Sylvia Carrasco, Founder of the Goldex app which aggregates prices from gold markets tells Business Matters who she admires.
What do you currently do?
I’m the founder and CEO of Goldex, the first gold marketplace that powers ethical pricing for both retail and institutional gold investors. The Goldex app aggregates prices from gold markets, in a selection of international vaults, and delivers the best available deals to customers thanks to the only smart trading technology developed for physical gold.
Launched in July 2018, the Goldex app gives customers instant access to the world’s most prominent gold vaults where they can buy, sell and securely store their physical gold. It’s the first smart gold trading marketplace that consolidates multiple prices into one.
My primary focus is developing the overall business strategy and roadmap, raising the Goldex profile and funding to support our vision. We are looking to expand into other countries and whilst we are bringing innovative features to the retail market, we are developing a very advanced trading API that will, for the first time, offer Best Execution policies in physical gold to institutional investors.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I moved to the UK from Spain 26 years ago as I was considering entering the Spanish Diplomatic Service. Part of my university studies involved taking part in work study and that’s when I started working as a clerk in an investment bank in the City. From there, I started my career trading convertible bonds until in 1999 Credit Suisse invited me to join an innovative group that successfully launched what’s now known as “electronic trading”.
Ten years ago, I decided to set up my own company, Alion Partners, advising institutions on their brokerage and electronic trading needs. Fast forward, to four years ago my focus led me to gold trading. That’s when I realised that I could take my experiences in electronic trading and apply the knowledge to digitally reinvent how we buy, sell and store gold.
I originally thought of the business in 2014. As an investor, and on a personal level I realised there were lots of issues. Mainly that whilst dealing on an unregulated asset class, market making conditions where not particularly fair for small investors in terms of price and transparency. The fact is that in a non-regulated, OTC market, all players act as Principals on every trade and clients might not always be given the best prices as they are in a regulated environment.
Who do you admire?
I am truly inspired by Katherine Johnson. She is an African-American mathematician (she just reached her 100th birthday last year) who worked at NASA at a time where she had all the odds against her. By overcoming those barriers, she made a social and professional impact that has tremendous relevance to this date. Her determination to achieve what she did puts her on a pedestal, as far as I am concerned.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes, there are many things that I would have done differently. However, mistakes also bring knowledge, as long as you learn from them and use them to your advantage. I don’t beat myself up any more about the mistakes I have done or do every day as I have learned to embrace them as part of not just the company’s journey but my personal one. Of course, I wish I would have started Goldex with the same vision as we have today, I wish I would have raised money earlier, I wish I had spent less time in certain things and more in others…but they are all part of the journey and I am extremely satisfied with the good that has come out of it. Hindsight is a beautiful thing if used correctly.
What defines your way of doing business?
We’re a relatively small team because we recently launched our app on the UK market. That said, at Goldex we have a diverse culture as we believe in creating a more inclusive, gender neutral team that’s based on skill not their ethnicity, race or gender.
We take that culture approach to our relationship with provider and partners. We have a global approach therefore dealing with companies and individuals from all over the world. We are fair, transparent and loyal in our dealings with everybody since we want to be treated the same way.
Another important aspect for us is Corporate Governance. From day one, we had clear in our minds that even if we were a company of two individuals, we had to behave as a company of thousands. Cutting corners in compliance, regulation and business procedures is something that we do not entertain. Doing things well might take longer, but it is the only way to succeed in business in the long term. I have seen too many companies ruined because they took the view that not doing things appropriately was justifiable in order to grow faster. It never is.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Get on with it. If you have an idea, don’t waste time. You are as good or better as anybody else. However, be aware that it is hard. Not hard, it is VERY hard. Painfully hard.
If you believe in yourself, are ready for a rollercoaster of emotions and you want to try your hardest without knowing if it is going to work out or not, then do it as you don’t want to look back in 20 years’ time and think “what if I had done this…”
Once you are taking the plunge, surround yourself with the right people who should always be smarter than you and be determined. Never allow anybody to put you down and if they do, get up and fight. Nobody says it is easy, but we all say it is rewarding. And it is.