Emanuela Vartolomei's company All Street Research was one of the first to settle at The Frames in Shoreditch. Located right at the heart of London's tech scene, a beacon for start-ups from all over, All Street has since launched the first cognitive assistant for investment research using artificial intelligence. Emanuela shares her start-up story and advice to fellow female founders.
How did your entrepreneurial journey begin and what were you doing before you started All Street?
My entrepreneurial journey started at Oxford when I was doing my MBA. From here, I then went into working in the financial sector and this was great for learning all the ins and outs of the system. I then took an entrepreneurial leap and launched my own company.
What does All Street set out to do?
All Street is re-inventing investment research through the application of artificial intelligence. We have developed SEVVA, the first cognitive assistant for investment research.
What's been the biggest learning curve on your start-up journey?
I would say learning what to say no to. Every start-up guide says this is important, but it’s only when you live it and practice it that you understand what it really means. Sometimes you even have to turn down clients or investors if they are not right for you to help your business grow.
How have you assembled the right team around you?
We look to hire the best talent. For key roles such as Machine Learning or CTO we look for 20-30 years’ experience. It's great to have people who have been around the block and are well connected – there are plenty of hungry 50 year-olds out there!
Have you noticed any personality traits in yourself that have helped you excel in business?
I am of Eastern European origin and hence I am a direct communicator. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. Occasionally it can frighten the locals, however, so I am a little more mindful of that now.
What would you be doing if you weren't running All Street?
(Laughs) You can’t ask that to an entrepreneur! We’re supposed to be so singularly focused on our venture that we can’t consider any alternative reality. Seriously, however, I would probably do something in education. Young people will be the ones responsible for our planet, and I don’t think our current education systems are fit for purpose as they stand.
Being a female entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge so far and what would your advice be for the future female entrepreneurs out there?
Well, discrimination is always there. Interestingly I have experienced it equally from both men and women. I think it operates at a sub-conscious level, so it is more like a cognitive bias. However, the beauty of having your own company is that you can choose exactly who you work with. The people we work with, whether clients, investors, employees or suppliers, are all open-minded and inspirational people.
Is there anything else you'd add to encourage more women to work in the finance sphere?
There are plenty of women who work in finance; I believe the intake at graduate level is pretty much 50/50. When I do talks and panels on this I end up being quite controversial because I say that women often condition themselves to be victims. There are plenty of opportunities out there but you need to take responsibility for your own career and break down glass walls and ceilings yourself. Nobody is going to do it for you.
Finally, what's on your bookshelf? Any inspirational reads you would recommend?
Oh, I have floor to ceiling bookshelves at home! I run an AI company so sci-fi, of course, is a big love of mine. The Commonwealth trilogies by Peter Hamilton are a must. He is like an impressionist artist in the way he paints the future. I also like historical fiction; I’d recommend the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom. Shardlake is a 16th-century barrister who solves murders and I got most of my knowledge of the Tudor and Elizabethan eras from those books!
Want to hear more from the female entrepreneurs at Workspace? Read ethical fashion designer Joanna Dai's story, based at E1 Studios in Whitechapel. Or get business inspiration from the other companies based at The Frames: read video production company Pebble Studios' story and tech recruitment company Signify Technology's story.
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