Misha Rogalskiy, founder of The Credit Thing of The Credit Thing.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m co-founder and CEO of The Credit Thing – a UK challenger credit card that launched in 2021. The Credit Thing is the UK’s first credit card built on e-money.
I am also the co-founder of Monobank, Ukraine’s first mobile-only bank which launched in 2017 and grew to a remarkable 1 500,000 customers within the first two years, mostly through word of mouth.
Our focus on user experience and customer engagement is reflected in our top ratings on the AppStore and Google Play. Prior to Monobank, I was the Head of Payments (Business) at Privatbank, one of the largest banks in Eastern Europe, and led the division’s revenue growth eightfold, making it the second most profitable retail division in the bank.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
– Never forget to make the product better for the customers. – Don’t be afraid to change strategy/product if you see the need – Until you believe in an idea yourself, no one will believe in it.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Believe in yourself and do what you love. To be successful you have to bring people on your journey with you, which is much easier when you are doing something you feel strongly about.
I get so frustrated when I see things in banks and credit cards, or even customer service industries in general, that make life harder rather than easier and having the mindset now where I set out to solve those problems makes the task at hand much easier to define, and I am more motivated to achieve it. You have to know why you are doing something.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
For me, it’s not so difficult. I love everything that I’m doing. My wife always supports me, I appreciate it. Of course, sometimes I have to focus on business, but I don’t want to spend all my free time on work. I prefer to devote equal time to all the important aspects of my life
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The Credit Thing was built to solve a problem I had myself. I came to the UK as a successful entrepreneur and couldn’t open a credit card, get a rental property without paying for months and months in advance, or even get a mobile phone contract.
I started The Credit Thing with the mission to make credit accessible, and in making credit accessible, allow people to start building their credit score.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
For a start we are trying to solve the real problems our customers have. We think about people differently, my experience in monobank showed me how it was possible to use very different methods to make good credit decisions.
We’ve taken those learnings and we’re now applying them to people who have been previously left behind. We also try to make credit very human and engaging.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Find your audience. Analyse market size and competitor solutions.
Ask yourself the question – why is your product better? In the UK, the fintech market is saturated, so you should think in advance about the time and investment that you will invest in the project.
Build a financial model that will answer the question – when will you start making a profit. And finally, your team – find specialists who will help build and maintain the product efficiently.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
We had to make a shift in our product design after we launched.
We had designed a product with a fixed fee for credit because our research told us that people don’t like the typical way credit cards charge interest. Based on this we launched with a fixed fee, but in the end we found that customers wanted a pricing structure they were used to.
We all jumped in to work on a product update and a rebrand, which we pulled off in just 6 weeks. Since we relaunched, we’ve seen amazing results.
What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?
London is such a hub for innovation and new ideas. So it’s always easy to meet people who are trying to solve problems and work on things that are exciting. We like being part of that buzz.
Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?
We’ve never really had any issues being a London-based business. Luckily we’re managed to build a really great team here. I’ve only lived in London for a few years myself, so it’s still an exciting place for the business to be.
How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?
We have teams based in many different locations, from London to Ukraine, so we’re used to working in a flexible way. We meet in London for office days and combine this with remote working to help manage the extra costs associated with travelling into the city for our employees based elsewhere.
If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?
Brighton. It would be great to be near the sea, and it’s definitely got a creative and exciting feel to it. Plus, one of our team is based nearby, and she’s always trying to persuade me to arrange an office day for us there sometime.
How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?
We haven’t really felt any impact from Brexit as a business.
What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
We’ve got two big ideas, and we’re planning to work on them both. First, we really want to focus our attention on giving access to credit for newcomers to the UK.
We’ve done this with Ukrainian refugees already and it’s been a really good initiative. Imagine you moved to the UK from Germany 3 months ago, for example.
You don’t have any presence in the UK on the credit reference agencies as your previous financial activity has all been in Germany. At the moment it’s really difficult for you to rent an apartment, get a credit card, and take out a mobile phone contract.
What we want to do is develop our Open Banking solution to be able to take into account your credit history from Germany when we make our decision.
It’s a big project, but we think it’s worth it. We also want to make getting access to affordable credit easier in general. We are doing this by offering our technology and service to other businesses – a SaaS solution for credit.
We are finding brands who want to integrate a credit card into their existing apps – by partnering with us they can reduce their time to market and test their product much faster, scaling up the infrastructure they need immediately.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
As well as checking out our website, people can contact us through [email protected]. Or find me on social media.
Follow The Credit Thing on Twitter or Linkedin.