In late 2020, SimplyPayMe appointed the fantastic, highly sought after Michael Brennan as their new Chairman. A senior corporate finance executive with over 15 years’ experience in capital markets, Michael brings oodles of experience and insight to his new role.
Back in November, we caught up with him, to find out what made the man, and what the man will make of SimplyPayMe!
Five Questions with Michael Brennan
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve always worked in business and finance. I went into corporate finance and investment banking straight from university, and stayed there for the next 15 years. Specialising in IPOs and putting companies on the market. But in 2008, I wanted change, and moved into the world of biotech, helping to raise money for a company called Proximity, which specialised in treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. It was completely new to me, and really enjoyable because of that. But when the market crashed, it seemed a good time to take a year out.
When I returned to Proximity it was for a period of real focus, and together, we grew the company from a £30 million business to £350 billion business, before selling it to an American company in 2012. It was one of those jobs that just makes you feel good. Not just because of our success, but because the company was doing something worthwhile. And that sort of inspired me to move onto Benevolent AI.
Tell us more about Benevolent AI.
After Proximity, my business partner and I wanted to do something that brought down the cost of developing new drugs, and we thought that technology would be a good way to do that.
So, we built a company around extracting knowledge from data, and then using machine learning to traverse that knowledge. And it’s been an incredible journey. To run algorithms across our database in 2013, it would have taken 90-100 days. Now it takes 30 minutes. There’s too much knowledge out there for any scientists to be able to absorb. So, the technology analyses billions and billions of data points, condenses it down, and gives the scientists easy access to what they’re looking for.
From a business perspective, the COVID crisis was good for us. We were able to assist with the creation of treatments for clinical trials, helping to shorten the drug development timeline. I was working on that until just a few weeks ago, when I joined SPM.
What made you move to join SimplyPayMe?
Basically, a conversation with Kent. The SPM proposition is fascinating. I love what the company’s doing, and the market it’s operating in. And it presents a new challenge. I think what Kent and Gary have done within the business in the last 12 months, not only coming through a difficult time, but building the tech stack, embedding relationships, and moving it forward, actually is nothing short of remarkable.
What appeals to you about SimplyPayMe? What sets it apart?
The SME market is so vastly underserved, so I completely buy into the SPM solution. And SPM has built something that the big players haven’t. It enables a vital ecosystem. And I’d say it could actually be one of these technologies, that the more it’s used, the more it will become a habit. If it’s done right, it sits in between the merchant and acquirer and the back end is embedded in the gateway, then I think more people will use it and more people are going to have to use it – it will get the network effect.
What will be your initial focus at SimplyPayMe?
My first priority is to help secure funding. Once the funding is in place, we can grow the team and scale the business. SPM already has excellent focus. The company has found its market and worked to serve it. Now, we need to maintain that focus and keep moving the business in the right direction.