London Business School Awards Nuno Sebastiao Entrepreneur of the Year
Feedzai CEO and co-founder Nuno Sebastiao was announced as the winner of the prestigious London Business School (LBS) 2017 Accomplished Entrepreneur Award this week. As Feedzai continues to ramp up its global scale and become the global leader in artificial intelligence to fight fraud, Nuno’s leadership and vision, along with that of his management team, has been recognized as a leading force in an evolving technological world.
“Keith Willey is a professor at the London Business School who sits on Feedzai’s board,” says Nuno, “but six years ago, he was my thesis supervisor. I remember visiting him one weekend with my friends Paulo Marques and Pedro Bizarro, now my CTO and CSO, to discuss my dreams of building a global company.
“The challenge started when I went to my family and told them I was going to quit my cushy job at the European Space Agency to pursue a wild idea. Everyone told me I was crazy, but I said I was doing it anyway. That’s the moment I became an entrepreneur.
“I went from being a hotshot at a huge organization to being alone in a dingy office that I was renting from someone else’s company. I had to overcome loneliness and doubt, because the only thing I had to sell was my vision. I had to demonstrate confidence to all the people I was asking for money, to all the people I was trying to recruit.”
Feedzai is now approaching 180 employees worldwide, and planning to grow to around 300 employees by the end of 2017. Nuno and the team also recently opened new offices in France and Germany to help Feedzai’s global scale to continue expanding.
“Feedzai was founded in Lisbon,” says Nuno, “but to build world-class technology, we needed to assemble world-class talent. We realized we needed to put down roots in Silicon Valley. And to do that, I needed to create a network. And what I learned is that’s not easy. It takes grit.
“In these early days, we were sharing hotel rooms, cold calling with no answer, and getting a little too used to rejection. Climbing out of the morass stands out as the biggest challenge, but I believed that I was onto something, and I was lucky (yes, luck has a lot to do with it), because I found like-minded people to believe in our cause.”