Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Christian Tiessen from Savedo

1. Who are you?

My name is Christian Tiessen. I studied Business in Germany, Singapore and Spain. After working a few years for consulting and corporates, I founded my first startup in e-commerce. The business grew quite rapidly, and was finally acquired by an American company.  Since March 2014 I am working with and on Savedo. Financial Services is a  very exciting space for me to work in because it is just at the beginning of a massive change. I felt that starting a business in the FinTech space right now could give me the opportunity to create something meaningful and help to change od structures. Especially as I can leverage my know-how obtained at prior experiences to build a great consumer brand

2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?

Savedo is the first international online financial marketplace to make attractive savings products in Germany and other European countries available to private customers in Germany, Austria, and soon in the Netherlands. Savedo supports paperless processes, which makes investing in other countries for private customers very easy. All Product offers, application forms, and other documents are provided in one’s own language. Customer care is also in our customers’ mother tongue. Furthermore we offer in our portal online banking functionalities that allow customers to manage their bank accounts across multiple banks, at the same time guaranteeing highest safety and quality standards. Our portal also offers our foreign bank partners to enter new European markets and gain access to new customer segments. On our platform banks can list their products and customers can access these offers via one single Savedo-account.

Of course we have competitors offering the same services but …we have the technology J We have a constantly growing team of developers working permanently on more and better functionalities of our portal. We are convinced that this expertise will simply make the difference in the end.

3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you finance your startup?

The German market is one of the biggest savings markets in the world, with over EUR 2 trillion in savings. There are trillions of euros in accounts with little to no returns. Since December 2014 Savedo brings high-yield saving products to Germany and makes saving at highest interest rates as fast and as unproblematic as possible without hopping from one bank account to another. On top of that, our products, fixed-term deposits and soon overnight savings, are very safe. According to EU regulation all deposits within the European Union are protected up to EUR 100.000 per customer per bank. Since our customers are best known for their conservative attitude towards investments the European deposit insurance scheme is a unique selling point advertising foreign products to customers.

We are funded by multiple international investors, both VCs and Business Angels.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Starting Savedo was a very exciting experience. Together with Steffen Wachenfeld and Jochen Siegert we started in May 2014 with only 5 people. First of all we had to find appropriate partner banks in different European countries and convince them of our business model. Then, of course we had to identify and to manage regulatory hurdles together with our German partner bank biw AG. But finally on December 4th 2014 we went live. By now we are offering more than 40 different products from 6 banks all over Europe.

5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?

Currently we are observing a strong phase of payment disruption. More and more lending startups offer their services and especially new digital insurance companies are annoying the established brands and are gaining more and more traction. But if you look at market opportunities and investigate deeper into the disruption potential, for me the largest business opportunities still lie within the asset management field. That makes it very interesting to me.

6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in the DACH region, and how can we help to accelerate it?

FinTech is disrupting all traditional fields of banking. So the future of banking lies certainly with FinTechs as the new relevant market players also in the DACH region. In terms of funding and talents the over all climate for FinTech startups is good and from my perspective the well discussed and already predicted end oft the FinTech-hype can also for this region definitely not be seen. But FinTech startups are still facing too many hurdles here. Especially unsolved regulatory questions retard the business of many FinTechs and make it harder for them to succeed. Politicians have to get active and should start to set up the right legal frame. But also traditional banks should start taking FinTechs really seriously and see them as useful allies to substantially improve over all customer experience in banking. It is certainly not a question of location in Germany. If the legal frame is set in an adequat way we would have several prospering FinTech-locations, such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich in Germany.

7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?

From my experience there is one thing  FinTech entrepreneurs should keep in mind when starting and bringing up their business: First of all a very important advice: Never underestimate the impact of regualtory questions and compliance on the concrete daily business of your FinTech even though on a high level some topics might not appear as a real challenge on first sight. Living and operating in a merely digital worlds makes it from my point of view even more important to always keep an eye on everything that is analog because this ist he base for every digital development.