: Conquering Fintechs
“If major companies like TransferWise, Wealthsimple and one of the ten largest financial institutions in the country do business with us, it’s mainly because we really focus on the quality of the data we make available to them and the speed of our application.”
Yves-Gabriel Lebœuf, CEO and Co-founder of Flinks
Combining the words financial and links, Flinks is a financial data aggregation application that facilitates the connection between financial institutions and the various software companies that use this data as part of the services they offer.
Yves-Gabriel gives the example of Paypal, which must be linked to users’ bank accounts to allow deposits and withdrawals. “Previously, people had to submit all the numbers required to tell the system which institution, transit and account to use,” he explains. “With the technology we’ve developed, we do that instantly. Then, our clients choose our API because of the reliability and stability of the connection from which the financial data is drawn.”
Entrepreneurship X 3
A few minutes into the interview, due to a lack of reservation, Yves-Gabriel and I must switch meeting rooms at WeWork L’Avenue – the shared office space that Flinks will soon be leaving in view of the company’s very rapid expansion. As soon as we settle into a new room, the determined entrepreneur immediately resumes his answer to my latest question, enthusiastic to tell me how Flinks has earned their solid reputation and won over their clientele since their creation in December 2016.
At 27, the CEO of Flinks has already launched Moose Bicycle, Walter Interactive and Cycle Discount before founding Flinks with his two partners, Julien Dubé-Cousineau and Frédérick Lavoie, who have also been in business since they were about 17. The startup’s co-founders had solid expertise in mass aggregation and financial technologies. The trio’s entourage, having already reaped profits from their previous projects, did not hesitate to invest again in this new company. Flinks started by raising funds from private investors, and their website highlights the contribution of friends and family, who raised approximately $700,000. This money allowed the entrepreneurs to hire developers and begin designing their solution for which they had targeted a particular need in the Canadian market. “We had letters of intent from companies that were ready to use our app even before Flinks was incorporated,” he specifies.
The commercialization of the first version of Flinks began six months later, while the team was made up of fewer than ten people. “At first, it wasn’t working well at all. But we knew it was only a matter of time before things got better, because our algorithm was one that improves with the growing volume of data flowing through the software,” recalls the Flinks CEO. He also points out that the ability to attract exceptional software developers, in addition to the assistance of international consultants offering expertise in very specific areas of technology, allows the company to ensure rather short development cycles. “It’s quite something to develop the first version of a software in six months. We’re not talking about a small application!”
The idea that changes everything
The company now has 95 clients and 22 employees, attributing its success, among other things, to the identification of a specific need, rather than the simultaneous development of various products. “We are entrepreneurs. We have lots of cool ideas about what we could do, but we thought it would be wiser to solve a common problem,” relays Yves-Gabriel. “In the current context of fintechs, it’s access to financial data that’s difficult, so we decided to tackle that problem, somewhat comparing ourselves to shovel merchants during the Gold Rush. There’s a sort of fintech gold rush going on right now, and we’re the ones selling shovels to all these companies.” Additionally, since sales cycles are relatively long, the vote of confidence from key industry players contributes to the success of the startup.
Indeed, as the technology partner of choice for companies such as Transferwise, London’s $1.5 billion international money transfer company, Flinks saves Canadian users time and money. “We’re shaking up the market a bit, because the alternatives were so mediocre before we arrived,” says Yves-Gabriel. “To tell you the truth, competitors actually create an opportunity for us because every time we knock on the door of one of their clients, it becomes immediately clear that our API addresses their specific pain points.”
Without a doubt, the Flinks team’s entrepreneurial spirit, strategic vision, energy and boundless talent mean a bright future for this young Montreal company!
Translated by Jenn Mierau