December 7, 2016

Moving to Berlin: my new challenges ahead in fintech

My new challenges in 2017

A lot has happened over the last 16 months. I have gone through a roller coaster-kind of professional experience where I have had the opportunity to experience the good, the bad and the ugly of what working at a young startup means. I will reflect about such an experience in future posts but one thing is clear to me: I have learnt a lot at multiple levels. And now I am confident that such experience - paired up with my existing background which, as unexpected as it may be, is going to prove pretty helpful shortly - will help me succeed in all all my forthcoming challenges.

There is doubt that 2017 will be bringing me new challenges, opportunities and, in short, a new life in Berlin, Germany. As of January 1, I will be joining Crosslend, an innovative debt capital platform, as Country Manager for Spain.

Crosslend: what is it about

Near-zero and even negative interest rates make it increasingly difficult for investors to get higher returns, while increasingly tighter legal requirements make it harder for financial institutions to lend and push money down to the real economy (ie. SMEs). 

By means of an innovative and disruptive cross-border, single-loan securitization structure, Crosslend is creating a marketplace where both investors and debt originators can better achieve some of their goals. On the one hand, the company wants to help investors obtain higher yields by investing in a sort of new asset class, so the former can better meet their mid and long term yield goals. On the other, there is the challenge of becoming an important player in building the European capital markets union that should helps bridge the existing funding shortage between financiers (banks and others) and underfunded borrowers, by given the former a new alternative to free up capital and keep on going with their lending activities.

Co-CEO Dagmar Bottenbruch summarizes some of the key point sin this short interview at the LendIt conference held in last October.

Getting into fintech

Fintech has always been a sub-sector I have been attracted to and that I have had interest in, mainly as a user/consumer of new tools (wealth management robo-advisors, personal finance tools, international wire transfers, etc.), and also as a follower of disruptive B2B trends (crowdfunding, crowdlending, FX, etc.).

Some friends and colleagues have pointed out in the past that it could be a good destination for me. I think I enjoy an above-average understanding of finance as a whole thanks to my education and work experience, plus now I am able to bring in a more compelling tech / startup background (yet from a different industry) to the table. I am very happy to see that both ends are meeting now and excited about this new opportunity.

Berlin: a great place to be

Anyone who follows the European startup scene knows that in recent years Berlin has become - alongside London (even more so post-Brexit) - the European startup hub. A wealth of entrepreneurs and investors, the availability of international talent, a cosmopolitan environment and a reasonable cost of life (in particular when compared to Paris and London) have given rise to a thriving startup ecosystem. 

Plus Berlin is also a key player in the powerful German (and European) fintech ecosystem - see picture below - which spans across multiple sub-sectors and products, in both B2B and B2C segments.

However, I would be lying if I said that the idea of moving to Berlin has not been a surprise to me. I was not counting on starting my life pretty much from scratch...again. New country, new language (even if you can supposedly live off English quite nicely in Berlin), new friends... it gets harder as one grows older, but still... 

After weighing in Crosslend's promising project (backed by reputed VCs such as Lakestar and Northzone) and inspiring vision, a role that offers me a challenging opportunity and everything that Berlin has to offer, I have made up my mind. It will be curious to jump on a plane on January 1 to kick off such a new time for me.

To an exciting and fruitful 2017!!

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