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Startup Spotlight: Revolut

January’s Startup Spotlight: Revolut

What it is

Physically, it’s a card, a Mastercard. With a corresponding app. When activated it becomes a local bank card, where ever you are. You can use it to withdraw funds from ATMs and to buy from shops, and online retailers. In ‘any’ country.

How does it work?

You open an account in the app. You can then charge the card via the app. You then treat it like a debit card. Which it is. You can have multiple accounts within your account. A dollar account, a euro account, up to 90 currencies.

What’s the user benefit?

Convenience, security, and importantly, fractionally the price for overseas use. Users send, spend, and transfer at the interbank rate. Currently 23 currencies to send in.

Founders

Single founders are the exception to the rule in startups. There are almost no successful ones at all, anywhere. Paul Graham, the mastermind behind Y Combinator, considers single founders to be basically un-investable. But there’s exceptions to every rule.

Nikolay may be one. With a background in trading, not even in payments, in June 2014, he hired a consultant, one of the top ten in the World apparently, to work out the solution that would become Revolute. The consultant said it wasn’t possible, and for that reason wouldn’t charge for his expertise, and visited Nikolay in Level39 to explain the process, initially for a day, which became several weeks, as between his experience and Nikolay’s, a solution that ‘might work’ came out of the process.

Sufficiently convinced were Balderton Capital, they seeded it with £1.5M. Investable order levitra then. There’s now 15 employees, including Veronique, employee number 4, another ex- banking professional, she met Revolute at a meetup, pitched for a job, took it.

I asked Nikolay how much he himself put into the company to get it to that stage. £300,000. It’s a different game these ex-banking founders are playing. They themselves are capable of funding their own businesses way above SEIS level angel rounds. I asked the current value of Revolute. Around £26M. How does it make money?

“Not from the users. It’s from the shops, a merchant charge, same as shops always pay every time they accept a debit or credit card. Not close to break even yet. Our plan it to make it free forever but to nd other sources of revenue, change bitcoins, buy travel insurance, hybrid services, end to end solutions. A Global Money app that allows you to do everything with your money.”

I’ll say one last thing about Revolute. They know to make things beautiful. Nikolay gave us one of the cards. The mechanism by which you slide open the holder is so satisfying, I must have done it a dozen times, for the pleasure, before even removing the card from the wallet. It’s like the elegance of a new iPhone box. It demonstrates an understanding that user satisfaction is not a neutral state, it’s a positive one. And the design mind to see it applied, end to end. Revolute. They re-engineer an entire banking process, and I’m still enamored with the packaging of the card.

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