The founder journey begins when founders feel like they have something to say to the world. This could be a curiosity about a problem, a personal unmet need, the passion for a space or simply the desire to challenge convention. My journey starting Friz came from the desire to build something that changes the way freelancers access financial services.
I faced a lot of pushback when I was starting out with Friz. Constant questions from friends, colleagues, well meaning seniors and venture capitals — all wanting to chip in and give me 100 reasons why startups were difficult, or the fintech segment was tough, or stories of others that had failed. I pressed on because my main driver was to at least try to bring to life my vision and have the satisfaction of someone using my product.
My cofounder Ash and I started by interviewing freelancers and understanding the challenges they face with banking. Our potential customers talked about feeling marginalised by traditional banking like they were operating in a “financial ghetto” because their business models were non-conventional. There are more than 80 million such freelancers in south and south east Asia at the moment who are in need of tailored financial services and we had to step up by building Friz.
The product roadmap of Friz underwent many revisions. It started with a simple MVP and waitlist for customers that quickly gained traction and learnings from customer reactions which honed our understanding of market needs and features to be prioritised. Building our early team of engineers and growth members at Friz was also crucial to developing and product roadmap. Bi-weekly scrum cycles soon became our favourite place to bond and brainstorm for ideas that would provide more value to our early users.
Building Friz has been full of challenges. Learning how to build a business, develop prototypes, fundraise, build teams, manage people, sell to customers, execute solutions with large brands (like Mastercard, Matchmove and Funding Societies) and constantly make the solution better for our customers has been extremely daunting yet thrilling.
We now have a platform that solves for cashflow, invoicing and debit card needs of freelancers and looks to be the one stop shop for any creator’s financial needs in the near future. I would like to say that our journey with Friz has just begun — we are in a constant cycle of learning and iterating as we strive to build the best financial solutions for our customers.
The best reward in the journey is building something that enhances the lives of our customers. I hope that translates to our users — new and old alike.