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How a computational biophysicist turned into a startup financial guru

Jaime Medina was going to be a scientist, but ended up founding a consultancy specializing in start-ups with a turnover of €1.8 million last year

Pierre Lomba
Jaime Medina, CEO and founder of The Startup CFO
Jaime Medina, CEO and founder of The Startup CFO.

It is a long road from the particle accelerator in Switzerland to an aseptic financial consultancy office on Orense Street in Madrid. But that’s the road Jaime Medina, 32, has taken. He may have had an early obsession with “the last brick in the universe,” but this computational biophysicist ended up founding a financial consultancy and start-up management company that, last year, chalked up a €1.8 million ($1.96 million) turnover.

Medina was, he says, “100% destined for science.” The top of his class in physics, in 2012, he was on a summer internship at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, when the Higgs boson was discovered. After an exchange in the United States, he did a master’s degree in computational biophysics at Rockefeller University, where he was programming until disillusionment set in.

“Working in science is not the same as studying science,” he says. “The career is a huge sea five centimeters deep. The doctorate is a tiny space 50 kilometers deep.” It turned out that despite his initial vocation, he did not have the passion needed to go into research: “You have to be passionate about your subject, you have to lose sleep over it,” he says. And, so, he decided to make the leap into strategic consulting at the multinational, McKinsey.

It wasn’t a simple leap: “I had no idea what people did in companies,” he says with a laugh. Fifty percent of the people he was with had studied business administration, the other 50% engineering, plus “two weird guys,” one of whom was him. During his year at McKinsey, he learned to be extremely efficient, although, of course, true to his scientific credentials: “I think like a physicist in everything,” he says.

But he grew weary there too. “The best decision of my life was to join; the second, to leave,” he adds. He next moved to a start-up, where he began his love affair with finance by managing the company’s finance team, before embarking on yet another master’s degree. It wasn’t long then before he began to offer his services to other companies as a freelancer.

Public and private capital

Medina’s business grew, and he ended up founding The Startup CFO, a company that he insists is not a typical start-up. Profitable from the get-go, the company has raised €40 million ($43.5 million) in private equity for its clients, €8.5 million ($9.3 million) in public funding and €3.5 million ($3.8 million) in bank financing. With 25 employees, it began its international expansion at the end of 2022 with an office in Berlin.

Medina’s company combines financial consultancy with management work and a financial academy for start-ups. It has already advised 160 companies. Given the uncertain economic climate, obtaining financing for his clients is complicated. But, all in all, turning off the tap that has inflated the start-up bubble “is not necessarily a bad thing” for Medina. “You do well if you meet a demand,” he says. “More good things come out of crises than bad: I think there has been an excess of start-ups.”

Medina’s next goal is to invest in other start-ups. The entrepreneur who “always thinks like a physicist” is very clear about the factor that determines whether to invest in a company — and it is not its cash flow or its gross operating profit: “I focus 90% on the people, 9% on the market and 1% on the idea,” he says.

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