Real Voices of Scale-up Interview — Pleo, Jeppe Rindom
The Real Voices of Scale-up series with Pleo founders and CEO, Jeppe RindomMembers & News
Interview — Pleo, Jeppe Rindom
Founded in 2015 by Jeppe Rindom and Niccolo Perra, Pleo has been simplifying payment processes for businesses across Europe.
Pleo offers smart payment cards for employees enabling them to buy the things they need for work, all while keeping the companies in control of spending.
pleo.io revolutionises business spending by reducing administrative complexity, eliminating expense reports and simplifying bookkeeping.
We sat down with CEO and cofounder, Jeppe Rindom to dicuss the FinTech industry, how to attract talent, Pleo 2.0 and more.
Why do you feel fintech solutions are gaining so much interest and investment compared to other tech sectors?
That’s a very good question. So basically, I think the bank industry has been quite behind for quite a while. It’s an industry that has been always local, or quite local, and offering a very wide range of services to the consumers. I think tech in the recent years has allowed to change that. The technology companies can now come into the finance scene and offer something that is born international and focus quite narrowly to take a little experience like paying something internationally and invest very heavily into that because you can afterwards distribute it internationally. It’s basically taking the industry upside down. I think that’s a massive opportunity for the innovators.
To what degree do you believe scale-ups will disrupt the financial industry (which has historically been dominated by larger companies)?
I think many people predict that this will happen to a very wide extent and very fast. I think I have more of a balanced view on that. I think it will happen, I think it will take longer than we think, it will happen within certain areas of financial services and banking. So basically the areas where innovation has been behind and it’s easy to bring much better user experiences, whereas the legislation and the more complex parts are fairly easy to solve. For example, a savings account or wiring money internationally, or those little moments in a banking experience. But then there is other stuff which is much more complex, like how do you offer sophisticated derivatives to corporates or make very detailed credit assessments of big companies, stuff like that. I think that part will be an opportunity for the banks to keep and for the rest they need to realise that they will be under attack and either they collaborate or they should be prepared to lose it.
Many companies in the tech sector are finding it hard to find and retain talent. Is this something you’ve experienced?
Absolutely, it’s probably the single biggest challenge we have. you get extremely good feedback from your customers and you grow a lot, obviously, you want much more on that side as well but it becomes a people business because things work but you want to go faster. A people business is about growing individuals, finding the right people and finding them fast enough, so that is a huge problem for us. We’re currently growing the team between 5 and 10 every month, around 60–70% of that in Copenhagen, otherwise in London and other places but we’re extremely picky with the kind of people that we bring on board. It’s a religion for us that is driven by people who want to create something and not like traditional job-seeking people but people who want to go on an adventure with us and there are not that many of them. It’s difficult for us in Copenhagen to bring people to Copenhagen from abroad, we have extremely high taxation, we also have a great country so we try to balance out what we can offer on the experience side versus high taxation and high cost of living.
If so, what are some of the steps you take to avoid this problem?
Yeah, I think we invest a lot into PR in Denmark, and Denmark is not a big market for us, it’s not so much from a customer perspective, we do it from a recruiting perspective. You want to be one of the more interesting companies in the Nordics to work with if you want to be in tech or startups. We try to have a lot of awareness about what we’re doing, about the kind of team we are, the kind of values we have and spread that into the talent scene in the Copenhagen area and that works really well. Secondly, we’ve stopped working with external recruiters. We’ve built our own recruiting vehicle internally. It’s soon a team 4 that does nothing but scouring and sourcing candidates, qualifying them. They’re present at universities and just getting the word out. That may seem like a lot, 4 people out of 80, but really if you hire between 5 and 10 every month it’s quite a good investment.
Beyond international expansion, what objectives will your recent series A investment round help you to achieve?
Simply put, it’s about expansion and it’s about the product. We currently have a product that is very related to card payments and all the financial processes around that. We see this as the starting point into a slightly bigger space which is about spending money in businesses. That opens an opportunity for a lot more stuff like bank originated payments or caring for how to reclaim VAT or figuring which vendors to trade with and so forth. But we’re very focused on the purchasing, the spending part, but trying to upgrade that to an experience that you would expect in 2019.
Pleo recently announced a key objective for 2019 will be to create ‘something that you didn’t even see coming, but suddenly can’t live without.’ Can you tell us more about the project ‘Pleo 2.0’?
I can tell you a little bit. Pleo means ‘more than you would expect’ in Latin or Greek, so if I share too much it wouldn’t be more than you would expect. But it goes a little bit along the lines of where we want to take the product. There’s certain stuff we’re going to launch within our core, within the experience you have today which is much better, it could be around little things like how do you cater for the receipts, how can we make that more magic so that you have to do basically nothing or very little. Today you need to swipe a push notification and take a photo, but how can we make that moment even more magic? Or it could be areas that are outside of the experience you have today, so that could be along the lines of having us reclaim your VAT, related stuff that fits very nicely to the core.