On the BankNXT Fintech Podcast this week, I talk to Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder of Klarna. From humble beginnings working at Burger King, to running a fintech company that employs more than 1,400 people, Sebastian has overseen the growth of a service described as being a safe and easy-to-use payment solution to e-stores in Europe.
We talk frankly about the payments solutions sector as a whole, as well as more specific threads such as the origins of Klarna, where he and his co-founders found support from the Stockholm School of Economics, and how technology isn’t the be-all and end-all of a good business strategy.
“Sometimes, you have to find a balance between technology that can enable new, cool things, but look at people’s behaviour and what people feel comfortable with,” he says. “The management consulting firms are ranting ‘it’s the end of the world, and if you don’t change now, you’re going to all lose out, but don’t worry, we have the secret sauce – start with hiring a chief digital officer’, and I’m looking at them and I’m like, what are you talking about?! This is just one new communication channel. What you need to do is make sure that your customer experience – your customer offer – is really good in this new channel, because this channel is becoming the main channel. This means going down to the nitty-gritty detail of UX, number of steps – all these things. You need to be on a great user experience level in order to be successful.”
What I found most gratifying about my chat with Sebastian is that he was so open to talking about the genesis of Klarna, and how he and his friends got the ball rolling. As with most of my conversations with entrepreneurs, the subject of fear is brushed aside as something alien; something that only non-entrepreneurs experience, and I find this such a fascinating personality trait to explore.
It’s an engaging peek into the world of a fintech startup that’s been around a little longer than most, and how its growth ambitions are as keen and focused as they ever have been.You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.