Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Lav Odorovic, CEO and Cofounder of Penta

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

I was born and raised in Belgrade. Went to school in Switzerland. I like to read books, take long walks and hang out with friends. I love wine tasting and visiting nice restaurants. Chess relaxes me. I also play the violin.
I miss all these things because I’ve never had a single day off since I started Penta in May 2016!

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

In partnership with solarisBank, we’re offering easy to use bank accounts for businesses in Germany. You’re able to open an account online, in just a few minutes whether you have an existing business or whether you’re incorporating your next big thing.

In the coming weeks, you’ll be able to issue multiple MasterCards to your team with limits and permissions, send money abroad at the lowest rates and more.

Our biggest competitors are the big banks even though many of our customers come to us complaining “I hate my current bank, can you help me?” Our job is to get the word out that there is a better alternative that helps business owners save time and money when doing their banking, compared to what’s already out there in the market.

3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you go about launching it?

We knew that business banking was awful. But before we set out to build Penta, we wanted to get at least 100 businesses to sign up on our website as validation. In the following weeks, we were able to attract hundreds of people to sign up, we got accepted to Startupbootcamp’s FinTech London programme and we launched an Alpha only 6 months after quitting our jobs and starting Penta.

18 months later today, we’re doubling our growth week by week.

4. How did you finance your startup, and what learnings would you like to share from the fundraising journey?

We started Penta on a couch with our laptops. When we got accepted to Startupbootcamp all we had was our savings, and €15,000 that the accelerator programme gave us. After the programme, we raised enough money to help us scale our team to 15 people and just a few weeks ago, we closed a €2.2M seed round that’ll allow us to grow our customer base, our product offering, and our team.

Raising money is really difficult. It sometimes feels like going on a date, only to get rejected again and again and again. My cofounder Luka wrote an article on the NY Observer that got a lot of attention (and some people a bit angry) called I Slept with 65 VCs and Learned These Things which sums up the do’s and don’ts of the VC funding pretty well!

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

Looking at where the market was only two years ago compared to today, it’s really outstanding. Millions of people and businesses all across the world are benefiting from the services we’re all creating in this industry—services that only 5 years ago seemed impossible to offer. So it really excites me to see the added value and great products built by fintech entrepreneurs for business owners and consumers.

6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in Continental Europe, and how can we help?

I always revert back to the question of is this a vitamin or a painkiller? when we’re building things at Penta. And a painkiller is usually something helps people save a tremendous amount of time, effort and money. This is especially important in banking. Always aim for the painkiller, not a vitamin.

That’s the approach we take at Penta.

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

Building a successful fintech product is much more about who you work with than what you’re building. Choose your team wisely.