Guillermo Guzman is founder and CEO of Finbox, a Bogota, Colombia-based aggregator of credit and savings products for individuals and SMEs. In the Q&A, Guzman discusses the rollout of the company’s MVP, its desire to provide financial access to the unbanked, and its potential interest in raising outside funds after reaching key milestones.
Can you tell us a little about Finbox?
Finbox is a platform where individuals and small business go to gain access to a wide array of Fintech products. Many of these products are not yet widely available elsewhere. The platform is designed to provide the unbanked and underbanked with access to services that help them achieve greater financial freedom.
Some of the products directly designed for this purpose are savings and investment vehicles. The platform also features credit and nano loans for individuals and similar offerings for SMEs.
The platform will also benefit Colombia Fintech companies, as those companies gain access to a wide range of new customers.
When did you start Finbox and what motivated you to do so?
We were incubated by the Founder Institute starting in the spring of 2019. Our minimum viable product (MVP) goes live at the beginning of September.
Our mission is to promote financial inclusion. A large portion of the population in Latin American has little or no access to financial services, and little financial education. Without such access or education, it is all but impossible to gain wealth. One of the biggest problems in Colombia is that the majority of the population has no savings. Closely tied to that, is the problem of overspending, as many also routinely spend beyond what they earn. The result is that the gap between the wealthy and the majority continues to grow.
Our initial target demographic is Generation Z, or centennials - those beginning college or university and Generation Y or millennials, those in the early stages of careers and family.
Once we have validated our MVP, we will offer a financial education program to users presented as a series of games. These games will essentially be micro-courses where users measure their progress and earn points. Those points can then be redeemed with Fintech vendors and participating neo banks.
What are the company’s top priorities for the remainder of 2019?
To validate our MVP and to continue to validate our platform through additional releases. We will do this until we reach a critical mass of users. Our aim is to have 300,000 active users within 30 months of our launch.
How big is your team and do you have plans to grow it?
Today we have four people. The idea is to scale in the most productive way that maximizes value for our users.
What kind of support have you received from other entrepreneurs in Colombia?
All the Fintech companies we have talked with have expressed an interest in getting users directed to them through our platform.
What are some of the lessons you have learned thus far that might be valuable to new entrepreneurs?
It is important to focus on key metrics that center around the user’s major concerns. If a product cannot alleviate the user’s major source of pain, then the team needs to move quickly, continue to iterate, until reaching a solution that can.
Do you see the potential to expand beyond Colombia?
Across Latin America, the issues of lack of access to financial services and a lack of financial education are similar. These issues have been identified by the UN as a concern for the region. So it is a matter of identifying the opportunities and solving the problem for each place where they exist.
What is the competitive landscape like for Finbox?
There is a lot of attention now on helping the unbanked, a concern many of us in the Fintech community share. Finbox is a solutions integrator. Competition between brands benefits users and at the same time broadens the range of possible integrations.
Have you raised external capital thus far? Will you look to do so in the future?
To date, we are bootstrapped. The moment we validate our MVP and reach a critical mass of users, we will be in a position to show projections on future growth. At that point, we will undoubtedly require funding to scale.
Is a part of you already satisfied to have started Finbox?
No, not at all. Dissatisfaction is our engine. When we become satisfied, we must surely have a new conversation.