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Stuart Jones Jnr, CEO and Gabrielle Haddad, COO

“We’re fundamentally trying to change the market”

07 June 2018

In the latest in our Gamechangers series – in which we profile start-ups that have graduated from the global Barclays Accelerator programme – we talk to Stuart Jones Jnr and Gabrielle Haddad, Co-Founders of non-credit rating agency Sigma Ratings, about “betting against the status quo”, and why being an entrepreneur should not be taken lightly.

Sigma Ratings is… the world’s first non-credit rating agency. We aim to help make the world more open and transparent by highlighting good corporate behaviour. By looking at the operational risk rather than the financial risk we, today, have no competitors. Sigma Ratings is made for entities in emerging markets that want to differentiate and build deeper trust and credibility.

We decided to join the Accelerator… because we’re fundamentally trying to change the market, and in order to change the market you need to build very strong relationships, and Barclays as a global financial institution gave us that opportunity to work alongside compelling entities. We’ve seen a lot of benefits from the Barclays relationship worldwide. We’ve felt it and we’ve experienced it, and it’s been really great for the company.

The most important lesson we’ve learnt… is that being entrepreneurs is about betting against the status quo – to win, it takes a lot of time and powerful relationships. You have to follow up and build on the relationships you’ve built: they’re like an investment and it’s essential to keep going. 

The opportunity to work, grow and partner with a global institution like Barclays was very compelling to us

We first got the idea… when we realised that a lot of the economic development challenges internationally needed some improvements in their approaches and needed something that was more innovative and technology driven. There was a clear opportunity to build trust and connect markets in a way that hadn’t previously been done.

Being an entrepreneur is about betting against the status quo – it takes a lot of time and powerful relationships

To become a successful entrepreneur… you have to think about the challenges you will face and realise this is a personal decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s hard to start your own company, no matter what it is. Not only are you trying to be against the consensus, but you also have to attract capital to the business, attract top talent – and you have to manage all of that on your own. There is something about your identity being wrapped up in your career, so when you walk away from something good, there will always be judgements from others.

One of the things we are grateful for… is the support that we give each other, because having a supportive co-founder there with you who is really “in it” as much as you makes the journey much easier. We try and support each other, and from time to time take the day off and spend a Saturday running errands and things just to get our sanity back.

You have to be strong… and believe that you’re going in the right direction. Neither of us were shocked by how hard it’s been. We were prepared to believe that it was going to be hard and whenever you are prepared to do something hard, whether it’s a major thing in your life, you need to have help and you need to have enough support.

Quickfire Q & A : Gabrielle Haddad

What was the last business book you read? "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz

Who is your business hero? Oprah

What is your most used app? WhatsApp

Meetings - sit down or stand up? Stand up

Email or face-to-face? Face-to-face

Bike or run? Bike

Quickfire Q & A : Stuart Jones Jnr

What was the last business book you read? “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Who is your business hero? Henry Ford

What is your most used app? Slack

Meetings – stand up or sit down?Stand up