My pet peeve is: People who don't put their weights back at the gym Something people don't know about me: I am colourblind
Helping founders scale themselves so they can scale their companies
PAYING IT FORWARD. After 15 years of hands-on experience building successful, venture-backed companies, Asher Ismail now shares his learnings with other founders and CEOs as a coach. The idea came from his startup journey when he often struggled to find support. "A startup executes only as well as its CEO. Unfortunately, when I started scaling, the support available for me as the founder massively declined because there were fewer founders in my situation and quality content was hard to find. While there were many founder coaches, I struggled to find one who had been a CEO."
Before launching his CEO coaching business, Asher had scaled three venture-backed startups, had two exits and raised over $150m of capital from angels, VCs, crowdfunding, and banks. His most recent company, Uncapped, is a banking service for startups that helps founders raise capital without giving up control of their businesses. "It's one of my proudest achievements, knowing we've helped thousands of entrepreneurs access the capital they need to grow."
Prior to Uncapped, Asher supported CEOs in building their businesses at Skype and MoneySupermarket. He also was CEO of Midrive, a marketplace and insurance platform for young drivers that was acquired by the UK’s largest motoring service company, The AA in 2020. His work as a coach now allows him to provide the kind of insights and support to founders that few others can offer.
“Most good investors recognize the need to invest in founders not only financially but also emotionally. They also acknowledge that, as investors, there will always be situations in which they are not the best sparring partner. Being that voice supporting entrepreneurs and helping them to scale big is incredibly rewarding.”
EMPOWERING FOUNDERS TO REALIZE THEIR POTENTIAL. Asher's role as a coach means he often reflects on the ups and downs of his founder journey and how they might apply to others' situations. "I've had many successes, but I've also shut down a company, experienced burnout, and lost loved ones. Similarly, many founders I've worked with have had challenging and life-changing experiences that I've been able to coach them through. Founders persevere in situations where others would just give up. To become unstoppable, adopt the founders' perspective: that any challenge or problem can be turned into a gift or an opportunity."
While Asher is a coach to other founders, he credits many mentors who helped shape his career, chiefly his grandfather, also an entrepreneur. "Growing up as a gay kid in Toronto, I think he saw that early on I was a bit different from the other boys. He was one of the people who encouraged me to be myself and really helped me shine. I continued to seek out mentors like that throughout my career, because while being a founder is incredibly rewarding, it can also be a lonely pursuit. At the best of times, finding someone you can talk to who is solely motivated by your best interests and knows what it's like to be in your seat is nice to have, but in the trickiest moments, it's a necessity."
Asher has been offered many great pieces of advice over the years ("'figure out who you are and be intentional about it was particularly life-changing for me"), and now he is especially keen to support future generations of LGBTQIA+ founders. “There is a level of resilience and self-awareness that comes with being queer that enables us to be brilliant entrepreneurs. However, we can’t expect everyone else to realise this and create space for us, we have to create that space for ourselves. We have the power to create our communities and support systems. It begins with something simple: showing up for ourselves and each other. ”