George Bevis

What’s the worst that could happen?

HOF Entrepreneurs George Bevis 1920X1080

George Bevis is a highly successful entrepreneur and the founder of Tide, a platform providing financial services to business banking customers across the world that currently employs over 800 people in the UK, US, and India. He now runs CanDo, a venture incubator for commercial and non-profit ventures with a social mission.

Much of George’s entrepreneurial skills have been self-taught, learned on the job as he has built companies from scratch. However, there is one piece of childhood advice that has become a lifelong guiding principle for George.

When he got into little scrapes growing up and became worried about getting told off, his father would often tell him:

Get up. Dust yourself off. Go again, son.
HOF Entrepreneurs George Bevis 1920X1080

These eight words challenged George to re-evaluate the possible consequences of his actions, and think about what’s the worst that could ever happen. As he got older, they inspired him to take calculated risks others might not have and discover opportunities he would otherwise have missed out on.
Of course, not every risk pays off, and George also learned what it’s like when an opportunity doesn’t pan out successfully.

One notable example, a start-up called Speedsell that was going to sell second-hand goods for a large catalogue retailer, left George broke when it wound up. But, without this experience, he wouldn’t have gone on to have the ingenious idea of founding Tide.

By the time he was ready to launch his next venture, George had seen first-hand the poor quality of business banking, and the considerable administrative burden it put on time-poor businesses.

In his view, business banking was an afterthought for the large high street banks. As a result, business customers received poor service and support, and the accounts they had access to were essentially consumer ones with added fees.

It takes an entrepreneur to help entrepreneurs

This led to the spark that prompted him to found Tide, a business banking platform built around the needs of entrepreneurs. It provided shorter account set-up times, better access to credit, and didn’t require long, time-consuming in-person meetings.

George recognises that Tide had a massive advantage by being a first mover and being prepared to take a risk that others weren’t ready for. The company was also able to win some government funding that several younger financial start-ups weren’t in the position to access. A large chunk of this funding helped Tide with their initial customer acquisition costs which helped the business get off the ground.

The key lesson that he passes on to help the next generation with their ventures isn’t a snappy one-liner or philosophical guide to the entrepreneurial life, but practical business advice that has been invaluable in building Tide to where it is now:

The critical thing in businesses is making sure you make three times as much profit per customer as you spend getting them.
HOF Entrepreneurs George Bevis 1920X1080

If he’d been given this advice earlier in his career, he might still be the CEO of Speedsell, but it was the experience and challenges involved in learning this lesson that helped pave the way for Tide’s success.

There are two pieces of advice George finds invaluable: know your business model and ‘Get up. Dust yourself off. Go again’. With this advice, Bevis had permission to experiment and explore paths others may not venture down, which in turn opened him up to opportunity. Reflecting on it he says he lived with a ‘you only live once mindset' (Known as YOLO these days).
Through synthesising this mindset and experiences, he was perfectly placed to avoid past mistakes like ignoring the importance of customer acquisition costs, and harness the lessons he learned and opportunities that arose along the way.