[Startup story] Braight Technologies | Fall edition of Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022
January 20, 2023
First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.
Hello! I’m Maciej Jarząb – the co-founder and CEO of Braight Technologies. Before founding Braight, I spent some time at McKinsey and later at mBank in Corporate and Investment Banking. I also have experience in both the investment side and the founding side in the startup environment. I spent over a year managing a portfolio of companies in the Healthcare industry. Moreover, for almost 4 years now, I am an active mentor at FasterCapital. On the flip side, I founded a startup before trying to solve inefficiencies in coal delivery. All of that experience combined allowed me to develop my current endeavor and properly manage and grow Braight Technologies in terms of the product offer and the long-term vision of the company.
Tell us more about your startup. What problem do you solve? Who’s your audience?
The purpose of Braight Technologies is to solve the problem of financial exclusion, especially among young people and minorities. Currently used credit scoring models, such as FICO or VantageScore, use primarily financial data – payment history, available credit, and hard inquiries. A lot of people, over 60 million in the US alone, do not have a credit history extensive enough to have fair access to credit. Braight uses alternative data – online customer behavioral data – to help retail lenders assess the creditworthiness of their customers.
Any sort of online activity can be sourced without the need for any personal data and used to potentially provide credit when the traditional scoring denies it. We offer this solution to any financial institution that offers retail lending – Banks, Credit Unions, Lenders, and BNPL Providers. All of them need a new scoring approach to include the pool of customers that have been neglected for so many decades.
What motivated you to create this startup? What’s your „why”?
Bright Technologies is actually an outcome of a pivot from a slightly different idea I had initially. It all started when I was at the university. I noticed among my friends that it is very hard to get access to any sort of credit on decent terms, if at all. It was a recurring theme and after a while, I identified the root of the problem. Traditional scoring used by financial institutions is not designed to assess individuals with a thin credit file. I saw a huge opportunity to disrupt the market and offer financial exclusion like never before. We started out in Poland and quickly expanded across Europe and to Mexico. The vision is to offer the product globally fighting for equal access to credit.
How is your startup different from competitors?
This area is fairly undeveloped and there is not a lot of competition in the market. However, we did manage to identify several competitors which we analyzed in detail. One significant differentiator is the level of customization we offer. The solution we provide to our clients is prepared according to their needs with a lot of legroom to adjust it as they see fit. The level of customer satisfaction we deliver is unmatched, with a technical and support team on standby and available at all times.
Secondly, the spectrum and the amount of data we use for the analysis are far greater than any other company. Braight sources over 3000 data points for each customer from the past hour all the way to the past 1 year, giving us deep insight into the behavior of that customer. Bright can do all that while respecting the privacy of the client’s customers and data protection laws, making the entire process completely anonymized. Add to that the most advanced data analytics techniques and you get a solution with value propositions that cannot be seen anywhere else, and that is why clients choose to partner with us.
We’re curious to learn about your team.
The team is something I pride myself on. I started out with my co-founder and CTO – Marcin Bierut. He is extremely experienced in software development and data analytics, having spent decades working on dozens of projects. He successfully started several tech businesses before, some of which got sold. With time, the team grew to 20 people in the tech and business development departments.
We hire only the best specialists with experience in data analytics and artificial intelligence. On the operational side, we have a COO who is highly experienced in project management, and a Chief of Growth who, after spending some time in advisory services, developed his expertise in business expansion and market entry strategies. Under their command, a dozen of analysts and sales representatives work to establish the presence of Braight on the global market.
What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?
To me, it is the feeling of ownership. It is my vision that drives the growth of the company. Nowhere else can you have such an impact on the development of the company like one has as a startup founder. An idea on a Sunday morning can be a planned project on a Monday afternoon, and a ready-to-offer product within a couple of months. I believe that this is also the feeling the entire team has because everyone’s ideas will be heard and assessed. Another thing is the impact that the startup can have. We are here to disrupt the market and change the exclusive environment of retail financial services. That is way more exciting than anything I could possibly think of, and this passion resonates from our team to our partners and clients.
