Starting your own business is one of those things that looks relatively simple from the outside yet is anything but.
Of course, some obstacles are always to be expected – after all they’re the ones that teach us the most and make the growth journey satisfying – but certain issues, oftentimes stemming from unnecessary bureaucracy and outdated systems, can be enough to kill an entrepreneur’s drive.
Fyorin Co-Founder and CEO James Camilleri experienced this first hand, and now he’s on a mission to stop it.
“During our past ventures as a co-founding team, we experienced the pain point that businesses have to go through to achieve a tailored business banking approach. If you’re operating internationally, the pain point is even bigger,” James tells MaltaCEOs.mt.
“Research also shows that this product is true across various industries around the world,” he continues.
What this means, James says, is that “SMEs are craving better business banking.”
The ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that financial institutions have on offer is pushing SMEs into a fragmented financial market wherein they have to deal with multiple financial providers.
As a consequence of this, businesses are being forced to invest heavily in tech to be able to get tailor-made and seamless services that fit their current operations or processes.
“So, then what happens if you don’t have the necessary tech resources? The answer is that, according to third-party research, 90 per cent of businesses worldwide accept the status quo and settle for a one-size-fits-all solution from their financial provider,” James highlights.
“A big part of the reason behind this is that financial institutions, which are the backbone behind every fintech innovator, are still struggling to keep up with the demands of modern business,” he adds.
It is because of this climate that James and his team kickstarted Fyorin, a platform that can “help financial institutions to leverage on their existing network of SMEs in bringing to market faster and more innovative financial products.”
Fyorin does this through what is referred to as a Business Banking Network Scheme, that is, a platform which connects financial and non-financial providers from around the world through a single network.
“Members on our network can then leverage the capabilities of other members on the network to deliver better business banking capabilities to their network of SMEs,” James describes.
“We are not a bank or a financial provider, but our services on the platform are directly being offered by members of our network. Fyorin’s solution makes the interaction between members on the network seamless and frictionless through the use of AI,” he continues.
James and his team brought this idea to life back in summer 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic. Whilst, for many, that would seem like career suicide, COVID-19 actually worked in Fyorin’s favour.
“The pandemic created a sense of urgency among businesses and financial institutions to shift their business banking operations digitally. On the other hand, it also exposed cracks in how broken business banking is at all levels,” James recalls.
Since its foundation, it’s safe to say that Fyorin has come a long way.
“From just an idea, we developed the system from the ground up, got funded from Malta Enterprise, and hired our first employees. In the meantime, we were working with SMEs and financial institutions to validate our idea,” James says.
“All the feedback we were getting in was helping us to shape up our proposition to the market, but most importantly, it was helping us identify the segments we should initially target,” he continues.
One can say that Fyorin’s rise to success can be partially attributed to Malta’s recent ‘start-up boom’ – however James highlights that there’s still a lot that can be done for small businesses locally.
“On the positive side, I think the size of Malta is perfect for a start-up to test and launch a product. Having everything nearby means that you are closer to your customer and you get a fast feedback loop,” the CEO says.
“On the other hand, Malta is still developing its start-up ecosystem, however it’s making giant steps. A catalyst to this is Malta Enterprise, which we benefitted from greatly. The organisation is filling a big gap in the market for start-ups – that is, access to funding. For a start-up like ours, this is crucial,” he continues.
Given his experience, James envisions Malta’s start-up ecosystem to undergo significant improvements in the years to come. He substantiates this by saying that more and more entrepreneurs are taking the plunge and launching their ideas abroad – allowing Venture Capital firms to become more aware of the local ecosystem.
What makes Fyorin’s mission so unique is that is seeking to solve an issue that very few have even attempted to fix before. Whilst this makes for a very enticing product, it also poses its fair number of challenges.
“The business model we are adopting is fairly new to the industry, so we had to convince several financial institutions to join our network,” James recalls.
“However, through perseverance, we did manage. Now we’re happy to say that, within a couple a couple of months, we brought six financial institutions onto our network, giving us global reach from day one. We also have several others in the pipeline that are in the process of joining our network,” he continues.
Thinking of the future, James notes the sheer scale of Fyorin’s mission – that of making business banking as easy as ‘sending an email’.
“It’s a long journey, however we’re tackling it piece by piece. We believe that with the right team, technology, and trust from our network partners, clients, and investors, we can achieve it,” he concludes.
James Camilleri / bemags.coom
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Family businesses account for more than 70% of Malta’s SMEs, and are hence vital components of the local economy.