In this latest interview with an inspiring woman in fintech, we spoke with an entrepreneur and the co-founder of a B2B SaaS platform.
Nicola Ebmeyer is driving international expansion, leading the Sales & Marketing function, and overseeing Finance & Business Operations at Gain.pro. It is a remote first company with hubs in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Warsaw.
The platform is designed to help investors and advisors to find, understand and track companies. Last month, eWeek UK covered the market intelligence and software firm’s $10 million (£8 million) investment.
Since the launch in 2018, she has led the growth of the company to 100+ employees and a multinational client base (such as CVC, Rothschild and Bain). Her ambition is to scale Gain.pro to a €100 million (£86 million) ARR business.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, she was a manager at McKinsey.
How and where did you start your career in tech/fintech?
I have always envisioned having my own business one day. I felt the urge to take end-to-end responsibility, not only for a single project, but for something bigger and long-lasting. I also didn’t want to start my own business for the sake of founding but to solve a real pain point. Lastly, building on my business background I have been very keen on building a company with healthy financials.
With these requirements in mind, the actual industry was secondary for me. As part of my career at McKinsey I was experiencing first-hand the struggles of collecting and analysing data for non-listed companies, as a result the business idea for Gain.pro was born.
How was the early phase of founding your own business like?
Starting your own company is an exciting journey, no day is like the other and from the very beginning your role as a founder is constantly changing.
The first months I called the ‘honeymoon phase’. With some capital raised from an angel investor, a small team in place, energy is high with everyone ready to build the next unicorn. You dream big and the sky is the limit. Very quickly our MVP was ready and it was time to start to talk to potential clients.
In those early days I was somewhat out of my comfort zone, going to market with something knowing it was not as strong as your vision for the final version of the product, but with the eyes of the team and the investor(s) on you, launching feels brave but necessary.
Always questioning whether there are customers who are willing to pay for your product or was this whole thing nothing but a naïve idea? User feedback in these early days can be harsh and as a founder there are many ‘no’s’ before you get one ‘yes’. Staying focused, believing in your vision, and keeping the morale high in the team was essential during this phase, but then getting our first ten unaffiliated paying customers was true magic. Now it is about scaling and building a repeatable model.
What’s the most pressing issue for women in tech/fintech today?
Compared to other industries there are still too few females working in tech. Having led a company in this space for the last four years I don’t see a valid reason why this should be the case.
In fact, there are many aspects like flexibility in terms of location and working hours and the non-physical nature of the work that cater nicely to women’s needs. Tech is not only something for your 20s but it is a perfect career choice also if you plan to have a family and wish to continue working, full-time or part-time.
I believe the most pressing issue is to simply increase the share of female colleagues in the team. You need a certain threshold of like 30% to create a culture that’s not centred around one gender’s values and preferences (e.g., language, decision-making style, social activities, etc).
Female empowerment is on top of my personal agenda and I’m proud to say that we have a disproportionately high share of females among the top performers in our company.
What challenges do you face in your role at Gain.pro?
Keeping the same level of speed and quality while growing into a sizable international company. In the early days of a business, you can move with lightning-fast speed and everyone is 100% committed to give their utmost best.
As you get bigger as an organisation there is the risk that you lose agility and settle for ‘good’ vs ‘excellent’ results. Mediocrity is the enemy of any ambitious scale-up. The whole team at Gain.pro are passionate about not falling into this pitfall. If you want to get ahead in business or in your personal life you need to be willing to make the respective commitments.
What advice would you give to women looking to get into tech/fintech?
Believe in yourself and don’t shy away from telling people about your strengths and successes!
Over the last years I have interviewed hundreds of candidates. The one thing that stood out across functions and levels of seniority was the degree of confidence with which candidates spoke about their ability to perform a certain job at Gain.pro. Despite having the same qualifications as their male peers, I hear female candidates expressing doubts like not being up for leading a (bigger) team, working in a new industry and owning targets.
Sadly, still today as a woman in tech you have to fight many biases. This makes it even more important to get out there, be confident and get these mentors and sponsors who will stand up for you.
You can read the previous fintech-themed interview with Erica Stanford, Founder of the Crypto Curry Club, here.