Q&A, Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Andrea Girasole of Billte

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.

Hi everyone, I am Andrea CEO & Co-Founder of Billte. I was born in Rimini 34 years ago from an entrepreneurial family active in the entertainment and gastronomic field.
I learn from an early age what it means to be an entrepreneur and especially the amount of work that goes with it; an entrepreneur never sleep J.
I had the chance and the opportunity to travel around the world also thanks to my sport which is my passion: baseball. I have been playing in several countries and baseball gave me the opportunity to meet people from different cultures, different backgrounds and speak different languages. Baseball brought me to Switzerland as well, to represent the Swiss national team (I hold the swiss citizenship thanks to my mother) and back then (2011) I have decided to start my working career here in Zurich, going from working as bartender in a club, my first job, to create my own fintech company 7 years later.
I consider myself a balanced and pragmatic person, my motto is “the difference between your dreams and the reality is action”.

2. Which product or service do you offer, and who are your competitors?

We offer a payment and invoicing eco-system for small and medium enterprises, we do not penetrate this market alone, we white label and license our solutions to banks or other financial institutions and subsequently they offer it to their SME clients.
We believe our main competitors are Square and Bill.com, but they are focusing on other markets and they do not collaborate with banks.

3. How did you get the business idea and take it from launch to the first customers?

After participating to a Hackathon organized by SIX group, they convince us that our idea could be interesting for several financial institutions. We then applied to their incubator and accelerator program: F10 and after completing it, with the skeleton of our first product, we established a contact with the first bank: BancaStato, the state bank of Ticino.
Subsequently the successful go live, they have decided also to invest in our company.

4. How have you financed your startup? Any lessons would you like to share from the fund-raising journey?

First, I have decided to invest my own savings into the company, in order to continue further with the development of a first usable product. Secondly, I have looked for strategic investors that could accelerate our sales cycle and two institutional investors like Synpulse (a management and consultancy firm) and BancaStato were interested in our solution. What I learn the most out of this journey is that an investor needs to like what you are doing and to be align to the vision of the company.
Money are important, but most important things are knowledge, connections and experience that an investor can transfer to you. This is where the company profit the most.

5. Which are the key trends and opportunities in (European) financial services?

Banks and financial institutions realized that they can profit by serving their SME clients with an eco-system of solutions related to payment collection, payment executions, invoicing and financing. They are fearing “neo-banks”, because they are starting to offer such solutions to this segment.
On top of it, in certain countries like France in 2022, digital invoicing is becoming mandatory, and lots of SMEs will be looking for solutions in order to comply to the new regulations.

6. What’s on your bookshelf/ reading list?

Shantaram, Embers (by Sándor Márai), Escape from camp 14, Open, Zero to One, are my favourite 5 books. On the reading list: Born a Crime, The New Tsar, Mr. Nice.

7. Your favorite place for a coffee and/ or a drink?

Osteria da Oreste in Rimini.