1. Who are you?
My name is Dirk Littig. I am the founder and CEO of bankless24.
2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?
bankless24 is the first crowd investing platform in Germany, which only addresses the Mittelstand.
We do not define Mittelstand based on revenue size or number of employees. Rather, we judge on the one hand the self-assessment of the management and on the other hand, the magnitude of the required financing.
Regarding the financing volumes, a Mittelstand SME is any enterprise that lacks other alternatives to traditional financing channels like banks.
From the perspective of an investor bankless24 offers access to a completely new asset class – starting from 100 Euro. For investors previously it was not possible to invest in the German Mittelstand broadly.
We enable this.
Transparency and security are the key factors in our view.
We therefore require all companies on the platform – if they have existed for at least two years – to get a credit rating from our partner Creditreform Rating AG.
In addition, all financing projects are handled through an escrow account with our partner Fidor Bank AG.
Currently we do not see competitors in our target group.
3. How did you get your start-up idea and how did you finance your startup?
I have been my entire professional life in the German Mittelstand.
The question that always vexed me: why nobody creates solutions for SMEs?
That is what we wanted to change.
At the same time, our objective was to provide investors with access to a new asset class.
We have been funded in large part with our own resources and with the assistance of a business angel.
4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?
The biggest challenge is still to bring capital demand and supply into balance: the typical chicken and egg problem!
With the ever-increasing acceptance of crowd investing this challenge is becoming smaller.
5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?
I find crowd investing most exciting. It changes the core of the traditional banking business – at least in our case with the SME focus.
In the next few years the intermediary bank will become much less important.
6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in the DACH region, and how can we help to accelerate it?
Alternative models are currently engaging in many areas served by traditional financial institutions.
On the one hand it will be important that FinTech startups deal meaningfully with the existing regulation.
On the other hand, the regulatory authorities such as the BaFin must deal with these new models.
Here, there is a lot do with associations and at the social and political levels.
7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?
Go for disruptive models!
But always keep the regulatory aspects in mind.
Supervisory authorities typically have little motivation to support disruptive approaches.