Matiss Ansviesulis shares his journey: from a broke student in London to a fintech company with €18 million capital in 6 countries.
Consumer finance services provider Creamfinance was founded in 2012 in Latvia and has achieved an instant growth since. The company created by Latvians Matiss Ansviesulis and Davis Barons achieved success by focusing on quick-to-access consumer finance.
“I've been in a client’s position: when I needed borrow money I had to deal with long and cumbersome application process. I knew we could do much better, and decided to make the process faster, easier and more convenient - to make stable decisions that would bring benefit for both customers and the companies,” says CEO of the company Matiss Ansviesulis.
Matiss, what is Creamfinance?
Creamfinance is a consumer finance company that focuses on smart data. We make money available and we do that by providing consumer loans online in a convenient and speedy manner. We want to enable borrowing money online with one simple click globally. To minimize consumer effort and maximize risk management, Creamfinance uses the most advanced and representative scoring techniques. We analyze online data and credit intel from traditional sources.
In other words, we focus on smart data instead of big data, and this is the most accurate way to measure credit readiness, which also translates into faster product delivery.
Not every broke student goes on to create a startup. What made you opt for this risky route?
Back then I was studying in Lancaster University's Management School and after having lived in London for a while I was broke. I did not have much time to obsess about what may go wrong. I had to paddle through and find a solution that would work. I shared my frustration about personal finance services with my friend Davis. As we both have a tendency for coming up with solutions instead of whining, a few late-night discussions led to what then became the basis for CreamFinance. We decided to build a personal finance provider that would focus on transparency, speed and inclusion all at the same time. We soon discovered it was actually possible.
In has been almost 3 years now for me as an entrepreneur, and I keep sharing practical insights about business and scaling on my video blog (ansviesulis.com).
Maybe you can share a few of those practical insights?
First and foremost, companies are created by people. Committed founders and employees are the foundation of your success or failure. It sounds simple, and I am pretty sure most of you have already heard this. Still, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to internalize this. In our company, each employee works according to his or her strengths in technology, risk management, data analysis, finance, sales, marketing and operations. We hire people who strive for continuous development in their personal areas of expertise. Then we give them all the tools they need to thrive.
Here is one more, less conventional insight: nobody starts with a global vision from day one. It’s a misconception that entrepreneurs start thinking big… Of course, we dreamed of becoming big and we developed as we went along. However, your starting vision must be no bigger than your first customer: go to him, talk to him and do not think you know better. "Changing the world" does not happen when you want it. It happens when your customers want whatever you are trying to do. However big and however global, companies are still scaling one person at a time.
This is not to say that ambition is not important. As I developed as an entrepreneur, my vision also grew bigger and the bar I set for my goals increased. However, ambition is just a catalyst to finding and solving a real problem for real customers. I’ve always had massive ambition. Our lust for improvements and changes added to the growth immensly. But adding to growth is not the same as generating it. What generates growth is being present and relevant whenever your customers have a problem: neither me nor CreamFinance stop learning and constantly improving our knowledge, technology and credit analysis techniques, staying on top of industry best practices. This lets us provide better, more appropriate and risk-adjusted finance every day.
There is a lot of discussion on Big Data and Smart Data taking place these days. What is your take on this?
A number of evolving companies are currently talking about big data and algorithmic credit scoring model. Essentially, they believe that the more data you use, the better your evaluation. But the main question is - how much data is necessary or even appropriate to improve your decision quality?
Nowadays there is a big tendency to leverage unstructured data gathered in a more or less proper way about the customer via social media and other sources in order to increase the number of variables in the algorithms for the credit decision. But do these data points add value?
Based on our experience, no. We have identified that only a few data points make real difference. Then what's the point of cluttering your application forms with the rest? We believe in Smart Data: an approach that aims to get the best data rather than the most data. It is proven that models with lower number of variables result in higher stability. Additionally, decreasing the burden of providing all this data for customers at registration yields a much higher conversion rate.
In our industry consumers tend to disclose as little data as possible and therefore a registration form that is not demanding extensive information is one of the key success factors. We focus on Smart Data because it is an accurate and consistent way of measuring whether it’s appropriate to lend. It also maintains high customer satisfaction with only truly necessary disclosure.
What are your next milestones for Creamfinance?
After having raised money from Flint Capital, investing across the US, Israel and Europe, we are planning to increase our product portfolio and facilitate expansion into new markets. Currently we are exploring Caucasus and South America.
What is your experience with Riga as a location for start a global company?
Latvia is a great low-cost environment to do startups and test business hypotheses. It is an easy way to quickly check whether your startup idea is commercially viable before taking more risk in bigger markets. However, since the country is very small, being based in Latvia also forces you to think globally from day one. It is literally impossible to become too comfortable in your home market here: you are pushed to be international and flexible. On top off that, it is relatively easy to attract great talent, which is the foundation of any startup. Even after strategically relocating our headquarters to Poland, our founders and the team will stay here. We are glad to be based in Riga and are happy to see more startups springing up from the ecosystem.
More about Creamfinance: https://www.creamfinance.com