Shaping business banking with Quetzal Finance
The most inconvenient of issues can spark the best of ideas – that's why Quetzal Finance was formed.
The Fintech startup was selected as one of the cohorts for the Finance Foundation's incubation programme because of its incredible ideas about small business banking.
We sat down with founder Ed Bramwell to dive deeper into the startup's founding, its future, and to understand what makes Ed tick.
Who is Ed Bramwell?
"I've always known, since an early age, that I've wanted to start a business. I just didn't know in what or when."
Ed is the founder of Quetzal Finance and jokingly says "I think if you asked my mum, she would say that I was always looking out for opportunities to make money."
"That said, I'm not hugely motivated by money. If I was, I probably wouldn't have become a founder."
He is also a self-taught programmer and marketer and quips that "One of the things you need to be good at as a founder, is wearing many hats."
Ed also has an MEng in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Bristol.
After university, he went into consulting, spent two years at McKinsey and Company, and worked in media and tech. As Ed says, he was unsure of what he wanted to do after university.
During his time at FirstVet, and being recruited as the second employee in the UK, he got his first taste of startups.
"It was my first intro to startups. It was amazing to see the different kinds of problems which are a gulf away from the problems you experience in a big corporate consultancy."
Around 18 months into the global pandemic, Ed decided he wanted to found a startup. So he quit his job, spent some time researching ideas, and founded Quetzal Finance in the summer of 2021.
What's the Quetzal Finance elevator pitch
Simply put, Quetzal Finance is a startup neobank; building a business finance super-app.
"Our vision is to become the best first partner for startups, from inception to IPO.
"We'll be there for you from the point you incorporate and open your bank account, to the point where you go public."
The idea for Quetzal Finance was based on the team's own experiences. The company started as a metaverse adtech company, however, since they were operating in a cryptocurrency-adjacent space, many payment providers would not deal with them. As Ed says, using crypto "is just a different way of making payments."
When the first incarnation’s growth plateaued, the team knew that it was time to pivot to something else entirely.
"There's no better problem to solve than one you've experienced personally and have a deep understanding of."
Ed has spoken to over a hundred startup founders – including many involved in web3 – and found that the UK banking system just isn't up to snuff when it comes to small companies and new tech movements.
"We are going to build a bank that is dedicated to serving startups, starting with those that are in web3. And that's where Quetzal was born out of."
The offering will consist of three main products:
- A current account that can be used for transactions and money transfers.
- Physical and virtual cards
- And a concierge service for clients that will help users to understand their business needs, or connect them to the right people.
When asked about the concierge service, Ed said "For our first 100 customers, that will be me – the life of a founder!"
A day in the life of the founder
"No such thing as a typical day," and he's right. It's almost impossible to define a typical day in the world of Fintech.
The bulk of his day is spent speaking to potential customers, 'cold calling' on LinkedIn, and reaching out to known contacts.
The rest of the day involves product building. Since Quetzal Finance incorporates a lot of integrations, a great deal of time is spent on compliance and understanding what else is needed for the software.
And around 10% of Ed's time is spent thinking about the vision of the startup and making sure that all plans and strategies are in alignment.
The challenges faced by startups
One of Quetzal Finance's biggest challenges was being unbanked. For example, Stripe froze their account, even though nothing had been processed through it.
Another issue, and one that Ed spoke of earlier in the interview, was finding the right bank. The startup applied to several traditional- and neo-banks, with one constantly asking for more information, another outright rejecting them, and a final one that just didn't understand their business.
Once they’d opened a bank account, it was clear that the provider didn’t have an appropriate feature set geared towards startups. To manage basic operations, such as payroll, required integrating with other vendors.
"As a small startup, I shouldn't need four or five bits of software just to manage a relatively modest budget."
Advice for other founders
Finally, we asked Ed if there was any advice he wanted to share with other startup founders.
"You should ignore 99% of the advice you get from other founders, including this.
"If you think you have a good idea and you think you've found a big problem, run at it as fast as you can.
"Essentially, move as quickly as you can on the idea to see if you are correct. Pitch the idea, and if you can sell it as a solution to a problem, then you're onto something great."