In my first post on our Treblle blog I wrote about securing a €1.2M EUR seed investment round led by NautaCapital. As much as that sounds cool behind the scenes and the glory, as always, we were hard at work trying to figure out the mechanics of the deal. Especially how the legal structure will look like, where will the company be incorporated in and what is best for the future. On this path I've discovered a company called Wise (previously TransferWise) which I've simply been blown away with and decided to write a few lines about it.
Let me first preface the post with: this isn't a paid blog post, neither me nor our investors are not affiliated with Wise. I just simply really like the product and feel like more people should know about it.
We decided to open our company, Treblle, in the UK. In case you didn't know the entire core Treblle team Tea, Darko and I live and work in Croatia. Close to the UK but still miles away. Croatia is a great country, if you've never been you really should. Great food. Like really great food. Beautiful sceneries, islands, seaside, great people, small but big at the same time, inside EU... All in all great. But when you are planning to launch a global startup it's not ideal. Our legal system is not the best, to put it mildly. Services available to us in terms of banking, digital and online are not exactly what you might expect. We just recently got access to services like Netflix, Spotify, HBO and similar. We don't have Apple TV, an Apple Store, Stripe isn't officially supported in Croatia, many popular accounting services like Xero and Quickbooks are not here, we don't order our toilet paper off of Amazon...You get the picture.
The UK on the other hand is a 2 hour flight from Zagreb. English is the main language and we know it very well. Their economy and legal system is great and you can open a company for like 150 GBP. Online. No papers. No fuss. But in order to open up a bank account in any bank in the UK you have to have an address there for at least 6 months which means that you have to rent an apartment or a house. Given the fact that we didn't have 6 months to do that we had to find another way to get a bank account so we can receive our investment.
Naturally we started looking at online services like Revolut, Paysera, Curve, N26 etc...Nobody was actually sure would this even be possible, will those services allow us to receive the money, will we be able to use it, manage it, will it be secure etc...So we started exploring all possible options. At the end of the process we were down to two possible candidates: Wise and Revolut.
We used Wise maybe twice to receive some money from a client before but never in the capacity of our primary bank account and our banking solution. We actually first tried to go with Revolut for Treblle but the process was a bit tedious. A lot of document uploads, a lot of ifs and maybes, their support was unsure if we would be able to receive the amount without problems and use just their service without a "real" bank account. They didn't seem convincing and we didn't wanna roll the dice.
With Wise we've literally created an account, entered the name of our company, Wise fetched the info from Companies House, asked me to upload a copy of my ID and an hour later the account was set up. Instantly we had access to accounts in any currency. And I'm not joking here, you can open a virtual bank account in 5 seconds with any currency. You can then transfer money between those accounts at fair rates instantly.
The first thing we of course did was add some money to check everything was working. And it was. Next, we paid for some services from our UK account and the money was in their bank account within a minute. The most amazing feature Wise has is once you send someone the money you can add their email and they get a tracking link for the payment. Just like how you can track your delivery packages. As someone who spent a decade running a small development company with clients around the world this would have been a life saver for us in some cases. The reason for that is that if someone pays you 10K USD from the USA you don't get to see that in your bank account in Croatia for a cool five days. In most cases we would have to call our bank and ask them "Hey, we are supposed to get some money, why can't we see it?". The answer would always be "Oh we manually review payments for money laundering and fraud. It will arrive soon.". Here if someone used Wise to pay we would either get it instantly to our Wise account or we would get a tracking link and we would know that the invoice was actually paid.
Next up, I ordered the Wise business card for like 3 GBP and it arrived in less than 5 days to Croatia. To activate the card all i had to do is open the Wise app and enter the 6 digit code found on the card. After that you can choose a PIN code and you are good to go. The card allows me to spend money from any currency at real transfer rates. This means that if I go to Prague again and I try to withdraw some Czech Korunas from an ATM I won't get robbed blind on the currency conversion and ATM fees (unlike the last time). You can also use the card with Apple/Google pay which is very cool. The card itself isn't the most eye-catching aluminum thing of beauty but it does wonders. While we are talking about credit cards another cool feature that Wise offers is called Virtual cards. You can create an unlimited number of Virtual cards in your account and their purpose is paying for things online or using them with Apple/Google pay. Imagine these cards as "burner cards" for your phone. It sounds sketchy but it's actually a great way to manage subscription payments, not getting your real card stolen while traveling or paying for things online.
There are other cool features like the ability to tag payments and categorize them so you can quickly view what you are spending on. You can invite your co-founders to the account and they have full access to all the features including business cards and virtual cards. You can also connect to popular services for accounting like Xero or Quickbooks.
Finally the reason why i'm writing this is how they handled the actual investment transaction. So when the D-Day came our investors sent the money and we were literally sweating bullets. We were not sure what kind of process Wise had to handle large payments like that. We knew they would block the transfer but we were not sure for how long and what would it take to unblock. And here is where I put my hat down again to Wise. As soon as the amount was paid we saw the payment in Wise and it "required additional information". Once you view the transaction you get to upload documents that "prove" the transaction. I simply uploaded our term sheet and the shareholders agreement and a few hours later the money was in our account. Could not have been simpler, easier and less stressful. 🎉 We didn't have to talk to anybody even though they do offer you to contact support and have the option to email, call or chat.
To summarize: if you are looking for a great banking solution for your startup look no further than Wise. The product is awesome, great features, amazing design and attention to details. But above all like Steve Jobs used to say "It just works".
Wise will serve as an inspiration to us here at Treblle and hopefully we'll get to bring this amount of joy to our customers. If you have any questions feel free to shoot them to me on my Twitter or share them on our Treblle Reddit board.