© Boris Breuer
Tell us a bit about how you reacted to the corona situation with your business?
The Corona crisis is unprecedented and radically affects both our private lives and our business. The current situation has naturally had an impact on the way we as a company work with colleagues and with partners. Economically, the crisis has been and continues to be an extreme challenge globally.
The finleap management team reacted very quickly and took precautions to protect the health of our employees and to guarantee ongoing operations. We began early with implementing policies regarding international business travel and travel between our German offices in Berlin, Hamburg, and Frankfurt back in February. Our fintech hub, H:32, is home to many fintech companies that, combined, employ over 1,400 people, which is why we took this situation so seriously and acted as quickly as we did.
We are well prepared for the crisis and its effects. Along the way, of course, we have had to make difficult decisions, but the important thing is to ensure the highest possible degree of transparency for those involved. Close cooperation with our 10 portfolio companies has helped us to make joint decisions quickly despite the uncertainty. In dealing with the pandemic, we were also able to learn well from each other and exchange best practices, for example how to successfully conduct sales activities despite the home office.
It also showed how important it is to maintain an open dialogue with our investors and our business partners. High reliability in cooperation pays off here. It is great to see that, despite the crisis, solarisBank, for example, announces cooperation with Otto GmbH or ELEMENT, our digital white-label insurance platform, which recently announced a new cybersecurity policy for Vodafone Germany.
What was driving the decision to act this way?
In crisis situations such as the current one, strong leadership is required now more than ever. Our most important asset is and has always been our talent. The decisions we took were driven to ensure the health and safety of all of our employees. Next to that, it is equally important to keep the balance between making necessary decisions and ensuring the health of the business. We not only have a responsibility to our employees but to our partners and investors. We have to make sure that not only are salaries being paid, but that business continues and we take opportunities that arise from this.
How did the process of getting the decision differ from business as usual?
Due to the situation, all of these decisions were decided during virtual meetings or phone calls - something that was quite new for all of us.
As in every crisis, fast, clear reactions and a high degree of transparency towards employees and partners are crucial. So it was in no way “business as usual”.
What do you personally learn from this experience?
In crisis situations, you always see how well your team collaborates and manages critical situations. The past few months have shown me once again how resilient our team is and that there is a strong team spirit. Everyone is striving to ensure that we deliver the best products for our partners.
Before COVID-19, I was never a fan of working from home. As I’m sure the team can tell you, I’ve been possibly one of the biggest opponents of the home office in Berlin. However, through this crisis, I have discovered many of the benefits that come with working from home, especially when everyone is doing it. So far, everyone is working very efficiently and is extremely focused. Online meetings are productive and start on time, especially since no one has to travel anywhere, and I have been positively surprised at how quickly everyone has adapted to it. I will be interested to see if online meetings are here to stay, even after COVID-19 is long gone. My experience was that we were able to execute many projects much more quickly, which was great to see.
What is your message to business leaders that are struggling at the moment?
While we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with a lot of uncertainty on how things will turn out, I believe that many companies will come out of the crisis stronger. As hard as it may be, it’s essential to innovate, adapt, and push forward. Now is the time to focus on what has been and continues to be possible in Germany, and be ready to make decisions.
Economically, the crisis is also an extreme challenge for the fintech industry. This situation will make strong fintech even stronger. I believe that fintech will be overall less affected than start-ups in other industries. B2B and platform models in particular have a good chance of emerging from the crisis as winners in the medium and long term. It just takes creative and strategic minds to identify opportunities and act on them.
Whom should we interview next?
Stephan Stricker from PAIR Finance