Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Marcel Platz, Founder / CEO of geldempfehlung.de

1. Who are you?

My name is Marcel Platz and I founded geldempfehlung.de in 2013. I had 2011 the vision that investment consulting can be digital.

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

We are offering an automated recommendation portal for private investors based on algorithm. We ask the customer about 30 questions about his desire. Our software checks first the asset classes like bonds. Then 40 types of investment will be checked, for example stock funds Europe, life insurances and the German products “Riester-Rente” and “Rürup-Rente”. Finally the customer gets personal recommendations for the best products of each fitting investment type. Comparing products and investment types are typical useful functions for our customer. At the end of the process the customer gets the protocol according to German law. Our process is more complex but the customer has the advantage to find the fitting products in an easy way. We started the public beta-test in December and launch our service in march 2015.

Direct competitors are automated investment guides. Most of them are concentrating on ETF products. We took the uncomfortable way and are checking all investment types.

3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you finance your startup?

Some years ago I realized that all business areas were going digital and markets are changing fast. But for banking and investing, there was no digital advisor. So I developed one prototype after getting a lot of positive feedback. Everybody asked me “Can I already use it?” But I had to say “Sorry, not yet. I will speed up.”

I started our business with government subventions, savings and earnings from another software project as freelancer.

4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?

Finding team members as co-founder is and was really hard. Some were talking much but they haven´t done enough. It´s like a relationship. You are going through good time and bad time. When you went through a difficult step, you know your team very well.

All regulatory and legal issues are a big challenge for our business model. We are digitalizing processes which were only done by humans before. We have to adopt our investment platform according to the law.

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

I like personal finance solutions and payment solutions for bank accounts on mobile devices. Paying with your smartphone is not really comfortable at the moment. I would like to use it more often and enjoy it.

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

Markets are changing and growing fast in Finance and insurance because digital processes are not so distributed. Young people prefer mobile banking on tablets and smartphones. This area can grow, but usability is most important. When you are paying with your mobile device in the supermarket and it takes longer as by cash card, only some techies and early adopters will use it.

Acceleration of FinTech start-ups is possible with good public relations and media contacts. I think the FinTech Forum is the first step to start this process.

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

Start first with a small prototype and search for much feedback. Legal requirements are important but it´s enough to know you can face them. There are many people who will tell you what will not work. It´s good to listen to them. But don´t forget to fight for your idea and find a solution. Maybe you know this picture with Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook. He is wearing a t-shirt and the author is asking something like “Would you give this guy venture capital?” – so not every brilliant business idea was identified 😉