We talk to Paresh Davdra, founder and CEO of Rational FX and Xendpay. Paresh Davdra shares his startup story, finding a gap in the market and how his priorities changed as a result of growing his business and business partnership. We also discuss Brexit and the impact we can expect to see among startups and SME’s.
1. Please, can you introduce yourself and your company?
My name is Paresh Davdra and I am CEO and Co-Founder of both Xendpay and RationalFX. As sister companies, they offer money transfer services to consumer and businesses respectively.
I had my first experience in foreign exchange working for a brokerage firm while at University – Ever since I can remember I wanted to run my own business. I have, to be honest, at the time I associated it all to making a lot of money, and it was Rajesh that helped me mature and realise that it is more important to make a difference and become successful – money will become a by-product of that success.
Rajesh and I met at this brokerage and we felt that this market was growing and changing very quickly. We both felt that with the way technology was progressing there was a gap in the market for online play. After a year of deliberating, Rajesh and I decided to take the leap – we quit our jobs, gathered our things and moved to Brighton. Living in a small flat with only one phone, one computer and no money, this is where RationalFX was born.
2. Could you give us a bit of background on your personal start-up story and how you have grown Rational FX to such a large scale?
The gap in the market for RationalFX was clear from the outset – with over $14bn worth of FX traded on a daily basis, and with London being the world’s largest FX trading centre, it seemed apparent that there was a need for an online FX service. RationalFX later became the UK’s first online foreign exchange service.
Rajesh and I started with identifying a key customer base – the overseas property market in particular provided us with a great starter. As a result, we chose to target overseas estate agents, who would then recommend us to house buyers – We would save their customers a considerable amount of money which would then reflect positively on the estate agent.
3. Did you anticipate such success and how did you strategize to cope with the growth?
No! Rajesh and I were both shocked and surprised at the sheer volume of customers we received during the first few months of RationalFX’s existence. Although the need for the service was expansive, we didn’t expect market interest to hit those highs so early on. After a while, we started to expand, hiring more people and moving into a London office.
Personally, I believe in quality over quantity, and so we have remained very careful about the people we hire from the start. Our team is our best asset, and I want to make sure that however much we grow our culture stays solid, with employees sharing the same values.
4. You have just been speaking at the biggest Fintech event in the world discussing ‘What Next in FX’?
Yes – I was honoured to take part in such a prestigious event. Fintech is entering the mainstream, and the sheer number of attendees at London Fintech Week reflected this.
Having worked in foreign exchange for some years, I have seen the industry transform before my eyes – Fintech has had a large part in this. Such a forward-looking event meant that I could reflect on what has been and what will be. It was fantastic to meet like-minded people and debate amongst ourselves.
5. Could you tell us about some of the topics discussed?
Brexit, as you could imagine, dominated a large portion of the discussion – the effects it had on currency was one obvious subject to arise, but many were concerned about what would happen to financial services as a whole following Britain’s decision to leave the EU. As a result of Brexit, questions have arisen regarding the need to relocate office for financial services companies. This is largely due to the passporting regulations enforced across EEA countries, which allow those companies to extend their services to European countries. The C-suite is therefore concerned over what will happen to their cross-border operations when Britain eventually leaves the EU.
Companies shouldn’t fret over relocating just yet – looking to the future; I see no reason for jumping to decisions and relocating office spaces from London until we know where we stand.
6. What is anticipated for the future?
Big things – we’re dedicated to moving with the times and tech is a big part of that. In both RationalFX and Xendpay, we are developing our businesses so that we are not just moving with the times, but we are committed to innovating and shaping the future.
7. What do you think of Brexit? And what are the repercussions going to be for us leaving the EU?
I was a ‘Remain’ supporter from the start – but the decision has been made and we must all
accept it in order to move forward.
As we have already seen in the month following Brexit, uncertainty shrouds the future of the, UK economy in the wake of the Referendum. This is forecast to continue for some time yet, and recovery is unlikely in the short-term. Although this is problematic for UK imports, exports are benefitting from increased demand due to the floundering pound.
In the long-term, no one knows for sure what will happen – a Referendum of this proportion has not been seen before, and we would be foolish to think we could predict something like that.
8. How are startups and SME’s going to be impacted?
Investment in startups could be impacted in particular, as it was before encouraged by the UK’s membership of the EU and the resulting trade benefits it received. Another consideration, which has since been discounted, however, was the fact that funding to startups would suffer – this argument has recently been under scrutiny when it was revealed that UK Fintech startups raised a total of £40 million in July.
Never give up. Stick to your values and you can’t go wrong – this isn’t to mean you won’t fail, but it’s worth a try if you’re fighting for something you really want!