In 2015 Pietro Cesati and his co-founder Andrea Sandro left their banking jobs in an attempt to create Soisy a marketplace for P2P lending to provide value for e-commerce clients. Soisy provides installments payment solutions for e-commerce through an API-based payment method. The startup graduated Startupbootcamp FinTech & Cyber Security in 2018, and we sat down with the team to find out more about their updates.
Hello Pietro! Tell us your founding story, how did you get started?
We decided to found Soisy in 2015. At the time I was working at a bank with Andrea, one of my co-founder, and we had lost all hope that we could create value for clients or employees.
We were fascinated by the concept of P2P lending and wanted to create a marketplace for that. Our first attempt was not exactly a success, but in 2017 we pivoted to offer P2P loans to e-commerce clients that wanted to pay in installment. It was a big hit, and we never stopped growing ever since, from 17 new clients a month a couple of years ago, to more than 900 a month now.
This path was also possible because we were successful at fundraising too: as I always say, Soisy was crowdfunded even before doing a real crowdfunding campaign 😉
Our first round was a kind of “door-to-door” crowdfunding: we involved former colleagues and friends to raise almost 1,3 Mln €.
Then in 2018, we went for a real crowdfunding campaign, that broke records raising 1,25 Mln in 8 days. By the way, it started on the very same day we came to Amsterdam, a very good start for our participation in the Fintech & Cybersecurity program at SBC!
And this year we are following up with another crowdfunding round, that you can follow here.
What pain points are you solving and how?
46% of Italians purchase online but only a few of them pay in installments. Yet, every year a whopping € 23 billion is financed in brick-and-mortar shops, even excluding car loans.
The reason for this gap is the first problem we solve: there is no effective solution for e-commerce installment payments available on the market, and the existing ones are hard for e-commerce to integrate.
This is a true pain point for e-commerce and will become increasingly more relevant with the shift from offline to online purchases.
For the installment payments on e-commerce, we offer a solution that is easy to integrate via API and provides the customers with a simple and straightforward user experience.
Our decision to create a marketplace rather than a bank also led us to the second problem we solve: traditional investments such as term deposits and bonds have a very low yield, often close to zero. We give investors the opportunity to finance installment purchases in the marketplace and to gain a return between 4% and 8%.
How did your recent crowdfunding campaign performed, and what are your plans for the capital raised?
We launched the campaign on November 6: in 3 hours, we reached the minimum goal of € 800.000, and in the first 3 days, we raised € 1.5 Mln. We now stand at almost € 2 mln, invested by 380 people, a record for the Italian Fintech. But there is still room to improve it, as our final target is € 2.5 Mln.
But the success of a crowdfunding campaign is not measured only by numbers: it is the conversations we start, the e-mail we receive, the passion that we feel around Soisy that are the most impressive part of it.
What are your challenges now at Soisy?
At the moment, it is attracting enough e-commerce to keep growing at the same rate, while at the same time evolving the product we offer. We are fully aware that the world does not stay the same, and that what worked well last year is not necessarily enough to stay ahead of the competition the next one.
The fundamental challenge revolves around people, though. Scaling a business can be exhausting, and we will have to carefully avoid burning them out over the next years.
Any recent progress and achievements?
Almost 2 MLN € in crowdfunding from more than 380 people is the most recent one, of course! The one I’m more proud of is the fact that although we grew fast, we managed to maintain a reasonable work-life balance, which for me means having happy people in a happy remote environment. Yes, we work remotely and this makes people much happier!
What are your goals for the next year?
We want to increase collaboration with payment gateways and keep the same pace of growth. And since we are talking about goals, the most important one is for 2021, when we want to break even.
What was your experience with the program? Any highlights worth mentioning?
The more time passes after the program, the more I realize that our personal growth as founders was the most important achievement. It is something that we overlooked at the time of application: we are always focused on tangible results in terms of growth, relationships, etc, but now I really think that the 4 months we spent in Amsterdam changed our approach to business for the better. And the deep and entertaining conversations we had with Mark Wesselink were the highlight to mention in this process of growth.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since founding Soisy?
That ideas must be tested before being implemented. Clever as you might be, the world is always too complex to be understood without testing.
What practical advice would you give to first-time entrepreneurs who have a business idea but do not yet know how to turn it into a reality?
To find a way to validate the idea without committing big money, and possibly to seek help from someone that has some experience in doing it. This is especially true for people with corporate experience. Being a manager and being an entrepreneur is 2 different things: managers tend to focus on “how” to build things instead of focusing on “why” it is necessary to do it. I was a manager before being an entrepreneur and I made all kinds of mistakes before learning how to ask the right questions. That is why I am so keen to avoid others repeat them 🙂