Meet the Nivo team: Introducing Ian Brookes, NED
Welcome back to our series: Meet the team, where we introduce the people behind the Nivo brand. Next up, is our Non-executive Director (NED) and first investor, Ian Brookes.
Please can you share a little bit more about yourself?
Burnley born and bred, could see the floodlights of the football ground from my cot, lived in Lancashire all my life until three years ago when we moved to north Wales. Married to Susan for 35 years, two children, James (31) and Katie (26). Had a lifetime of dogs in the family, currently with Mollie, a former working border collie. Pre-Covid we spent as much time travelling as we could, from Scotland to California to New Zealand. Aiming to restart this soon and hope Elon can make it happen too.
A couple of things that no one at Nivo knows about me: I’m a Freeman of the City of London, a member of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, which entitles me to herd a flock of sheep across London Bridge. I was awarded this for charitable work, putting in computers and training school children in a socially challenged part of London. Secondly, I was in a band at school called the Haddock Brains, and we won a local talent competition and were on before the support act at a Clash concert in Manchester in 1979. We never got a record deal so split up due to musical similarities. I shared a stage that night with Joe Strummer. Beat that!
Company role: non-executive director. I’ve been on the board since founding in 2017, I was the first investor funding the prototype build.
What do you do at Nivo? We work as a network of teams, so I dip in and out of various things. I attend the monthly board meeting and have a weekly ‘virtual coffee’ meet up with Mike to discuss the stuff on his mind. Generally, I act as a sounding board to share my experience, spending time with Rebecca (CFO), just talking about the business and the stuff on their agenda. Talking and sharing is a positive process, it promotes openness, reflection and learning towards building a shared consensus.
What are your credentials and past experience, for working in your position? I’ve founded three tech startups of my own, and act as ab investor, advisor, and non-exec on a few more, hit the right time, right place and got lucky with four exits. Currently running thestartupfactory.tech where Nivo was one of our first builds and investments. We now have a portfolio of ten tech startups. Before that, I was FD, MD then CEO of a FTSE tech services plc for fifteen years, and before that, on the route to partner at one of the Big Four, but I left when they said I had to stop playing rugby and start playing golf.
What is the biggest challenge people in your industry have to deal with that you directly fix? Nivo provides secure message-based digitalisation for financial service providers. This enables them to give a more secure, reduced friction and more empathetic experience to their customers. This reduces costs, churn and improve profitability for the provider, whilst from a customer perspective, we’re removing staid, cumbersome, inefficient processes that frustrate.
What do you like about working at Nivo? Don’t see it as work, rather it’s fulfilling to be part of an innovation journey and seeing the team grow, collectively and individually. If I can use my experience to help the team achieve success by offering some thoughts and suggestions then that means I’ve made a difference along the way.
What are the values that drive you? Personal – equality, honesty, trust; Business - respect, collaboration, innovation. Having a good time sits across both.
Your top three podcasts/books? The man who planted trees is my favourite book, by Jean Giono. It’s an allegorical tale of a shepherd's long and successful single-handed effort to reforest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence in the first half of the C20th. A beautiful, inspiring story.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles was the book I was reading on a beach in Corfu as a student when I met my now wife on a holiday in 1984. She was also a big Thomas Hardy fan, and we shared a love of Joy Division and ouzo which made it a perfect holiday and subsequent marriage. We called our first dog Tess. Hardy’s writing on rural idylls with sympathetic portrayals of the hardships of working-class people resonates with me. Check out Jude The Obscure too!
My third is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I love the imagination, detail and glorious storytelling, and then the step into the Lord of The Rings trilogy. I’ve always gone to fancy dress parties as a 6ft 3inch bloke dressed as Bilbo Baggins. Should be Gandalf really.
Not into podcasts, I love the tactile experience of a book in one hand and a brew in the other.
What are your hobbies? Watching Burnley FC and Sale Sharks, chess, playing the saxophone. I’m also on a mission to visit each of the 250 UK lighthouses - favourite is Trwyn Du, Anglesey (OS reference 53.312994°N 4.040630°W). Started playing croquet as I can no longer play rugby, its more strategic, physical, and competitive and not sedate at all!