Lav Odorovic is the co-founder and CEO of Penta. Odorovic is a serial entrepreneur, having set up and exited his first startup by the tender age of 21. After working several corporate jobs, he, together with several entrepreneurial friends, launched Penta, a Berlin-based neobank, offering banking services to early-stage technology companies.
As the last part of our SME Finance Forum interview series, we wanted to talk not only to banks to understand their views on innovation, but with Fintechs as well. As Europe enters into a world of open APIs, many startups are looking to seize the opportunity. Penta neobank is one of them, offering a new type of business banking services. We wanted to understand their journey, vision and future business goals.
1. How did you start the project and why?
Our founding team at Penta wanted to build a dream bank for entrepreneurs; a bank that we had always wanted to have. We all hated our banks: they were difficult to use, unhelpful and definitely not user-friendly. After doing some research we reached our Eureka moment. There are over 2.5 million high-tech entrepreneurs across Europe, suffering from the same outdated banking processes. This became our key goal - building a business bank account that meets the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses.
2. Why did you choose this target market specifically?
Our gut feeling told us to build a business bank account for tech startups because we knew the pains that these businesses had—as we’ve had tech startups of our own. But we wanted to test our hypotheses to be sure, so we sat down with 100 businesses face-to-face for 45 minutes, to find out what bothers them, what the key banking and business features they needed are (even beyond the bank account) and how Penta could help.
The results taught us a lot. First of all, opening a bank account is not simple. In Germany it takes anything from a few days to 4 weeks, whilst in the UK it can take an average of six weeks. Also, companies struggle with opening a multiple currency account, which makes doing business abroad difficult. Lastly, businesses need an accounting service that they can use with their bank account. So these were some of the needs that we wanted to address initially.
3. What do you offer to digital businesses?
PSD2 has allowed non-bankers like us to offer innovative financial products without having a banking licence. Via our partner bank solarisBank, we provide our business customers with a deposit account, debit cards, transaction categorization, budgeting, accounting integration and many more services.
Because of this open banking approach, we’re able to pick the best Fintech products for our customers. It’s a win-win situation for both parties: Fintechs can reach new markets and customers, while small businesses can spend less time banking and more time focusing on their business, because they have the tools they need in one place: their Penta account.
4. What’s the role of user experience at Penta?
User experience is very important to us. We strongly believe that this is how we can add value to our users and build trust. We want to be the easiest bank account for businesses to use in Europe. In the coming years, we want to serve millions of businesses all across Europe, and the only way we can do that is to be focused on providing our customers with a fantastic user-experience.
5. Speaking of trust, how do you build trust with your users?
By carefully selecting the Fintech and business app partners we work with, we make it easier for businesses to choose the products they need to scale, faster, and to save more time and money while banking. They do not need to think, or search for solutions when the best banking and business products are integrated directly in their Penta account. In addition to that, our overall mission is to help make the lives of entrepreneurs easier. That’s why we’re always looking to help educate entrepreneurs and business owners through our the blog posts we write and the events we host.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vaida Pakulyte is a digital marketing manager at Strands. As an outcome focused online marketer, Vaida is interested in online banking, user experience, technology and specializes in creating content that sticks.