At FinTech Alliance, we believe mentoring is vital to career development and builds relationships that are mutually beneficial to both parties. We want to encourage networking and knowledge sharing in the FinTech ecosystem, as well as helping develop the talent of the future.
That’s why we introduced our Mentoring Hub to connect mentors and mentees in the FinTech space who might otherwise never have met. We were looking forward to launching the platform and encouraging everyone to meet up and network – but then the world changed.
So, while we can’t sit together over a coffee, we decided to launch Virtual Mentoring – a way for you to gain the advice you need or share your own experiences without having to leave your home. We’ll be sharing advice from mentors over the coming weeks and we’re open for you to send us any questions or problems you’d like answered.
In the meantime, be sure to sign up as a mentor or mentee (or both!) on the platform. We can’t wait to launch!
This week’s mentor is Katrin Herrling, Founder and CEO of business loan marketplace Funding Xchange. Funding Xchange was founded in 2014 with the mission to support SMEs in finding the right finance for them. Since then, it has grown to a platform of more than 50 lenders. We spoke to Herrling about the company’s journey so far and what she has learned as a FinTech founder.
How did you build the right culture in your startup?
“As a startup, you go through different phases so you need different cultures.
In the beginning, you need risk takers – those who are too rigorous and concerned about the details will miss opportunities.
As we moved forward we needed to be more corporate – following risk and reporting processes as we worked with large partners and venture capitalists.
Changing culture is really important: what made you successful in the first phase won’t necessarily make you successful in the second.”
What advice would you give FinTech founders?
“There are different ways to start a company but what worked for us was focusing on solving a real problem.
At every step in the process, we validated that a} the problem was understood correctly and b) people valued that we were solving the problem.
What doesn’t work for me is sitting in a room writing a business plan where you’re theoretically solving a problem. You need to start with identifying your customer and understanding the problem – then asking if customers will give you value in return for solving that problem.”
What advice do you have for gaining investment?
“Too many founders think they can jump through all the hoops and go from a minimum viable product to £10mn Series A funding, for example in weeks or months.
In exceptional cases this can happen, but I would say be prepared and understand what proof cases you need to get to each next step on the ladder – don’t underestimate what your investors will require to be willing to part with their money.
Money is not easy to get!”