Amy Nauiokas

Amy Nauiokas

She is one super smart, super clued up, super up-to-speed Yank in London who has created a number of successful ventures, from financial services to film production, with a well-thought out philanthropic foundation complementing the business of being a new breed of entrepreneur.

One of the co-founders of Anthemis, Nauiokas talks about disruptive business models as if she invented them (and for all I know, she may well have done, or at least coined the term). You would be forgiven for feeling something of a dinosaur talking to Amy – unless you are at the forefront of the digital industry yourself.

When Anthemis was first launched, banking, much like any other traditional industry, was firmly stuck in the pre-digital age. Today, the company offers digital services to the financial sector at large and “re-invents financial services for the 21st century”. It is also an investor and a major player in new tech start-ups, with a keen eye for exploitable niches on the market.

Being a service provider and an investor is symbiotic to Anthemis whose stated goals (or one of them, anyway) is to:

“Create a unique and high-value ecosystem of the start-ups, financial institutions, founders, engineers, executives, regulators, academics and thoughtleaders that are driving disruption in financial services, and connecting them with those who aspire to participate in this change.”

One of their best-known brands is Zoopla, but it is by no means the only one – their portfolio is quite diversified, from retail banking to data technology. Zoopla was, in fact, an early invest of Amy’s at her first venture capital firm, Nauiokas Park, later absorbed by Anthemis.

Amy’s other brainchild is Archer Gray, a media production, finance, and investment company, of which she is the founder and CEO. Having left the UK to set it up, she is now back and making waves in both the venture capitalist and film production worlds, straddling two continents and raising six children with her husband.

For all of that, Amy is easy to talk to and not one bit condescending. We both acknowledge the changing nature of content consumption, bemoan the fact that books are fast disappearing from people’s lives (as are physical world cultural experiences), and that the market disrupters of a decade or two ago are fast becoming market behemoths that are stifling. She is rightly proud of Archer Gray. If becoming a film producer after being known primarily as a card carrying financier was a challenge in terms of credibility, there is certainly no sign of it. Amy is at once confident and passionate about playing an active role in both acquiring and developing scripts. It is, she says, something she has always wanted to do and entrepreneurial know-how (as well as access to finance) can never come amiss in the world of media in general.

Another thing she has always wanted to do is being a philanthropist although when she first started, she wouldn’t have known that the word existed. Growing up in a relatively modest family in her native Connecticut, she persuaded her mother to host a penny sale and a talent show to help a muscular dystrophy charity when she was just 8. The event raised all of 23$ and gave her a foretaste of making things happen.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and the Bubble Foundation was created by Amy and family. Bubble seeks to redress the balance in nutrition and physical exercise and reverse the obesity trend in deprived area schools in New York City. It does this through education and generally supporting educational establishments who are prepared to commit to introducing healthy eating habits and lifestyle for both students and teachers. A shift in attitude is often required and Bubble seems to be almost evangelical about changing perspectives
and priorities.

Amy cites the enduring success of a particular school in the Bronx that went from staunchly couch potato to ultra-healthy/grow your own rooftop vegetables/ win physical fitness accolades establishment. She is keen to collaborate with other foundations that espouse the same spirit and life philosophy and make Bubble’s experience available worldwide.

Now scroll back up to the beginning of this article and tell me: can she manage all of this and shuttle between homes in the UK and the US? I say, you ain’t seen nothing yet.