Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Michael Bußhaus & Ralf Oetting, justTRADE

Photo: Michael Bußhaus (left) and Ralf Oetting

justTRADE is among the first set of startups selected to present to leading investors like SeedX Lichtenstein, Capnamic Ventures and Giesecke+Devrient Ventures at the 11th FinTech Forum, 21st Nov. 2019 in Frankfurt: https://ftf11.eventbrite.com

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

Hi, we are Ralf and Michael from Germany, living in Frankfurt, Cologne and Bremen. We have both worked for more than 20 years in the Online-Brokerage and -Banking industry in various positions. In the past each of us and sometimes together we have worked at and developed various Online-Broker and financial portals in Germany and Europa. Ralf was the former COO of comdirect ltd. in UK, CEO of OnVista AG and managing director of OnVista Bank GmbH and Michael was Head of Brokerage at comdirect bank AG and managing director of OnVista Bank GmbH. 

Michael is passionate about travelling, eating good food and good wine. Exploring other countries gives him the chance to meet interesting people and learning a lot about other cultures. 

Speaking about Ralf he enjoys much the same but also spending time with his two kids.


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

justTRADE is a new German based Online-Broker that offers free commission trading in stocks, ETFs, ETCs, funds, certificates and bonds via Apps and a Desktop Trading Website. Due to the low interest environment in Europe there is a strong need for investors to have access to financial products other than a pure savings account. The competition in Germany is very tough, our competitors are the established Online-Brokers in the German market, like comdirect, Consorsbank, ING, onvista bank or Flatex. But targeting a group of c. 2m German investors, who do around 100m trades per year gives us enough room to grow with an attractive offer.


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

We can´t remember how often we have discussed the idea of free commission trading since 2010, working together at OnVista. The situation in Germany is that a complicated regulatory and tax framework, combined with custody and settlement requirements leads to a high cost base for providing custody services for retail customers. On the other hand, and from a pure technical perspective, trading is straight forward, and all providers cover with the trading commissions they earn part of the custody and settlement costs. This proved to be quit a challenge for us – but taking into account the full value chain and services to offer, combined with our process knowledge acquired of years and years working in the industry, we found a solution to bring our product to zero costs. 

End of June we launched our starting campaign at justtrade.com, in order to get in touch with potential clients, press and media. Our launching date will be late summertime. Cross your fingers…


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

As many other startups, we had a hard time until going live. We spoke to some VCs and other potential investors, but without having a product up and running, it´s difficult to receive the funding you need at an adequate price. In the end we decided to fund the business on our own and to look for investors at a later state. But it turned out to be quite helpful to speak with a lot of people in order to challenge our business model and our ideas. 


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

We both think that building a business from scratch with a clear target and motivated team is really a unique situation. We enjoy working more than ever, celebrate all ups and try to survive all the downs.


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

Continental Europe is a huge market with a lot of opportunities. Europe needs entrepreneurs influencing the market, regulators and competitors to build the future. The world is changing very fast and it´s good to have the Fintech Forum to bring startups, investors and – more generally – just interesting individuals together.


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

We like the quotation of Steve Jobs: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”