The Episode “E86: Monzo CEO On Death Threats, Depression & Digital Banking Wars – Tom Blomfield” of “The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett“
Tom Blomfield, wow what an entrepreneur. This guy has founded multiple multi-million-pound companies, that have become monumental disrupters in the industry. And let’s face it, Monzo, one of the companies Tom founded and led, is the one of the most forward-thinking, innovative, fastest-growing companies there is.
Tom was born in Hong Kong and lived with his father and mother. His father was a business-minded civil engineer and his mother was an artist. When Tom was a child, he moved to London to attend grammar school in Amersham, Buckinghamshire then moving on to study Law at Oxford. Whilst studying at Oxford, at the age of 21, he co-founded Boso.com
an “eBay for students”. After a few internships with law firms he decided being a lawyer wasn’t for him and followed the entrepreneurial journey instead.
In January 2011 Blomfield co-founded the UK-based company GoCardless, an automated payment method that processes Direct Debit payments on behalf of other businesses and organisations. Blomfield stayed in Silicon Valley during his three years at the company, it raised around £35 million of investment and hired 100 people. When GoCardless appointed Hiroki Takeuchi as CEO in 2013, he left (keeping a “very small share” in the £50-100m valued company) Tom moved to New York to work for dating site Grouper social club as their Head of Growth. Blomfield left Grouper in 2014, and it closed in 2016.
Following his departure from Grouper Social Club Blomfield joined Anne Boden’s Starling bank as the CTO. Startling was, at that point one of the first digital banking companies. Tom left the company in early 2015 after reports of disagreements at Starling, telling the Financial Times that “he could not comment under the terms of his departure”. Today we learn about what really happened at Starling.
In 2015, he founded challenger bank Monzo, operating with no branches and instead offering accounts online In its first fundraising round, the company raised “£1 million in 96 seconds”. In April, Blomfield announced he would forgo his salary for one year to help his company during the COVID-19 pandemic In May, he announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Monzo and taking on the role of president of the company. In January 2021 he announced he was leaving the company permanently.
This conversation today takes us through Tom’s wild entrepreneurial journey expressing the highs and lows of running a business. He also talks about the disagreements at Starling bank and ultimately his reason for starting Monzo in the first place. His stories are unique, and more importantly honest. Unbelievably honest. He tells you the mistakes he made, his deepest insecurities, his biggest challenges and the things he wish he knew. Wow this is a good one.
- Why entrepreneurship?
- What made you want to disrupt an industry?
- Monzo & Starling rivalry
- Starting Monzo
- Wanting to be seen to be a success
- What were the good times at Monzo?
- What were the bad times at Mozo?
- Was the business model of Monzo bad?
- Leaving Monzo
- Not sleeping because of the stress of the business
- How was holding down a relationship while running the business?
- The “red phone” in your bedroom
- What was your life like outside of the business?
- The road to leaving Monzo
- The urge to go back
- Death Threats
- Enjoying the small things in life and relationships
- Your purpose in life
- Crypto currencies
- The good things about being a CEO