1. Who are you?
I’m the founder and CEO of Bitbond, a global peer-to-peer lending platform for small business loans. Before starting Bitbond I was a consultant at Roland Berger’s restructuring practice. Prior to that I worked in sales & trading at Deutsche Bank London.
2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?
Bitbond is the first global marketplace lender for small business loans. We use bitcoin as a technology and payment network to make finance accessible all around the world. Currently there is no service that has our reach in this segment. But we do have competitors in a number of countries. Kabbage for example is strong in the US and UK, iwoca and ezbob are active in the UK and other European markets.
3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you finance your startup?
When I worked as a consultant on banking related projects I was fascinated by the idea of peer-to-peer lending. I think it’s a much more efficient lending process for the retail segment. When I decided that I would like to start my own online lending platform I wanted to make it global so that people could lend each other money from all over the world. The main reason this didn’t exist back then was that conventional payment systems are mostly too slow and prohibitively expensive. Then I learned about bitcoin and thought that it’s the best technology that can make a global lending platform happen.
4. What were the biggest challenges in starting?
At the beginning everything is hard. Finding the right people to join your team, getting a product out quickly, marketing it and financing the company. Probably earning trust from early users is the hardest part for an early stage fintech startup though. You have no track record to show and want people to trust you with their data and money.
5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?
I’m biased here due to my background in the bitcoin space. But really I believe technologies like bitcoin and ethereum have the power to be to finance what the internet so far has been to communication and commerce. A catalyst for efficiency and a much broader reach of services. Some would also call this the “democratization” of finance.
6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in Continental Europe, and how can we help to accelerate it?
I think continental Europe is a great environment for Fintech startups. There are multiple untapped market opportunities in areas like asset management, lending, personal finance management and many others. The Fintech Forum can help to raise awareness for new financial service providers in conventional finance communities and among potential customers. At the same the Finance Forum is a great way to connect startups with potential investors. I think this is where the Fintech Forum adds great value to everone invloved in the fintech ecosystem.
7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?
Find an area that you are really excited about and where you ideally have some first background knowledge. Then get started quickly and work on your product based on experience with real users.