Qonto offers the best current account for businesses, available online and on mobile with an appealing modern interface, a very responsive customer service and simple and transparent pricing.
Founded by Alexandre Prot and Steve Anavi, Qonto has raised €136m with Tencent, DST Global, Valar Ventures (launched by PayPal founder Peter Thiel), Alven (investor in Stripe, Algolia, Birchbox, Drivy) as well as the European Investment Bank.
In your own words, please describe why you set up Qonto and what the business does
We created a first company with my business partner Steve Anavi, and we were very frustrated with our own banking experience. It was not only time-consuming and complex but also didn’t include modern tools to suit modern companies. We decided to tackle these frustrations and to create the service we would have loved to use as entrepreneurs.
We offer a full-featured business finance management solution so SMEs can focus on what really matters.
Where do you see Qonto going over the next year? And over the next 5 years?
Next year, Qonto should get its own credit institution licence and become a bank in order to offer new services to its clients.
In the next 5 years, our ambition is to be the leading Business Finance Management solution to allow all SMEs to focus on what truly matters.
Back in the early days of Qonto, how did your previous experience at McKinsey help you?
My consulting background helped me to structure my reasoning to tackle any complex problem.
What also really helped me was the multi-disciplinary experience that I acquired at McKinsey. I was able to work on strategy, finance, management and marketing for Qonto. And at the beginning, you really need to be a “multi-tasker” (I was even in charge of office management, and was actually enjoying it).
You went to McKinsey directly after school; did you already have entrepreneurship in mind at this time?
I was not really thinking of founding my company at the time, and thought I wanted to learn and discover lots of things in a “structured” world where you learn from your peers and managers.
My years in consulting definitely helped me acquire some skills and maybe most importantly the confidence to found a company myself. I also really used my MBA year at INSEAD to think about my “next step”. I met with a few inspiring entrepreneurs and this also convinced me not to go back to consulting.
What is your day-to-day job like now, and is your McKinsey experience / network still helping?
When you are the CEO of a fast-growing company, no two days are the same!
I spend a lot of time with my team on different operational topics: sales and marketing, finance and compliance, international expansion.
One of my top priorities is also hiring, so I meet a lot of candidates as we are planning to hire 100+ people in 2020, and having the right people is key.
I’m also one of the spokespersons of the company, which means that I also spend a lot of time representing Qonto in events or interviews.
As an ex-McKinsey founder, do you like hiring the ex-consulting profile at Qonto, and why?
We do indeed like to hire ex-consultants because they tend to have transferable skills. They can structure / analyse a problem, and do a great project management job.
We have several consultants (from McKinsey and other firms) on the team. But the most important thing is really the fit in with our values (Ambition, Teamwork, Mastery, Integrity), and the energy to build an amazing service and team together, not necessarily the CV.
What would be your advice for a consultant looking to found their own start-up, or to transition into a start-up job?
Don’t be afraid, if you have the right idea addressing the right problem, you have everything you need to make it a success! And do not feel like you have to wait a lot to “gain experience” – the sooner you get started, the better.
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