5 lessons learned from the unpredictable journey of a fintech CEO
The life and journey of a startup can be one of the more unpredictable things in life. Pivoting your business, having annoying conversations with investors and putting the right team together is just some of the headaches, you must deal with. Ken Villum Klausen, CEO of the Danish fintech startup Lunar Way, has been through it all and has learned some interesting things on his journey.
As a startup it is essential that you can tell your potential investors what it is you do — in one or two sentences. Lunar Way nailed it when they pitched for us. They said: ”71% of Millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to their bank — we are mobile banking for millennials”. You want to leave the listener with a “no brainer” sensation.” Lunar way did just that.
Lunar Way was founded in 2015 by Ken Villum Klausen and is headquartered in Aarhus. By creating a service, you only need a phone to use, they have changed the way people are in contact with their bank. They don’t believe in branches and sales people. Lunar Way is an experience that is simple and completely mobile.
Along the way Lunar Way realized that Millennials is too small a target group, but their mission has not changed. They still wish to build a new kind of banking experience revolving around technology, experience and design.
Ken is an entrepreneur with an incredible drive. He previously founded Wallmob and was in 2017 named one of the 100 brightest talents in Denmark by Berlingske Business. He has been on quite a journey so far with Lunar Way. Here are his five most important learnings as an entrepreneur.
1. Spend time and money on finding the right people
The role of the CEO in a startup is undisputed — they are extremely important. But the team around the CEO is equally decisive for the company’s future. When you’re starting your new company, you should already consider the profiles you’re looking for in a team. Instead of choosing a team consisting of people you know, you should choose a team of people you know are the right ones for the job. You must spend time and money on recruiting the right people — it will pay off in the end. Finding the right people also means letting go of the wrong people, which is one of the more difficult things as a CEO. You might have a co-founder as you’re CMO, but if that CMO isn’t the right one for your company, then you have to let him or her go. It hurts, but it’s necessary.
2. Believe in your product
When you’re growing as a business and people start to notice you, you have to remember why you’re doing, what you’re doing. If you’re talking to a venture capital fund, who’s looking to make an investment, but they want you to make a change in your business, think twice. A second perspective on things is always nice, but make sure to sort the good ideas from the bad ones. Venture capital funds can be a bit crazy sometimes, so be careful not to consider too many of their opinions. Believe in yourself and your own idea, and if the idea from the investors really does make sense, then consider it. If not, tell them that.
3. Avoid category kings — define your own category
Banking is a space, where there are already a lot of very big players on the market in all categories. Not only in Denmark but in the world. A key factor in Lunar Way’s success is, that we’ve defined our own category in the Danish banking market. We are not a traditional bank. And that is a choice, because we knew, that nobody else was in that space in Denmark. So, if you’re starting a business in a field, where there are major players in every category, make sure to be aware of the category your placing yourself in and try, if you can, to distinguish yourself by creating your own category.
4. Everybody wants to help
There is a lot of people in the startup world with a lot of knowledge, and the greatest thing about them is that they all want to help you and talk to you. One of the biggest gifts in my startup-career has been a conversation with the founder and CEO of Trustpilot, Peter Mühlmann. It was very rewarding listening to a man who had been through everything you could imagine as a CEO of a company. After that I felt ready to tackle the future Lunar Way was facing. I now do the same with a lot of up and coming entrepreneurs, because I know how valuable it can be.
5. Be patient — everything takes time
Looking for investments as a startup is a key thing to be able to survive. But the whole process of looking for funding as a startup can be extremely tiring and exhausting. Building relations as a founder is key to getting that crucial investment, and it takes time to build relationships with VC’s. But do it, talk to them and be consistent. Because someday, after a 100 “no thank you”, you will get that meeting because the investors already know you and your product. But it takes time, energy and the right idea of course.