Interview with Patrik, Founder & CEO of Selma Finance
Part 1 of the Sparrow Ventures Portfolio-Nest-Series
We had a chat with Patrik Schär, Founder & CEO of the digital financial advisor Selma Finance, a Swiss-Finnish Fintech startup, where Sparrow Ventures has been an investor partner since February 2021. This is the first interview of our new “Sparrow Ventures Portfolio-Nest-Series” where he shares a bit about himself as a person, the journey of Selma Finance, what is currently on the agenda for the team and what the future holds along with how it is to have Sparrow Ventures as an investor on board and his personal advice to new time founders.
In a few sentences, could you briefly introduce yourself and what motivates you?
Sure, I’m Patrik CEO and founder of Selma Finance, a digital financial advisor who accompanies people through their financial life. I enjoy creating a new kind of financial advisory that can give financial help for people who currently don’t have access to it and therefore improves the financial structure (and financial outlook) for millions. Additionally, it’s of course great to work with our extremely smart team and awesome clients.
What is an experience that shaped who you are today?
Originally, when applying for Copenhagen Business School where I later got into entrepreneurship and met my first other co-founder of Selma I was first declined by the university. A friend motivated me to keep pushing until finally, they accepted me. Without that friend my life would have turned out very differently. It also taught me an important lesson: Even though things take time and effort, there are very few things you can’t achieve if you keep believing, pushing and executing.
What do you do differently than others?
I came to the conclusion it’s usually not worth worrying too much about things and you should concentrate on possible solutions instead of the problem.
How do you proceed if there is no right answer?
In a startup there’s often no right answer or just you don’t know it yet. We aim to work with a “best idea wins” approach. We keep testing and measuring different things to eventually figure out what’s right.
How did it come to the founding of Selma Finance?
Through my experience in the financial industry I’ve got to know a lot of odd things in the industry. Through the experience of my co-founders I also learned a lot of people are basically neglected by the financial industry as it stands, today. Many people simply don’t get the help and support they’d need with their financials and we founded Selma to change that.
What are some of the milestones for Selma Finance that you are proud of?
I was extremely proud of the first customer (and all the following) we didn’t know personally, people that trusted us with their money because they liked what we had built. Still, the interaction with our customers and their trust is extremely important to me as they are the ones who make Selma successful in the end.
Was there maybe ever a moment that didn’t go as initially planned for Selma Finance and that kept you up all night?
There were many moments that didn’t go as planned, but gladly I’m a good sleeper and those things didn’t keep me awake. Of course, there are always ways to adapt and improve. But unexpected situations and outcomes are important lessons.
What is currently happening at Selma Finance?
Currently we are working on expanding our product further and we also just launched our new website selma.com.
How did it come to win Sparrow Ventures as an investor for Selma Finance?
We were in touch with Sparrow for a while and liked the supportive approach and of course also the doors it could potentially open for us within the Migros Group.
Money aside ;) : How else did Selma Finance benefit so far from having Sparrow Ventures as investor partner on board?
We are exploring a closer collaboration with Migros Bank and of course, there is a lot of trust that comes with an investment through Sparrow Ventures which is backed by the Migros group. It illustrates that while we make the financial industry a little less serious, we’re serious people with a seriously good product :).
What advice would you give someone starting a company?
Aim to solve a real problem for your customers and get closely in touch with them. In the end, your customer is always the key to your business.
What advice would you give founders to find a matching investor partner?
I would advise people to first ask for help and not for money, often the money follows the advice. Also, some companies do not even need external capital to grow. Ask yourself what is the value of an investor? How can an investment help you reach a new stage? How can external knowledge and inputs help you succeed? Then look for the best match. Don’t just raise money, because it’s cool.
What does the future hold and what’s next for Selma Finance?
Our job to bring financial advice, help and support to people who are not that eager to take finances into their own hands is far from over. We want to expand further in Switzerland and also start our international adventure, eventually.
Missed the news? Here you can find out why we invested in Selma Finance.