In Conversation with Lloyd Mathias

Jun 09, 2019 in Conversations
Posted By : Upendra Namburi


I had met Lloyd at a coffee shop in Gurgaon, India, around a year back. Sipping coffee and discussing books, art, travel, technology, education & electronics with ease and passion. And, that's Lloyd for you. Wildly enthusiastic, curious like a teenager and tons of experience & insights across continents and categories. 

He is an accomplished innovator, leader and learner. In his current avatar, he works with startups in a wide variety of spaces and consults large organizations on their marketing & tech initiatives. 

Chatting with Lloyd is always a pleasure, and I'm sure you'll find this interaction with him on startups, marketing & leadership, as refreshing and honest, as meeting him in person.

You advise, collaborate with and invest in some great teams and organizations. What’s the spark you look for in teams and ideas?

Basically – two things: a shared goal that all believe in and a strong ability to get things done. Essentially teams that believe in their product/service badly enough and want to see it succeed and those that have a bias for action. They do, fail often and do again.

Can you share some details of some of the organizations you’re currently working with and the problems they are addressing?

I currently work with funded start-ups that are typically in year 2-3 that are looking at the hockey stick phase in their growth.  The key challenges they are addressing is the ability to attract talent to add the steep growth, the investment and people required to strengthen the tech back end, so as to compete with the world’s best, as in the digital space the battle is never local.  Also, the promoters’ ability to re-vision / pivot his original business idea, given the changes in the marketplace. 

The world is constantly changing, markets are transforming and even disappearing. How can organizations remain relevant and competitive?

The best things organisations can do is to build solid processes, get access to the best technology and constantly prepare teams internally for change.  While the last is easier said than done, given that learning & development (L&D) is always facing slashed budgets, and even getting outsourced. 

However, when management promotes learning as a culture in the organization, employees feel valued and important, which in turn improves productivity and reduces redundancy.  Improving employees’ skills and continuous learning not only improves employees’ capabilities but also improves the organization’s capability.

How do you see marketing evolving over the coming years? Is there a new toolkit for the Marketing Head, and how’s it different from a few years earlier?

The process of marketing evolution began in the early 2000’s with product lifecycles getting shorter and the increased penetration of digital in peoples’ lives.  For one, consumers now not only voted with their feet – by not buying a product, they also shared their discomfort on social media. Also, media habits changed considerably as did, go-to-market approaches.

The new tool-kit for a marketer is a strong understanding and grasp of technology, the ability to customize communication down to the individual, the ability to change internal processes - even beyond the marketing function – to ensure customer centricity.

Which are those large markets which are ripe for innovation & disruption.

The education space, as with increased technology disruption, what you learn, will need to change very often. Also, education will move beyond the formal school/college/university routine into continuous learning through life.

The second is the ‘new work space’.  So essentially people’s career definitions will change from formal employment to short term and well-paying contract roles or gigs. This will mean multi-skilling, getting fluid with one’s work choices and working in bursts. 

Which are those recent product / service innovations which have really caught your eye in the recent past?

Clearly Jio has changed the way Indians have consumed data and that has in turn opened up the world for ecommerce and a host of other services.  

The second is the shift from a world based on the idea of ‘ownership’ to that of ‘usership’. Which really is the fact that we don’t need to own music we ‘stream’ it; we don’t own personal transport we ‘ride share’ we don’t own office spaces we ‘hot desk’ and ‘co-work’.  

So the idea of abundance has changed from possessing something to being able to access whatever one desires, whenever one desires it, as effortlessly as possible. 

This radical shift has been aided and sometimes created by a host of new businesses – Uber, WeWork, Air BNB, Spotify, Netflix - with their new business models that were all unthinkable two decades ago.

Which are the common mistakes you notice by entrepreneurs, innovators and ideators most often?

Inability to build strong teams and invest in systems and processes.

Many entrepreneurs wear the badge of disorderliness as a virtue.’  

Often, it’s the inability to build out solid systems and discipline in the early stages that result in big misses that can derail the larger offering.  Great product and services thrive on word class execution of a simple but great idea with minimal failure. In a world with short attention spans, you seldom get a second chance.

Can you share some mistakes you’ve made in your stellar business journey, which could serve as a learning for innovators around the world?

I regret not rotating rolls across functions. Stayed largely within the sales, marketing domain – when looking back, I think a few years in functions like finance and human relations, would have given me a much better perspective. 

If you had a vision for 2025 for the Indian Startup Industry, what would that be?

Look at building a business for the long term. Thinking through exits in the initial years are a sure way to failure. Pit yourself with the best in the world. In today’s world geography means nothing.

You can follow Lloyd on Twitter

Till we meet for coffee again, Lloyd...

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