Fintech With a Mission
Having worked for 8 years in financial services (and specifically for large banks), Valeria Vahorovska, co-founder and CEO of Fondy, realised there was a gap in the market when it comes to supporting economically online businesses of all sizes.
“Cash flows are key for every business because without revenue it cannot make new sales,” says Valeria. “I saw that the companies I work with needed a global platform for cross-border payments through which to be able to control their funds. I was convinced that accepting payments from customers and making payouts to partners in the currencies of their choice can be easy and convenient.”
Initially, Valeria tried to show the problem to the experts from the bank she worked at. However, the big financial institutions were not ready for such a solution yet. This is how she understood that a change can only be achieved by a flexible structure that is not biased. And the only option was to part with her career as a banker and become part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She made this decision in 2014 and this is how the idea for Fondy was born.
Today, Fondy helps small and medium-sized businesses manage their finances easily and quickly in an online environment. The company is headquartered in London but its services are available worldwide. They are suitable for all types of online stores and allow payments by card, bank transfer, online banking or digital wallet.
“Fintech is a fast-growing segment. It was important for us to find the right problem that we want to solve, as well as to bring the technology on time.There are already many unicorn companies on the market and all of them would like to be the best and the first – this is why it is important to be fast. In order to do this, you need to have the best team and constantly keep the motivation high. I am glad that we have a great team,” says Valeria.
The startup she co-founded is in the biggest segment of the fast-growing fintech industry – digital payments. According to Statista forecasts, in 2021 online transactions globally reached 6.8 trillion dollars. However, the situation seven years ago, when Valeria had to build her team, was very different. Back then she attended conferences on similar topics to find like-minded people. What helped her is that the people she meets are also coming from the financial sector and, like her, have faced the same problem.
“Creating a product for entrepreneurs has many specifics. For starters, these people may have experience in the technology industry, but they certainly don’t have to be programmers to use our platform. Everything needs to be intuitive and the results to come in just a few clicks,” says Valeria, recalling the team’s first goal.
For this to happen, Fondy needs a very strong technical team. Almost in parallel with the opening of the headquarters in London, the startup opened an office in Oslo – attracted by the highly developed IT sector and the growing fintech industry in Norway. This turns out to be a promising strategy, because the first customers are coming soon. They are companies with which Valeria and her team discussed the problem years ago. Now they can offer them a solution.
The startup grew rapidly and over the next six years opened offices in Ireland, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. Valeria admits that she and her team are also exploring Bulgaria as a potential location. “There are good programmers and we notice that more and more people are turning to this profession. Still, the market remains small. Even if 70% of the population develops in the information technology sector, competition for human resources will remain high,” she says.
Visa Innovation Program
The participation of the English startup in the Visa Innovation Program helps the team to develop and acquire the knowledge and contacts with which to reach the next level in its development. As part of the program, Fondy and the other participants actively meet with potential partners and customers, participate in various seminars and further develop their products.
“When we joined the program, we already had the technology and customers who trusted us. We were definitely not in the initial stage of development and this may have been an advantage in our case,” says Valeria.
She had big ambitions for what the Visa Innovation Program will give them. Fondy’s goal is to use what they learned during the program and become an international company by entering six new markets in 2022.
Therefore, for the start-up, the meetings with the mentors of Eleven and Visa are extremely valuable, as well as the contacts with businesses from other countries participating in the program. Among them are representatives of potential locations for new Fondy offices and clients.
“What the Visa Innovation Program has given us is a very valuable experience. Not every day you can meet entrepreneurs who are already where you are headed and who are willing to help you succeed. We received a lot of support from Eleven and Visa, and made valuable contacts. ”
After participating in the program, Fondy’s team continues to work with even more ambition. The next big step for the startup is the launch of a new product on the market – Fondy Flow. With Fondy Flow merchants will be able to manage all of their funds in the currency of their choice, thus save time and money and do business like a local: accounts have their own IBAN, so they can use them like any local bank account, cutting on fees as well as taking control of the FX rates they pay.
In seven years, the Fondy team has not only fulfilled its mission to make private transactions easy and accessible, but has been upgrading its portfolio with more products to make it easier for companies. This approach strengthens Fondy’s position on the market, while making it a desirable partner for the banking sector, where the idea for the startup actually comes from.