TFM: Was there any funding technique that surprised you? AR: There are some. If I had to pick one, I loved the way that Indian RentoMojo’s founder, Geetansh Bamania, without a big track record, managed to raise $2million in seed funding. His main weapon was a great idea and good old cold calling, combined with LinkedIn. Geetansh was bold in approaching some of the most successful angel investors and proved that it can be done. I also like the approach of SyndicateRoom, a crowdfunding platform that used its own service for raising funds. Or Fiverr, which has created its IPO documentation using a freelancer from its own platform. It is much easier for entrepreneurs with a track record to raise funds; venture capitalists (VCs) rank experience higher than the idea. So, a good strategy is to approach serial entrepreneurs like Anthony Thompson, Renaud Laplanche or Mike Serbinis to join your startup as advisors. TFM: Has any company surprised you by its ability to turn a profit quickly? AR: I was very impressed by OakNorth, a UK company that enables businesses to get mid-sized loans. It broke even after 11 months. The founders, Joel Perlman and Rishi Khosla, started the business based on a bad experience as customers, and it is now Europe’s fastest-growing fintech.
Entrepreneurship can be difficult. Our research suggests that, at most, only 15 per cent of fintech startups will make it TFM: Is there an optimum size and composition for founding teams? AR: I don’t think there is a specific perfect number of people. I have seen many companies start as a one-man band, like Juvo, Nav or Flywire. However, having two to three different founders can help get better results. In terms of roles, one will take the commercial and strategic helm, while another one will look at technology. A third person may look at operations as well as partnerships, although it depends a lot on the targeted niche. www.fintech.finance
TFM: Did founders speak about their regrets or the mistakes they made? AR: Not a single founder I’ve talked to regrets jumping onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon. Some of the founders enjoy growing the companies into proper corporates, and others like to move on to develop new ideas as companies grow – they simply like the thrill of the initial creation phase. But they all love the challenges that startups present. In terms of mistakes made, there were some common themes. Many people regret not having pinned down properly the problem they wanted to solve, which cost them money and time. Others regret making mistakes when scaling up, especially growing the team too fast. This is probably the most sensitive area that startups need to take care of – how to bring in people who are aligned with the vision and culture and who can add value immediately.
Lifting the prize: It’s all about the journey for many entrepreneurs
TFM: Just to close off, was there a founder’s story that really stood out during your journey? AR: Quite a few – it’s really hard to pick just one! I really like some stories from Latin America, where fintech activity is picking up rapidly. The case of Brex blew my mind. It’s the story of how a couple of teenagers, instead of playing video games, decided to create a payments network called Pagar.me for Brazil. They sold the successful company and off they went to start a new one that became a unicorn after just a few months. And they managed to do it while staying humble and true to themselves. Issue 13 | TheFintechMagazine
Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13