Alumni in Focus
Founder and CEO, Hunter Labs Technologies
Lydia Ofori, Founder, CEO and formidable force in the finance industry, is changing how people invest by levelling out the playing field for millennial investors.
A two-time graduate of RGU, following completion of both her BSc in Business Studies in 2002 and her MSc in Financial Management in 2004, she is harnessing her expertise and desire to help others, by launching new to market app Kreesibl, which uses AI to empower the user to make wise, data-driven investment decisions.
Why did you choose RGU for both your MSc Financial Management and BA Business Studies?
Robert Gordon University at the time, was one of the very few universities that offered a practical curriculum and allowed for a placement year which was also very useful.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey since graduating from RGU?
Well, it’s been an exciting one indeed. I joined Abrdn at that time as a Risk and Performance Analyst. Working at the company gave me a great foundation and introduction into the Asset and Wealth Management industry and I’ve stuck with that ever since. I joined a hedge fund after Abrdn then a couple more asset management houses. Whilst completing my Masters, I was encouraged by Prof Mahendra Raj to consider taking the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams upon graduation, which I did. During that time, I also had an opportunity to participate in the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association’s professional programme and later participate in an Executive Education programme provided by Columbia Business School, New York. It has been an exciting path of learning and honing my craft within the sector. With that being said, I may not have had the opportunity to go through all this had it not been for the experience at RGU.
Were there any skills or knowledge gained on your course that have particularly helped you in your career?
It’s been years since, but I think the investment management curriculum was my most favourite. With that we had the portfolio leader boards read out every week, which was always something that I looked forward to – just the excitement of seeing your portfolio number climb up the board by making great selections was very cool. I remember though, that losing money due to market instances or from bad choices, wasn’t a great feeling at all. It still isn’t, only now I’ve learnt how to manage things better by making wise data-driven choices rather than following emotions or the crowd.
You set up Hunter Labs Technologies just before the pandemic struck. What were the challenges you faced and how did you navigate the complexities of a fintech start up in such an unusual time?
The pandemic was a bad time for us all however, what it helped us to do as a firm was a couple of things. We spent more time developing our base sentiment-driven AI engine and because we are doing something different – extracting sentiments from unstructured data using NLP and machine learning techniques, it’s very important that we get it right.
Once we got more comfortable with the results that were coming out, there was that thoughtful analysis on how we should apply our technology to have the most impact on society. I mean, we could have gone in so many directions but then when I saw how individuals, especially Millennials, were taking to diversifying their income sources through investing, but with minimum understanding as to how to invest well and manage their portfolios well after investing, I strongly felt that we could develop a product that will help level the playing field.
Hence, Kreesibl. The whole concept is to make wealth creation through data-driven investing and management accessible to everyone. And to do that effectively, we need accessible tools (our AI technology), education and an affordable end-to-end platform that enables that self-directed engagement in a judicious manner.
You obviously have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Where do you think that came from?
Entrepreneurial drive runs through my family – from my grandparents to my parents to me. Of course, one could also learn to be one, however with me, the desire to make things better and more accessible to many people all the time have led me to where I am today.
Can you tell us more about the platform and your intentions for the platform going forward?
Kreesibl, available from the AppStore and Google Play Store, is designed to help everyone get to their financial well-being state, knowing how to get there and using the tools available to them to either maintain their well-being goal and/or improve upon it. It all boils down to diversifying your income sources through investing and managing your outgoings. Following a judicious investing path is a big challenge for a lot of people. Kreesibl walks you through that with data-driven tools when selecting assets and more importantly, providing easy to understand education relayed through video to guide you along the way. Then what comes after you’ve invested, all thanks to our AI technology, is the next and required step in self-directed investing. There are more exciting things coming up as well.
Did you face any challenges raising capital to support the development?
Historically, black female founders have been less likely to be backed than others irrespective of one having deep domain expertise and start-up experience; and the lack of funding has an impact on projects so that’s a challenge. That said, things are changing for the better, so I remain hopeful.
If you could offer one piece of advice to any of our alumni who might be thinking about starting a fintech business, what would it be?
Simply this – there’s never going to be a great time to launch out! Just launch and when you do, just keep going, never stop!
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