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Sebastian Diemer on Fintech, Bitcoin and taking risks as an entrepreneur

Sebastian Diemer: “You just have to be crazily fast. Most people are not radical enough. If you really think about it – does it absolutely need to be done right now or can it be done later? You should really not sacrifice any speed for quality or sustainability. […] Be very, very fast in the beginning and build a prototype. And then step out and really think about what you are going to do with your learnings and how you’re going to set this up for the long-term.”

From Rocket Internet to founding Kreditech and Finiata

Sebastian Diemer is definitely one of the rockstars of the European startup scene. With a common kind of ‘founder’s track record’, he truly stands for the modern type of Internet entrepreneur – even though he never dreamed of doing so: After graduating from business school, he first started out learning the nitty-gritty of the tech world at widely-known German company builder and startup investor Rocket Internet where he was tasked with scaling up operations in China. Afterwards, he joined the Hamburg-based company builder “Hanse Ventures” for which he tried to grow a service-on-demand startup, which did not become a success but should lay the foundation for his following professional quantum leap: Co-founding Kreditech.

As the company’s first CEO, he has helped to shape the European FinTech scene for years to come by creating a real-time scoring technology that enables 100% automatized, scaleable and big data-based scoring decisions — worldwide and 24/7. With Kreditech’s latest financing round of 110m EUR in May 2017, he made his personal exit as a shareholder from the company after he already stepped down from his role as CEO in 2015. Despite this major startup success story, Sebastian Diemer is not done yet having an influence on the continent’s FinTech scene. After he left Kreditech’s management team two years ago, he eventually went on to found his second FinTech startup Finiata, which is an automated lending platform to finance small businesses and freelancers in Europe. Supported by leading VCs like Point9, DN Capital, Fly Ventures and RedAlpine, the startup is currently growing at a monthly rate of 80%.

Being a true entrepreneur by passion, Sebastian Diemer is using his personal success also to support other founders. For example, in his role as Founding Investor, he helps to build up Digitalkasten – a niche SaaS business that digitalizes physical mail and quickly became profitable after its start. Business school-trained, he also invests into cryptocurrencies and bricks.

Sebastian Diemer on Startup Notes

In this episode, Sebastian discusses ‘everything FinTech’ from founding Kreditech to Bitcoin, explains why speed in execution matters, gives tons of advice for aspiring founders and describes why he wishes that he would have read the book ‘The Lean Startup’ earlier.

Out of the many topics discussed with Sebastian, there is one that is particularly applicable for up-and-coming entrepreneurs who are looking for advice on how to build a company. With regard to finding investors for financing your startup, Sebastian advises that founders should not try to chase the highest possible valuation and investment for their company. They should rather know how much funding they actually need and decide wisely, which venture capital firm would be a good fit for a partnership. He emphasizes on the fact that it is important to know a VC’s operating partners well enough beforehand to understand how resilient the relationship could be especially when times get tough for a startup. As he describes, he learned this lesson at Kreditech where the founding team chased for the highest valuation and most money that could be raised – building up unnecessary pressure for the entire organization, which would make things more complicated for managing the company and its employees efficiently and effectively. Today, he for example makes reference calls first to find out more about an investor before he enters into an agreement.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with FinTech and execution expert Sebastian Diemer:

[00:29 – 05:56] On the different stages of his career so far

[05:57 – 12:14] His learnings from Kreditech and what he is doing differently now with Finiata

[12:15 – 15:46] On Finiata’s service and its vision

[15:47 – 22:15] The impact that a ‘AAA’-rated investor like Peter Thiel has on a startup

[22:16 – 27:36] On the importance of execution skills and ways how to improve them

[27:37 – 31:25] Best practices to structure early operations in a startup

[31:26 – 36:52] On Bitcoin and Blockchain

[36:53 – 41:10] Sebastian’s advice for taking risks as an entrepreneur when you are looking for growth opportunities

[41:11 – 44:50] Open job positions at the companies that he is involved in

Podcast Host: Thomas

If you are interested in hearing more about the story behind Kreditech and FinTech ‘made in Germany’, make sure to also listen to our episodes with Kreditech-CEO and Co-Founder Alexander Graubner-Müller, business angel Kilian Thalhammer (former Managing Director of Paymill) and FinTech entrepreneur Yassin Hankir (Co-Founder of Vaamo and savedroid).

Subscribe and listen to our Startup Notes episodes also on iTunes. If you do, make sure to also drop us some feedback and a rating! Thank you for listening and being part of the Startup Notes community.

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