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Ten young role models for Europe’s bustling fintech industry

By FinBuzz


With the publication of Forbes “30 under 30”, a series of portraits of 30 of Europe’s most successful young professionals in finance, Finbuzz takes a look at ten (more) extraordinary careers.

Yesterday, we published a list of ten young finance professionals who have risen rapidly through the ranks of London-based and EU banks and investment funds. We noted that by putting so much potential power at the fingertips of anyone savvy enough to use it, the digital age has torn down the barriers which once held back the astronomically ambitious.

Yet this process also threatens the dominant position of the big banks. While many talented youngsters want to begin their careers learning from their elders, many others are convinced that they can go it alone. For while the older generation may hold the keys to capital, in a digital age the means to manipulate it are available to all.

The future success of the traditional banking and investment institutions will depend in large part on their ability to harness the potential of an up-and-coming generation that, thanks to the internet, thinks big in a way their predecessors never could. In order to prevent the best minds from simply setting up their own startups, the big banks will have to offer more competitive salaries and better working conditions for their younger employees.

After all, in terms of excitement, it’s hard to match the atmosphere of high-stakes responsibility and independence which reigns in the small but dynamic offices of Europe’s digital startup ventures. Today we take a look at ten youngsters who, despite making the risky choice of laptops and friends over desktops and colleagues, have made it.

Andrei Brasoveanu (Romania, 29) has been with Fintech startup Kensho since the company began, and played a key role in the venture’s incredible success story; barely a year after Kensho was set up in May 2013, the company, which designs trading algorithms, already had a 9-figure valuation.

Another tech whiz kid with a talent for designing algorithms, Alexander Graubner-Müller(Germany, 27) co-founded Kreditech to offer “digital banking for everyone” in 2011. The company, of which Alexander became the CEO in December 2015, uses algorithms to mine big data in an effort to offer loans even to those without a traditional credit score. Kreditech’s website begins with a catchy quotation from Bill Gates: “Banking is necessary – banks are not”. Big banks – watch this space.

Having started in a more conventional career at Bain Capital, Stefania Boroli (Italy, 29) later founded Idea Tastes of Italy, a private equity fund helping SMEs in the Italian food and wine industry secure needed investments. She also co-founded Mentors4U, which mentors undergraduate students interested in careers in finance.

Another Italian investor working to maintain his nation’s reputation for fine food, 27-year-oldDario Galbiati Alborghetti heads Food Labs, a division of the Berlin-based Atlantic Labs, which helps startups in the food industry attract investment and build their companies. Dario is a good mentor to have; back in 2014 the youngster set up his own successful food startup, Paleo Jerky.

Ophelia Brown (UK, 29) has done her time at the big banks; she worked for three years at the Securities Division of Goldman Sachs in London. Now she is principal investor at venture capital lenders Index Ventures, where she specialises in the tech industry, digital health, information and financial services.

At a young age of 23, Philipp Petrescu (Romania) has worked in both established corporations (McKinsey, JPMorgan) and up-and-coming enterprises such as Rocket Internet, the German internet company that claims a number of other individuals from the “30 under 30” as alumni. Would you be content to have achieved so much by 23? Not Philipp, who in 2013 set up peer-to-peer lending network Lendico.

Creator of financial-news startup Finimize, Maximilian Rofagha (Switzerland, 28) aims to use his expertise and clear communication style to “de-mystify” the sometimes confusing world of finance. Yet Maximilian (unlike yours truly) is no mere journalist; he is also a successful entrepreneur. Maximilian co-founded DeinDeal in 2010, an online retailer that is second only to Amazon in sales volume on the Swiss online market.

Another entrepreneur who launched a successful e-commerce venture, Jonathan Teklu(Germany, 28) later sold Global Leads Group to set up an investment firm, Springstar, which has since invested in AirBnb and travel start-up Comtravo.

Christian Tiessen (Germany, 28) sold his first company, the online shopping club Casacanda, for a cool $11 million in 2012. Not content to rest on his laurels, the young entrepreneur co-founded investor-relations consultants Savedo in 2014, where he works today as managing director.

Lamine Cheloufi (27) and Gary Kurgliakow (27) (yes, OK, we know this makes it 11) are the masterminds behind Cookies, a German app similar to Venmo, which allows users to transfer money instantly via smartphone. With a design which focuses on maximum information security, Cheloufi and Kurgliakow’s innovations may be an important step towards the brave cashless future we all dream of!

This article first appeared  in FinBuzz 

Photo: Jason Scragz

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