Dan Abrahams on building FinTech company CurrencyTransfer in Israel start-up hub – MAF164

My guest this week is Dan Abrahams, co-founder of CurrencyTransfer.

We talk about how he decided to move to Israel to take advantage of Tel Aviv’s  start-up culture, how he built CurrencyTransfer, and the marketing lessons he learned along the way.

Welcome to episode 164 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Dan Abrahams on building FinTech company CurrencyTransfer in Israel start up hub - MAF164

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Why Dan’s business operates from Tel Aviv
  • Why being in Israel has helped rapid growth for CurrencyTransfer
  • Where the idea for CurrencyTransfer came from
  • How Dan’s found his target market
  • Developing the business – mistakes made and lessons learned
  • How Dan brought CurrencyTransfer to market

Who is Dan Abrahams?

Dan is the CEO of CurrencyTransfer.com. Brought up in London, he studied for a degree in International Business, which included a year in Australia. He met his business co-founder just after graduating.

They realised that foreign exchange is one of the last financial services sectors where the end customer doesn’t know the rules (for example all the fees and commissions),  and decided to do something about that.

The business now has offices in London and Tel Aviv, and Dan moved to Israel a few years ago to take full advantage of the start-up environment out there.

Summary of our chat

Dan and his founders started looking at distributed teams and working in another country when they were trying to grow their company. They decided to spend three months in Tel Aviv. Israel has a high number of start-ups and a supportive ecosystem for new businesses, with angel investment and local talent available.

In Israel, there’s an emphasis on speed, momentum and rapid iteration when building a tech product. There’s a focus on constantly making the business better. Dan felt these were good values for building a global company, and not something he experienced in London.

The biggest inspiration for CurrencyTransfer were the shared problems Dan and his co-founder had, such as charges incurred when paying tuition fees in Australian dollars. The inefficiencies and lack of transparency with currency exchanges were obvious. A global payments marketplace didn’t exist.  So they wanted to build a solution.

CurrencyTransfer focus on global payments and supporting SMEs (which they call ‘mini-multinationals) such as import/export, tour and travel companies and e-tailers. These businesses get a raw deal from the bank around prices and hedging. So CurrencyTransfer helps them to boost their bottom line. They also help with high-value personal transfers such as purchasing overseas property.

Dan wanted to launch the business in 2011, but the market wasn’t ready for it. The technology it uses requires integrations with multiple currency companies worldwide, and the APIs to build CurrencyTransfer weren’t developed enough in 2011. Instead, he launched a digital marketing business for the industry, which evolved into today’s company.

They soft launched CurrencyTransfer with beta testers in 2014. For FinTech companies, bug fixes and preventing problems are most important, and growth needs to be controlled. There was a lot of interest in how the platform worked. One mistake they made at first was trying to accommodate everyone. Now their focus is now on their ideal clients.

A marketing campaign or product Dan loves

Dan says the single biggest evolution that’s bringing value to companies, regardless of size, is voice. Using podcasts, voice-activated assistants and vlogs helps businesses grow significantly, as consumers demand more and varied content. Podcasts sit with other free marketing tools to create engagement and increase revenue over time.

Books Dan recommends

Tim Ferris’ The Tribe of Mentors is a great book. Dan generally consumes audio books, but this one has encouraged him to go back to physical books. The people interviewed are from so many different areas, but all have inspiring stories, and there a business and life lessons within it.

Links and contact details

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