How two entrepreneurs built a thriving fintech business on Bubble
No-code platforms have immense potential to support the ever-changing fintech landscape with innovative solutions. Entrepreneurs from any background can use no-code tools to develop new products with a much faster turn-around than traditional development.
We came across Strabo and were curious to know how the co-founders of this creative fintech platform used no-code tools to build it. Michael and Ben have experience in both finance and business, and have worked in wealth management, venture capital, and sports! Here’s a glimpse of our conversation with Ben Waterman.
Hi, I'm Ben! I’m the COO & Co-Founder of Strabo. I started off as a professional athlete, running on the track for Great Britain, before moving into the city to get into wealth management for high net worth clients. I worked briefly on a clean-tech startup before moving into impact VC and pursuing a postgraduate degree at Oxford University. In my free time, I am passionate about espresso, running and all things outdoors.
Michael Magdongon is the CEO & Co-Founder of Strabo. Having grown up in Chicago and studied in the US, he decided to move to Europe to pursue his MBA before taking up a role at Amazon. He is a passionate entrepreneur, with one successful company already under his belt in the auto imaging space, and an avid traveller. He was also remote-worker before it became the norm, and can usually be found taking calls from ever more remote and exotic locations.
The complex world of wealth management
Managing finances across the myriad asset classes available to retail investors today is a nightmare. It gets even more complex when you must do so across countries, and with different products and tax regimes. Hiring a wealth manager is only one part of the solution but there’s a lot more to it.
Existing solutions either focus on budgeting or wealth management, but the whole bunch of people in between seem to have been forgotten! The other problem is that personal finance apps of today are so focused on looking back at what you've spent, but they pay no attention to what you'll be worth in the future, and how you're tracking the financial goals you've set for yourself.
Strabo: The global citizen’s portfolio tracker
Basically, we built the exact platform we wanted to use. Strabo is designed to give a holistic overview of your bank accounts, investment accounts, crypto, pensions, real estate and alternatives across different countries, all collated into one dashboard with seamless FX and forward-looking portfolio analytics.
Strabo lets you know what you're worth at any one time, whether you're on track to hit your investment goals and make complex financial decisions simple. The idea was born from more than a decade of difficulty managing finances across jurisdictions. With accounts in 3 countries, Mike was spending several hours a month putting together even a rudimentary and incomplete update of his financial life. After spending more than a year conducting interviews and focus groups with internationals facing the same problem, he and I quit our jobs and started work on the first prototype.
Whether you’re looking at retirement, a new home or simply that 5, 6 or 7-figure investment account, you'll be able to track your progress and forecast all the way to the final day.
We were keen to be able to make changes in real time as users demanded them and were enamoured with the idea of building a product around a community of passionate users – this is why no-code made total sense.
Building Strabo on Bubble
Building a fintech platform from scratch, starting with no technical talent (thankfully we have a load now!) was a daunting task. The obvious pitfalls were mitigated through the use of no-code, the help of outside developers and the advice of a ton of useful mentors, whose blushes I will spare here.
Here’s how we brought Strabo to life:
Web app built on Bubble, using a multitude of plugins (API connections, chatbox etc)
Productivity and collaboration managed with Trello, Miro & Slack
The platform uses open banking APIs to connect your financial accounts together. A user logs in, and can then connect each of their financial accounts and real-estate with individual pop up windows. These are presented on a slick dashboard, and subdivided by country and in any major currency.
This can be lightly customised to the user’s preferences, and provides analytics and forecasting based on previous history, allowing users to look forward at where they’re going rather than just back at what they’ve spent.
Know your users and know when to hire
When it comes to building a product like this, I guess the number one thing we've learnt is to speak to users. Everyone says it, but it's so easy to find yourself building what you want, not what they want.
Here’s how we do it:
Narrow down your target demographic
Collect data from them (if you don't know how, read the Mom Test!)
Listen to it as gospel!
You will enter the project with pre-existing biases and it's important not to let these cloud your judgement.
Secondly, take your time with hiring. Start building relationships long before you want to bring someone on board: finding out if there is a good fit can take months, not weeks or days. That's one advantage of no-code if you're a non-technical founder. Run a no-code MVP and you buy yourself time to find a team while users are still using your product.
We must also commend the hard work put in by F10, our accelerator in Zurich, who have provided countless resources and continue to support us day-to-day.
The collaborative world of no-code
Although we had plenty of sector, product and industry expertise, things like marketing and design were completely out of our remit. The only way to learn these things is to get stuck in, and I've been truly awestruck by the level of support shown not just by the tight-knit no-code community, but the tech sector more generally. People are very often willing to help you, it's just a case of going out and asking.
We envision a world where personal finance is conducted seamlessly on a platform perfectly customised to your needs. Clarity in one click.
Thank you for sharing the story of Strabo with us! You can follow Ben and Mike’s journey on Twitter to know more.