On the contrary, what are the biggest challenges?
Bright has an amazing vision that would literally change the way retail financial services operate. As one might expect, such a process can be extremely challenging, especially since we are operating in the banking sector and we are using customer data. Both are very strictly regulated and projected to get even more stringent. Such an environment is tricky to manage and definitely slows down our growth, but it is certainly not stopping us in the slightest. We managed to develop processes that allow us to work with the data without decreasing the efficiency of our scoring, and allow us to cooperate with institutions such as banks. Obviously, the sales cycle is longer than necessary, but it is the way that big, highly regulated companies operate in. Those are the main themes we are closely following as the regulation around the data and banking industry can change.
What made you apply to our accelerator Alpha USA Startups (fall edition of Rubik Garage)?
As Braight has been showing great growth and we saw increasing interest from clients, we decided that it is only logical to consider entering the US market, which is very likely to be the most important market yet. We have come to realize that the USA is very different from other markets and the market entry strategy requires more insight and professional advice. Researching various organizations that could be helpful, Alpha USA Accelerator showed the most potential as the program offered everything we were looking for, from legal aspects all the way to partnership structuring. Looking back, I am sure that investing the time into the program was well worth it.
Obviously, you were selected in this accelerator because you are targeting the USA market. Why is that?
When considering the US market we analyzed it like every other market. We had to look at it objectively to assure this move would not be made just to be able to say that Braight expanded into the US market, however appealing it may sound. Firstly, there are over 4000 banks, at least a third of which we can serve. Here, the main factor is the size of the bank. We also looked at the Global Innovation Index where the US placed second in the world, just after Switzerland. So we confirmed the clients and acceptance of innovation.
As we ultimately serve the retail lenders, we looked at that as well. In the US there are 63 million people who are not fully banked and the financial institutions do not have sufficient data to assess them. One of the most important factors is the data protection laws. Bright’s solution is 100% compliant with the current regulations, but future changes remain a risk. We thought of potential changes during the development to make the product as future-proof as possible. Additionally, a team of lawyers monitors the situation closely so that any changes can be promptly performed.
Lastly, although there is a global slowdown in capital provisions due to economic disruptions and uncertainty, the US remains one of the best places in the world to seek investments in the Fintech environment. All of those factors combined led us to the decision that the US market is a great fit for our value proposition.
What are your top 3 learnings of the acceleration program?
- The call covering legal aspects of expanding operational activity into the US market was particularly interesting. From the start, we saw it as one of the major hassles in the process and the meeting featuring a law company provided some clarity and tips on how to manage that, particularly regarding the structure of the American-based holding.
- Raising funds will be one of the most important tasks while operating in the US market. The way VCs approach startups is substantially different from that of Europe’s and so the tips we received from ROCAX, Sparking Capital and Going VC regarding financing for startups were really insightful.
- Lastly, the tips on how to hire employees and engage with advisors and partners were extremely useful. The templates we received and based our contracts on sped up the process significantly while reducing the cost on Braight’s side and reducing the risk.
What do you like in the Rubikorns Startup Community?
I think a lot of other founders would agree that the general atmosphere in the Community is one of its best traits. Everyone is helpful and like-minded, focused on hustling, which is certainly the best crowd you could possibly be a part of.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
As a final point, I would like to say that the entire team was really impressed with all aspects of the program. In particular, the broad spectrum of professionals giving presentations and great advice, which otherwise I’m sure would cost a lot of money to receive. Moreover, it was really interesting to meet other founders and listen to their stories. On numerous occasions they asked questions relevant to Braight which I did not think about before, increasing the value of the program even further.
Stay tuned to discover the story behind the other startups from our accelerator! #WeAreInThisTogether
Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE get to their first paying customer, raise investment or go international.
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