Failing to Win: hard-earned lessons from a purpose-driven start-up

Hosted by the Department of International Development

Online public event


Mike Quinn

Mike Quinn

Co-founder, Boost, Zoona


Jean-Paul Faguet

Jean-Paul Faguet

Professor of the Political Economy of Development

Soon after graduating from LSE in 2009, Mike Quinn packed his backpack and flew to Zambia to co-found Zoona, one of Africa's first fintech startups.

Over the next decade, Zoona scaled to become an internationally acclaimed brand that raised $35 million in venture capital and processed $2.5 billion in transactions for millions of underserved consumers. But his tenth anniversary wasn't the milestone he had in mind; instead of a party, he announced his resignation amidst a crisis that crippled the company and derailed its pursuit of its vision of "A Cashless Africa".

Grappling with his biggest failures - including the penultimate one that led to his exit - inspired Mike to write an honest and vulnerable story, Failing to Win: Hard-earned lessons from a purpose-driven start-up, about what he learned from them. Through this reflection process, he discovered that the secret to Zoona's successes was in fact the persistent failure that came before them. Come hear Mike share his story about how to embrace and learn from failure 'in order' to win - in both business and in life.

About the speaker and chair:

Mike Quinn (@mikepquinn) is a purpose-driven entrepreneur who co-founded Zoona, one of Africa's pioneering fintech companies, and now Boost, which powers growth for millions of entrepreneurs in Africa's informal economy. Prior to setting off on his entrepreneurial journey, Mike earned an MSc in Development Management at LSE and MBA from Oxford's Saïd Business School, where he was a Skoll Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship. He has been recognized with the Edward W. Claugus Award for Leadership and Innovation in Financial Inclusion from Accion and Social Entrepreneur of the Year from the Schwab Foundation.

Jean-Paul Faguet (@jpfaguet) is Professor of the Political Economy of Development at the London School of Economics, and Co-Programme Director of the MSc in Development Management. He is also Chair of the Decentralization Task Force at Columbia University’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue. He works at the frontier between economics and political science, using quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the institutions and organizational forms that underpin development transformations. 

The Department of International Development promotes interdisciplinary postgraduate teaching and research on processes of social, political and economic development and change. 

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEFailingToWin

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This event will be streamed live on YouTube


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