We believe in the power of initiatives that bring solutions to deep & wide problems. So this week, we are visiting Soldo —which provides prepaid company cards and automated expenses for businesses.
In this interview, we will discuss their growth strategies, their core values to the customers, the iterations they made to stay strong against the competition, their funding history, and many other aspects of their business.
We had an inspiring interview with Carlo Gualandri. His role in the company is the founder and the CEO. But in reality, he mentions himself as “Mr Wolf” who solves problems of any kind. So let’s take an inside look and hear about their success journey.
The Success Journey
Soldo aims to build the next infrastructure for business expenses processes handling both the banking and the customer support level in all the processes for moving money around.
Soldo offers a unique service by putting together banking and expense management, differentiated from its competitors. In addition, the multi-user setup features bespoke budgets and rules for each pre-paid card, empowering staff to spend across multiple channels with automation, visibility and insight.
External growth (users, revenue…) is closely correlated with growth inside the organisation.
Carlo says there are two ways to address a problem. The first one is meeting the minimum needs for the business and then getting the validation—aka the lean-approach. The second one is starting from the hard side, where you do it all at once. They went with the latter strategy.
Soldo’s business strategy was quite a different one where they built up the company from the bottom up. Soldo created the foundation -the bank- early on and going forward with the early hiring of 15+ engineers. The first goal was building the bank. Then moving on to launching the software tool on the top of the bank. This structured approach led them to manage to get the product market or product-segment fit. Today they are running the business with 100+ employees.
There is quite an interesting growth story Carlo is telling. Watch the video to hear the whole interview.
Video of the founder interview
Listen to the podcast (uncut interview)
History of funding
To make money, you need to spend money.
When you are starting a business, you need to analyse the minimum needs to do so. Carlo understood what the market needs and came up with the brilliant idea of Soldo. Eventually, they got funded for $4M in their seed funding round early on. It was a quite sizable amount and helped them to start strong as an organisation.
Problems & iterations
“You don’t call something a problem until you know there is a solution for it. If you don’t think there is a solution you don’t call something a problem, you call it a fact of life and you just go on with it.”
According to Carlo, it was a combination of believing something should exist. Not because anyone was asking but because you knew that there was an underlying problem. And the main goal was to make it clear to the customer what the problem was and the solution to it.
Soldo was aware of the fact that they were not inventing something that’s never been done before. But still, after analysing the market broadly, it was not that difficult to find the problem within the financial service system and which steps they should follow to provide a solution for the enterprises.
Agile or Lean?
When you manage your customer’s money flow, there is a duty to make sure you are doing it right. At the same time, the challenge is to have a very distributed, very agile organization. If you are running a business in this market – where your company consists of a bank and a complex tech solution to manage your money in it – the very lean, experimentation heavy approach will not work. This is the type of business that needs strong early investment and commitment.
Soldo competes in a huge financial services industry, and their main goal is to do a broad rethinking of the industry and bring a better solution for moving money around.
What challenges this type of business is that they both have to be a bank that is regulated. Furthermore, they need to be a full-stack technology enterprise for all the processes and systems as well. The only way to achieve that was to build their own infrastructure within the business’s first year and move forward.
The Rituals of the Business
If you want to scale your business, you have to have a formal structure to avoid inventing the world every day because you want your energy to be focused on solving the new problem, not the same ones.
To eliminate the extra work when they confront a problem they dealt with before, Soldo follows these steps:
- Think about the problem and what they should do about it
- Document the steps they have taken
- Create a manual & organisational memory
- Constantly keep up to date.
Future goals & milestones
Soldo is a learning organisation and is built and running with the power of knowledge. But, as Carlo mentions, to grow your business, you should keep learning every day.
Besides providing solutions within the financial services area, Soldo’s main goal is to express the potential of all the business components to better themselves each day.
Today with a team size of 130 employees, they aim to grow the team and reach double size within 6 to 9 months.
We are thrilled to discover new businesses and meet wonderful people each week! Don’t forget to subscribe to our social media channels linked below to stay in the loop and understand the London Startups Ecosystem. Stay tuned!