1. Who are you?
As the CEO of EXtravest GmbH I founded our latest project easyfolio.de in April 2014. I have been working in the financial industry since 1991 – mostly within Private – and Online Banking. In 2007 I founded Isarvest GmbH, a company that runs a software solution for Private Banks working with derivatives. In 2009 we launched EXtravest GmbH, an Exchange Traded Funds information platform. In April 2014 we went online with our new offering easyfolio.de – a web-based investment solution.
2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?
easyfolio.de is the easiest way to invest in a broadly diversified portfolio. Our customers can choose from three different kinds of easyfolios: easyfolio 30, easyfolio 50 and easyfolio 70. The number represents the percentage of stocks share in the portfolio, the rest is invested in bonds. Each portfolio invests in fifteen ETFs and therefore in more than 5.000 securities (stocks and bonds). We’re taking care of the complete portfolio structure so the customer can just invest and enjoy the growth of his asset. To invest in our strategies there is no need to open a separate account at easyfolio. You can use your existing investment depot and just buy the easyfolio via the stock exchange. This is easy investing, without any borders. Since our launch in April customers have invested over 2 Mio. Euros in the easyfolios, a distinct confirmation of our concept. Next step will an own savings account for even less fees. We always have the focus on offering our investors more services and better pricings.
3. How did you get your start-up idea and how did you finance your start-up?
Since 2009 we publish an ETF information platform for about 18.000 users and 30.000 visitors each month. This community kept asking us about the best way to invest in ETFs. At the same time we watched platforms like wealthfront.com rising in the US-Market. We identified this setting as a great opportunity: for us to grow with our platform and for our ETF community to get an easy access to a long-term investment solutions based on ETF products. That was the starting point of easyfolio. It was clear that this project, more than anything else, needed to build trust to potential customers. Who would just go and invest his money in a brand-new platform? So we decided to search for suitable partners. In 2013 Frankfurt Business Media, a subsidiary of the well-known F.A.Z. newspapers, joined our company. And in April 2014 we launched easyfolio.de. Today we are talking with potential partners to invest in the next planned developments of easyfolio. So if somebody is interested in easyfolios business development – just contact me.
4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?
I guess we´re not a common start up since we look back to the foundation of EXtravest, the company that runs easyfolio.de, in 2009. But anytime you start a new project you have the same challenges to face like in IT, Marketing, Legal, Personnel, Product Development, etc. Starting a new company means a lot of discipline and learning. And to find funding´s for a project is a long journey that absorbs a fairly amount of time.
5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?
I like the idea of delivering easy and fair investment products for private investors. Quite frankly, I have seen so many poor investment solutions during my banking career – it’s time to make a few things better.
6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech start-ups in the DACH region, and how can we help to accelerate it?
The DACH region is an area with numerous wealthy people, therefore a platform like easyfolio.de is supposed to grow quite fast. Challenging are the varying regulatory´s within the countries.
7.What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?
First: make sure that your product solves a problem for your customers. Second: take care that your product can not be copied too easily from the banks.