When you think about the future of fintech, you think about disruption, innovation, and radical ways of redefining financial services. Today, we take a deep dive into this industry with none other than Lukas Zörner, VP Germany at Qonto, and the man who has been a key player in the groundbreaking merger between Penta and Qonto.
Over the years, Zörner has accumulated a wealth of experience in the business world. He was a core part of Penta's team before the merger with Qonto and now helps lead Qonto, a fintech firm dedicated to rethinking banking for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). With his hands-on approach, sharp business acumen, and customer-centric mindset, Zörner is a driving force behind the success of these ventures.
Throughout our conversation with Zörner, we covered a lot of ground, from his early career journey to the exciting merger between Penta and Qonto, and even the future of valuations in fintech.
Journey into Fintech
Zörner's foray into the fintech world wasn't a linear journey. Rather, it was the culmination of a range of diverse experiences that shaped his understanding of the industry. In his words, "you start from the bottom up. You start from the kind of very operational topics, and then you move up the ladder."
A Merger Born of Vision
The merger between Penta and Qonto wasn't an overnight decision, nor was it simply a business strategy. Instead, it was deeply tied to Zörner's long-term vision. Zörner was keen on creating a European champion, an entity with international reach and influence.
Zörner shares, "For us, it was more or less building the European champion...And that's why I say for us, the long term vision was actually we were able with this long term vision via a merger with Qonto, able to do and achieve this vision much faster."
Customer-Centric Mindset: The Foundation of Success
While Zörner has navigated the challenging waters of M&A, he has never lost sight of what truly matters: the end customer. "You build a process for the sake of building a process or you don't build a product for the sake of building a product. You build it for an end customer," he says.
The Future of Valuations in Fintech
Valuations in the fintech industry have seen a fair share of ups and downs. Yet, Zörner remains optimistic about the sector's potential. "There is money still in the market. There is strong teams in the market. There is strong business ideas...So I think this is why I'm really, really optimistic," he shares.
His optimism is infectious, and his faith in the European tech industry's potential to tackle the world's complexities is compelling. Yet, he's quick to acknowledge the ups and downs that businesses inevitably face – a realism that's just as refreshing.
His take-home message? "Today is the best time to start a business, and tomorrow will be the best time to start a business." For entrepreneurs and investors alike, Zörner's insights serve as a valuable compass in the ever-evolving landscape of fintech.
Start From the Bottom Up
One of Zörner's key insights revolves around the importance of a hands-on approach when starting in the business world. According to him, "You start from the bottom up. You start from the kind of very operational topics, and then you move up the ladder." This grounded strategy equips individuals with an in-depth understanding of all aspects of their industry.
Focus on Building a Truly European Company
Zörner's vision for building a European champion represents a bold, ambitious take on business expansion and impact. "For us, it was more or less building the European champion...And that's why I say for us, the long term vision was actually we were able with this long term vision via a merger with Qonto, able to do and achieve this vision much faster," he asserts.
Customer-Centric Processes are Key
Zörner emphasizes the importance of creating processes and products with the end customer in mind. He explains, "You build a process for the sake of building a process or you don't build a product for the sake of building a product. You build it for an end customer."
Recognize the Realities of Business
Zörner's candid discussion about the realities of business – the ups and downs, the good days, and the bad – is a refreshing reminder that all companies face challenges. He acknowledges, "Of course, there are ups and downs in businesses. I mean, every entrepreneur knows this. There's a good week, there's a bad week, there's a good month, there's a bad month. It's reality."
Be Optimistic about the Future of Fintech
Zörner's optimism about the future of fintech is contagious. He believes that despite the inevitable ebbs and flows of the industry, there is a wealth of opportunity in the market. He asserts, "There is money still in the market. There is strong teams in the market. There is strong business ideas...So I think this is why I'm really, really optimistic."
Through it all, Zörner's insights serve as a testament to the potential and promise of the fintech industry, as well as a playbook for navigating the complex landscape of entrepreneurship. It's a potent reminder that, despite the inevitable challenges, the future of fintech remains bright – and it's being shaped by leaders like Lukas Zörner.