Vladislav Solodkiy is one of the high-profile speakers presenting at FINSPIRE 2016, happening on the 7th and 9th November. Check out the full agenda taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia happening in just four days! Don’t miss out, grab your FREE tickets today.
Life.SREDA is a growth-stage fintech VC fund on a mission to serve the ‘good guys’. Based in Singapore, the firm focuses on long-term relationships and integration with startups to provide a more unified ecosystem.
The firm produces several famous publications, from the bi-annual ‘Money of the Future’ to ‘Femtech Fintech’. The firm’s Managing Partner, Vladislav Solodkiy is an active contributor to their media platform, FintechRanking.com. He also has more than 10 years of professional experience in marketing and advertising in various banks across Russia.
Previously, e27 interviewed Solodkiy about some of the thought provoking ideas in ‘Money of the Future’.
Once again, e27 reached out to Solodkiy, this time to understand more about Life.SREDA and his thoughts on the fintech industry and its future.
Coming from a background in Marketing & Advertising, what made you transition over into the fintech industry?
I get this question alot :)
When I started thinking about fintech, reading articles, to meeting with people – the industry was very small. In fact, even the word “fintech” didn’t yet exist. VCs didn’t want to invest into fintech – because it was “too risky” (to be focused only on fintech), “without huge opportunities in the future” (99,9% of the guys I met didn’t believe that fintech would have grown into such a big industry), “too difficult to enter” (entry price to the industry is very high, and your initial knowledge has to be deeper than just the basics of e-commerce, messengers, social networks, etc).
I started to educate myself about several terms such as “branch of the future”, “multichannel distribution” and “new internet services for financial industry” as a hobby, in my spare time. And I started to share my ideas verbally, via social media and by writing articles. I remember sometime later when one of my listeners on the discussion asked me, “Why aren’t you investing in fintech?”. I answered: “That’s because I am not an investment type of person and I have never invested in fintech before”. And he answered: “Ok, nobody has really invested in fintech before. But you have the “sense of fintech”, and insights about demand and trends. I find them more useful than the experience of other investment people, who don’t have the passion.” This listener soon became my strategic partner. He first handed me $10 million to ‘try’, to test my capabilities. Then, I received $30 million more. And we made many great deals after.
Right now, hiring marketing or design professionals are very common: McKinsey just bought design agency, Kleiner Perkins hired John Maeda. When a startup is small and just starting out, the company focuses more on the design and marketing of their company, to attract the attention of their customers, rather than understanding financial models. “You have to invest in attention, it is the most expensive thing right now” – this advice by Yuri Milner from DST. Design emphasises that marketing attracts attention – not financial models. Steve Jobs once said: “I am not a businessman, I am an artist in a suit of businessman”.
I am not saying that the financial models are not important – due diligence, competitive analysis, structuring of deals: all of these are extremely important too. Life.SREDA’s partner, Igor Pesin, covers all these questions, he is a superstar in this area. We are like “yin and yang”. I am all about the dream, he is all about realizing the dream.
We understand that Life.SREDA are the ‘good guys’ who serve other ‘good guys’. How did you come up with the term ‘good guys’? And why?
Many years ago I had a LiveJournal blog – and this blog was titled “The good guys will make it happen”. Many people started to know me and associate me with this phrase. When I started the fund – I took this slogan as part of our philosophy. Our first investor (and still he is my very important mentor) is a good guy for sure. At that time, I had already read books and was inspired (and even personally met) by values and ideas of Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh and several others. I decided that our values were more important than just profit, being smart guys were more important than just being rich guys.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing Life.SREDA?
We started to invest in fintech in Asia – but encountered the problem that all startups face (our portfolio companies in Asia and other fintechs here): being too slow and too expensive. We started to analyze the reasons and asked ourselves, “why?”. We found that it was because of the lack of infrastructure – without open APIs and BaaS platforms, it is impossible to launch your fintech startups easily and cheaply. Basically, startups were extremely hard to scale. Now we are helping these “good guys” from BAAS.IS to help fintechs with infrastructure gap.
How does Indonesia place in Life.SREDA’s overall vision and strategy?
Indonesia is one of the biggest markets and also one of the most promising ones – but in fintech this market is sleeping… There are no tangible results. Only a few companies are key players – but the industry is non-existent. And I do not know why. However, Infrastructure – or the lack of, is one of them, for sure.
What are your personal goals in the near future?
Recently, I got married (‘Behind every successful man, there is always a great woman’) and we are expecting a baby. That is my biggest new startup now :)
Vladislav Solodkiy is one of the high-profile speakers presenting at FINSPIRE 2016 happening on the 7th and 9th November. Check out the full agenda taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia happening in just four days! Don’t miss out, grab your FREE tickets today.