Case Study: How Ebury overcame the challenges of growth to become a global success
Founded in 2009 by serial entrepreneur, Juan Lobato and financial services expert, Salvador García, Ebury has revolutionised the FinTech industry with their bespoke online financing solutions that help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) operate internationally. They pride themselves on providing elite services to SMEs that are usually reserved for the likes of larger organisations, such as collecting money from overseas customers, moving cash between international subsidiaries and managing companies’ exposure to currency fluctuations.
Starting out as a team of just three, this innovative start-up grew into a globally-recognised FinTech company, boasting a workforce of over 800, based in offices across Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Of the multitude of risks taken to grow the business, it turns out that growth itself was their biggest challenge of all.
So how did Ebury overcome the obstacles and risks, in order to get where they are today? In a recent interview, CEO and co-founder Juan Lobato shed some light on the Ebury story:
Challenges can create opportunity
Starting a business is no easy feat – it takes patience, determination and resilience, because it doesn’t come without its trials. What Ebury learnt, however, is that a challenge can become a source of opportunity.
During their time working in their respective industries, prior to Ebury’s conception – Juan in software sales and Salvador in proprietary trading – both found that there were numerous common problems that businesses were facing, when it came to international trading.
When asked about his career prior to Ebury, Lobato said, “I found that banks, both in the UK and internationally, made our day-to-day activities extremely painful; payments would go missing, it was very expensive, and heavily time consuming to buy and sell foreign currency.”
As frustrating as these hindrances may have been for the pair, this shared experience allowed them to identify a gap in the market, for a tech service that would assist businesses like theirs and provide solutions to problems faced on a regular basis.
Elaborating further, Lobato added, “I knew that we were not the only business facing these challenges, and so, using the funds raised from selling the software company (Juan’s previous business venture), I started Ebury to help SMEs trade internationally.”
It was during a catch up in a café on Ebury Street, that the pair came up with the concept and a strong business partnership was born – proving that sometimes the best ideas start over a cup of coffee.
The biggest risk a start-up can take is trying to grow it
Ebury is one of fastest growing fintech businesses in Europe and the UK, continuing to expand at a rapid rate to support the 28,500+ businesses and organisations they have worked with to date.
While growing quickly meant that they could expand their portfolio of services and evolve into new markets, growing a workforce at any rate can put financial strain on the business, particularly at the speed of Ebury. In 2015, after six years in business, they received a £54.4 million investment (taking the total investment to £72.2 million at that date) to accelerate its expansion.
“We are blessed to be a very fast-growing business, however, there were a few instances where we grew too quickly and that put a strain on our funding,” says Lobato. “As a start up in the FinTech space, we knew that we wanted to grow quickly, which not only raised the challenge of sourcing regular funding, but also meeting our human capital demands. As we expanded into new territories, these risks and challenges became even greater, but I feel we have succeeded in both areas: the business is now full of people I am very proud of, as well as being very strong financially.”
While Ebury successfully continues to grow at an impressive pace, Lobato explains that in order to expand, your resources need to be in excess of the business’s current needs and if you’re not careful, this can be financially damaging.
They clearly went about it the right way as Ebury now has a workforce of 800 and a turnover in excess of over £36 million.
Of course, every entrepreneur with a dream of starting their own business knows that they’re going to come up against challenges along the way. To protect from the common risks, small business insurance can offer business owners peace of mind and keep operations running smoothly.
The Ebury story proves that each challenge should be embraced, after all, their biggest risks have provided them with their greatest success. If there’s one thing to learn from the business, it’s that you should turn negatives on their heads. Facing an issue at work? Why not develop the solution yourself? And if your business is in need of more resources to take it to the next level, be bold and make that growth happen. Success doesn’t come to those who shy away from challenge.