Q&A- Startups

Journey to Exit: with Jens Jennissen of fairr

Jens is among the guest speakers on stage sharing his journey to exit at the 11th FinTech Forum, 21st Nov. 2019 in Frankfurt: https://ftf11.eventbrite.com

We were pleased to talk to Jens Jennissen of fairr.de, who presented their plan to transform the European pensions market at the 4th FinTech Forum in Mar. 2015, and just announced their exit to Raisin. Also check out our 7 Questions with Jens dating back to Feb. 2015.

1. Congratulations on the exit! How did this come about?

Over the last 6 years, we had achieved a tremendous amount at fairr: launched the company, build an outstanding team, created a full range of great products and established the fairr brand in the retirement saving and pension space in Germany. It was clear that we now had to think even bigger and aim even higher. Based on this we ran an internal strategic assessment in early 2019. The question we asked ourselves was whether fairr as a standalone company was the best choice or whether a strategic partner would be better. Going it alone would have required more funding and the building of a bigger organization to handle more products, more customers and more geographies. Partnering obviously requires the right partner with the right strategy and culture as well as the willingness and capability to do a deal. Both options were feasible from our perspective so we started to explore them in parallel.


 2. Was this a planned move, and what made you go ahead with the deal?

To a certain extent it was a planned move based on our strategic assessment. We knew Raisin from implementing our corporate pension solution at the company and because two of the founders were investors at fairr as business angels. We also knew that we shared common values around customer focus, product quality and company culture. So it was a logical choice to talk to them. Raisin very quickly send back positive signals and we started exploring a deal in earnest. As we went along it became more and more clear how strong the strategic and cultural fit was. With the timing also right, we just went for it.


3. What do you expect in the next 6-12 months?

In short: great things. Even before closing the deal we started with a comprehensive and intensive integration project to make sure the fairr team could hit the ground running at Raisin. We rebranded fairr on the day of the announcement and implemented various other measures immediately. We want to measure the transition period in days rather than weeks or months, so that we can start executing our new joint strategy as soon as possible. Raisin wants to offer savings for everyone. We will make sure that we deliver our share of that vision as part of the Investment and Pension Products Team. With motivated people on all sides that will be a lot of fun!


4. Any step(s) from founding to exit that you would like to share?

I think most of the cliches are true. Especially the one about building a company being an emotional rollercoaster ride. In early 2018 we went through a restructuring at fairr as we scaled back some non-performing activities and refocused on our organic growth story. That strategy worked so well that a year later the timing was right for a sale. So be warned of the emotional toll. That being said I would do it again anytime.


5. What tips or advice do you have for other European FinTechs?

Be realistic in your assessment of where you are in the value chain and which parts you can deliver and which you can’t. Then look at the wider ecosystem and see where you fit in. The industry will consolidate further going forward as that is a natural process in a maturing industry. Think about which role you want to play in that process. For us it was important to be able to actively shape that process to ensure the best outcome for customers, team and shareholders.