Two Years finway anniversary

Happy Birthday finway! Our story from 2019 to today

Celia Schweyer Finway SEO Manager
  • Celia Schweyer
  • 24.06.22
  • 14 min read

24 June is International Office Dog Day, the official last day of the asparagus season AND the day finway was born. Exactly two years ago, in the middle of the pandemic, we signed the certificate of incorporation in Munich – the rest is history, and we want to tell you about it in the following lines.

2019 – It all started with an idea

Who started all of that? The finway founders team is made up of three bright young minds, but how exactly did that come to happen? The original idea of finway was far from being a holistically thought-out all-in-one tool for the finance department, but initially revolved around a real pain point for finance departments that had not been solved by the software until then: Invoices that are accidentally processed and paid twice. This caused (and still causes without a solution) avoidable damage to SMEs in Germany amounting to millions every year. With this knowledge and the ambition to free CFOs & Co. from this problem, Csaba Krümmer went in search of ambitious co-founders.

Where to start? Csaba already had relevant experience as a founder, but this project – although its enormous scope was not foreseeable from the start – could not become a one-man show. Philipp Rieger came on board via an online forum where prospective founders can exchange ideas and get together. No stranger to start-ups himself, he was on the lookout for a forward-looking idea in which he would take on the part of the technical set-up as CTO.
Jennifer Dussileck and Csaba met at the START Summit in St. Gallen in March 2019, by chance over lunch.

finway erstes Treffen in München

Jennifer was exactly the person who could complete the founding team with her background in finance & accounting. Shortly before, she had completed her Master’s degree in St. Gallen and was familiarizing herself with the start-up scene at that time.
Philipp was already living in the US at this point, so the first meetings were purely digital. In August 2019, he booked himself a ticket to Munich, which led to the first personal meeting and kick-off, where this first team photo was taken. (At that time still with Raffael).

2019-2020 – Let’s make a plan!

In the following months, the three concentrate on talks with German SMEs, of which well over 100 were held, to find out whether there is a need for such software in the financial sector. And as it turns out: Oh yes, there is! And it is by no means only the duplicate invoices that make life difficult for finance departments. Smart, digital solutions are lacking everywhere, processes are antiquated and paper is piling up on every desk and in the archives. The idea of finway grows: invoice processing, budgeting and payment options are added, the holistic approach is born.

So we set out to find talented developers and designers with whom we can build “version 1.0”. Thanks to our participation in the LMU EC and Xpreneurs Accelerator, we are building a network with other SMEs, but also other startups.

June 2020 – Incorporation and our first office

Incoporation of finway in June 2020

Not everyone is immediately aware of what was going on in the world and in Germany in June 2020 anymore. The first months of the pandemic are behind us and strict contact restrictions apply. For companies that are lagging behind in terms of digitalization, this presents entirely new, sometimes insurmountable challenges. “Make the best of the worst”, you could say, because the time has come for an idea like ours at the latest. We are ready to take off with finway as a company! But we just live(d) in special times. Jennifer remembers:

Jennifer Dussileck, CEO and Founder of finway

 

“The only moment where Corona really threw a spanner in the works was our incorporation because it was delayed from the administrative side due to the pandemic. At the same time, we have felt a lot of interest from SMEs due to the increasing shift to digitalization.

So it was a super feeling to know that we can now hit the ground running with the foundation and the support of our first investors.”

Through our membership in the START Munich association, we had been talking to Felix Haas, his colleagues, and the 10x Group for some time. When we founded the company, we brought them on board as investors and still receive very active support from them today. Of course, signing the foundation charter was particularly exciting!

We moved into our first offices in the Atlas building in Munich’s Werksviertel, where we continue to develop finway, expand our network and enjoy ending our working days with a fantastic view from the roof terrace. With the founding, the first permanent employees also joined the team – and have been with us ever since. The real first was Ahmed Khalil Bejaoui, a senior software engineer who has helped develop our product from the very beginning.

Ahmed Khalil Bejaoui, Software Engineer at finway

“It is indeed an amazing ride, It is a matter of great pride, to see an idea becomes a company, embracing good values and achieving more than what we have ever thought of, and the greatness is still to come.

finway started with a handful of people and limited resources, it just puts a smile on my face now in every weekly meeting, when I can see the number of people we have now.

We now completed one more successful year. finway is growing and I strongly believe that we can achieve new milestones and a revolution in the fintech industry. I am humbled to be part of this great family.” 

