Jørgen Christian Juul is the CEO, Cardlay - a Danish fintech that is leading disruption in the corporate payments space. We caught up with him to find out his views on startups, market challenges, and how to survive economic downturns.
Describe your journey into fintech. How did you get here? Is there a story there?
Within the first year of finishing my education in 1996, after studying economics and marketing; and working with the “Internet of Things”, I started to work with a successful multiplayer platform which launched in 1998. I then turned my focus to E-commerce.
Developing the payment aspect of E-commerce was tremendously important for the optimisation, processes, and security of my business. As owner of an online business that specialised in wine, I was the third retailer in Denmark that offered my clients a card payment option. I went on to work with many other E-commerce companies in the early noughties including Gubi, Toycity, Bestseller, Ecco, and others.
With this experience, I edged closer to the payments industry and launched my own project, Wallmob, with a partner. Wallmob was an omnichannel point of sales (POS) that accepted different payments depending on the channel. I sold Wallmob in 2014 but stayed on as CEO until 2016 when I founded Cardlay.
Which fintech sectors are seeing the most movement in terms of startups, and why?
I see more movement in consumer fintech than B2B fintech at the moment. Companies such as Klarna have rocketed in popularity thanks to an innovative product and successful consumer-focused marketing campaign. We find that B2B fintech is a slower industry to move in, often getting slowed down further by long sales cycles.
Investment is tough. How can fintechs attract investors in this difficult climate?
The only way to attract investors is by building convincing routes toward profitability. This means you have to have an air-tight business plan and a thorough understanding of what investors are looking for. There will always be investors out there who are looking for a new company to get behind, even during times of economic uncertainty.
What leadership traits are essential for building a scaling fintech?
Making sure you attract the right leadership can be fundamental to the success of a business. Securing leaders with talent and the ability to grow in their position is key in an incredibly new and upcoming industry; leaders need to be adaptable to keep up with the fintech industry as it gains further popularity. Surrounding yourself with other talents that go beyond your own capabilities can provide different perspectives and allow your business to expand in different ways. A key initial stage for startups is to build their team from the ground up.
What does the future of fintech look like to you?
We think that we can use our already developed platforms in multiple verticals and ultimately start to invest relatively less in development, compared to sales take-up. For the fintech industry, in particular, there are currently multiple innovations that have potential. Blockchain in particular is continuing to increase the efficiency and speed of financial services and has the potential to disrupt archaic financial services still currently in place.
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