Fintech Disruptors: Raisin clearly set out with a strategy to be in multiple countries very quickly what did it take to achieve that and what’s changed now that you’re more established?
Tamaz Georgadze: The key for us from the beginning has been engagement with banks. Our product is only as strong as the underlying offers so we had to go out to get a selection of offers across the board. Our decision to focus was very important from day one.
Naturally at the beginning we had limited trust at the beginning – banks were not too keen on being reliant on a small startup. There are also challenges of working with large institutions – the bigger the bank, the more complex it is in terms of IT systems, budgeting and so on.
As a result 50% of my time is focussed on meeting banks, understanding the challenges and adapting the model behind it. [For our bank partners] contact with the leadership of partner and their involvement in implementation is very important to them.
This part of our growth has been reliant on the founders of the company going to meet the decision-makers in banks, instead of sending in sales people. We only started recruiting people for our partner sales team just over a year ago.
Fintech Disruptors: What are the challenges of building a company that’s growing so quickly?
Tamaz Georgadze: We took the decision to be pan-European 2 years after our first country launch. The timeline to expansion is key – how fast you grow and broaden offering your offering. Even now we ask was it too fast. From day one, one of our investors was asking about broadening our product offering but it took time and we’re just launching investment products now.
It seems easy to launch new products or expand but you have to remember that even small steps can be quite challenging for a small startup like us. This was the case with the launch of our SME product – it took some time before we decided to go for SMEs but it was still quite complex. At the beginning all of those small things seem small until you start trying to tackle them.
Fintech Disruptors: What’s your advice for other fintech companies that are going through a similar process of expansion?
Tamaz Georgadze: Firstly, always go to your lawyer and to the regulator. We always explain openly what we’re doing and how before launch. Secondly, spend a lot of time recruiting the right person for the territory. Ask how much diligence and passion is there in the person in the market driving this.
What we quickly realised is that although it’s a multi-country marketplace – banks take decisions market by market. You can’t assume that because you’re working with a bank in one market they’ll automatically work with you in another. You need people on the ground that can provide additional advice and push.
Fintech Disruptors: How do you measure success and drive business through the platform?
Tamaz Georgadze: For us the product has to be good quickly after launch. We’re conservative in terms of channelling money into advertising – we wait until conversion of the website and tend to be less aggressive before starting a commercial campaign – in Spain it was 10 months before we started promoting the platform.
I think you have to decide what is your expectation in terms of diversification and what is the trade-off between pricing and volume expectation. We try to balance demand and supply on the platform and make sure we have the best offers on platform all the time.
Banks have a clear understanding of additional funding they might need and in which currency – and we’ve got much better in managing expectations and real flow.
While digital marketing and communications are important, a lot of new bank joiners are referrals from existing customers. In Poland we started with Alior – they made a referral and then made a recommendation. It was the same in Sweden – build a bit of local momentum, it’s a people business and for that you need to build local networks – people decide at the end.