LHOFT recently spoke to Mambu CEO Eugene Danilkis about the company’s journey from startup to influencer and sought advice for other innovators. Here are some insights from the interview:
What is your current position, and what has your journey there involved?
I studied Computer Science, and started my career working as a software engineer on control software for the international space station, but I wanted to combine my interests in technology with those of business, design and social behaviour. I was drawn to a degree in Human Computer Interactions which is a multidisciplinary qualification at the intersection of those fields.
Unknowingly at the time, this put me on the path toward fintech and Mambu. I met my Mambu co-founders while working on a degree-related project — investigating how modern technology can help financial services access hard to reach markets. Through our work we found a gap in the market; legacy approaches to building banking technology was too expensive, slow and cumbersome to help financial institutions service the individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises who were poorly served by the existing backing infrastructure.
At the same time, cloud technology was disrupting industries, with internet and smartphone penetration becoming the norm, even in remote regions. Our idea was to bring lending and banking technology into the 21st century via the cloud, making it accessible to projects of any size and flexible enough for any market opportunity.
What were the major challenges you encountered entering the market?
Our initial concern was how quickly cloud technology would be adopted as banks and financial services are traditionally reluctant to adopt new technology. But the speed, agility and low operating cost of cloud are undeniable, the industry saw the strengths and there was a strong push to accept it with more regulators not only approving but encouraging its use.
Next was convincing institutions to take a risk on being one of the first to implement Mambu, which was at the time a new and untested product which would own and control their mission critical data like customer details, transactions and financial data.
As every institution is at a different stage on the technology adoption curve, we worked on providing the right value for them at the right time, from speed to market to speed of change, in order to overcome the perceived risks of both cloud and new technology. Once the value perception of initially cost, and then speed to market and speed to change was higher than the perceived risk of being an early adopter, we were able to again customers and traction, and build on top of that.
If you could give one piece of advice to the aspiring fintech folk reading this interview, what would it be?
While fintech is fast moving, the market, especially in B2B, may not be so quick to adopt. So if you are getting into the business, know that you are signing up for a marathon, not a sprint. It is relatively easy to build a new basic product but financial services is a complex environment. You have to work on building credibility through working closely with initial customers, showing the market the value you can bring through successful projects. This is generally a risk averse environment that needs assurances and references but it does contain innovators who can become your close partners in the early days, and be key references for you as you move through the technology adoption curve.
Building a fintech company, like most new businesses, is a journey of endurance and resilience. Build on what works, understand the value clients are looking for and differentiate based on this. You have to continue to invest in this perspective to find those earlier adopters who let you build customer success stories you can bring to your next opportunity. Take it one step at a time while sticking to your vision and values.