How Fairrates’ problems became IOU Central’s headstart

IOU Central launched first in Canada. As I already mentioned in my first post on IOU Central they profited from the knowledge input the two founders of danish brought with them. Fairrates had problems with fraud cases due to incomplete access to credit histories.

Here are some interesting notes by Bartlomiej Owczarek from Virtuous Cycle taken at a conference in Poland where Fairrates founder Arkadiusz Hajduk, now product manager at IOU Central, gave a presentation:

  • The startup was initially located in Denmark
  • Two guys on a sofa
  • I liked the quote – “expert is a person who committed all possible mistakes in a narrow field of specialty”
  • Idea was inspired by Prosper
  • They didn’t bother with business plans and presentations (note: maybe not so good in the end, given later credit history problem, see below)
  • Nevertheless, they got angel from early on – entrepreneur, house builder
  • Features of their angel – did call from time to time, but otherwise didn’t require much reporting, in retrospect now they would prefer someone more of a “mentor” type
  • They coded for 4 months without office
  • Then they got office, at respectable location (good for customer trust)
  • They coded another 6 months when they had office
  • First version was seen and tested by some 30 people
  • Operating model assumed that they don’t make credit decision or take on risk – all this is on the lender
  • Highlight of the “growth” period – 90 minutes on the front page of a major business portal
  • After launch, lenders turned out not a huge problem; in a first week, one person offered equivalent of ca. PLN 50k
  • However, huge problem with (good) borrowers
  • Also, in Denmark there is no access to credit history (only yes/no credit problems query possible)
  • Side note: banks in Denmark do not care to advertise to people more than 25 years old, because no one ever changes the bank
  • They had two evident fraud cases
  • In the end, business model didn’t fly because of borrower problem (people took wait-and-see approach), resulting in the “decline” phase
  • Luckily, they were approached by people from Canada, who had non-technical capabilities in the area but needed technology platform, and they sold out
  • Angel apparently got 150% of his initial contribution
  • Lessons learned: don’t hesitate to kill your own ideas

(via Prosper Lending Review)

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