Valentin Ivanov of Quanloop: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder
An Interview With Ben Ari
Do the decent thing and act like a person. Here we have the first and primary consideration. Keep in mind at all times that we have a common humanity. This seems so basic, yet many managers simply see their employees as man-hours to them. Though your employment will inevitably come to an end, your connections with others will last a lifetime. In my professional experience, I have never witnessed it being used inappropriately or misunderstood as a lack of strength. This has never been a problem for any project.
As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Valentin Ivanov.
Valentin Ivanov is an Estonian entrepreneur and co-founder of Quanloop. He is an expert in financial technology, payment processing, and regulatory compliance. Valentin has more than two decades of experience as a manager of private investment funds and fintech companies and as a consultant to both professional and small investors.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for inviting me for this interview! I’ve grown up in a family of accountants, thus close to everything “legal and finance” from an early age. Like many university students in the late 90s, I was looking for a job and found myself in IT. That made a big impact on my prospective career, shifting me from becoming a lawyer to becoming an entrepreneur focusing on what we call FinTech today. My first technology company has been serving several VC firms with their products, and it had been a matter of time before I would switch to my own products instead of offering services. Financial products that have the technology behind them are very interesting environments to work in, you start with a company, then a fund, and later more of them; you start working with one investor, later more, and suddenly discover that you don’t anymore know all of them by name. Since the evolution of fintech never lets you stop, it’s a never-ending story that can be written, and my book is still in its first chapters.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
The bad thing about the hard days is that they keep happening. The good thing, instead, they always end and never last forever.
The toughest period for me has been during the first ten years of my professional career. It is the time when you lack experience and have too many ambitions instead. The inability to recognise the need for a fine balance is what clearly slows you down. But enduring through the tough period develops your character — this is the kind of person you’ll be tomorrow, the one who will be ready to face and go through the next adversity.
So, learn to remember that every new day starts a new journey. Just believe in success, and don’t repeat your mistakes.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Some people just never stop. Even though being too optimistic when you are younger gets changed to becoming rather realistic over time, it’s still quite important to keep your nose up.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
It’s too early to call it a success. As I said, the book is yet to be written.
Today, all my time and energy go to Quanloop. It is an alternative investment fund serving a myriad of investors from all over Europe. We started almost simultaneously with COVID and immediately faced the continuously changing environment, thus having to adapt. The way to survive and succeed is hidden in the team spirit of the people around you.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I would not say my example would be rather funny, yet hortatory.
A business failure is similar to breaking a promise; it depicts the worst possible outcome in the near future. Once you have one and another — you think it is the end. Ignoring the importance of setbacks and failing to learn from them is the biggest mistake to make. Every setback develops a thick skin for hardship and a rough edge in the corporate world. It’s more of a badge of achievement than a smear on my reputation that my business venture failed.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Quanloop has reinvented refinancing. With innovation in our blood since the very beginning and continuously, Quanloop is improving itself to make sure we’re offering the best experience and the most diversified opportunity to invest and earn money.
After analysing different business models of p2p and crowdfunding networks and platforms, we found that a modern investor seeks a much easier investing solution. They don’t want to stay vendor locked in and need to be able to exit shortly. The investor wants to save money from being lost, inflated, or spent unintentionally by themselves. And only then do they want to grow their capital and earn a profit — we know how to answer each such demand.
Quanloop alternative investment funds offer European investors make short-term investments by investing as little as €1 for as short as 24h. The so-called short money offered by investors builds long-term capital that is invested for a term of up to five years. The built-in diversification model keeps both the investor and Quanloop from making wrong decisions, thus minimising the risk of loss by splitting the investment capital among debt projects of different risk ratios.
