This interview is part of Scaling Enterprise FinTech | The Handbook, launched in Sep. 2021 in partnership with SixThirty Ventures and Money2020 Europe. Whether you are a founder with an idea, an early stage startup looking for inspiration and learnings, or an investor or financial institution looking to understand the difficult but rewarding journey to building a world-class Enterprise FinTech firm- download The Handbook.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
In 2015 me, Mikael Eliasson, Emma Rozada and Joel Rozada founded Bokio. Since then, our AI-powered bookkeeping and accounting software has grown rapidly. We’ve expanded to the UK and our user base is growing at an incredible pace. We have 100 employees and serve over 60,,000 monthly active users in the UK and our native country Sweden.
2. Give us the backstory- how did you get the founding idea, and how did the first sale come about?
I met my co-founder Mikael Eliasson doing competitive orienteering whilst at university. At the time Mikael was working as a freelance engineer and one day asked for help with some accounting tasks. We quickly realised how incredibly difficult the tax filing system is to understand and that the available tools at our disposal weren’t good enough. We saw a great opportunity to modernize the entire industry by automating the process. This was the seed that eventually grew to become Bokio.
3. Could you summarize your journey to scale from a sales, go-to-market and business development perspective, perhaps split into 2-3 key phases?
We have always been very product and customer focused and used that as a growth factor. The world is getting smaller and smaller and great products with roaring fans is a great way to grow. We have just recently started to add traditional sales & marketing and it will be a great learning experience to see that evolve.
4. Which was the most challenging phase, and what would you have done differently?
Right now is always the most challenging phase, if that is not the case you either have too low ambitions or you are not pushing yourself hard enough. It is always great to take time to reflect on your historical mistakes and learn from them to avoid making the same one again but it is inevitable to make mistakes and you simply have to embrace them
5. When did you decide to expand to the international/ US market, and how?
Once we reached a large number of clients in our first market we wanted to make sure the technical solution was strong enough to handle several markets from a regulatory perspective going forward and we then decided to make a light launch in a new market to verify. We have been running everything from our home office and hence had a slim cost profile to ensure we run a lean ship also in overseas markets without losing control of culture etc.
6. When did you first decide to raise venture capital, and what has been your approach to financing growth over the years?
We did the first round when we felt ready for higher paced acceleration and already had a product and clients on board and was starting to understand the market dynamics. I think it’s important to not raise too early and to spend money in a good way.
7. How is building an Enterprise FinTech firm different from a “regular” SaaS / Enterprise Tech company, and what three things should founders get right?
At the end of the day the customer is the important one independent of type of business. We still have to be extremely customer focused and create proper customer value to stay relevant. Then you have a regulatory layer you have to respect but at the end of the day there is only really one thing to get right and that is the customers experience and happiness.
8. What’s on the priority list for you and your team for the next year?
Continue to grow and build even stronger relationships with our clients in existing geographies.
9. Where is the financial services sector headed in the next 12-18 months, and what should we be watching out for?
I’d say automation is still the key factor in disrupting big industries, both now and in the future. Users and customers expect automation today, especially in bookkeeping and accounting. This will require us as well as incumbents to invest heavily to remain competitive as the customer expects this experience to follow what is happening in the B2C space. I think there will be some interesting unholy alliances coming up from players who need to make bold moves to not fall behind
10. Your favorite place(s) for a meal, coffee or drink (pre-/ post-COVID19)?
I really enjoy cooking at home with some friends over a good bottle of wine. Work can be quite intense and it is good to have some time off at home with your friends to recover.