This Fintech Founder Shares Why Economic Downturns are Positive Environments for Startups, and What 2023 Will Hold for the Industry

This Fintech Founder Shares Why Economic Downturns are Positive Environments for Startups, and What 2023 Will Hold for the Industry

Martin Hegelund discusses entrepreneurship, economic downturns, and more Times are tough, and companies are bleeding. Not only is funding far less than last year, but many companies are having to cut spending and employees to stay afloat as profitability becomes king. However, it is not all bad news. Economic downturns prove difficult for every business, but they can be positive environments for startups.

According to Martin Hegelund, economic downturns mean companies are forced to do the right things because of the lack of funding. He also points out that there is less competition for customers and talent during tough times. The following questions answered by Martin Hegelund, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Ageras Group, address his entrepreneurial journey, startups during economic downturns , and what he thinks the future will hold for the industry.

Grit Daily: Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get your start as a founder?

Martin Hegelund: My journey as an entrepreneur started when I launched a network of websites back in 2005 at age 13. It started out just for fun with just one site, but I got hooked on everything you can do with the internet. I believe the internet is the most significant invention since electricity as it enables so many new services and amplifies knowledge at a speed we have never seen before.

With this thesis in mind, a small team of freelancers and I kept launching new websites and digital services, such as ad-based websites, directories, and online stores. I used the internet as my sandbox to keep learning from my many mistakes and worked hard to become exceptionally good at building digital services, getting them to market, and making money through transactions or subscriptions.

Grit Daily: When did you come up with the idea for Ageras, and how was the company started?

Martin Hegelund: I launched my first projects while I was still in school. After doing that as a side hustle for five years, I met Rico Andersen, with whom I founded a household services marketplace. After working on that project for two years we had spent all our savings and even taken out a loan to fund our investments. But our pure C2C business model turned out to be unsustainable and we had to close down.

However, now poor on money but rich on new learnings, we found out that we were a great match working together, we had become excellent in building marketplaces (but wanted to do this B2B instead) and last we reflected on that we as non-financially savvy entrepreneurs had nowhere to get an overview of our finances.

So we started by building Ageras, a marketplace of accountants and business advisors, and scaled that to most of Europe and the US. Later we added accounting software with the aim of having a solution where you could always be on top of your business – whether you work with an accountant or not.

Today we are in a very different stage, now that we have a more comprehensive offering including business banking in some markets – and have also served a million businesses globally.

Grit Daily: You’ve been employing an aggressive M&A strategy this last year. How does that work in tandem with your executive mindset?

Martin Hegelund: We want our software to be the center of the everyday life of a business owner. So while you can use our light accounting product, Zervant, all over the world, in order to create real value for our customers, we need to have a very strong local focus.

It would take years to build software that has all the specific customizations for each market and therefore we have selected a few core markets where we have acquired a very strong accounting platform which we then use as our main product in that market. In addition, we want to acquire more niche features that we embed in our software across the globe.

We are of course building features and products ourselves, but to have true global scale, we need to do acquisitions to expand our service offering at the pace we want.

Grit Daily: What are your top predictions for the fintech field over the next 6-12 months? What “trends” do you see falling by the wayside?

Martin Hegelund: Downturns really cut fat from the bone and in a high-growth area like fintech, I think this will be even more evident. We will see customers cutting back on spending and investors doing that even more so, meaning that only the most value-creating […]

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