“It’s healthy that some companies go out of business”

Fintech pioneer Taavet Hinrikus about Corona, how he has built a $5 billion Fintech unicorn & what rules have guided him since

Corona might have some positive effects for startups after all.

That's at least according to Taavet Hinrikus, the Chairman and co-founder of London headquartered borderless money company TransferWise. In his view, many companies were overfunded before the crisis hit:

There has been a lot of funding available for startups (...) But that inevitably means that there are companies that raise money that may be in different times wouldn't have raised and I think that's actually very healthy for some companies to go out of business. And then, you know, talent becomes available. People start new companies. It's a natural cycle.

Taavet surely knows what he's talking about, as an investor, business angel and tech pioneer himself. In 2003, Taveet was the first employee at Voice-over-IP platform Skype, before he decided launching TransferWise in 2011 to provide cheap cross-border transfers. Today, TransferWise is one of the top 3 European Fintechs. Just days ago the company’s valuation jumped by more than 40 percent after a secondary share sale to reach a valuation of 5 billion dollars.

In conversation with Bits & Pretzels' Editor-in-Chief Britta Weddeling Taavet explains why he left Skype to become a founder himself and what rules have guided him since – while building TransferWise from a niche into a global platform – now serving 8 million customers, processing around 4 billion in cross-border payments each month across 54 currencies. 

Taavet also shares insights about how to introduce a completely new and unknown product into the market as he did when launching TransferWise and why you can build a global player from everywhere in the world right now not just in Silicon Valley and other tech hotspots anymore and why this is becoming even more true now with the pandemic.

03:05: How to increase your valuation by 43% in the middle of a crisis
07:30: What benefits startups can find within the current situation
10:02: Taavet’s look at the future of the fintech market
14:03: „Do something that customers want and hire smart people“
17:40: Beer Garden Break: Why he quitted Skype to start his own company
24:00: Why you can start a mega company everywhere, not just in Silicon Valley
31:30: How to find a market for a completely new product  
35:03: Either-or-game: „You need leaders to have followers“

Production: Regina Körner, Migo Fecke (professional-podcasts.com); Hubert Honold & Sophie Dechansreiter.