Why do you feel that your company has been nominated by the panel?
At SteelEye, we built an affordable, innovative answer to an unmet need. A year ago, we assembled a team of diverse, talented people to focus on a particular problem and challenged ourselves to develop a distinct solution that was urgently required in our target market. Our technology helps financial firms, large and small, to meet several onerous obligations arising from new and old regulations, all in one innovative product. SteelEye is scalable and helps to simplify compliance with the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Dodd-Frank and many more – compliance with such regulations can be challenging, resource intensive and expensive.
Our motto is “don’t just comply, compete”, because we provide a bonus beyond merely helping firms to achieve regulatory compliance. SteelEye’s solution permits firms to bring together information from disparate systems and to leverage this stored data, previously impossible to view on a consolidated basis; users can thus gain valuable insight into their whole business activity, drive operational efficiencies and gain a competitive edge.
Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global FinTech community?
Our opportunity arose from the sweeping changes in the European regulatory landscape, which in turn is part of an ongoing global initiative to achieve fairer and more efficient markets. SteelEye’s team has a wealth of experience in data analytics and we were attracted by the challenge of reducing cost and complexity for the firms affected.
Our initial focus was on MiFID II and its start date of January 3, 2018. To have this compelling event concentrating minds in our target industry of financial services, where our team had a deep reservoir of experience, expertise, and contacts, was a significant tail-wind. Our challenge was to build a product that would delight our audience and to deliver it on time.
While we were confident that our proprietary data management platform would deliver, we had to build a suite of regulatory applications on it (even though ESMA had yet to agree on the final shape of the rules as we wrote code). Our design incorporated the most advanced data and analytics capabilities but we ensured our product would be affordable for small and medium-sized firms. Such smaller firms typically don’t have the resources to build complex new systems in-house and were not being well served in the market.
Our plan played out well and everything worked as intended, with the product receiving a great reception in the marketplace. It particularly helps those on the buy side for whom record-keeping and transaction reporting are totally new obligations. We effectively provide clients with a virtual data lake in the cloud at an affordable price, thus democratising advanced data management capabilities for even the smallest firms.
Though initially seen as a nuisance by many firms, we believe that the new wave of international market regulation will spur the adoption of more intelligent data management practices across the industry.
What is your company looking to achieve in 2018?
We want to help as many firms as possible to solve their regulatory burden and leverage their own dormant data, both in Europe and beyond. We’re a young company and there is immense scope for us to grow. As our installed client base increases, we plan to deliver the best customer care possible. We will continue to refine and expand our FinTech/RegTech product offerings, in particular enhancing our capabilities in trade surveillance and behavioral analytics to provide our clients with greater insights into their own business and the market as a whole. We are also preparing for our next funding round in 2018 and are actively assessing opportunities in adjacent industries. 2018 is going to be another year of exciting challenge for SteelEye!
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
We officially launched in 2017 with a very experienced leadership team, giving us the ability to react quickly to the changing needs of our clients. Being data-centric allowed us both to solve clients’ regulatory needs and to give them the chance to benefit from bringing together all their business data, structured and unstructured, in a new way and to gain an edge from the resulting insights.
An initial challenge was learning to integrate clients quickly and efficiently, bringing all their sources of data together. We challenged ourselves to improve with every client integration. Much like a Formula 1 pit crew, our integration team continuously practices how to refine the integration process.
As with every startup, raising seed capital was initially a challenge as you seek investors who share your vision, especially before you have a fully developed MVP to show.
My advice is to prepare well, ensure all elements of the raise have been covered and to communicate your passion, commitment, and vision.
Most importantly, build a world-class team around you!
If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organisation, what would they be and why?
Five factors that help to make SteelEye special:
A. Talented and ambitious team, with a passion for data and innovation
B. Clear understanding of the wants and needs of our clients
C. Differentiated product based on superior technology
D. Overarching desire to help firms solve problems and reduce costs
E. Strong relationships with our clients and external partners
What really makes your company stand out in the FinTech market?
SteelEye is intentionally disruptive, offering a differentiated solution at a highly competitive price. Our offering is built on the most advanced data and analytics technologies available. Our mission is to empower clients to leverage the opportunities presented by their data – safe in the knowledge that it is both completely secure and compliant with the latest regulation. We aim to deliver exceptional care to our clients as we support them into the future. Our intention is to have clients who are loyal and as passionate about the value SteelEye adds to their business as we are!
With so much competition in the FinTech space, and so many companies failing to get traction, what has allowed your business to thrive?
It’s early days, of course, but our solution has been embraced by clients as it breaks down the complexity of a challenging new regulatory regime and, in addition, helps firms leverage their own previously dormant data in a simple, clear solution. The challenge for a new FinTech firm is to simplify a complicated problem for their target clients, to overcome inertia and replace incumbents.
How do you bring the best out of your team?
To bring out the best in our team, we first ensure we are hiring people who have a passion for tech and an appetite to learn and solve problems. On a day to day basis, we emphasise trust and autonomy, giving our team the time to solve problems through their own unique approach. We also enable our developers to work with the latest in tech, which always helps to excite them, make their life easier and ensure they feel empowered to deliver the best result for our clients. We aim to ensure SteelEye is a fun, diverse and family-friendly company to work for.
With so many buzzwords in FinTech around disruption and innovation, how have you really stepped up to solve an industry problem?
We try to avoid buzzwords, short-term fads and fashions and to focus on delivering durable answers for our clients, using all the leading-edge tools and techniques. We are very open to embracing every new development in the marketplace and have most likely experimented with them all.
What do you see as the major trends for the year ahead?
SteelEye holds the view that we are at a very early stage in a secular transformation of the financial services sector globally. Regulation is an important driver but technological innovation is the enabler. In every part of the eco-system, we will see new entrants with great ideas; some will work better than others. It may not necessarily be the first-movers who benefit from their invention. This is a threat that keeps us all on our toes and motivates us to become even better at serving our clients. In the FinTech jungle, a little paranoia may improve your chances of survival!