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Penta Fintech Meetup: How to Lead Your Startup to Success

Alina October 2020 6 min

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Our monthly Penta Fintech Meetup took place for the first time in a mixed format – personally and virtually. And we had another premiere: All of our speakers were Founder CEOs. So, we wanted to know from these experts how you can lead a startup to success.

Penta’s Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer, Jessica Holzbach, invited great guests on October 8th who can best answer the main question of this Meetup:

  • Benjamis Jones – CEO & Co-Founder of Bitwala
    He is a self-taught programer with over 5 years of experience in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. A London School of Economics graduate, Ben previously taught programming in Ghana, founded a web agency for early-stage startups, and was an economist in the UK civil service.
  • Krishan Menon – CEO and Co-Founder of BukuKas
    Krishnan has been working with Indonesia’s small-scale merchants since 2013. Before establishing BukuKas, he oversaw merchandise acquisition and sales for Lazada in Indonesia, which connected him with many of the country’s retailers.
  • Nelson Holzner – CEO and Co-Founder of MODIFI
    MODIFI is a company solving global trade finance for small and medium-sized businesses. Prior to founding MODIFI, Nelson was CEO of AEVI, a German-based fintech company providing an open B2B marketplace for business apps, smart POS devices and payment solutions to banks and acquires around the globe.
  • Nathan Evans – CEO & Founder of fulfin
    Nathan has over 10 years of experience in fintech. Previously he had a successful career in investment banking, working in London, Munich and Zurich. He is also an ecommerce expert in his own right, having a broad knowledge of the market and how it works.
  • Tamaz Georgadze – CEO & Founder of Raisin
    Prior to building and scaling Europe’s leading marketplace for deposit-insured savings products and investments, Tamaz spent ten years with McKinsey & Co., the last three as a principal leading McKinsey’s savings and investment products service line for EMEA countries, serving some of the largest retail, universal and wholesale banks in Europe and Asia.

We recorded the entire Meetup for you in case you were not able to attend live. If you don’t have the time to watch the entire Penta Fintech Meetup, you can also take a look on our five key learnings below.

1. How to Manage the Mixed Role of a Founder CEO

Right from the start of the meeting, there was disagreement within the panel whether the founder of a company should necessarily take over the role of CEO or whether it makes sense to look for a CEO externally. The experienced CEOs mention a certain fear of looking for a new CEO who, in case of doubt, is not as committed as the founders themselves. What everyone involved agreed on is that it makes sense to hand over the role to someone at some point when you realize that there is someone who is able who could perform the role of CEO much better. This is often the case when the company reaches a certain size. The company is changing and you as founder are also changing. It’s important to always consider what is the best decision and solution for the company. Running a company successfully is in some cases not the best task for an entrepreneur but for a successful manager.

2. Solve Real Problems and Differentiate Your Company from Others

The speakers advise all young entrepreneurs and founders of startups to do their homework beforehand – maybe not in the first step but in the second. The CEOs have often noticed that many entrepreneurs bring only a few tiny features to market without considering a larger business model. But your future investors will ask you about this as well as the question of how big the market for your idea is. Frequently, problems to be solved can be found by asking your friends and acquaintances as test persons. So, ask for the opinions of the people which surround you. This can already give you many insights for your company. It can also help you to differentiate your company from other companies. Make sure that you take the opportunity to really differentiate your company from your competitors and create unique solutions.

Want a book recommendation?

Our Founder CEOs would recommend the book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz! Have fun exploring!

3. Find the Right People Who Can Do Better than You

It’s all about the people! All speakers agreed on the fact that after a successful start of your company and your business idea depends mainly on the people you bring into your company. Already the founders should lay the foundation for two valuable things: The culture and the story behind the company. These two things will help you to attract exactly the people you need for your successful startup. As a founder, you will probably have to take on many tasks yourself during the starting phase of the company. In the next step, it is important to find the people who can solve these tasks much better than you can do yourself. You should focus on forming a really good team. In the next step leadership means keeping the team together.

4. Manage Your Mental and Physical Health

The image of the founder working nights is not far-fetched. Probably you will work many days and nights as a founder will tackle many various tasks to lay the foundation for your company’s success. Nevertheless, the successful CEOs emphasize that you should look for a balance. You should also take responsibility for your own mental and physical health. In the first step it is important for your personal performance and for the success of your company. In the next step, this will also become relevant for your team as it grows. Your responsibility for mental health will be transferred to your team. You should lead by example. In addition, when you put yourself in completely different situations and deal with different things, it will help your problem-solving skills and the development of new ideas. Also the close exchange with completely exposed people can help you to be and stay successful.

5. Develop not Only Your Company but also Yourself and Your Entire Team

It’s interesting that the speakers and thus the Founder CEOs have in every case found the first employee for their startup in their own circle of acquaintances. When it comes to growing with the team, the experts would advise you to be authentic and supportive. If some time passes by it’s important that you develop yourself further, but it is also important that you develop your team. Your team members should not necessarily follow you but rather accompany you on the journey. For all speakers it was especially satisfying to see the development of the people in the team and to support their personal growth.

Would you like to participate in our next Penta Fintech Meetup and get many exciting insights? Follow us on our social media channels – here we will keep you up to date with all the news!

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