Pay with the best card every time.
A simple premise, but one which is often easier said than done! It’s fair to say the average person has a wealth of different cards at their disposal, but are they getting the most out of them?
This is exactly the problem that VitraCash exists to solve. In their own words, they want to help people “focus on the things that really matter, not on credit card fees. VitraCard saves all your cards in one place and selects the best for every payment you make.”
Riselabs talks to Koray Koska, the entrepreneur behind this new platform, about what inspired this fintech venture, and what the future holds not only for the app, but personal finance at large!
What is VitraCash’s purpose and mission?
“We are very big fans of the current financial technology especially all the great products on the market, especially in the last few years. All the great people behind those products there are really so many things which make our lives easier, especially financially.
I would say that we are in a better position than ever before but what we found is that especially because of all those great products coming out right now, the market of payments and finances and managing your finances is so fragmented like never before. Managing your finances can be even harder than in the days before those great products, because you actually know what you are missing and you know that to actually use all of those great products you have to invest so much time.
Its also about investment, there are so many different things if you want to invest, you have to do so much research and use all of those apps and understand what the implications are and they all try to make it easy to understand, But even if it’s easy it’s hard to grasp the whole market. So this is where we come from, we think that everybody should be able to have a great overview and oversight about their finances, to be able to use all of those great products without investing too much time and to really benefit from the great success we are having with FinTech.”
Would you say this is what inspired you to make the app?
“Yeah, that’s exactly what inspired me to go into the fintech world. I was in a supermarket and tried to pay, I was in front of the cashier and I have this wallet, I had this feeling, I don’t have a clue which one to use now, I have all the cards and the benefits. It just wasn’t clear enough for me. This is where I understood many people have this problem. People use instinct with payment. Using them is much more difficult than signing up with them. We want people to use all of those great things that they signed up for. My initial thought was how can we make people understand what the benefits of their cards are? So they can select more easily and faster.
We designed an app which selects these cards, you can put in all of your cards and when you go into a store you can say ‘ok I’m in Tesco I want to buy something for £100 which one should I use?” The problem was you would have to take out your app, type in exactly what you’re spending, where you are etc. It was too much work. So we had the idea to take the selection process out of the hands of people. We do the selection process, we automate it so you don’t have to worry about it. Then we just continued on this idea and made a card which combines all of those cards which combines all of the benefits so that when you’re in front of the cashier you just have one option, use your card, that’s it. What we did in the background was to make a map of all of those benefits, and we select the one that fits best for the payment depending on where you pay. You are saving money, earning points, etc. This is where we are heading.”
What did you do before VitraCash?
“My story began as a software engineer, my uncle gave me a few software projects at college, it was my passion more or less, programming. I did it long before starting any business. I worked with great people on awesome products and I always felt it, loved what I do. I think the one thing I do good is I always share the passion of the people making a product and I felt and understood why they are doing it. At some point I decided I wanted to do it on my own and have my own passion for something, this is where my story as an entrepreneur begins. I started my own company with a friend, we made a social media program. Which I think is the first thing everybody does as an entrepreneur. We failed pretty badly, we laughed about it but we failed at the marketing, we also had problems with the team. This was my first big failure which is always a great story.”
What was your biggest challenge when you started out?
“I always struggled with fundraising, I just wasn’t that type of person; I’m not a sales person. I was great at motivating people and sharing my vision, but not so much at getting money and investment. This was something that I had to learn. I like marketing to customers, you are sharing your passion.
I’d say fundraising was definitely my biggest challenge, I had this problem every single time. My first business, we went live, we had some users, it was a great app, but we didn’t raise funds or awareness of the system so we struggled. I believe all start-ups are only sustainable if there is a big user base. Then you can’t go anywhere without investment behind you.
What I always hated about this whole start-up community is the advice is always the same; get traction. Get some traction and go to investors and present it. It is like going round in circles; you can’t approach investors without traction, but you can’t get traction without investors. This is a big problem and the biggest challenge is to find a solution to it, so that you can push to a point where you have traction and everybody is talking about you.
Many start-ups don’t make it to this point, even if you have investment, getting to this point is so much work and you need so many great people in your team to get to this point. It’s really about pushing it far enough to get there, I’d say that was the main challenge. You have to make people love your product as much as you do. Once I reach this point I will get back to you!”
What would you say are your main tips for success?
“I would say you have to keep motivated. Nobody will believe in what you do but you have to do it anyway. You know it so much better than anyone else. The main thing you have to have is the drive inside you and to know that you know better that all the others and you just have to prove it. If you happen to find someone who believes in your product as much as you do, congratulations you found a co-founder.
Everybody is always talking about how failing is part of winning. I would say you have to look at it as though every single step, no matter how small or big is a way forward towards your goals. You always have to keep these goals in mind. I believe this is true for, not just your business or product, but for your whole life. Everything you achieve in your life is a step towards some bigger thing you want to achieve.”
What do you like to do outside of work?
“I love travelling, that’s how I came to have all the cards in the first place. That’s what brought me to the idea to be honest. It is more troublesome if you are abroad and have to think of all those things, if some cards are not accepted at some stores or ATMs. I’m in Bali right now, since the pandemic began. I went out to clear my mind and now I’m stuck here. As an example they only work with 2 ATM types here, and you have to know this. If you are abroad you sell all of those problems more deeply. AmEx has taken on some stores in Europe and Maestro is very common in Austria and not accepted anywhere other than Europe. You have all of those factors abroad. I love travelling and rock climbing, I love to have new ideas and think about how the world could change.”
Do you have any recommendations for podcasts or blogs?
“Podcasts – I love them. I don’t have a special recommendation but I really enjoy ‘The End of Marketing’ by Carlos Gil; I haven’t finished it yet and it’s very good. The great things is it’s a catchy title, he wants people to understand that marketing is changing as much as technology and that marketers have to adapt. It’s important to know you are not standing still, like the world at the moment.”
Logo design; tell us about your message.
“The nice thing about the name Vitra and the logo is that they started with a different fintech idea which we had before starting what we’re doing right now, and we just continued using it. The great thing about it is that it represents our vision and our motivation more than the product. Vitra is latin to mean transparent and we believe that transparency is key for great products and for great ideas and it’s just the thing we need. We owe this to our users. We think it’s a great vision.
The logo was my first real step into design, this one I did on my own with my co-founder; we tried a couple of options and it just stuck in our head and looked cool. It doesn’t mean it’ll never change but I think it looks cool and it’s nice and what I loved about it was we structured it very well.”
What is your favourite brand?
“Apple, they are great masters of branding, this is their thing. Steve Jobs did a fantastic thing, he inspired so many people. They believe his philosophy and stand out from the crowd, it’s not about the products, it’s about what they make people feel and what they stand for. Apple do controversy better than any brand, you either hate them or love them and that’s what I love about them, it’s not their products. People always talk about it, they have strong opinions about it.”
What does the future hold for you and the business?
“I want people to have financial freedom and to have the ability to manage their finances just like many start-ups claim. This is the major step I want to take, I want them to know how much money they have, what they are spending, what they invest, how they invest, all of those things. My idea and goal and what’s on the horizon is I want people to have an overview of those things. Not necessarily just payments, everything in the finance world. Being able to use the great products without having to understand it.”
Have you been inspired by Koray? Do you have an app idea that’s been rolling around your head for years? Get in touch with Riselabs, we will help move your concept from your head, to the drawing board, to the app store!
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