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Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill on emerging new ventures in tech

By Ryan Hill

Partner, 360 Leaders

At just 33 Ryan Hill has a portfolio of experience exponential to someone of his age. Starting his career in professional football, he is now the youngest partner of a top technology executive search firm: 360 Leaders.

A revered name in head-hunting for specialist tech sectors, Ryan has proven aptitude for introducing early stage brands to investors that raise capital.

The adept exec searcher talks unicorn companies, disruptive brands, venture capital and building anew technology ecosystem.

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What triggered your transition from professional footballer to specialist in exec search?

I played pro football from a young age, I got released from Millwall at 17 and moved south with my future wife. I gained experience in recruitment companies, before running Exxon Mobil's recruitment across Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific HQs. Working on behalf of the world's largest oil major and understanding the complexity of hiring people in the commodity space was phenomenal.

I got involved in the start-up of another brand and when that failed, I realised I needed to go into something I was really passionate about, and that was executive search.

After two years working with EO Executives I got tapped on the shoulder by 360 Leaders. I hate the word recruiter. Executive search is like professional services; you're running projects. With 360 Leaders we’re building a technology ecosystem of brands, early stage start-ups and venture capital.

How do you feel about the technology ecosystem right now?

2019 was a record year with thousands of start-ups created every single day. There's a lot of money being deployed to categories like Fintech. If you look at the number of unicorns, I'd be saying 2020 would have been a fantastic year because more categories and sectors were being opened up.

Then came Covid. Fortunately, I think the technology ecosystem is protected slightly by private equity money that fuels company growth. If you think about the nature of venture capital, they're essentially backing early stage entrepreneurs. There's a deep resilience within the tech ecosystem.

You've got these big unicorn brands that were built out of recessions. There are entrepreneurs right now creating something that, in probably five years, will have mass adoption from everybody; much like Instagram, Netflix and Spotify.

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"I meet founders who are so far advanced in terms of their IQ, it's hard to describe their brain power, and mindset to cut through outdated categories."

What’s unique about working with disruptive brands?

The most disruptive brands by nature are backed or run by founders who are just incredible. They’re so far advanced in terms of their IQ, it’s hard to describe their brain power and mindset to cut through outdated categories. They find a category that’s outdated and needs major disruption and they’ll fix it. I’m humbled when I meet these guys and I get excited about start-ups that are bringing new products to market.

What’s your approach to global brand collaboration?

It’s similar except for slight cultural nuances. The technology system uses the same language and people want the same things. Ultimately, it’s about creating a company that gets a billion-dollar status, becomes a unicorn and they either exit for big money or float it on the stock exchange and IPO.

London is basically the tech capital of Europe, with over $3.5 billion worth of investment every year. Tel Aviv has got the most start-ups per capita in the world but culturally dealing with them is different to speaking to a Londoner. It’s just about knowing your audience.

What qualities make a great executive?

Humble, tenacious, an ability to execute and a willingness still to learn. The best founders I’ve worked with have this innate ability to learn new concepts and to try new things, fail, and just pick themselves up and go again. They have this leadership quality where they have the ability to take people in the same direction, they want to go in.

Who inspires you?

There’s a founder I work with I’ve got huge admiration for: Dennis Kayser CEO of Forecast is the epitome of a good exec.

Kevin Kimber, CEO of Rimilia and Caroline Plumb OBE Founder and CEO of Fluidly, have a really great mindset.

On the investor side, the co-founders of Crane Ventures: Scott Sage and Krishna Visvanathan, are the humblest individuals you’ll ever meet, readily available, they’re awesome people.

Gary Vaynerchuk is somebody I follow religiously as a life coach. In the sporting world John Terry was my hero growing up, I’m a Chelsea fan so I’ve followed his journey from a young lad to his successes in the game.

"You've got these big unicorn brands that were built out of recessions. There are entrepreneurs right now creating something that in probably five years will have mass adoption from everybody."

Ryan Hill, 360 Leaders