75 investors shut the doors in our face when we were raising our first round. Not Jan. He believed in us from the very start.Baiju Bhatt & Vlad Tenev,
Why is fintech an exciting industry for investment?
Jan — Financial services underpin every sector of the economy. That means entrepreneurs in this category can have an outsize impact compared to other areas of investment. That's reflected in the size of the market and its leading companies. Six banks have a market cap above $300B. The #50 bank by market cap is valued over $50B. Opportunity is limitless, but it’s a difficult industry for startups to attack, requiring a combination financial service skills and tech innovation acumen. Fintech companies have many building blocks to assemble: regulatory, compliance, ops, customer acquisition, and ultimately consumer trust. Finance is a complex, challenging sector that has taken a long time to disrupt, but when startups get it right, the impact they can have is far reaching.
Are the dynamics the same between founders in Europe, Australia, and the US?
Jan — Culture and business practices differ locally, but what makes a great company succeed transcends location. Founders relentless pursue complex, elegant solutions to problems, they have strong, defensible business models, and their companies are built to last. That’s the beauty of Index as a global firm. Our vantage point extends across continents, and I pick the winners in a particular market regardless of geography. My furthest CEO lives in Sydney. My closest lives on my block in London. But my relationship with each are equally close, and I’m equally supportive of their businesses.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a founder looking to start a company?
Jan — Start very narrow and solve an important problem in an industry that allows you to solve that problem a million times. Founders need to find one burning problem that is specific and well-defined, solve it perfectly, and obsess over customer satisfaction. When you have done that, and demonstrated that you can sell that one product at scale for many customers, then you can go and grab adjacent markets. Some companies I work with that have done that well are Ayden, which was started to take credit cards over the internet, and Robinhood, which is a beautiful, simple app to trade stocks for free. They started small and then the vision expanded to address all of consumer finance needs.
Jan joined Index in 2010 and focuses on financial and information/data services across all stages. His investments include Adyen, Alan, Collibra, Robinhood, SafetyCulture and TransferWise.
Prior to joining Index, Jan worked at General Atlantic in London. He started his career at Morgan Stanley in M&A and capital markets. Jan holds an MBA with Distinction from INSEAD, and is a graduate of Oxford University.