Hufsy – disrupting business banking with “a Danish design and a German engine”

An interview by 53°N with Kristoffer Borg Petersen, brand-new CEO of Copenhagen-based Hufsy – a story about a young start-up that tries to disrupt business banking for Small and Mid-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

With a background in digital media business, Kristoffer is the perfect candidate to scale-up Hufsy, a B2B FinTech company that was founded in 2015. Two months ago, he started as CEO at the company, with two employees and a well thought through product in beta phase. We meet Kristoffer in his office, situated in the co-working spaces of Copenhagen Fintech Lab, and ask him if he knows anything about the world of finance. “Nothing really,” Kristoffer laughs, “but I know about digital business development, I know about people management, and I do understand tech. So, it is not hard to get my head around it.”

Saving SMEs time on admin tasks

Where companies like Revolut and N26 are the biggest fear for the status quo retail banks, Hufsy is probably scaring off corporate banks like Chase and HSBC. With a tech heavy and very simple value proposition they try to give their customers what they really need: speed, simplicity and convenience for an extremely competitive price. “We try to reduce the amount of time small businesses are spending on redundant admin tasks. At the core of that we have the basic bank account, around which we can build new value-added services like automatic VAT statements, automatic accounting, etc,” Kristoffer explains. Different from private banking accounts, SMEs with more than one employee also need a portal with dashboard and aggregate reporting functionality, which they are building right now.

Currently, Hufsy only focuses on the German market where their partner SolarisBank is active as well. Like Hufsy, SolarisBank is a FinTech company from Berlin, founded in 2016. Using the banking license of Solaris, Kristoffer believes that the natural geographical expansion path is aligned with the roadmap of their partner. “But first it is important to get the product ready for official launch, which is planned for coming September.”

A steep path forward

Coming year will be all about scaling-up. After the launch in the second half of 2018, Hufsy is logically going to try to onboard as many people as possible. Where this is normally a labour intensive and time-consuming task, Hufsy can do this in 24 hours with IDnow that can verify your identity fully digitally. “The speed we can deliver to our clients is basically our main USP, together with a very low price,” Kristoffer explains. At the moment their client base starts growing beyond the few hundreds they have right now, A-B testing is the way to further improve their product and services, as well as their online acquisition and targeting efforts.

But apart from optimizing the product, scaling up the team is going to be one of the main challenges Kristoffer will have to face. “We are outsourcing the back-end development to our partner in eastern Europe, but I want to keep the front-end development in Denmark to keep the lines short. However, finding good developers here is extremely hard and costly.” Next to the developers, Kristoffer is also looking for other type of roles, with a target of growing the team to a total of 20 people halfway 2019. “If we scale up quicker, we can move much faster, but we need to be sure that we have a stable business first.” With a strong investor behind Hufsy, North-East Venture, Kristoffer has all the means to fully focus on running and growing the business.

Lessons learned…

As a former professional badminton player, Kristoffer likes and also needs the pressure. In that perspective, he is probably the right person right now. Although he has only been with Hufsy for such a short amount of time, he has a long track-record when it comes to digital entrepreneurship.

The following lessons we learned from him:

  • If you have a strong board, which we have, you should use it – they have a lot of expertise and great network to can tap from
  • The Danish start-up ecosystem is strong because there is a culture of collaboration cross-companies – this a true advantage compared to other places and we are growing fast as a community

Quick note to our readers: Hufsy is also looking for business developers soon. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to reach out to Kristoffer!

And finally, our two wacky questions…

…If Hufsy was an animal what would it be? “Seahorse, because of the elegance of the product. The male seahorse can also get pregnant… what a gentleman”

…And if you can hire anyone in the world for Hufsy who would it be? “Steve Jobs, to help me disrupt the banking industry”

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