“I worked in a bank, but I felt like I couldn’t change anything for real, that I couldn’t have an impact, so I started testing my idea of peer to peer lending.” This is the beginning of Soisy’s story, a newborn Italian startup which wants to be an alternative for peer to peer lending and investments and one of the exhibitors at FinTechStage Milan. Pietro Cesati, founder and CEO, quit his job in a bank to follow this dream one year ago.
“After 12 years in advisory and banks I thought “If not now, when?” and I decided to quit the bank to found Soisy. It wasn’t easy at all launching the first version of the platform. In this field, there are a lot of laws and regulations in Italy, but we did it and we are testing it everyday”. Pietro believes that you should test everything,everyday, to make it work: “We experiment not just on our product, but also on our internal organization, which is totally non-hierarchical and inspired by agile and lean methodologies, borrowed from software houses”.
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After his bank experience, where different departments didn’t talk that much to each other, Pietro wanted to operate with a totally new structure at his startup. Soisy is based in Milan, Italy, but work is fully remote (one developer works from Sicily). They are inspired by foreign FinTech ecosystems, in particular the ones in the United States and the United Kingdom. “I worked some years in Uk and I think that’s the hub for FinTech for sure, so you can take inspiration from there but also follow where the market is going”.
In Italy there isn’t a proper competitor of Soisy. “We asked directly to the customers and the investors what exactly they wanted, so we discovered they wanted basically two things: a better UX design for this kind of platforms and a lower risk. So we gave them what they wanted”. In fact, Soisy reduces the investors’ risk on the lending thanks to a virtual moneybox in which they save a part of the interest. It is an optional warranty that investors can subscribe to: in case the debtor doesn’t payback the investors, they receive the money back anyway from the moneybox. The process is seamless, so they might even fail to notice if the debtor actually paid or not.
“Now we are a team of 6 and we are looking for another person to join the team. 5 people out of 6 come from the bank world”. How did you convince them to quit? “Because banks aren’t competitive anymore. They will die if they don’t innovate, now it’s the time to change how finance works. In Italy, the FinTech field is growing in a slower way compared to other European countries, but there are very good companies here and I hope they’ll scale fast. To get back to the question, I just outlined the imminent future to potential hires: if you want to work in the finance field you should work in a startup to learn new skills and to understand where the market is going”. What about your expansion? “We have developed a proprietary platform in order to be easily adaptable in case we need to scale in other countries. So we are now planning to test the MVP in Italy and then export the product in other countries in Europe. The idea is to open in France and Spain first, then maybe Austria and Portugal”.