The Worlds Times: Explain your background and your Company’s in detail.
Diederick van Thiel : Rosali Steenkamer and I, Diederick van Thiel, made a career shift from our C-level positions in retail banking (ING, American Express) to embark on our fintech journey in 2010. We founded ‘robo-mortgage advisor eye open’ and successfully transitioned the company to Aegon Transamerica. In 2013, we launched AdviceRobo, an AI-driven risk and marketing decisioning platform. Our mission is to drive the digitalization of finance by leveraging dynamic data, machine learning, and automation to build a next-generation FICO. Through this, we aim to create digital tools that enable embedded finance and enhance access to financial services. Together, we are passionate about revolutionizing the financial landscape through technological innovation and data-driven solutions. Additionally, Diederick serves as a non-executive director at the Swedish IKEA bank (IKANO) and the British Channel Capital.
The Worlds Times: What are your goals?
Diederick van Thiel: Our objective is to provide worldwide access to finance for a broad population. Our mission is to establish ourselves as the next generation credit bureau, offering exceptional digital tools to retailers, payment providers, (neo)banks, insurers, and tech platforms. These tools are fueled by machine learning and dynamic data, enabling us to deliver personalized finance responsibly. As entrepreneurs, we strongly believe in conducting business sustainably, creating value propositions that generate value for the user, profits and positive impact on the world.
The Worlds Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of ADVICE ROBO right now?
Diederick van Thiel: AdviceRobo’s impressive growth to thirteen countries across three continents can be attributed to its exceptional level of innovation and commitment to quality standards. With a deep academic understanding of dynamic data, AI, and financial behavior, AdviceRobo transforms this expertise into groundbreaking value propositions that drive access to finance through embedded finance solutions and mobile devices. Our leadership team consists entirely of PhD holders or Professors in relevant scientific fields, enabling us to rigorously apply our knowledge to the AdviceRobo AI platform.
Through our platform, lenders and insurers gain the ability to expedite access to finance in their respective countries, utilizing scalable AI tools fueled by dynamic data. These core competencies empower our customers with the highest level of (instant) decision-making capabilities, enabling them to make intelligent choices that accelerate their growth, profitability, and ensure responsible access to finance for their customers.
The Worlds Times: What was the path you took to get to where you are today?
Diederick van Thiel: During the first 25 years of our careers, we gained valuable experience in multinational organizations, where we learned the importance of maintaining high standards in publicly traded companies. When we launched our own ventures, we recognized the need to differentiate ourselves by specializing and implementing automation. Our specialization lies in developing a deep understanding of financial behavior using dynamic data and machine learning to effectively identify risks and determine lifetime value.
To achieve this, we assembled a team of top experts in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, establishing a global research ecosystem. We translated the knowledge gained into a robust software platform. Through numerous pilot programs with neo-banks, we built a solid foundation of collective intelligence that powers our AI models. We successfully marketed the platform functionalities and expanded our presence to 13 countries.
Throughout our journey, we faced challenges in securing funding for the company. To address this, we sought the assistance of KPMG to close our funding gap. However, a few years later, we executed a management buyout to preserve our vision and mission without compromising. Currently, we run a profitable company with a platform that has facilitated over $2.5 billion in lending to both consumers and small businesses.
The Worlds Times: Why did you start ADVICE ROBO?
Diederick van Thiel: We initiated AdviceRobo with the aim of addressing the need for a specialized solution that surpasses conventional approaches, enabling widespread access to finance. Our core motivation was the firm belief that we could create a substantial and positive impact by offering specialized, dynamic data-driven digital solutions through a cutting-edge and scalable platform. Our ultimate goal is to facilitate responsible access to finance for both consumers and small businesses, ensuring that financial services are accessible to all.
The Worlds Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?
Diederick van Thiel: Throughout our leadership journey, we have encountered several significant challenges that required us to demonstrate resilience and strategic decision-making. These challenges include:
- Differentiation and specialization: One of the key hurdles we faced was differentiating ourselves from competitors and establishing our expertise in specialized areas. We had to overcome the status quo and convince stakeholders of the value our platform could bring, especially in a market saturated with traditional approaches.
- Building a talented team: Assembling a team of experts in neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and relevant fields was a critical challenge. We needed to attract top talent and ensure they were aligned with our vision and mission. Nurturing a culture of innovation and collaboration was essential to leverage their expertise effectively.
- Funding and financial stability: Securing adequate funding to support our platform’s development and expansion posed a significant challenge. We initially sought assistance from KPMG to bridge the funding gap, but eventually executing a management buyout allowed us to maintain control over our vision and mission without compromising.
- Scaling and market penetration: Expanding into 13 countries required careful planning and execution. We had to adapt our platform to meet diverse regulatory requirements and navigate cultural nuances. Building strategic partnerships and securing customer trust were crucial in achieving successful market penetration.
- Continuous innovation and staying ahead: The rapidly evolving landscape of finance and technology demanded continuous innovation to stay ahead of the curve. We had to invest in research and development, adapt to emerging technologies, and anticipate market trends to ensure our platform remained at the forefront of the industry.
Overcoming these challenges required strategic decision-making, perseverance, and a willingness to embrace change. By addressing these obstacles head-on, we have been able to position ourselves as leaders in the industry, providing innovative solutions and driving access to finance on a global scale.
The Worlds Times: Give us one word that describes you the best.
Diederick van Thiel: Tenacity
The Worlds Times: What do you value the most about ADVICE ROBO vision?
