FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Chris Hale, Founder & CEO of Kountable, whose trade platform makes it easy for big and small players to unlock bigger opportunities in global trade.
NAME: Chris Hale
TITLE: CEO & Founder
WEB ADDRESS: http://kountable.com
What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?
We believe that innovation needs to be better distributed. Everyone benefits when there is more access to new business opportunities and top-quality goods – especially people in emerging markets. Today’s small and large organizations each have crucial value to bring to one another. Yet, the rules of engagement have made it difficult for them to collaborate because the small businesses and entrepreneurs usually cannot comply. Kountable is solving this problem by opening new avenues for end-to-end trade that distribute innovation and broaden economic growth.
We’ve built an end-to-end trade platform that uses data to vet entrepreneurs, provides transparency into the supply chain, brings accountability to all players, and improves accessibility to top-quality goods and equipment. Whether it’s a Fortune 500 Company, an entrepreneur with a contract to sell goods and services to a large player, or a private government organization in need of supplies, Kountable helps them scale.
What area/s of fintech do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?
Every day, our consumer lives are improved by machine learning techniques and data analytics making personalized recommendations and connections that we have come to just expect – whether searching on Google or shopping on Amazon. Yet, in fintech when it comes to global trade, the industry is behind on applying data analytics to improve outcomes, make new connections and create opportunities. In the next year, we’ll see the same data techniques that have been used to improve and streamline consumer lives applied to emerging markets to create new ways of financing global trade and ultimately distribute innovation.
Today, we are bringing this level of data and recommendations to global trade. The world we live in now has been very inefficient when it comes to small businesses trying to scale in emerging markets. Successful entrepreneurs in emerging markets such as Africa struggle with financing for deals, even when their profile and business plans look good on paper. Typically, purchases done through a reseller are very short duration transactions (say, 45 to 90 days) with short lead times, which makes them difficult for banks to finance, especially in markets that lack traditional credit profiling. Many of the African resellers we’ve met need a quick and reliable source of funding to help scale up purchasing and free up capital to grow.
That data problem is rapidly being solved. Savvy first movers take note: Perception is slow to change, but the opportunity to invest and do more business in these markets is here and growing rapidly.
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
We started with a focus on the small business and entrepreneurs in emerging markets. We have been able to make larger business opportunities a reality – whether it’s providing top-quality incubators for a local hospital and securing computers for a girls’ school in Rwanda or helping a local business in Kenya purchase a recirculating isolator for a clean air controlled, sterile lab environment. These opportunities lead to others and in time the small business is able to scale rapidly and take on bigger projects without worrying about financing the larger purchases it needs to succeed. Entrepreneurs begin to create a profile of secure and trustworthy business entities and take on new business opportunities they would not have been able to capitalize on in the past.
But that’s just the beginning.
Today, within just a short time frame, the big players are actively engaging with the platform and connecting with small businesses in emerging markets. Banks and large institutions are coming to the table. The platform has evolved beyond financing and trade to include a marketplace for equipment sales and a social network for global business connections. By putting data at the center of all that we do, we are able to make new opportunities possible, remove the former roadblocks that once plagued global financing for emerging markets and open up a world of new opportunities that distributes innovation to everyone, no matter where they are located.
Chris Hale is CEO & Founder of Kountable and also a Partner at Paragon Partners. He has worked in Enterprise Software, Entrepreneurship, Asset Management, Securities, and Equities.