Christian Grobe has already gained experience at Rocket. He told us what Billie does differently and what funny name the company almost got.
"An important factor is that we have a founding team that has already learned a few lessons," says Billie founder Christian Grobe.
The Berlin Fintech Billie pre-finances invoices for companies and is therefore the possible top dog in Germany in the B2B sector. It wasn't until October 2021 that the startup made headlines with a round worth the equivalent of 86 million euros ($100 million). Not only the high sums attracted attention, but also the announcement of the future cooperation with the Swedish fintech Klarna. This is considered the most valuable non-listed start-up in Europe and offers online shopping to private individuals what Billie offers to companies: Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) or in English: invoice or installment payment.
Christian, what tools do you use at Billie?
Right from the start, we at Billie attached great importance to the automation of our internal processes and now have an almost completely technically integrated back office that networks all relevant areas with each other. We paid special attention to this when selecting our tool stack.
Can you give me an example?
If, for example, new employees are created in our HR system BambooHR, all access rights for this person are activated and managed centrally via our identity platform Okta. This saves a lot of time and means that with currently around 150 employees and thousands of invoices to be processed, we only have one employee each for finance and people operations. Tools that help us with this include Greenhouse, Leapsome, Expensify and the usual suspects: G Suite, Slack and Zoom.
On which working days or situations does it go really well for you in the team?
On the days when we all manage to stick to the trivial but infinitely difficult to implement focus dogma of the OKR school. That means: no negative stress, well-coordinated deliverables and such a "happy flow" with results that actually make a difference.
How does your startup work differently than others, do you have a secret of success?
An important factor is certainly that we have a founding team that has learned a few lessons from previous ventures. In addition, I believe that we are good at setting few but central goals – and then consistently achieving them.
How is your working atmosphere?
I hope I speak for the team when I say that we have been able to establish a good mix of professional standards and really nice cooperation. We try to avoid silos as much as possible and nobody needs elbows here.
What do you do differently in the product area than the competition?
From a product perspective, I'm glad that we took enough time to optimize our risk algorithm when we founded the company. B2B risk assessment is very complex and today our algorithm is the reason why we can offer "buy now, pay later" for business customers in the first place. It was also very important that we, as fintechs, relied on a BaFin license right from the start.
Do you have a favorite productivity book?
I really like The 4 Disciplines of Execution. In essence, it is about the fact that the most elaborate strategy does not help you if there are problems with the implementation afterwards. I think this is a point that is often neglected.
What could you be better at?
Like many founders, I'm probably still directly involved in too many areas and have trouble letting go. But I'm trying to work on it.
What's the best business advice you've ever received?
Encourage talent and don't leave them to themselves. Even if the practice at many startups is often different, I think that you learn to swim better in water that is pleasantly warm than in ice-cold one.
Can you tell me about your funniest meeting?
That must have been the meeting where we settled on the name Billie. If things had been just slightly different back then, we could have been called Nordwand today – so you can imagine the absurd suggestions that came to our heads. So while it's not always practical from an SEO perspective, I'm quite glad it ended up being Billie.