Diederick van Thiel: One of the key aspects of our vision that stands out is our commitment to facilitating access to finance for the many people. This focus on inclusivity and expanding financial opportunities aligns with our mission to become the next generation credit bureau and deliver best-in-class digital tools for embedded finance. Our emphasis on leveraging dynamic data, machine learning, and personalized finance demonstrates a dedication to harnessing technology to drive positive change in the financial landscape. I value the vision in the current era and how well it fits with our mission and dedication.
The Worlds Times: What are the strategies of ADVICE ROBO and how do you stand unique from your competitors?
Diederick van Thiel:
- Focus on responsible access to finance: AdviceRobo emphasizes the responsible delivery of personalized finance. By leveraging our AI platform, we enable retailers, payment providers, (neo)banks, insurers, and tech platforms to offer best-in-class digital tools that ensure responsible access to financial services.
- Specialization in understanding financial behavior: AdviceRobo’s expertise lies in our deep understanding of financial behavior, which we achieve through the utilization of dynamic data and machine learning. This specialization allows us to better detect risks and determine lifetime value, enabling more accurate and personalized financial solutions.
- Academic and research-driven approach: The leadership team at AdviceRobo consists of individuals with Ph.D. or professorial backgrounds in relevant sciences. This academic foundation strengthens our research-driven approach, enabling us to rigorously translate knowledge into our AI platform and develop advanced risk and marketing decisioning capabilities.
- Global research ecosystem: AdviceRobo has built a global research ecosystem, collaborating with experts from various fields, including neuroscience and artificial intelligence. This ecosystem enhances our understanding of advanced technologies and our impact on the banking sector, helping them stay at the forefront of innovation.
- Collective intelligence from pilots with neo-banks: AdviceRobo has gained valuable insights and collective intelligence through numerous pilots conducted with neo-banks. These collaborations have enabled us to refine our AI models and develop a strong foundation of practical knowledge, giving us a competitive edge in providing cutting-edge solutions.
- Automation: AdviceRobo excels in automating the collection, preparation, and modeling of (dynamic) data, offering our customers innovative efficiencies that enhance their decision-making capabilities.
These strategies and unique aspects position AdviceRobo as a specialized and innovative player in the financial technology landscape, driving the digitalization of finance and offering personalized, data-driven solutions for embedded finance and improved access to financial services.
The Worlds Times: What are the key values which helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?
Diederick van Thiel: At our company, we prioritize key values that drive access to finance, our customers’ and our success. These values include speed, togetherness, fun, accountability, and delivering a strong return on investment for our customers and partners.
Throughout our journey, we have encountered and learned from several mistakes. Some notable examples include initially targeting multinational banks, which proved to have lengthy lead times and were not the right customer segment for us. Additionally, we mistakenly approached risk managers within companies who were inherently cautious rather than innovative. Another misstep was selecting a funding partner solely based on funding availability, disregarding alignment with our core values. These experiences have taught us valuable lessons along the way.
The Worlds Times: How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Diederick van Thiel: We have witnessed a significant rise in individuals venturing into self-employment and the establishment of micro-organizations and small businesses. These entities contribute to 90% of global GDP; however, they face limited access to financial services due to the absence of collateral or credit scores. Our primary focus is to advance our dynamic data and AI intelligence, providing tools that facilitate global access to finance for these customer segments. We aspire to achieve market leadership in our target markets specifically catering to this market segment. To support our growth, we will be expanding our team by hiring additional sales personnel and individuals with expertise in small business risk assessment and understanding lifetime value. Furthermore, we anticipate the establishment of new sales offices in Asia and North America to align with our growth strategy.
The Worlds Times: What benefits are your clients getting from ADVICE ROBO in this competitive world?
Diederick van Thiel: The benefits for AdviceRobo customers include:
- Enhanced Access to Finance: AdviceRobo’s unique focus on advancing dynamic data and AI intelligence enables improved access to finance for underserved customer segments such as self-employed individuals, micro-organizations, and small businesses. This empowers these customers to secure the financial support they need to fuel their growth and success.
- Tailored Solutions: By leveraging our expertise in small business risk assessment and understanding lifetime value, AdviceRobo is able to provide personalized and tailored solutions to meet the specific needs of our customers. This ensures that the financial services and tools offered are aligned with the unique requirements of each customer, maximizing their benefits.
- Market Leadership: As AdviceRobo aims to grow into market leadership in their target markets, customers stand to benefit from the company’s position and influence. This can lead to increased opportunities, access to a wider network of partners and resources, and the ability to stay ahead of industry trends and developments.
- Global Reach: AdviceRobo’s ambitions to expand their sales offices in Asia and North America indicate our commitment to serving customers on a global scale. This expansion can provide customers with broader geographic coverage, localized support, and access to new markets, fostering business growth and expansion opportunities.
Overall, the benefits for AdviceRobo customers include improved access to finance, tailored solutions, the advantages of market leadership, and global reach, all of which contribute to their financial success and growth.
The Worlds Times: Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?
Diederick van Thiel: In conclusion, we invite everyone who is interested in our work to engage with us. Whether you are a student, a scientist, a potential colleague, or a potential customer, we value open dialogue and collaboration. We strongly believe in the power of knowledge sharing, as it enables us to collectively improve and benefit our partners, customers, and our company. Join us on this journey towards driving access to finance, advancing dynamic data and AI intelligence, and making a positive impact in the world. Let’s connect and create a better future together.
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