8:16 - Leaving your well-paying corporate job
13:29 - The business model behind a free product
22:08 - Is Revolut a competitor?
27:29 - Being on Höhle der Löwen
29:35 - Doing a 5M tokenized crowd investment
Simon Youssef is the co-founder and CTO of neon, a transaction account for everyday finances. Before starting his own company, he was an associate at the management consulting company Strategy&. His educational background is in Physics, and he holds a PhD from the Microsoft Research Lab.
Simon and his co-founder Jörg Sandrock worked together at Strategy&, where they became well acquainted with the Swiss banking market. After a few unfulfilling projects, Simon went on a surfing sabbatical in Indonesia. During this time, Jörg proposed the neon business idea to him, and Simon decided to take the leap.
Whereas typical banking apps cater to the bank's sales interests, merely replicating the organizational structure of a traditional bank, neon offers a client-focused product free of charge, with the lowest fees in Switzerland. Neon manages this because, having a team of around 20 employees, they can live on much slimmer margins. Their revenue comes from card interchange, premium plans like neon Green, and finance fees (from when clients buy partner products on the app).
Revolut and Transferwise don't pose a very big threat, since they're more travel cards than anything else. neon, on the other hand, is a Swiss banking product, meaning they can offer you a Swiss IBAN, e-bills, and so on.
Having been the first of its kind in the small Swiss market, neon has already amassed 70 000 users, in part due to the large amount of press coverage they received. Their participation in Höhle der Löwen, while helpful cashflow-wise, did not bring them as much of a boost as they initially imagined.
"Leaving our corporate careers was a huge risk, so we did not want to fuck this up. Not wanting to fuck up is a big motivator."
If you'd like to know more about the neon story, check out our episode with Simon's co-founder, Jörg Sandrock.
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