Autumn 2020 – spring 2021: Market entry, first customers and the team grows!

From now on, it only took a few months until we could turn our product pilot into an “MVP” – minimum viable product – and set out to catch our first customers. But wait – doesn’t that require someone else? That’s right, we need salespeople! Through Felix Haas, we got into conversation with Christian Weisbrodt, at that time still VP Marketing at the Munich-based unicorn Personio and looking for a new challenge. Christian is quickly convinced and enthusiastic about the idea and spirit of finway, joins us in November 2020 as Chief Revenue Officer and completes the management team. In the same month, we also win our first customer – a true milestone that is one of Christian’s fondest memories from two years at finway, because he brought this customer on board himself.

Christian Weisbrodt, Chief Revenue Officer at finway

 

“Knowing that you have created something that convinces people or companies, and offers added value so that they are also willing to pay for it – and being part of this gigantic undertaking from the very beginning is something indescribable.

When these customers say “your product is great and helps us a lot” it fills me with incredible pride!”  

In the following months until the beginning of spring, our team should grow even more. Both the go-to-market team and the product team are growing strongly so that shortly before the next important milestone, we already have more than 10 full-time employees in the finway family.

March 2021: Seed financing round

We are ready for funding! Over the past few months, we have intensively exchanged ideas with our existing investors around Felix Haas and expanded our network. btov Partners have joined us as investors and are a perfect fit for us, both from a strategic point of view and on a personal level. In addition, some business angels from the network decide to invest in finway. Thus, at the end of March, we can successfully conclude our seed financing round with funding of a proud 2.1 million euros. The future can come, we are ready!

Anna Bosch, btov partners

 

“Congratulations on your 2-year anniversary, Team finway! Since day 1, we have been excited about your focus on product excellence and your strong as well as efficient execution capabilities. We are very excited to be part of your journey and are very impressed with what you have built over the last two incredible We are convinced that you have a great future ahead of you!”

–  Anna Bosch, btov partners

Product milestone: We’ve got cards!

If you ask an “early stage” finway’an, especially the founders Csaba and Philipp, which product feature has taken the most energy from them, the answer is unanimous: Our cards! At the same time, they also make us one of the proudest. It is something very special to have created a product with which other people can pay. And this can be done in a modern, smart way via virtual (debit) cards as well as in a very classic way via specially created physical cards, i.e. the classic plastic card for the wallet. The road to this point was definitely not an easy one and cost everyone involved in the development a lot of time and nerves. We talked to countless payment partners, evaluated, tested, and finally decided to work with the London-based fintech weavr, through which the cards are issued and integrated into finway. After much more testing, we were finally able to make the feature available to our customers in June 2021. And we know: This really makes it easier for SMEs to simplify their purchasing and approval processes. “Until now, our heads have never been able to make purchases themselves, but had to ask someone – it was spread out and chaotic. The process is much better now. Now everyone can buy themselves with virtual cards and we gain more transparency in this area,” a client tells us.

One year finway!

Ein Jahr finway Team-Treffen

Blicken wir mal genau ein Jahr zurück, auf den 24.06.2021. Zur Feier des Tages machten wir uns schon in der Früh auf zu einem Wandertag rund um den Tegernsee. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt waren wir erst rund 20 finway’ans, etwas mehr als die Hälfte davon in München und Umgebung ansässig. Das Team-Foto von diesem Tag löst in uns schon fast nostalgische Gefühle aus.  Denn seither hat sich unser Team mehr als verdoppelt und die Zahl unserer Kund:innen mehr als verachtfacht – wir können es noch immer nicht so richtig glauben.

Seit einigen Monaten residieren wir nun auch schon im WERK1 im Münchner Werksviertel. In diesen Tagen bestimmt das Corona-Virus unseren Alltag noch sehr, denn wir müssen uns hinsichtlich der Anwesenheit im Office noch absprechen um die damals geltenden Kontakbeschränkungen einhalten zu können. Wir waren aber schon immer und sind nach wie vor eine Remote Company und alle Mitarbeitenden haben entsprechende Arbeitsgeräte erhalten, sodass wir auch rein digital unsere jeweiligen Aufgaben erledigen können. In zweimal wöchentlich stattfindenden “Virtual Coffee Breaks” können wir uns jedoch auch team-übergreifend öfter sehen und auch Gespräche außerhalb von Arbeitsthemen führen. Diese Coffee Breaks haben wir uns auch bis heute erhalten, denn kleine Auszeiten tun uns allen gut und fördern unseren Team-Zusammenhalt, welcher bei uns an oberster Stelle steht.

