might suggest a different area. We’re not building a crystal ball. This is not magic. It’s just applying mathematical modelling to these AIs.
The Barclays Accelerator programme was utterly transformational for us as a company. We’ve raised significant capital. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Even when I was in Iraq, it was not as intense. No one was shooting at me but on the Accelerator nobody would let you say something without challenging it.
I really appreciated Barclays being so open. Normally getting that kind of feedback from a bank is incredibly difficult. In the three months we were in the programme, we got more than 100 meetings. You have to be prepared to have your ideas challenged. There were many times when our dreams were crushed. But you had to go back and say: “What’s next?” That sort of feedback for a start-up is precious.
As someone born in Texas, I feel perfectly content making fun of cowboy decision-making. Cowboy doesn’t work in the 21st century. You’ve got to be more measured. With what is happening around the world, and the important decisions we have to make, we need simulation technology more than ever.
We’re excited to partner with Barclays because it’s an organisation that gets innovation - they actively bring it into the bank. We got lots of feedback from users of our software at Barclays and managed to bring that into our product – and that’s innovation at work. It’s usually hard for businesses like ours to work with banks because they are extremely busy and the chain of command is long. But Barclays, from our experience, embraces innovation and has removed obstacles to get us the right information that helps us iterate at pace.