At the first run of the CODE_n CONTEST back in 2012, orderbird was one of the Top 10 contest finalists. Since then, the Berlin-based startup has continued to develop. The latest chapter in the story of its growth: successfully arranging a new funding phase and bringing a new strategic investor on board. We talked to Jakob Schreyer, CEO at orderbird, about his company and the way innovation is dealt with in the financial sector.
Felix Jansen: Hello, Jakob. Congratulations on entering a new funding phase. You’ve raised more than 10 million US dollars with orderbird. How do you plan to use that money?
Jakob Schreyer: Thanks. We plan to invest heavily in product development and expansion in new markets. With our Series B funding phase, we aren’t just receiving a considerable investment, but we are also embarking on a new strategic partnership with our main investor, ConCardis. We will be working in close collaboration, specifically in the area of cashless payments, but we are sure to both benefit from know-how exchange in many other areas as well.
Last year, you launched a pilot project with PayPal. Yet ConCardis, your newest and largest investor to date, is a more traditional company from the credit business sector. In your collaboration, have you noticed that you approach the topic of innovation from very different angles?
The area of “mobile payments” has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. The topics moved forward by big American players such as PayPal, and now strongly pushed by Apple, are arriving in the German-speaking world. ConCardis has shown a great openness to innovation. Targets seem to lie further apart when it comes to traditional B2B companies.
To what extent do you find the financial industry willing to fundamentally question established business practices and move toward new digital business models?
It’s no longer a matter of willingness. Standard practice is already being questioned. We get a real sense of how strongly the financial industry is grappling with the current changes. Startups are already acting as independent banks, mixing up the market. Or take Apple, for example. It’s using its market power to force the financial industry to start re-thinking things. And of course, location-based services related to mobile payments are also leading to all-new challenges, potential and business models in the financial industry.
Large banking institutes, such as Commerzbank, are currently vying for young FinTech companies. What do you make of this development from the viewpoint of a startup?
These kinds of cooperation always represent a fantastic opportunity, but there are two sides to the coin. The partnerships give startups better visibility, greater popularity, amazing growth opportunities and, of course, they can be a great push at the product or financial level, acting as a springboard that launches the startup on the mass market. That said, I believe it’s important not to underestimate that partners should always be found on a level playing field, and that the cooperation should always be marked by a genuinely reciprocal partnership. In many respects, startups come from a completely different world than that of large corporations – that’s seen in terms of agility, mentality and targets alone. What do they say? Money doesn’t buy happiness. Of course, it all depends on the aims of a startup and the founding team.
Every situation must offer a win-win scenario, regardless of whether your talking about a large corporation or a startup. For example, our cooperation with airfy as a technology partner significantly adds value for our customers.
CODE_n takes the road less traveled, offering a neutral platform where young and established companies can partner up in various ways to ultimately shape the digital future. It’s a road orderbird has taken with us since the very beginning – back in 2012 as a finalist at the CODE_n CONTEST and then as a partner at CeBIT over the last two years. What are the benefits to startups for taking part in CODE_n? And what helpful hints could you give other startups looking to apply to the CONTEST?
CODE_n was an outstanding platform for us, and it supported us then as it still does today. In a nutshell, it has been invaluable to us – and still is today, two years later. We’ve developed a warm partnership with the entire CODE_n team. My tips for applying to the CONTEST: think succinctly, always gearing yourselves toward solutions, and keep a sharp focus. The rest will then follow all on its own through your ideas.