“Another significant way that Regtech helps businesses has to do with visibility. With Regtech, you don’t have to spend months generating reports — you have access to this information real-time and can produce reports on a weekly and monthly basis. It gives a clear insight into what’s really going on in a company, and what’s being done right versus what could be improved.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Sehested, CEO and co-founder of GAN Integrity. GAN’s compliance management software transforms the way compliance programs operate by bringing critical compliance applications and data together into a single, fully integrated cloud-based platform. Today, many of the world’s leading brands trust GAN’s innovative compliance management software to help them better manage compliance.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. At 16, I moved to the U.S. as a professional windsurfer and won three world championship titles. I went to university for international business and wound up founding my first company while I was still in school. That first company, based in Los Angeles, focused on doing data analytics for the music, gaming and movie industries. We helped them understand how content was being distributed outside of authorized channels. We funded the company through bootstrapping and grew it to 100 employees, working with many of the major names in the industry. Eventually, we sold the company to Thomson Reuters, and I went to work there for a couple of years running their digital media division.
From there, I began investing in tech startups and that led me to GAN Integrity, a Danish company started in 2004 as a consultancy helping government agencies and other companies with compliance. After acquiring the company in 2015, we pivoted to being a software company. We now have 100 employees and growing, with offices in New York, London, Copenhagen, Dubai and Paris, France.
Can you share the funniest or the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
As GAN has been experiencing quick growth, we started getting contacted by a number of investors and others who are looking to somehow get involved. I received an email claiming to be emailing me on behalf of Facebook and Linkedin, and saying they wanted to invest money. Well, I deleted it quickly as spam but they sent a couple of other emails, which I also deleted. With the fourth email, it was more straight to the point, claiming to be from the personal fund of Mark Zuckerberg. And that’s when I realized it actually wasn’t spam but rather, really was the personal fund of Mark Zuckerberg and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) called ICONIQ. I called and apologized. I did end up meeting with them in San Francisco and they were a really great group of guys. You kind of know you’re sitting in the right meeting when they refer to him as “Zuck.”
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What we bring to market that no one else really does is this unified platform, a turnkey solution that fits any company’s needs. For instance, our largest customers have in the area of half a million employees while our smallest range more towards a few hundred. But all of them have the same needs — to keep track of their third party vendors, to keep track of their employees, and to keep track of all the legislative thresholds or issues there are around the world in terms of doing business internationally. More and more companies are doing business globally and in fact, it’s almost a pre-requisite if you’re going to do business these days. We put all of that into one very slick platform, with great reporting abilities for the users and it’s really making waves in the compliance and Regtech industry.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We’re working on a lot of new products. One of the things we really have going for us is that we’ve developed such a versatile platform — a lot of our competitors have platforms that were developed a long time ago and it’s harder for them to add innovative new things into the code base. Because we are a younger company, we have the ability to incorporate a lot of cool things into the platform. We’re rolling out updates on a weekly basis that help our customers analyze the data better.
One of the things we’re very proud of is that one of our customers won an award for best legal compliance initiative by rolling out our software to their organization, a very large international company.
What we’re striving towards is making the compliance managers — and the company — look good. We want to make sure they have the ability to analyze all of the data that is flowing in from their vendors and their employees on an ongoing basis, and that we can automate a lot of these processes.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I really think it’s about empowering them to do what you hired them to do. I try hard not to micromanage processes. I try to empower people, to motivate them, to give them a chance to fail and learn from it, and then succeed after that. It can be hard when you’re bringing together employees from different locations and different cultures. I truly think it’s about helping employees learn on their own — that goes a long way.
Can you share the top five ways that RegTech can help increase a business’s bottom line?
It can be a little hard to quantify all of the overarching issues.
First and foremost, Regtech helps companies grapple with compliance and develop a strong compliance strategy.
Beyond this basic foundation, one of the major ways Regtech helps a business is reputation protection. For instance, there are many companies who have been in the spotlight over various violations and what ultimately winds up being the biggest problem isn’t the monetary penalties, but rather, the damage to the brand and its reputation.
That said, financial liability is one of the ways that Regtech can help improve a business’ bottom line. We have customers that have paid upwards of a billion dollars in fines and fees before implementing an effective compliance program. Being compliant can save companies so much money in potential penalties and fines.
Another significant way that Regtech helps businesses has to do with visibility. With Regtech, you don’t have to spend months generating reports — you have access to this information real-time and can produce reports on a weekly and monthly basis. It gives a clear insight into what’s really going on in a company, and what’s being done right versus what could be improved.
And finally, Regtech gives companies a competitive advantage. Compliance is becoming such a prerequisite for doing business. For a lot of large corporations, their partners also need to follow strict regulations. They simply cannot do business with certain companies or in certain countries unless their compliance is in order.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you?
I believe strongly in the concept of Grit, if you want to talk about something that creates success. In sports, for instance, it’s the person that spends the most hours training and I think a lot of that applies to business. When I was windsurfing, a lot of people would tell me that I was lucky (when I won.) And I thought it was interesting that the more I trained, the “luckier” I got. I don’t know who said it, but the quote I always go back to is “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Breana Patel is the CEO of Bonova Advisory, a New York based Management Consulting firm helping Financial Services, Large Banks and Public sector agencies navigate today’s most complex Regulatory, Risk and Digital Transformation landscape. Breana brings rigorous leadership experience helping banks with net assets of $50BN plus to build robust Enterprise Risk management frameworks as well as obtaining various regulatory approvals. Her focus is on strategic business solutions advising numerous C-suite executive at large firms.
Originally published at medium.com