Mounir Laggoune: Revolutionizing Private Banking
Building an audience before building a product, Time blocking, You're the sum of the people you spend time with
If you’re reading Deep In The Trenches for the first time. I interview once a week an early stage founder and try to find 3 actionable tips for you if you’re an early stage founder or working at a startup.
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On to this week’s edition.
An evergreen good recipe for startups is to take something that’s only accessible to a select few and make it easily accessible to everyone.
Robinhood => stock investing
AngelList => Startup investing
No code tools => building websites and applications
Steady, an early stage startup we talked about in this newsletter’s last edition is doing that with Commercial real estate investing
Today, we’re interviewing Mounir, cofounder & CEO at Finary. They’re making private banking accessible to everyone.
Here are 3 very actionable tactics for early stage founders from Mounir:
Build an audience (doesn’t have to be huge) before building a product
Use Time blocking to reach maximum efficiency
Surround yourself with other passionate entrepreneurs
On to the interview
What is Finary?
Finary is building the modern Private Bank, powered by Tech. Forget about spreadsheets, Finary allows you to track, manage and invest your wealth. We believe that technology can enable everybody to become great investors. To achieve that, we are reinventing the experience from the ground up. We are live on App & Web, and handle over 10.000 banks, brokers & crypto platforms worldwide.
I’ve recently set up my Finary. I was able to connect my bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, crypto exchanges, etc and see a consolidated view of my net worth across assets, and see how things are trending.
Check out the app here!
Could you give an indication of your stage?
We just raised our Series A of $12.5M and are a team 15. Over the last 3 months, we tripled our user number to reach 45.000 users.
200% growth in 3 months is very impressive 🤯
Can you describe how your customers get value out of your product?
We save our customers a lot of time! They no longer need to manually update their spreadsheet or log into various websites to check the state of their investments. On top of that, we give them access to tools previously only accessible to the wealthiest investors like our Monte Carlo simulation.
I am actually doing exactly what Mounir is describing. Every month, I log to my bank accounts, 401k, Roth IRA, etc to see where I’m at financially. I should use Finary!
That's intriguing, what's Monte Carlo simulation?
Monte Carlo simulation is a model used to predict the probability of various outcomes. We run 5000 simulations by using historical performances of the Assets you own to give you a flavor of what's going to happen over the next 30 years. It's a tool that all Private Banks use to build & optimize their client's allocations. We made it available to everybody at the click of a button.
This is pretty dope.
How do you define product-market fit and do you have it?
PMF : you know it when you have it. It's the billion-dollar question for every entrepreneur. I'm conservative, so I'd say we're almost there!
How did you get your first 10 users / customers?
My co-founder and I built Finary because we wanted to have a product to track our investments. We knew that our friends had the same issues, so we invited them to test our MVP. We did personalized onboardings, 1:1 feedback sessions and used every occasion to get feedback. Our MVP was basic, but it was enough to validate our intuition: people want this product.
And first 100?
We started a newsletter about investing called Moneytime and promoted it on Linkedin. We did this way before Finary was a real product. Once we had our beta, we added a block about Finary to each edition. Many of these early readers/users are still using Finary today.
I love this. Building an audience before building the product makes so much sense. How long before you started the product did you start the newsletter?
I'd say a few months, it wasn't that long.
How many subscribers did you have when you started promoting the product?
Less than 1000. # of Subscribers doesn't matter, it's all about open rates. We had 60% + (and still have very high ones). A small qualified audience is a goldmine.
This is a golden nugget. What’s great here is that if Finary’s MVP had not found product market fit, they would have been able to try different products since they had this audience that was passionate about investing.
What was the rough conversion rate (out of all your subscribers, how many became Finary users?
Around 15%. I was enough to get the ball rolling.
So that’s 150 users, which is huge when you get started.
How did you make your way to the world of startups?
I studied finance at Business School and graduated in 2012. At that time, nobody wanted to work in Tech. It was all about Finance, Consulting, or Marketing. I started working in corporate finance but hated it. I wanted to work in Tech but had no idea how to get started. The ecosystem was still relatively small in France at that time. I decided to learn to code and bought a class for $10 on Udemy. A few months later, I landed a job at an early-stage startup. It has been a crazy ride ever since.
Is there one specific tactic that was very helpful to you, whether it's in finding users, building your product or fundraising that you'd like to share?
There are no shortcuts or secret hacks. Build something, talk to users, iterate... Rinse and repeat until you're listed on the Nasdaq. It sounds silly but it's key.
Another key tactic is to meet exceptional people. You are the sum of the people around you. It's all about building meaningful relationships with great people. It's very powerful to be surrounded by a network of passionate entrepreneurs.
What's one thing you wish you had known when you started your company?
Follow and trust your instincts! If people make fun of your company or product, especially incumbents, you're probably doing something right!
100%. The only people you should listen to are potential users of the product you’re trying to build, that’s it. Opinion from Investors, friends, family are irrelevant, just noise (unless they’re in your target audience)
You just raised money through crowdfunding, can you tell us more about why you chose to do that and how you went about it?
We want to democratize Private Banking, an industry that is only accessible to the happy few. We flipped this antiquated model on its head by allowing anybody to invest alongside world-class VCs like YC or Speedinvest with as little as 10€. Our users played an instrumental role in our journey: they use our product, give feedback, and buy our subscription. It seemed logical to give them the opportunity.
What's a tool that makes you save time every week or every day?
Time blocks: I don't take meetings in the morning and only work on the one big project that can move the needle for the Finary. I also hired an assistant a few months ago, it was an absolute game-changer.
Time blocks is the method where you block some time in advance in your calendar to work on something specific. I do that too using a tool called Sunsama. You can check Sunsama’s founder & CEO interview in this very newsletter below:
Hiring an assistant is also something that’s been mentioned multiple times by founders in this newsletter - and it’s something I do as well!
What's a favorite book and why?
The One Thing is a great book to learn how to prioritize, manage time and reach a satisfying work-life balance.
What's a favorite podcast episode you'd recommend me to listen to?
How to get rich (without getting) lucky with Naval
Based on the famous twitter thread from Naval (highly recommend to read it if you haven’t)
If you were not working on Finary, what product would you build?
I'd build a place for retreats in the Alps. No tech whatsoever.
What's a product you wish existed and that you'd be a customer of if it existed?
That one should get easy Product Market Fit
On a lighter note, what's a movie / tv show / documentary you watched recently you'd recommend people to watch?
The Hand of God on Netflix, a poetic movie about Maradona & Italy
Is there a good question I should have asked you that I didn't? If yes, what is it and what's the answer :) ?
What do you think about Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter? I love it!
Lastly, where can people find you if they want to follow the rest of your adventures?
I'm active on Twitter.
That’s a wrap. Did you enjoy this? Let me know by just replying Yes or No to this email, I read them all :)
Want more? Check one of the most popular Deep in the trenches editions so far with Caroline from Arcade