Out of 1,000+ applications this year by startups from 64 countries, the top 8 finalists too came from eight different countries, all attempting to solve a unique problem.
We talked to Julian Oehrlein, co-founder and COO of Oradian, who pitched at Pioneers Festival and took home the Grand Prize:
Where are you guys based?
We are based in Zagreb, Croatia. However, our markets are frontier economies, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
How big is your team?
We are three founders, Antonio Separovic – Managing Director. Antonio is Croatian, but grew up in South Africa. Julian Oehrlein – COO. Julian is German. Andrew Mainhart – CTO. Andrew is American, but lives in Mozambique.
We have 20 employees, spread across 2 continents, 9 different nationalities.
Explain your business model.
Using Cloud technology, we deliver core banking technology, Instafin, to financial intermediaries in frontier markets, using a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. We charge these organizations based on the number of clients they service on an annual or monthly basis.
Our Video, is a simple explanation of what Instafin does:
What makes Oradian game changing?
Instafin is game changing on several levels. First, our pricing and pricing model. We offer our service at a radically reduced price on a subscription basis that aligns our business goals with theirs. That aligns our business goals with theirs. They grow, we grow. They grow, we grow. Second, by delivering Instafin via the cloud through web and mobile apps we can address a lot of the infrastructural and operational complexities these intermediaries grapple with on a daily basis.
What is the big problem you guys solve? Why is it important that Oradian exists?
Delivering financial services – whether that be credit or savings or insurance – to the underserved or unbanked is an expensive and operationally intensive activity. Oradian exists to remove as much of the friction as we can so that as many people as possible can take part in vitally important financial services.
Why is no one else solving this problem so far?
While there are a few competitors out there, the market is high on demand and low on supply – especially quality supply. We believe the largest reasons others haven’t moved into this space so far are related to the macro-level impression many have of frontier markets and the micro-level issues related to selling and delivery technology to these intermediaries.
Unfortunately, despite a lot of lip service, most European and US investors and entrepreneurs spend most of their Euros, Dollars, and time solving “first-world” problems. Our target markets are nice vacation spots – who doesn’t love a safari or trip down the Mekong – but not investment locations, especially Africa. Our target markets are nice vacation spots but not investment locations. When the few who do attempt to address the needs of these markets – realizing the enormous untapped Blue Ocean opportunities – they often run amok trying to impose their previous business lessons on to a different market with different norms and procedures.
Oradian, on the other hand, is a team of very seasoned entrepreneurs who have direct experience working and living in these markets – some of us for decades. We have the relationships; we have the cultural know-how; we have the willingness to go into these communities and work with our partner intermediaries to improve our service and their business.
After having poured significant amounts of Friends, Family, Fools, & Angel money into our project, we are now raising a larger round of investment to scale our operations and expand our marketing and sales efforts. We are now raising a larger round of investment to scale our operations. Over time, we will become the platform of choice for all African financial intermediaries then move into southeast Asia and Latin America. We see massive growth potential as these markets are growing much faster and are powered by much more innovation than Europe and the USA. Onward and upward.
Pioneers Challenge 2014: Top 8 Finalists
Mimi Hearing Technologies: Germany – Health & MedTech
Robo: United States – Robotics/Education
Crate Technology: Austria – Big Data/IoT & Sensors
BRCK: Kenya – IoT & Sensors, Telco
Oradian: Croatia – Cloud, Fintech
Tag & Find: Israel, Devices, IoT & Sensors
OptoForce: Hungary – AI & Robotics, IoT & Sensors
Owlin: Netherlands – Communications, FinTech