2020: Adversity brings clarity

Nick Root
3 mins

  • Thought leadership

Our 2020 was even tougher than it was for most companies.

On top of the common dismal news, we also endured two major supplier failures and many of our people got caught up in the democratic crisis in Belarus.

But the incredible hardship helped create clarity around some of our beliefs and assumptions that had not yet been properly validated.

On the product side, our offering is cashless and e-comm focused. Two things that got turbocharged beyond our wildest dreams in 2020.

We want to provide the financial toolkit to help businesses build, adapt and thrive in this digital age. In practical terms this means connecting them to a regulated financial cloud to automate every financial aspect of their business.

That’s a huge complex challenge. So we started small with a simple multi-currency bank account and card.

This is already proving  useful for businesses now, who loathe long paper-based application forms and terrible service from traditional banks: with very little marketing we grew transactions x5 and clients x2. All this in the midst of the worst economic conditions for 100 years.

Looking ahead, these are positive signs for 2021. Now, as we ramp up marketing and build the client base, we are also piloting merchant and BaaS services, which will be fully live in H1 2021.

On the organisational side, our Org Design raised more than a few eyebrows before 2020. Advisors commented that we should focus on fixing things that are broken, not taking risks on things like org design, where there was already an established method. But at Intergiro we always reason from zero, hence top-down command and control felt so obviously flawed in this fast changing fintech environment.

I designed Intergiro to be antifragile, meaning it actually prospers in difficult and unpredictable times. When the world was turned upside down in 2020, our already distributed/remote organisation actually got more productive, as time draining things like business travel stopped.

My team is constantly doing things that surprise and impress me. In 2020, they outdid themselves.  When the Belarusian government switched off the internet, our engineers quickly built VPNs to get everyone back online and critical people voluntarily moved to Ukraine and Russia to ensure the lights stayed on. The increased camaraderie has led to very tight bonds in the team.

Despite the obstacles, 2020 saw the team deliver (in no particular order):

  1. A PCI compliant card issuing platform
  2. A PCI compliant card acquiring platform
  3. (Probably) the best corporate on-boarding system in the world
  4. Hubspot integrations into our website and on-boarding flow for full tracking
  5. State-of-the-art data analytics infrastructure
  6. Integrations with Marqeta, Fiserv, Currency Cloud, Onfido and a new banking partner
  7. Two bank swaps, with minimal impact on clients
  8. A full acquisition of a PSP, together with all the legal and DD preparation
  9. An international employee share options program
  10. A full rebrand

All delivered in 2020, with an average FTE of less than 50 people, and an uptime of 99.99%. On reflection, our productivity was pretty unbelievable.

Zooming out a little, even our purpose/origin story got validated: Intergiro was created to help entrepreneurs and change-makers build and adapt businesses so they can thrive in the digital age.

We think this is important because businesses are the engine of progress. They create jobs and value out of thin air, but above all they build new ‘stuff’ to keep us moving forward. This could not have been more starkly demonstrated in 2020.

Communication and collaboration tools showed us we can stay productive when we are not in the same room. Cutting edge biotech companies showed us we can ship vaccines in 9 months not 5 years, even proving a revolutionary new method that is likely to transform all medicine foreverBlockchain use cases were turbocharged and 3D printing helped us fix and ship more ventilators.

Companies such as these serve as our inspiration, as we continue on our mission to provide the financial tool kit needed by businesses to build, adapt and thrive in the digital age.

We hope the solutions we deliver in 2021 and beyond enable the next generation of innovators to overcome whatever adversity they may face, and to shape future progress along the way.

Bring on 2021.