The fast-moving fintech firm has eyes on global growth. Founder Celine Lazorthes tells us more.
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MANGOPAY is a fast-growing pan-European payments company with 2,000 clients and 10 million users around the world. Founder and CEO Celine Lazorthes explains why the Fintech boom means this is just the beginning.
Let's hear about your business.
MANGOPAY is a payment technology solution. We work with entrepreneurial businesses (such as marketplaces, sharing economy businesses and crowdfunding platforms) to take the pain out of their payments.
Our unique technology allows businesses to deal with end to end payments, from accepting them, to holding them securely and paying them out.
Where did the idea come from?
I am a serial entrepreneur. It was after I set up my first business, online money pot Leetchi.com, that I realised that there was no existing payments provider to support Leetchi’s needs.
So MANGOPAY was born out of my desire to create a comprehensive payments solution for entrepreneurs. We now have 10 million people globally using our system, something I am extremely proud of and hopefully this number will grow with our future expansion.
Plot the growth story for us.
The Leetchi Group, which comprises of Leetchi.com and MANGOPAY, employs 72 people based in France , the UK, Ireland and Germany currently.
MANGOPAY currently operates in the 31 European Economic Area countries. Today, over 2,000 European platforms use its API, and in 2015 we processed more than 245 million pounds. We are hoping to double this in 2017.
Mangopay expects to double the value of transactions this year compared with 2015
Does your sector present a big opportunity?
Financial technology is gaining significant momentum globally and is causing disruption to traditional payment methods.
Funding for Fintech start-ups more than doubled in 2015 to $12.2bn, and we see vast potential for expansion globally over the next few years. Since our launch in France in 2013 we have moved into the UK and German markets. The alternative finance industry and the marketplaces industry are experiencing fantastic growth.
Many new players are appearing within these markets, with out existing clients growing also. Our target is to exceed 1 billion Euros this year. We'll keep investing in our product to become the key player in online money collection services throughout Europe.
What problems have you encountered?
The complexity of obtaining our banking licence was a real problem - the main issue being that it took us so long: two years. For a banking institution, a two-year process is the norm and it is factored in to the decision processes, but for a start-up, it is a real drawback and can have detrimental impacts on success and ability to innovate.
Furthermore, I was less than thirty years old, I was a woman, and believe me the Luxemburgish regulators were more used to fifty year old men in suits! They were quite surprised.
I think you need self-confidence when you’re an entrepreneur, you need to prove your project is ambitious, as well as being serious. You also need a lot of tenacity. Never give up!
How have you advertised the business?
I believe in the usefulness and quality of our product. During our first 2 years, we worked purely on inbounds.
My first business venture Leetchi was well-know in the entrepreneurial scene in France and many marketplaces and crowdfunding platforms came naturally to us as a consequence of learning what we offer.
There was a true gap in the market, and therefore our product and service did much of the talking, rather than pro-active marketing!
L'Oasis is Mangopay's light and airy headquarters
Is running a business tough?
Running your own business is challenging, but it is an extremely rewarding journey, particularly if you work with great people. I try to make every bit of my journey an adventure and each small success makes me incredibly happy.
I can say with confidence that the greatest accomplishment is my team, as they represent all of my company values.
Today, we’re 72 strong, with 18 nationalities and a work force that is 44% of women, which is quite rare in FinTech. I am very proud to have been able to make this happen!
What would you change about doing business in the UK?
When considering Brexit and its regulatory impacts, it’s important to recognise the needs of those companies that are headquartered out of the UK like MANGOPAY.
New policy should not simply revolve around those businesses that operate under the FCA. The economic and employment value added by European headquartered businesses should not be overlooked and it is important they get a fair deal.
There have been questions raised as to whether companies with e-money and/or payment institution licenses that have passported in from Europe should be included on the FCA register.
As a regulator the FCA is trusted by British consumers. The Government should be looking for solutions to these special cases and embed a deal for passporting, or companies may be put off by the cost and inconvenience of being regulated by two bodies.
It is important to understand the knock-on effect that difficulties experienced by non FCA regulated companies could have on their clients.
If non FCA regulated bodies were to be discouraged from operating in the UK, the cost to the economy would not only come from the loss of these non-FCA regulated companies, but also from their associated businesses who would need to spend time and money finding a new solution.
Why is your business better than the rest?
MANGOPAY users know that we take care of their payments from end to end. MANGOPAY holds an e-money issuer licence which means we are regulated to hold all funds processed on marketplaces in trust on behalf of its users.
This ensures that marketplaces are compliant with the new Payment Services Directive, as well as providing users the assurance that their funds are safe and secure.
Our pay-out process within 24 hours sets us apart from other payment solutions, which can take several days. We also offer our customers a very high level of fraud protection including 3D secure authentication and card velocity checks.
How have you developed your people?
For me, building a team is about hiring people you can trust and rely on. That’s the first criteria in my opinion to working with the right people. I like to work with close friends.
I went against a lot of people’s advice; however, I have always followed my intuition. When I chose our CFO Laure Némée, I was told not to do so because the programming language used to build the product was .NET and unfortunately she wasn’t familiar with it.
But I felt there was good chemistry between us, and I was right. As a result, I would say that when you recruit someone, fit and caliber are more important than ticking the right skills.
Attitude and cultural fit are more important than specific skills
How do you score government support for business?
In 2015, the French Government set up the French Tech Ticket which encourages foreign start-ups to set up in Paris.
Giving entrepreneurs EUR 12,000, a visa and a place in one of nine business incubators in Paris for 6-12 months, businesses are encouraged to base themselves in France.
There has been an increase in tech investment of 71% since the birth of this scheme which is fantastic. This support system is a great way to nurture talent in my home country, and continues to improve the future of technology.
What's your advice for people starting a business today?
Firstly, you need to build a strong team around you. You cannot succeed alone. You need to look for positive people you can rely on and who are ready to embark on an entrepreneurial journey with you.
You need a good business model and product that fits the market’s needs. Work out who your target audience is, whilst targeting big markets with a local approach and an entrepreneurial mind set.
You also need to test your idea early on. Even if the product is not as perfect or as finished as you would have liked it to be, it is important to launch because you want to have feedback as soon as possible.
It will tell you if there are customers ready to buy your product or not. Once you have that you can focus back on improving your product.