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In Profile: Mantvydas Štareika, CEO of CapitalBox

The current macroeconomic conditions across the UK and Europe have made it difficult for many firms to survive, let alone grow and expand their operations. Rising interest rates, coupled with high levels of inflation have made it impossible for many firms to seek financial support from traditional lenders.

One firm hoping to address this issue is European fintech SME lender CapitalBox. To find out more about the firm and its journey so far, we hear from its CEO, Mantvydas Štareika.

Mantvydas Štareika, CEO of CapitalBox
Mantvydas Štareika, CEO of CapitalBox
Tell us more about your company and its purpose.

In simplest terms, CapitalBox is a fintech company dedicated to alternative funding and lending solutions. We’re specifically focused on meeting the needs of the European startup and SME ecosystem, which is among the most innovative and advanced business communities in the world but still hindered by a funding gap due to an over-reliance on outdated financing solutions. We design and provide rapid, secure, and individually tailored alternative funding products and programs for our clients whose businesses need serious capital to meaningfully grow.

What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?

We’ve poured ourselves into expansion efforts in the past year – and not for nothing! We launched a brand new branch in Denmark, bringing on a Danish team with proven experience in that particular market. That team wasted no time getting that branch up and running – I’m enormously impressed and proud of their work.

Beyond that, we expanded our C-suite to accommodate continuing growth, and on a more personal level, I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of joining CapitalBox as CEO. Alongside those more concrete achievements, we’ve stayed committed to giving our expanding roster of SMEs the best possible alt-financing options possible.

How did you get into the fintech industry?

Happily! Although my background is in law, I joined Coface in 2007 and worked my way through a number of senior positions and eventually became CEO. Coface’s primary focus was credit lending and, at least at first, a real learn-by-doing experience. As CEO, I focused on expanding and restructuring teams across the Baltics, reorganising whole divisions to promote top-to-bottom optimisation, and piloted new AI and data information system integration.

What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?

Although it’s not quite as much of a free-for-all as it was a decade ago, there’s a commitment and a willingness to experiment and innovate within fintech that keeps the whole industry limber and exciting.

There’s a certain fearlessness in this industry when it comes to trying new strategies that you don’t necessarily see everywhere. Fintech hasn’t lost its entrepreneurial grit.

What frustrates you most about the fintech industry?

I guess this is, technically speaking, a frustration about every industry besides fintech, but I’m periodically frustrated by how alt lending in particular is occasionally still treated as the new kid on the block or something of a gamble compared to the old-school corporate banks and financial institutions. That’s an outdated dichotomy and mentality, and we haven’t managed to shake it just yet.

How have your previous roles influenced your career?

My time at Coface coincided with the banking crisis and economic downturn of the late 2000s and early 2010s. That was the ultimate crash course in crisis management. It taught me a huge amount about market unpredictability and staying the course with your clients. Beyond that somewhat special circumstance, working in credit lending also made me aware of the funding gaps that CapitalBox is now committed to addressing head-on.

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

One particular high-stakes project I led some years ago comes to mind whenever I am asked this question. I made a decision that seemed brilliant at the time, but quickly revealed itself to be a major blunder with chaotic and far-reaching consequences.

It put me in a position where I had to reevaluate the team’s entire approach while digging deep into my problem-solving skills and demonstrating resilience to the people I was leading. It was incredibly difficult on a professional and emotional level, but it showed me that I was capable of weathering big storms without falling apart.

What has the future got in store for your company?

More, more, and more, mainly. We’re expanding our reach into more markets, and bringing on more local experts to make those expansions as successful as possible. We’re focused on providing more SMEs in all our markets with the funding they need to grow, and we’re also developing more ways to tailor our products to their specific needs.

What are the next key talking points or challenges for your industry as a whole?

Personalisation is a major area of focus within fintech right now. We’re seeing personalised customer experiences expand across the board, going well beyond products tailored to financial needs and addressing more specific and ephemeral customer preferences.

AI is a hot-button topic everywhere, and fintech is no exception. Within fintech, AI-related discussions tend to revolve around how it can be used to improve risk assessment, fraud detection, as well as customer service. Open banking, which is the process that allows customers to share their financial data with third-party providers, is growing more and more popular. It’s a new financial world out there, and fintech is right in the middle of it.

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