Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Eugene Danilkis from Mambu

1. Who are you?

Mambu is a cloud banking platform provider. We enable innovative banking providers to rapidly create, launch and service loan and deposit products through our agile, flexible and affordable cloud banking platform. An alternative to legacy core banking software, our goal is to accelerate time to market for new consumer and SME banking products via innovative channels, at a fraction of the cost. Established in 2011, we work with more than 100 institutions in 30 countries worldwide, servicing a portfolio of more than a million accounts. 


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

We provide a single banking platform, in the cloud, for financial institutions who offer loan or deposit products. Our platform combines the core processing engine as well as the customer relationship management that a bank needs to run its business, wrapped in a single user-friendly platform that any institution can use to design, launch and service loan and deposit products. This gives financial institutions worldwide speed to market and business agility so they can get the right products to new markets quickly and cost-effectively, leveraging online and mobile digital channels more cheaply and more easily than a bank running a traditional legacy system.

Our competitors include legacy core banking system providers like Temenos, FIS, Oracle and MISYS as well as other cloud-banking technology startups such as Oradian, Cloud Lending Co and Five Degrees.


3. How did you get your start-up idea and how did you finance your start-up?

In 2009 we worked with a core banking software provider to identify opportunities to leverage technology, specifically mobile money, to make banking more cost-effective especially in emerging markets. What we realized was that the technology and the cost base of in-house solutions or legacy core banking systems made integrating into these channels slow and very expensive. Add to that the on-going system maintenance costs and servicing the most high-growth and currently most underserved market segments becomes cost-prohibitive. We thought that there had to be a better way and as Salesforce paved the way with CRM and Netsuite did with ERP, we set out to do the same with banking technology.

We financed our startup through consulting work in the early days until we secured investments from early-stage VCs in Europe including Kizoo and Point Nine Capital out of Germany and Runa Capital out of Russia.


4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Gaining the trust and credibility of the first customers required a lot of time and very close relationship building. Few institutions wanted to be the ones to be the first on a brand new platform so working in a consultative manner and gaining trust and building our reputation in the market required a laser-sharp focus on our customers’ problems. We were designing a platform that solved current specific customer challenges but also still architecting a single solution that we knew could soon be used by hundreds of institutions around the world. Supporting various product configurations, business workflows and methodologies all without ever customizing the solution was also a major technical challenge as it had to be built on a platform that was extremely secure, scalable and yet still cost-effective.


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

FinTech is undergoing a lot of change and so many of the current services providers are stuck in decade-old processes with staggeringly high revenue models. You can be truly be a champion for the customer, helping them move on from old legacy technology and license-based pricing, helping them create better products and services for their customers at a lower cost and in a more agile way. With a smart market approach and the right usage of technology, even the smallest players can compete with the biggest ones in the market.

The emerging market also is very exciting as an opportunity to leapfrog the west in terms of how financial services are delivered and accessed. With three billion not having access to banking, a quarter of a billion SME businesses underserved, the financial inclusion agenda has a massive social and financial upside. And with the rise of internet, mobile and smartphones in these markets, I believe it will be technology-driven companies who’ll provide the cheapest, simplest and best products and services to stimulate the growth engines of these economies.


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

We’re excited to see financial services based out of DACH expand their models and gain new customers in new markets. FinTech startups in the region can bring fresh thinking combined with the high-quality engineering and process rigour required for financial technology. Organizations like FinTech forums can help this by encouraging and showcase innovation and encouraging established players to experiment with low-cost, low-risk pilots with start-ups. The established players get to leverage the innovative agile nature of startups while the start-ups get to build their credibility and have a chance to prove themselves to the established players as a viable partner. A win-win for both parties.


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

Know that your are going into a marathon, not a sprint. FinTech is changing and changing fast globally, but building a product, company and reputation that others trust and look to as a partner simply takes time. So focus on early customers and make sure every one of them is successful in what they’re trying to do because of the work you did for them. Do that work even it if it doesn’t scale or doesn’t make you much money as you are building a foundation for a business and in FinTech, as in so many other businesses, that foundation is your reputation and it is your reputation that will drive business trust and ultimately growth in this sector.