Updated: Jul 15, 2021
Part I – The Beginnings
2009 was when Paul, James and Robert first met in PwC’s management consulting team in Sydney. Economically, it was a difficult time globally following the fallout of the Global Financial Crisis. Nonetheless, these difficulties did not stop them from developing and delivering a market leading offering in the aged care industry. Their methodology was underpinned by a scientific approach to analysing the current baseline of existing government health claims to identify areas of focus and maximum potential revenue uplift achievable and thereafter preparing resident reclassification summaries to facilities to verify and lodge revised claims with Australia’s publicly funded universal health care insurance scheme called Medicare.
The success of this offering led James and Robert to founding Mirus Australia in October 2010, which currently serves over a quarter of the aged care industry with over 81,000 beds under management and over 5 billion dollars in revenue funding on behalf of their clients. You can read further details of their phenomenal growth journey here. This growth has been fueled via the deep expertise of James and Robert - and their broader team of 50 people - across big data analytics, data integration (utilising, for example, deep integration with Medicare via daily API’s) and data visualizations (via leading business intelligence tools such as MicroStrategy, custom built iPhone App Store and Google Play applications and their own in-house software development capability).
In the meantime, Paul left PwC shortly after James and Robert to follow his strong interest in the technology industry. He led the 30-person editorial team at Groupon for 12 months during its hypergrowth phase upon its entrance into the Australian market, and was pivotal in the team becoming market leader in the local group based buying industry within 12 months of market entry. He was subsequently approached by Google Australia to join a small team managing ~$200M of advertising revenue for website and phone application publishers (everything from defining go-to-market strategy, new business, account management, scalable outreach and more). Thereafter, he headed to the US with Google NYC and worked on programs which assisted Google partnering even more deeply with amongst the world’s largest phone application developer companies (e.g., Duolingo, Spotify and Imangi Studios) via Google AdMob, Firebase, Google Ads and Google Ad Manager products. His team also forged strategic product integration commercialization efforts with the likes of Apple, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and Unity etc. with the value of these initiatives surpassing $xx billion. These opportunities provided Paul a unique opportunity to work at one of the world’s most innovative organizations, and see first-hand how they used data to power not only their own organisation but also place meaningful data and associated insights into the hands of millions of publishers and advertisers - via products like Google Analytics and its app equivalent Firebase - which ultimately benefitted billions of users in both developed and developing markets.
Part II – The Micro
In January 2017, the Lemma FX concept was conceived – in approximately 5% form – following discussions with some beautiful people in the township of Khayelitsha, South Africa. At the time, 2 of Lemma FX’s team – Andreas and Paul - were participating in a university subject titled “Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Developing Regions” where they had the great fortune of applying much of their classroom experiences to the “real real world”.
It was their great fortune juxtaposed against the challenges of those living in Khayelitsha, one of the top five largest slums in the world. It was almost literally worlds apart in some ways, yet in other ways our physical distance was less than 1 metre as we gleefully embraced their smiles. What the people of Khayelitsha may have lacked in possessions, they made up for in abundance in their warmth, love for life and desire for a slightly brighter future.
What became evident in the discussions was the need for some sanity to be provided to these individuals via returns from their skillful efforts in a range of activities i.e., some predictability in them yielding fruits of their labour. For example, those in the textile industry in Khayelitsha – many of them of extraordinary skill – were oftentimes ravaged by wild currency FX fluctuations which decimated their ability to enjoy many of life’s basics.
What could we do? Because we wanted to do something…
It left Paul with 2 statements and a question:
Statement 1: James and Robert were able to revolutionise Australia’s aged care industry via a scientific approach to data via benchmarking, scenario planning and analysis and deep API integrations with Medicare. Their mission was in #makingagedcarebetter, and was succeeding.
Statement 2: Google revolutionised the tech landscape via its data focus and desire to build analytical products so millions of their customers could similarly benefit. Their mission was organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, and they were succeeding.
Question: Which other industries and sectors, outside of aged care and technology, could these experiences and learnings be applied?
Part III – The Macro
Organizations of all shapes and sizes are responding to the desire of the increasingly large appetite of individuals to do more good. Professional investors are no exception. Andreas has spent decades working through the question of ‘how do we turn good intention into impactful investment?’ and ‘what do we even mean by impact?’, with the beauty being that more and more stakeholders in our global community have been contributing to this understanding and learning in what is a challenging process. The unknown is never easy. The hard thing about hard things…
In September of 2017, Andreas co-authored a seminal publication – alongside The Impact Management Project, a collaborative effort by over 700 organizations – titled ‘The Investor’s Perspective: An illustration of how we can build portfolios that match impact and financial goals with intentions and constraints’. Importantly, 5 dimensions of impact were defined in addition to many portfolio related insights. 1 insight is worth mentioning, namely that ‘product availability today limits the specific type of impact goals that investors can satisfy’.
The good news is, that these products have started developing rapidly since 2017 and continue to be in a nascent stage as we approach 2022 and beyond. Of very recent times, professional investors are starting to pay more and more attention to opportunities provided by emerging market and developing economies. These mindful investors recognise that stabilisation of currencies in these countries and regions can facilitate development and harness growth potential.
So, Andreas and Paul started being encouraged by FX funds being invested in emerging market and developing countries…
Paul started to wonder whether the problems that he had worked on in the aged care (with James and Robert) and technology (with Google) industries could be solved in a similar way to the challenges in establishing strong currency markets in emerging and developing countries. Could the data-led, pioneering approaches embodied in the solutions he had seen historically assist in paving a new future for the beautiful people he and Andreas met in Khayelitsha?
Part IV – The Melting Pot!
It is one thing to be excited for our friends in Khayelitsha that additional funds may be invested in countries such as theirs, but it is quite the other to ensure that these funds might directly benefit those individuals whom we met living in such difficult conditions. Andreas and Paul started thinking about what it would look like to utilise data of many different forms to objectively measure whether impact investments were truly having an impact. It quickly became apparent to Paul that he needed to connect the line between metaphoric dots, namely connecting Andreas with James, Robert and Bret so we could collectively put our minds to bringing rich data to the investment topic of impact.
Lemma FX, and the entire global community, now stands at the precipice of a new frontier, with nothing but excitement at providing the world an opportunity to understand and assess its collective good intentions regarding FX investment in emerging market and developing economies.
Without further ado, that brings us to the launch of Lemma FX.