1. Who are you?
We are Thomas Bloch, Yassin Hankir and Oliver Vins, founders of vaamo.
2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?
With vaamo we help individuals, to invest their money easily and inexpensively. By means of our web-based platform, anybody can manage his personal financial goals (e.g. retirement planning or buying a property) even without any finance-related knowledge with a few mouse clicks, and thereby decide individually for each target, how money should be saved or invested. According to the personal risk preferences, we help clients invest in a diversified investment portfolio, and all at very low cost and with no minimum volumes or duration.
With vaamo we want to offer a genuine alternative to traditional banks and the primarily product-centric, sales-oriented investment advice.
3. How did you get your start-up idea and how did you finance your startup?
In our professional work and research, but also in our private lives, we have observed repeatedly that many individuals simply do not know how to invest their money wisely. Most people are aware that the current interest rates on the money market or savings accounts don’t even compensate for inflation.
However, private clients have no trust in alternative investments despite the growing fear of poverty in old age. And those who dare do realize returns that are on average 4% below the capital market, according to recent studies.
Why is that?
On the one hand, the financial products offered today are far too complex and the huge range is inscrutable for most customers. On the other hand, most products are simply economically unattractive – often more than half of the expected return is eaten away by fees!
So far vaamo is funded by the founders themselves.
4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?
The biggest challenge is and will certainly be to convince our business partners – including our banking partner – to think differently about financial services and financial investments for private clients and to develop new business and revenue models.
5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?
Retail banking will be fundamentally transformed by today’s technological possibilities and the associated change in customer behavior.
The financial services industry has experienced no real innovation in the retail business for many years and traditional banks have struggled with a significant loss of trust since the financial crisis.
This offers new players attractive options to penetrate this market previously dominated by large banks.
The first success stories from the USA and UK – particularly in the areas of payment systems and financial aggregation – have shown that this can be achieved.
6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in the DACH region, and how can we help to accelerate it?
We think that there are huge opportunities for innovation in the financial sector, and that there are tremendous opportunities given the market size and the current profit margins.
The implementation of new business models in the financial sector, however, can’t be achieved overnight. Accordingly, it is extremely important to identify partners and investors who share the vision of a fundamental change in the sector.
7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?
We have benefited greatly from sharing our business model with a variety of people including bank managers, consultants, investors, former founders of FinTech companies as well as other FinTech startups.
Only permanent open dialogue provides good and helpful feedback, access to relevant contacts and learning from the experiences of other founders.