The next product milestones and further growth

With the constant expansion of our team, we are able to constantly expand the high demands we place on our product, which also result from the feedback of our customers, and release new helpful features month after month. In addition, the first big team offsite took place in autumn 2021. It’s crazy how many of us there are now!

Besides smaller improvements and lots of new things, we can highlight three features in particular at this point that have raised our software a whole level each time. In winter 2021, finway is going “mobile”! We are releasing our native apps that allow users to photograph and directly upload receipts and managers to approve them. Previously, this was already possible, but via mobile browsers. The app makes handling much more user-friendly.

Another major milestone is our liquidity management tool, which we offer both fully integrated in finway and as a free standalone solution. Goodbye isolated tools, hello financial operating system! With this product extension, we enable old and new customers to keep an eye on their cash flow at all times, to plan scenarios and to navigate their company even better through times of crisis.

Last but not least, another long-awaited milestone among the product features is being added to the finway repertoire: a comprehensive solution for the administration and accounting of all travel expenses, including per diems and kilometre allowances. While employees were previously able to submit receipts and have costs of travel activities reimbursed, with this release everything up to incidental travel costs incurred can now be handled via finway cards and flat rates.

finwqay first offsite october 2021

Outlook

What’s next? We have a BHAG – a “big hairy audacious goal”! What the heck is that? We can’t reveal it in detail – but we have set ourselves really big goals for the next few years that are bursting with audacity. But we are firmly convinced that we will achieve them. The constant positive feedback from our customers and the collaboration on new features with them also gives us tremendous momentum.

Meanwhile, month after month, we continue to welcome new colleagues into our finway family, who live our values together with us and ensure day after day that finway continues to grow both as a product and as a company.

finway fun facts

DUPLISOFT

With the first company idea, which focused on identifying duplicate invoices, came the first suggestion as to what the company could be called. The choice initially fell on “Duplisoft”. However, feedback showed that many people thought of toilet paper when they heard the name – so it was discarded!

JOLLIFICATION OFFICERS

At finway, a lot of laughing is allowed and should be done. That happens every single day. But all finway’ans especially look forward to the weekly all-hands, because our two “jollification officers”, Vinz and Filippo, come up with a screamingly funny showcase every week, in which the C-Levels are made fun of and/or other colleagues are lovingly given a piece of their minds. Or the competition, also very charming. The next fact, for example, comes from the brilliant minds of our two laugh and fact commissioners.

EVIL CSABA

Our Csaba, a villain? Of course not, but every finway’an gets spam emails in his or Jennifer’s name landing in our inboxes from time to time. Classic phishing in moderately well-translated German. Filippo just wanted to see what would happen if you wrote back here. The result was a scammer who must have felt (rightly) made fun of at some point and a new Slack emoji (Csaba with evil red eyes!) that has been used daily ever since.

BUG FIXING KING/QUEEN

Who’s the king/queen? Whoever from the dev team solves the most and most difficult tickets will be crowned! The royal title is awarded to the most active problem solver each quarter. Of course, there is also a real (plastic) crown. Honour where credit is due!

YOU GOT CAKED

We love cakes, but baking them ourselves is exhausting. It’s better to let the colleagues do it, isn’t it? Well, yes – occasionally they have to. And that’s when they forget to close/lock their Macbook before they leave the office to get coffee, for example. Then another finway’an comes along and sends a Slack message from the account of the negligent colleague to everyone, e.g. “Oh guys, I really feel like baking a cake again. What do you want?” – Well well well. Someone got cake’d! The joy is great!

Our favourite memes

We love memes, and so do our customers and Linked In followers, which is why we regularly provide everyone with new colourful images fresh from the minds of our in-house meme lords and ladies. At this point we would like to cheer you up with a small selection of our own favourites! If you want more, please click here!

Accounting Meme Collage

Last but not least…

How could we end this article better than with the congratulations of a happy finway customer? Many thanks to Miles Mobility & Florian Schindler (Manager Accounting)!

“Happy Birthday to 2 years of finway! 🎉 Your tool is an absolute enrichment for our finance management. We appreciate the good communication with you and your always open ear for new suggestions! Greetings also to Shawn, who supports us with all our questions! Thank you and keep up the good work!”