Interview with Tom Ilube, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Interview with Tom Ilube, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Ranked first on the Powerlist (an annual listing celebrating the UK’s most powerful people with African or Afro-Caribbean heritage) in 2017, our next interview features Tom Ilube!

He is a British entrepreneur and philanthropist whose career has been nothing short of exciting. From humble beginnings in PwC and Goldman Sachs (!), he decided to venture into the world of start-ups, referring to himself as “the startup guy”. During his career he has launched a number of them including the credit report service Noddle and Crossword Cybersecurity of which he is the current CEO. Tom’s philanthropic activities also include a focus on education. He is the founder and chairman of the African Science Academy, a charity working to provide science and technology education for girls in Ghana.

Assumptions interviewed Tom to find out his views on current issues in technology and business.


Q: As an entrepreneur, would you agree that most business opportunities and start-ups today are dependent on employing some sort of digital technology?

A: There are so many different types of start-ups that it is difficult to generalise. My entrepreneurial career has always involved digital technology and it is true to say that many start-ups involve apps or social media. But that is not always the best place to start. For example, you might create a fashion design company, if that is your passion, and then leverage social media to reach your audience. There are great app based ideas out there and they are easy to launch but they don’t always result in amazing companies. I would encourage entrepreneurs to start with what you are passionate about and let the tech follow.

Q: Blockchain technology is a hot topic at the moment. However, beyond Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, what do you think are its advantages/disadvantages and what applications of it do you see as most impactful?

A: I am excited about the potential of the Blockchain or more generally the “distributed ledger” technology platform, of which the Blockchain is one example. I think their impact will be relatively slow; probably over the next 5 to 10 years, but many industries will be transformed as they embrace distributed ledger technologies.

Q: Will there come a point where we must accept that technological innovation can take us no further? If yes how would this point be determined?

A: No, I do not think technology will come to a halt. We have barely scratched the surface of what technology will deliver. Hundreds of years from now our descendants will be innovating with technology in ways that we cannot even imagine!

Q: How do you think that easier access to digital technology, especially the Internet, will shift the balance of power in the world, both between countries and between institutions?

A: Access to digital technology is so important as a route to accelerating development. Some argue that technology philanthropy, putting advanced tech into the hands of peoples around the world, is more important that financial philanthropy and I would agree with that in many circumstances.


Q: Do you think that enough has been done to combat cybersecurity threats?

A: Cybersecurity threats are with us to stay and will continue to evolve. They will never stop and the need to combat the threats will never stop. This is a huge challenge but also a fascinating opportunity for entrepreneurs with sharp minds as well as technical folk able to get below the surface and into the bits and bytes.

Q: What do you think will be the most disruptive technology ideas in the near future?

A: In my mind, the single most disruptive technology of the next 20 years is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI will change every sector, every industry. Think of it like electricity – there was a time before electricity and then there was electricity – it touched every aspect of our lives. The same with AI, it will touch every aspect of our lives.



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