Interviews with Entrepreneurs
• How easy was it to raise the necessary funds to start your business, considering you are a Fintech business? It wasn't easy at all. Startup eco system isn't mature yet in the region, it's even weaker in Bahrain especially for a product which requires larger funds such as tellero. Most of the investors would prefer to see some traction before investing in it. I believe in the product, hence bootstrapping was the only option left.
through buying my shirt or ordering food. In most cases, I get an sms from the bank about my transaction and the information they provide is not actually consistent or adequate. This frustration led me to start my own product to sort out this problem which I’m facing. Eventually, this will help consumers like me to efficiently manage the information which is related to their transactions at ease. • What are your future plans? We are developing the product and raising the funds as well. After the beta version is ready, we are implementing it with a partner bank. There is a big competition for the banks to stay ahead of each other in terms of implementing advanced technology. We are taking advantage of that situation. There are couple of banks shown interest already but we are working on a pilot for them.
• Do you have a mentor? If yes, what role did/does your mentor play in further progressing your business? I am in touch with some wonderful mentors who are of great help not only in shaping my ideas but also providing me the needed information which I do not have access to. IT would be really difficult without them. • Any message you would like to send out to the readers or to potential Fintech entrepreneurs? For any potential fintech entrepreneurs reading this, I would say, keep your products lean and consumer dependent rather than business dependent. In other words, think of this tool from the users point of view, not as a business tool which will die in the market after sometime!
• In your opinion what are the main challenges faced by Fintech startups in the region and globally? Fintech startups usually require access to larger funds. Regional investors traditionally have prefered to stay away from seed level investment unless it is a typical brick and mortar business. Their preference over traction often kills some innovative concepts. Globally, fintech products are not among those flamboyant product you dream to be part of. This is considered as one of the “boring” industries. That being said, things are changing now and fintech is picking up rapidly. It is one of the largest growing sector and expected to grow aggressively. • In your opinion, how can we build a strong Fintech industry in the region? Keeping things simple, a fintech startup needs access to funds, financial organisations, those are ready to test/ use and customers who are not afraid of trying a new product. This ecosystem is currently non-existent in the region. Financial organizations/ banks are not aware of what's being built and even if they are, they are not really ready to try out unless the product is tried and tested befor!! The decision making process for bankers takes so long that it is almost impossible for a fintech startup to sustain. Forward thinking, banks should participate in a dialog with budding fintech startups and encourage them to build innovative products. Some of these products will fail of course, but this tool one day will give a rise to a healthy fintech startup ecosystem. We have to start somewhere! • How was your business funded? My first business was funded by my father in law ! This time I don't have access to big funds. Along with my other co-founders, we have bootstrapped so far. We are looking for the investors but currently we are channeling our energies in developing it.
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