Berlin, Germany-based FinLeap is a company builder specialized in the financial services industry. Considered their thematic approach and particular way to operate, we decided to interview Managing Director Ramin Niroumand, who answered our questions about the firm and activities (programs and portfolio) and shared with us some thoughts about the financial industry, how to fix it, the fintech and insurtech arenas and their perspectives.
FinSMEs: Ramin, nice to meet you…can you tell us a bit more about you? what’s your background?
Ramin: I am Co-Founder, Managing Director and Partner at FinLeap. I have been the first team member and I am now in charge of strategic management and business model development. Before FinLeap I have worked in consulting for more than 20 international banks. As Innovation Manager at DKB Deutsche Kreditbank AG I led their electronic and mobile payment innovation projects alongside PayPal, Sofortüberweisung and Cringle.
FinSMEs: Is the financial industry completely broken?
Ramin: Currently we see a deep structural change in the financial industry. It is triggered by digitization. Customers want easy and mobile financial services – Paypal or Savedo are good examples for this trend. New players like Apple and Alibaba enter the market. Laws are reconsidered or even overruled – as in the insurance sector in Germany. Does it mean, the finance industry is broken? I see it more like adding spice to a blend meal. Fintechs add new value, revive an industry that has been settled for a long time. I am convinced the new mix of players will create new chances for new players but also for banks through cooperation with innovative and dynamic new actors such as Finleap.
FinSMEs: What does Finleap do? How does it work?
Ramin: FinLeap is a company builder specialized in the financial services industry. We are based in Berlin. Our objective is to support startups in establishing sustainable, customer-centric and technology-driven businesses. FinLeap provides entrepreneurs with 0.5 to 5 million euros in seed funding and access to a strong network of investors. So founder benefit from access to top talent, an integrated development platform, best practice processes and extensive expertise in the financial services sector. In the last year Fintech ventures like Savedo, Valendo, BillFront and Clark were launched with the help of FinLeap.
FinSMEs: What’s Finleap’s Talent Network?
Ramin: As a company builder we need fresh talent constantly. It is important to find the right cofounders who want to grow great Fintech companies with us. That’s one reason why we decided to start FinLeap in Berlin. The eco-system in Berlin is unique. Highly educated tech-experts, experienced founders, an international community of tech-savvy people and various venture capital firms define the city. At the same time, Berlin is attractive for financial experts due to its high-quality life standards. People want to live in Berlin – and work here. However, selecting the right people out of the more than 1,000 applications we receive every month is definitely a challenge. Fortunately, we have an experienced recruiting team that take lots of time to talk to interested cofounders and employees.
FinSMEs: Can you introduce the startups in the portfolio?
Ramin: In less than a year we have launched six ventures already.
The first FinLeap venture was Savedo, an European online marketplace for retail investment products. The platform offers investors the opportunity to deposit their savings safely, and at attractive interest rates, across the European Union.
BillFront was launched in February 2015 and is an online platform that offers a working capital solution to app developers, app publishers and ad networks.
In March Valendo, an online provider for fast and reliable high-value asset-based lending, joined the FinLeap family.
With financeAds International GmbH we also have an international affiliate network with a focus on the financial sector in the portfolio.
In June 2015 Clark was founded as an insurance platform demanding transparent, cheap and comprehensive insurance coverage.
Another startup is FinReach which develops digital solutions for financial services, unifying industry knowledge with technical know-how and product-centric thinking. They offer technical solutions to deliver a stronger origination process for banks, and have developed the first automated current account switch kit. The products are offered on performance-based terms as white-label solutions to clients from the financial service industry.
Currently we are working on three other companies.
FinSMEs: Which fintech trend do you follow with particular interest?
Ramin: The distribution power of the internet made it possible that many different financial services can be provided by many different, small digital companies – unbundling financial services. This has been a trend for a while. Rebundling of unbundled services is definitely a trend that I am most interested in.
FinSMEs: Do you personally believe in the power of Bitcoin and the underlying technology?
Ramin: I personally do not believe in Bitcoin, but I believe in the power of the underlying technology.
FinSMEs: Where do you see the banking and insurance industries in the next ten years?
Ramin: 100% digital and mobile.