This story is part of the series on financial services industry, with a focus on financial technology (fintech). You can learn more about export opportunities in this fast-growing space here.
Philipp Postrehovsky is chief operating officer of RentMoola, a Vancouver-based fintech company operating in the U.S.
What advice would you give to fintech companies wanting to break into the U.S.?
It really depends on what they are getting into, but make sure you have a good lawyer who can review all your contracts. And really understand the competitive landscape and what all the regulations are, because they are very different between the two markets.
Is there a specific moment from your company’s export journey that you now consider to have proved critical?
We became Canadian leaders because we’re based in Vancouver. But we tried to position ourselves in the U.S. market since day one. We didn’t necessarily focus on the U.S., but we were always there. We got U.S. clients organically and we didn’t want to turn them away.
What is the biggest difference between selling in Canada and selling in another country?
Even with Canada and the U.S. being neighbours and property management being somewhat similar, there are key differences in any market. So you always have to be aware of those differences if you want to be effective in doing your sales job.
For example, we are somewhat operational in the United Kingdom, but we don’t focus on that [market]. The property management space there is vastly different than it is here in North America. So it’s [about] understanding your market really well and knowing the key differences, and not approaching [a market} the same way.
EDC resources to help you export
When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?
The intricacies of the American banking system. Just knowing more about the higher fraud potential in the U.S. It’s [impact on us has] been minimal, but we didn’t realize how much different the risk/fraud profiles are in both countries from a banking perspective. There’s just more banking risk in the U.S.
Was there anything that surprised you when you began to enter the U.S. market?
The property-management market is more mature in the United States than in Canada, and they are definitely open to and more progressive in their innovation. I would say they are at least five to 10 years ahead of Canada. In the banking world, Canada may be ahead, but in the property-management world, the United States is ahead. You have to learn things like that.
What’s the best lesson you learned from a bad exporting experience?
Don’t do it again. As long as you learn from your mistakes, it was worthwhile happening. But if you do it again, it’s not a good thing.