Meet the MD: Robin Tombs of Yoti

Meet the MD: Robin Tombs of Yoti

Logging into websites using facial recognition and proving your age with your phone are just two of the exciting projects Yoti CEO Robin Tombs is working on. BQ caught up with him to hear more about Yoti and his day-to-day job as CEO...

Describe your role in brief...

I’m an involved CEO, for sure. My day usually starts by catching up with the management team, followed by any product meetings on specific issues or points we need to discuss. Following this I’ll catch up with the Business Development team - hearing customer feedback quickly is really important. My afternoons normally involve either presenting Yoti to a business or attending external events. I wrap up my day with a game of table tennis with anyone who wants to beat the CEO!


What is it the company does?

Founded in 2014, Yoti aims to be the world’s trusted identity system. Our team works to improve the way people share their personal information. We built Yoti - it’s your ID, on your phone. It helps you prove who you are to companies and people, online and in person. After downloading the free app, it takes 90 seconds to create your digital identity: take a selfie, add your mobile number, scan your photo ID with your phone, and enter a 5 digit PIN. With your Yoti, you’ll be able to log into websites using your face, instantly know who you’re talking to online and prove your age with your phone.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

Prior to Yoti, I was co-founder and finance director at Gamesys, (one of the world’s leading online gaming operators with annual revenues over £250m, 950 staff and offices in 6 countries.)

Prior to Gamesys, I co-ran another business that Noel Hayden (another Gamesys co-founder) and I had successfully built up and before that I was an auditor with PwC in London.

I’m particularly passionate about creating opportunities for young people to achieve their potential in life and to bring scalable web and mobile technologies to the not-for-profit sector. So, outside of Yoti, I’m an investor or funder in a handful of early stage for profit and social businesses, including Infinitesima, Trumin, Luxdeco, Working Knowledge and the National College for Digital Skills. I’m also founder of Zing, a charity which supports charities helping young people to realise their potential, and trustee of Future First, a charity which is designed to help state schools build and manage an alumni community.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Knowing when to give an individual or team the freedom to solve problems, or work out how to meet a challenge and when to give them some help and direction.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

A key challenge has to be the not knowing, pre launch, whether people are going to enjoy using your new product.

With more innovative products, it’s challenging to get the balance right between running focus groups and seeking feedback on your idea compared to backing you and your team’s instincts on how the product should work. Steve Jobs said that running focus groups prior to launching the iPhone was pointless because people didn’t realise they needed or wanted an iPhone until it launched and they started using it. But most of us want to listen to prospective users to try and make sure a new product thrives.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Taking on the team at table tennis is a great way to alleviate stress. I also enjoy watching my children play sports as well as watching lots of sport on TV or going to games. Spending time with family helps me to unwind and relax.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A rugby player.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

Temporarily missing HDMI leads from meeting rooms and dirty cups in the sink - just put them in the dishwasher! (the cups not the leads!)


Where do you see the company in five years time?

I see millions of people globally enjoying the benefits of using Yoti to share their trusted identity.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Think whether you’re solving a significant problem for a significant amount of people. Ask people about your idea and listen to their feedback. You may think it’s a fantastic idea but you need to know whether there is an appetite for it! Also don’t give up the day job until you’re relatively sure there is an addressable market willing to pay a sensible price.