Mistakes as Mentors: Q&A with Fintech Entrepreneur Dmitry Norenko
Thanks to Upswot for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s Founder Feature series! Upswot brings together extensive experience in software design, finance, sales, and project management with a passion for turning complex data into valuable stories.To see Upswot and the other Fintechs in the 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator perform their demos at Demo Day, click here. For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Venture Center: Where did you come up with the idea for Upswot?
Dmitry Norenko: All of the founding team members are bankers.
We worked for banks and with the banks for many years, and we know this industry pretty well. Small and midsize businesses create the most value in terms of GDP in any developed country, but they are still underserved because they are the bank’s riskiest segment. .
Small businesses are important but very expensive for banks to serve. Approving loans, providing personalized support, mitigating risks efficiently, and helping with actionable insights costs time and money. Fintechs are emerging to serve these small and midsize businesses by providing efficient, easy-to-use tools for day-to-day operations.
We saw an opportunity to make banks more competitive. We decided to create Upswot to help businesses perform better with the bank’s help by leveraging the data businesses use every day – data from eCommerce and other apps. This data can help banks provide affordable, personalized support while making underwriting and renewals cheaper, faster and better.
In other words, our technology helps both sides win. Banks get the data to simplify processes and provide more personalized support while their business clients get accurate forecasts, access to the loans online, plus actionable insights and advice.
That’s why we named our company “UpSWOT,” because it is a better way to analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the benefit of both the banks and their business clients.
TVC: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Norenko: For sure. I launched my first company when I was 17 and successfully sold it after several years.
I had wins and failures, ups and downs. I failed with the first startup I launched, but both VCs invested in my previous company joined my new one. The most important thing is that I got an experience helping me and my partners build a new company faster while making fewer mistakes.
Failures and mistakes? They are actually great. We learn from our mistakes and become better thanks to them. The most important thing is not to make the same mistakes again and again.
TVC: What has been your biggest challenge in getting UpSwot started?
Norenko: Getting the first client. Getting the first client in the banking space is the most difficult.
TVC: Do you have any hobbies outside of working/family that help provide balance for you?
Norenko: As of now, it’s only UpSwot and family. But to be transparent with you, I am happy with my job. UpSwot is my hobby and my passion, and this is my life which I love. For me, this is not work in the classic meaning, rather it is something that inspires me. Sometimes there might be challenging periods, and that is when my wife and daughters support me and give me the power and energy to double my efforts and solve the issues we face.
TVC: Who is your mentor?
My mentors are my mistakes. My mentor is our success.
But we have people helping us as well. James Wrbanek, who is leading community banking sales of Wolters Kluwer. Denada Ramnishta, the leading Strategy in Lendio, Erick Gerencher, the former CEO of Green Dot Bank, Karly Wang, leading SMB marketing in Wells Fargo. These guys give me experience that I could only get through mistakes otherwise – they give it to me faster and better.
These brilliant people are dedicating their network, experience, and knowledge to help us become the next fintech unicorn.
Thanks to Upswot for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s Founder Feature series! To see more from Upswot and other company founders with a range of solutions from payments and loan automation to cybersecurity and data insights, sign up for this year’s online 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator Demo Day!