The Quanloop investment funds are suitable for every type of investor — from risk-averse and new investors to the ones with higher risk tolerance and more experience.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
We’re all too familiar with the feeling of being completely swamped by our jobs, our never-ending to-do lists, and the constant stream of messages we get through the phone, email, and social media. I suggest reading a book titled “Make Time” written by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, both veterans of the technology business, where they provide plain recommendations for modifying your way of living in order to recover your life, attention, and ability to take control over your time. I strongly support their recommendation to choose one key activity to be the focus of each day and then structure your day, as well as your time and energy, so that you can support that primary endeavour.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It is absolutely vital to have strong motivation to move forward. In my case, this motivation is founded by quite a few people — my family and kids, my parents, and my team — who trust me and in me. For many years, the joy of working together, mutual understanding, and support have been of huge support to me, making me surrender the Me for the We.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Any commercial success involves the use of human labour, and by consuming something, it is absolutely reasonable to give something back. In return for the acquired opportunities, it should be natural to repay them by opening doors for the people who create our society — doing so through culture, sports, education, and health promotion. Even if I am a great lover of art and culture, I still prefer to devote myself to sports and specialised training, and I am always particularly concerned about the health and the development of medicine and access to it.
I consider it a very good form to donate to sports and medicine, to support those in need, and recommend that up to three per cent of annual business net income be allocated for sponsorship of these areas. In Quanloop, instead of giving annual gifts to our multiple clients, we use this money to help. We do it gladly, and we oftentimes don’t mention it in the media, because something you’re proud of doesn’t have to be bragged about.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Do the decent thing and act like a person. Here we have the first and primary consideration. Keep in mind at all times that we have a common humanity. This seems so basic, yet many managers simply see their employees as man-hours to them. Though your employment will inevitably come to an end, your connections with others will last a lifetime. In my professional experience, I have never witnessed it being used inappropriately or misunderstood as a lack of strength. This has never been a problem for any project.
- Get the hang of running things. It’s not in your blood to be a good manager of people. Sure, you may get by without books, but your work will suffer and seem sloppy. As a manager, it is your responsibility to protect the company’s best interests, and you’ll do much better at this if you’re familiar with negotiation theory and can identify the other party’s personality type. To that end, before you take on the role of CEO, it is important to educate yourself on a wide range of topics, not only “How to manage,” but also psychology, thought patterns, personnel selection, negotiation, marketing, project management, and economics.
- Learn the scope of your responsibilities. Apparently, you can’t have power without fear since that’s what the author of that saying said. I’ve met CEOs that hold such views for genuine. I’m the boss, you’re the idiot, and the rest doesn’t matter to them as a guiding concept in life. In my experience, knowledge of the subject matter at hand is the only way to earn respect as a leader. Make an effort to communicate with others who share your language. If you say something like, “I’m not interested in how you do it,” your staff will lose respect for you and start calling you an “inefficient manager” behind your back.
- Trust. It’s in your best interest to put your faith in the expertise of qualified specialists working on your team. You may rest easy knowing that they will complete the task without your oversight or direction.
- Put aside enough money to keep you going for at least six months. This is advice that may be applied to any career. Having a safety net in place will give you the confidence you and your team need to pursue your goals.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
The first three to five years will be fraught with a great deal of stress. Investigate how you behave under pressure. Individuals who become founding managers are, as a general rule, people who are very responsible, people who are ambitious, and people who are, in a way, conceited. All of these characteristics provide a significant potential for the development of stress. It is essential to have a solid understanding of how you respond to pressure, how fast you can cope with it, how productive you can be in the moment, and how soon you can get back on your feet.
Please don’t just let your mind wander here; instead, I’d want you to do some analysis: Do you feel like stress is immobilising you? Is it screaming and stamping your feet, or is it yelling and pulling away from the situation? Are you trying to find someone else to blame, or are you taking your frustrations out on yourself? Examine the causes, the current stressful circumstance, and the exit strategies to see where you could be vulnerable. It is important to be aware of it. Put together a secret code of conduct detailing how you should behave, and record it in any and every medium you own. This is the only way to convince you that the theory is correct. Managerial success is directly correlated with the individual’s ability to deal with stress in a positive and productive manner.
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. :-)
I often think about how important inclusion and innovation are in both our personal and professional endeavours. The simplification of many things that benefit people in the long run, such as access to financial resources, for example, is the key. It will attract diverse groups of people, ideas, enterprises, goods, and so on. In a nutshell, simplification is innovation, and innovation by design is inclusive.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!