Collaboration is the key to success. Achieving goals without teamwork is impossible.
Risk is inevitable and to be an entrepreneur, one should have the courage to take risks without any fear.
Stepping out of the comfort zone is what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Victor Fredung, a Sweden-based FinTech innovator with years of experience in the industry. Currently, he is serving as the CEO of Shufti Pro, an AI-powered identity verification service provider. He is passionate about AI and blockchain.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you so much for inviting me first of all. I have more than 10 years of industry experience and currently, I am serving as the CEO of Shufti Pro that is aimed at providing state of the art identity verification services. My passion for technology led me to be a part of a company that does not work for big numbers on the sales sheet but a company that strives for innovation.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Shufti Pro’s co-founder, Shahid Hanif, had some terrible experiences while verifying his identity at a bank. The process was cumbersome and there were some flaws in the traditional process too. This was the “Aha moment” when he came up with the idea that there must be a different solution that would not increase hassles for the customers. So, the idea of a digital identity verification solution struck his mind. In 2017, the product was in action and today, we are serving a wide array of companies and helping them in fighting frauds.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Yes, I guess everybody faces this at least once. When I started my journey around 10 years ago, I was motivated and full of enthusiasm to lead a company in the FinTech sector. The beginning was very good and I had all the motivation one could ask for. Unfortunately, there came a point when my company was way behind its goals and all I could see was downfall and shutting down. I wanted to quit and start over, but that was not an option either. My team never let me quit, to be honest. This is where I realised that collaboration is the key driver for any company’s success.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Thankfully, everything is going pretty smooth now. I have come to the point where challenges or pitfalls do not demotivate me. I took a short break from the routine and enjoyed some time at my favourite place. I gave myself time to think about what’s happening and what could be the best possible solution to overcome the problem. Finally, after a few days, I had everything sorted and in the right place. I got back to work and my hard work paid off.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company provides state of the art identity verification services globally. The idea was to provide identity verification services in real-time that is accurate as well. So, our accuracy and speed are the two features that help us stand out in the market.
Back in 2016, when Shahid came up with the idea, he believed that the solution should reduce hassles for the end-user and our client must be satisfied. Avoiding cumbersome processes was the goal and we have achieved it gladly.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Well, it might not be funny for a lot of people but I made a mistake of believing in the phrase “one-man army.” I thought I could handle everything on my own and just a few team members would suffice for my office. However, it turned out that you cannot be the expert of everything and you do need a team of highly skilled people in every department to ensure higher levels of productivity. Today, all I know is it’s a team that can help you.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
I wouldn’t say that CEOs make mistakes, but they have a lot on their plate so they lack in a few places. The most common one is not keeping an update on how the team is working. One should be very clear when it comes to the trends and your organisation’s working methodologies.
As a CEO, you must be able to guide your team at any point they come to you.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
People think the job of running a company is a piece of cake. According to some people, being a CEO means sitting in a comfy chair and scrolling through final reports from different departments and the duty ends. However, it is the most difficult task. If I talk about my job, Shufti Pro has offices in different regions of the world. I have to ensure that every office is working smoothly all the time.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
The 5 things I wish someone had told me are:
1) Collaboration is the key to success. Achieving goals without teamwork is impossible.
2) Risk is inevitable and to be an entrepreneur, one should have the courage to take risks without any fear.
3) Learning leads to success in the long-run.
4) Stepping out of the comfort zone is what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
5) One should embrace failure with open arms. Failures and challenges shouldn’t demotivate you.
I’ll share one example that might convey all these points.
When I started my journey as a leader in FinTech, I thought a handful of information would be enough to help me start. Well, it didn’t go as I expected. Being a CEO does not give you an edge. In fact, it increases your responsibilities. A handful of information about the industry will never work for you. You have to stay updated about the latest trends and not just the industry, but you have to be fully informed about the processes of every department of your company. How can you guide your team members about a certain process or trend when you yourself are not fully aware? Secondly, you cannot sit back and relax because you have a team of hardworking people. This is where I lacked understanding. For me, it was okay to not ask for updates or reports from your team. It didn’t turn out well for me. You have to be equally involved in all the matters of the company to ensure higher levels of productivity. Lastly, everyone has to bear with pitfalls at some point. Running a company is not a bed of roses, so embrace failures and learn from them rather than feeling disappointed.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would suggest them to consider the changing customer demands and market trends as an opportunity to grow rather than an obstacle. The major reason behind shutting down of businesses is that people take challenges as a burden or hindrance in moving forward. Ultimately, they burn out. However, I find them as opportunities to grab the attention from potential audiences.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thank you and if I ever get a chance to start a movement to bring change, it would be to bring a positive change in the youth. Given the rise in digitisation, the wrong use of technology is contributing to the rise of fraudulent activities. Messing with the young immature minds is easy, so my efforts will be to keep them as secure as possible. Updating them about the latest trends and methods of cybercrime will be the agenda.
How can our readers further follow you online?
They can reach out to me on LinkedIn or with one of my team members on Gmail.
Gmail: [email protected]
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!