ff.next | X-Europe Startup Interview
Welcome to our X-Europe startup interview series. We have virtually sat down with a number of our founders from past cohorts to hear all about their solutions, vision for the future, and what made them tick during our X Europe programme. So whether you are a deep tech founder looking for startup support, an eagle-eyed investor, or simply interested in the possibilities that technology can bring to society, then we welcome you to take a read. Please meet ff.next, a startup that offers design-driven mobile banking solutions for financial innovators with a special focus on younger customers.
Can you briefly explain what your solution is all about? What’s unique about it?
ff.next is a digital banking provider that helps innovative banks attract more young & loyal customers by offering mobile and web applications that are easy to customize and integrate into any IT infrastructure on one hand while providing project-based, comprehensive end-to-end services on the other hand.
We provide banks and financial institutions with easy-to-integrate, customisable mobile banking modules. These modules include personal financial management tools, eKYC, eSignature, credit scoring, youth and family banking, edutainment and beyond banking functionalities, green banking, carbon footprint tracking, and more. Our partners can choose from these modules to put together their very own, customized mobile banking solutions. As all of our functionalities are built on an SDK (software development kit) base, we can also easily integrate them into the already existing IT infrastructure of our partners.
As for our comprehensive service package, we custom-develop design-driven mobile banking applications while having research, design, and implementation services at the same time. These solutions enable banks to engage younger generations, Millennials & GenZ customers with design-oriented digital interfaces.
Our goal is to revolutionize financial education and provide the appropriate tools, platforms, and eventually the right customer experience to younger customers by helping financial institutions serve their true needs.
What led you to start or join your company? What is the key motivation and mission behind the startup?
Not a single act or event, but several different impulses and experiences led to the foundation of ff.next. Two of our founders worked at a global management consulting firm as Fintech Analysts, where they got to know the fascinating world of fintech. They recognized that youth banking as such is a poorly covered segment and that there are very few design-driven retail banking solutions on the market.
At the same time, several of our colleagues volunteered in a non-profit organization aimed at preparing high-school students for their final exams. They had seen how severe the lack of financial consciousness amongst youngsters was and that this issue originated from the deficiencies of the educational system.
Also, 400 thousand Hungarian families were affected by the global financial crisis & foreign currency loan crisis in Hungary in which many of our families were involved. We felt the urge to make a difference on all these terrains by founding our own company focusing on the financial education of youngsters and their families.
We believe that taking control over your finances is a lifetime of work, and starting to learn about financial literacy and how to manage your money is vital from a young age. In order to increase the financial consciousness of youngsters they must be involved in financial services early on, which require digital solutions, interfaces, and in the end - applications that can be used easily and intuitively.
We are revolutionizing financial education and providing the appropriate tools, platforms, and eventually the right customer experience to younger customers by helping financial institutions serve their true needs.
What’s the biggest milestone your startup has achieved so far, and what has surprised you most on this journey?
At ff.next, with our team of 20 UX/UI designers and engineers we’ve been creating & implementing design-driven digital products for banks, fintech, and financial innovators not only in the traditional financial sector but in the crypto market as well, from Hungary, Singapore, Bulgaria, Romania, and Italy, through the UK, the United Arab Emirates, the USA, and Australia, to Austria and Germany.
We’ve already worked on several cryptocurrency-related projects, such as the website of aUK-based crypto and digital gold exchange platform, and our spinoff project, Strive a crypto-fuelled family banking solution. Additionally, we've already been involved in 3 successful mobile banking app redesign projects with leading banks in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania.
Even the most difficult situations can bring positive change. Like many other companies worldwide, we also had to deal with the global crisis caused by COVID-19, however, digitalization accelerated as a result of the pandemic, and things eventually turned out well for us. An apparent obstacle can be an opportunity as well, everything is just a matter of perspective and attitude!
How has X-Europe helped you during the past few months?
Bridging regions and tech companies across Europe through events, media, training and acceleration is an amazing offering of X-Europe that our startup greatly benefited from. As a company from the Visegrad region, it was a great opportunity to be connected to corporations, investment firms, and ecosystem builders across Europe. We feel proud to be part of a diverse new European tech community, where we can help even more financial innovators to serve digitally-savvy customers with design-oriented digital interfaces and provide users with the opportunity to learn the basics of financial consciousness.
Being part of the current cohort of the program helped us to receive free support from all the X-Europe partners. We would like to specifically highlight TNW, who offered us the opportunity to relocate to their coworking space in Amsterdam for 2 months! This is an exceptional chance for us to set our feet in the Benelux region and highly contributes to our international business development in the long run.
The online training sessions were extremely useful and the learnings will help us to scale up ff.next and establish a presence all across Europe and beyond. We are extremely thankful for Zoltán Várdy, our mentor throughout the program, who shared his years of experience with us and held our hands when rephrasing our value proposition and reevaluating our business model.
What are your goals over the next 3, 6, and 12 months?
Since the foundation of the company, ff.next has been constantly growing not only in terms of team members but in revenues as well. Throughout the past 3 years, our company managed to double its revenues every year, while our team has grown from 3 to 20 members by the end of 2021. Regarding the future, we are planning to hire 2-3 colleagues within the next 3 months, 5-6 colleagues in the next 6 months and we are aiming to have 35 colleagues altogether by the end of 2022. In terms of our revenues, we are trying to maintain the previously mentioned trends and double it by the end of this year.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur trying to pave his/her way in the Fintech landscape?
Constantly monitor the market, react fast to emerging trends and dare to change!
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Invest all of your savings in Bitcoin and Ethereum!
What’s unique about the X-Europe program?
We would like to highlight the exceptional opportunities we received from TNW and Várdy Zoltán once more. This is the kind of actionable, tangible help that is rare in the case of accelerator programs. The fact that we were provided with professional business consultancy and coworking space in a country that we are aiming at is very valuable.