Weavr co-founder: ‘Stress isn’t always a bad thing’ – Fi5

Weavr founder in five

Alex Mifsud is the co-founder and CEO of Weavr, a London-based embedded finance company.

Weavr provides plug-and-play embedded finance software, which lets non-financial businesses integrate off-the-shelf financial tools – such as bank transfers and contactless payments – onto their existing applications.

Founded in 2018 by Mifsud and Adrian Mizzi, Weavr has raised more than $54m (£42m) in funding. Its most recent round was a £29.5m Series A round in February 2022.

Previously Mifsud was a co-founder of Entropay, launching the first consumer virtual prepaid card in Europe, and founded B2B payments technology platform Ixaris.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Mifsud shares the biggest mistake that founders make, explains why “stress isn’t always a bad thing” and recalls being on a boat that capsized while sailing in a Scottish loch.

1. What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?

Alex Mifsud: Raising capital is tough for founders and CEOs in today’s market. To avoid running out of cash, focus on fewer initiatives that deliver maximum value with minimum capital – it’ll impress investors and show efficient use of funds.

Consider all funding options, including venture debt if existing investors can’t fully fund needs, but only take debt if a quick payoff is certain, such as when profitability or a successful exit is clearly within sight.

2. What’s a common mistake that you see founders make?

AM: All founders, not just first-timers, make mistakes. Often, mistakes lead to valuable insights and should be celebrated. What matters is to avoid the catastrophically destructive, and the obviously wasteful, ones.

The biggest mistake I see founders make is to obsess about product functionality instead of considering how customers perceive its value, buy and consume it. This type of mistake is terrible as it can go on for a long time, manifesting in continuously low traction against competitors and a lack of customers.

3. How do you prevent burnout?

AM: Here’s the somewhat counterintuitive view I take to prevent burn-out: I don’t think work-life balance is realistic for most entrepreneurs, so I don’t stress myself trying to achieve it. Stress isn’t always a bad thing, it keeps wits sharp and reflexes strong.

It’s when the enjoyment ends that harmful stress starts. There will be highs, lows, successes and failures, but things that seem hugely important at the time often turn out to be less so. I’ve been involved in founding and growing startups for over 20 years and I’ve remained calm, energised, and (reasonably) functional throughout most of it.

 4. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

AM: Adventurous situations span a fine line between catastrophe and glory. I’ve had many adventures, but one in particular springs to mind. I once had to be rescued while sailing in a Scottish loch in late autumn, when the water temperature reached just 7-8 celsius (quite different to sailing in the Med).

Our boat capsized due to high winds, and there was no way to get the boat back on the water. To make matters worse, none of us were wearing a wetsuit. We were thankfully rescued on the brink of hypothermia, and I vividly remember the sensation of wanting to give up.

5. What’s the most misunderstood technology?

AM: Identity-related technologies offer enormous potential for human wealth and wellbeing, yet remain underutilised. Combining the existing technologies for identity verification, authentication, and authorisation with the standards that can make them universally adopted and ubiquitous is a huge untapped opportunity.

My experience in embedded finance only continues to reinforce this view. For instance, moving money from A to B is the easy part – much harder is ensuring that the money belongs to the right person in the first place, the recipient is entitled to receive it, and is using it for legitimate purposes.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.