Mr. Antonis Prentzas, Co-Founder and CEO of finloup and i-MBA alumnus (2020 graduate), replies to the questions posed by Ms. Ioanna Tranou, Career Development Manager, MBA International Program, providing useful insights as entrepreneur in the financial industry and sharing his views on the current trends and future developments in digital transformation and innovation.
How did you get your idea for your business “finloup”?
While I was working in Accenture for a Greek systemic bank, I saw first-hand the incoming of open banking and the opportunities it could bring into the financial market. By far, the most problematic, deeply toxic sector in the financial industry is credit. I had to do something about it; what started as a graduation project in the i-MBA, turned out to become a fast-growing startup.
What do you consider the most challenging aspect of your job as Co-Founder & CEO?
The biggest challenge is to hire, manage, and continuously inspire a powerful team to build an excellent product under a well-established vision. Moreover, you need to set up the processes under which the company can run smoothly and scale quickly, without losing its agile spirit.
What are the most valuable skills that you took from your education at MBA International and you feel are important to be successful in your current position?
Apart from the overall education in several aspects of entrepreneurship and finance – which was the perfect match with my prior studies in engineering, networking was the No.1 benefit I got from the iMBA. This included, among others, many talented professionals from various industries, seasoned academics, and inspiring guest lecturers.
About the Company- Sector
What is your approach to leading digital transformation?
We experience digital transformation everywhere: in government, entrepreneurial activity, in our everyday lives. At finloup, customer experience is the very center of any decision we make – the question we unceasingly pose to ourselves is “How can we make the life of our customer better?”. This question drives the digital transformation for us. Another important aspect, especially for a company with limited resources, is to understand the core needs of your organization and to set the right priorities so that you use technology wisely, bringing the maximum level of process optimization and automations.
Have you had some failure, and what have you learned from it?
One of the biggest optimistic hopes -which was disproved by the real market- was that we could partner with very large organizations in reasonable timeframes. This is not the case unfortunately; the barriers are prohibitive, and the intentions difficult to align – sometimes impossible. In the beginning, you need to move rapidly, partnering with allies who share the same entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to go fast.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
An extremely large corporation wanted to offer our buy now pay later solution. However, there was a catch: the instalment plans would be interest-bearing for the end consumer. Saying no to this was one of the toughest decisions I had to take up to now. This proved to be the right occasion for us to truly comprehend our vision, to share it with the whole team in a crystal-clear way, and to stay true to our commitment to interest-free credit.
What will be the most important industry development or innovation over the next year?
In the financial industry, the most important development will be the transformation of credit; as consumers challenge the established, toxic credit products such as credit cards, the product & service providers try to offer alternative payment options to their demanding customers. Following an explosion in fintech growth, we observe a correction in the global market of credit which will reject irresponsible lending practices and boost the sustainable business models. Finloup lies at the heart of this in the Greek market where we were the first to introduce the concept of interest-free credit with no fees whatsoever, enabled by our innovative consumer assessment technology based on cutting-edge technologies and new developments in the financial industry space such as Open Banking.