Startup Sessions: How Marleen Evertsz and Nxchange are creating the future of investing
Marleen Evertsz is the founder of Nxchange, we did a quick-fire five questions on what she loves about working in tech, the challenges she’s had to overcome and advice for young entrepreneurs.
Back in 2010, Marleen started her first venture GoldRepublic, a company that enabled its users to invest in gold with new levels of transparency and safety. GoldRepublic has become a world-leading provider of precious metals and is the first provider to be licensed by the Dutch Authority of Financial Markets (AFM).
Seeing again a market that lacked transparency with high barriers to entry, the securities market, Marleen created Nxchange. Based out of Amsterdam, Nxchange makes it possible to place and trade securities on a regulated platform without the intervention of a bank or broker being required. They fill the gap between the reluctance of banks to lend plus the difficulty of IPO’s combined with the poor interest rates and low returns for individuals savers.
Nxchange has received various accolades for its work including the Golden Bull for Best Investment Innovation in 2016, The Cashcow Award for Best Innovation 2017 and the Accenture Innovation Award in 2017.
Here are our five quick-fire questions below:
What is it that you love about working in tech?
I’m addicted to creating (fin)tech solutions in order to improve existing models in the financial and capital markets. I love to be part of a team that innovates, challenges me and adds value by using technology in order to improve a service or existing business models.
All our software is in-house developed. This means that we always start with a clean sheet of paper. Every rule, every line of code has to be well thought through. When a well-thought plan comes together and a solution can be implemented it feels like giving birth to new life 😉
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome building your company?
There is no such thing as a Proof of Concept in Fintech. For everything you need all required permits in place and a full operable platform to test and implement ideas. This means that concept development and implementations can have long, complex and expensive lead times.
As positive as I am, I must admit that during the permit applications of Nxchange I have often felt that I was stuck in a pool of mud. Being too far from home to return back but still having an endless way to go before the end line is in sight. On the way is very dependent on regulators and lawyers. However funnily enough once the team has eventually built and implemented the solution you kind of forget how hard it was.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting her career?
Don’t be the young woman. Be you. Have full faith and trust in what you stand for. Be sexless when you work and need to make decisions. Wear high heels. Dare to take risks. Have a “yes” mindset and own it! Work very hard, be very smart… And have a good team of lawyers to protect you from any stupidities.
If there was anything you could change about the Netherlands Startup Ecosystem to make it more inclusive what would it be?
At the time I started (2009) there wasn’t a real start-up ecosystem, yet nothing held me back from doing what I did. I am happy. Nothing obstructed me from doing what I wanted to do. I always was able to execute my ideas, I am very grateful for the trust we received from the partners and regulators we work with.
Small tip when you are starting up your venture. We very quickly qualified for the WBSO subsiedy and the innovation box. That resulted in paying fewer employee taxes, meaning keeping cash in the pocket, but it also created a sorted of a disciplined approach to jointly agree, deliver and document what you are actually building. In 2018 we also obtained all the paperwork (knowledge migrant permit) to hire people from all over the world. This resulted in having > 10 nationalities in the house.
Where do you see your company in the next 5 years?
Nxchange should then be a Global Efficient Market that supports the trade of any object of value!