LFP009 – 12yrs At The Fintech Coal Face with William Lorenz of Kwanji

Kwanji Business Card Back 3

There are relatively few Fintech Founders/Co-Founders, even less that have done it for over a decade and even less that have formed two consecutive Fintechs. I am delighted to welcome such a rare individual on the show today – WIlliam Lorenz.

In 2002 he co-founded Ixaris – a pre-paid VISA & MasterCard card provider which was well-ahead of its time – which he led through many funding rounds and substantial increases in business.

He is currently co-founder and COO of Kwanji, a Fintech of around twenty people, which aims to makes international business easier for SMEs – a worthy goal. Their first product is KwanjiFX, a foreign exchange price comparison site which puts SMEs on the same footing as large companies in terms of the exchange rates and payment functionality they can get.

In this episode we have a wide-ranging conversation around what William has learned the hard way, by being “at the coal face”.

Rather like LFP007 I am slightly reluctant to summarise this material in a blog as information as it’s far more valuable wisdom.  You may get the same calorific intake from swallowing a glass of wine in one gulp as slowly savouring it perhaps – but in a similar way if you call information a cheap wine, then wisdom, a rare commodity in the interweb world, deserves to be savoured on the way down for full effect.

We touch on the value of combining tech and business in a degree; what to do when you are in a BigCo that crashes; the need to get your personal circs sorted to enable you to take the 50% or 66% pay-cut to go from BigCo to Fintech; the co-founder pattern of an ideas man and an execution guy; offshore dev; the paradox that it was far more burdensome a decade ago to form a fintech (racks of servers et al) but not necessarily 10x cheaper (labour costs); the need for the founders to make the first few sales themselves; challenges with sales people; fund-raising being easier the second time around; the need to know yourself in order to know when it’s time to move on; and the pros and cons of (i) the Lean Startup model, (ii) of giving PC answers at interviews and (iii) of listening to your customers.

Anyway my suggestion is this is a wine to savour – I doubt there will be any Fintechers who don’t find something in this episode that they could be doing better right now, and contemplating the points as they are discussed will have more of an impact that skimming a bullet point list 😉

I think my favourite of William’s “fintech mistakes” which I see all too often are “not hiring enough BizDev folks early enough” and “not focusing enough on people”.  I guess one could call the kind of companies exhibiting those traits – TechFins – too tech focused?