Lodex FinSights

Fred Schebesta

Q&A with Fred Schebesta, Finder's co-founder

Posted by Aisha Hillary-Morgan on 31 Aug 18

The passion and drive to turn ideas into a reality and an understanding of how businesses work and evolve - these are the perfect ingredients to success. 

We had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Fred Schebesta, co-founder of Finder, and a few more ventures you are soon to discover. He shared his journey and some great insights into the crypto world.

"If an innovation is truly good, it is going to stick around despite initial apprehension."

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

When I was in school, I approached things differently than my peers, which often meant that I would get in trouble a fair bit. Because of this, building businesses came quite naturally to me.

When I was at university, I always wanted to build businesses. Buy them, sell them, trade them. At the time, I didn’t really know what that meant exactly. But I did know that I loved finance and I always wanted to get involved with that. So, I took a full turn from studying finance and started building websites. After launching and selling a digital marketing agency with my business partner Frank Restuccia, we launched online comparison site Finder.com, starting with Credit Card Finder in 2006.

The way I approach business mimics the way I approached school as a kid. I try things out, test, pivot, and wait to see what works. If people respond well to the idea, we’d officially launch it and create a business out of it. I was very fortunate with Finder that I had the skills and drive to dive into the unknown and create something different to what was already out there – and succeed at it.

 

2. Why did you start Finder? 

From the onset, Finder started as a credit card blog for university students. Back then, Frank and I saw a real need for personal finance information that was simple and easy to understand and compare, and we wanted to help the world make better decisions. At the same time, we ourselves lived off tinned food to save cash while bootstrapping the concept on our own.

We tested the idea, and people loved it. So we decided to create a business out of it. Over time, as our audience expanded, so did our product offering. We dove into savings accounts, personal loans, insurance, home loans, energy, and now have more categories than any other comparison website in Australia, and it’s also the biggest by traffic. It has been truly incredible to witness.

 

3. How has the offering developed?

Aside from comparing more products and having more Australians using the site than any other financial comparison site in the country, we’ve taken our financial advice across the world to help people find better deals. We officially launched in the US at the end of 2015, and the UK soon followed early 2017, and have five offices globally. We’ve now launched in 10 countries around the world and are looking to launch in a further 10 soon.

What we’re trying to do at Finder is bring everything to the one place. Whether that be choosing a credit card or cryptocurrency, a shopping deal or travel. We’re building the Amazon of comparison where people won’t need to go to Google or anywhere else to find what they need.

We’re also ensuring that we stay on trend with the market – diversifying and evolving are key to building a sustainable business, and we’re not afraid of change. After testing out the cryptocurrency space by launching Crypto Finder in September 2017, which compares cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets, we quickly realised there are many options to buy cryptocurrency in small amounts, however it’s super difficult to do large trades. This is why we launched HiveEx.com in February this year, an over the counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading desk, for people to buy and sell large volumes of cryptocurrency.

 

4. What do you attribute to your success?

My parents showed me how persistence and determination pays off. When I was growing up, they were both studying to be doctors and we lived super frugally. At one point we were living in a caravan at the back of a doctor’s office. I never asked for anything, and everything was reused.

My grandfather taught me the value in everything – how to fix broken things and give them new life. When Frank and I started Finder, we were extremely frugal. We didn’t pay ourselves a salary for the first two years because we knew that we had to invest every dollar we made back into the business to have a chance at getting it up and off the ground. We ate tinned spaghetti every day and I used to sticky tape my shoes back together when they fell apart.

This time in my life taught me the crucial lessons that I carry with me today. The importance of staying humble, appreciating what you have, working hard, and the gift of learning. All of these lessons have been pivotal to my success.

 

5. Any new initiatives on the horizon?

After building Finder into a business we’re really proud of, we decided to go back to our roots of testing new ideas, and launching into the crypto space. We conducted our first successful test with the launch of OTC broker trading service HiveEx.com in February 2018. At its core, HiveEx.com brokers trades for people and provides the best customer service at the best possible fixed fee. We then launched crypto bill payment service HiveSpend.com in Australia, where people can pay their BPAY bills using their cryptocurrency. The big plan is to build a crypto investment bank.

In June 2018, we announced our partnership with blockchain startup Ivy, to provide a solution to validate and transfer cryptocurrency into Australian bank accounts via a new platform, IvyPay. It’s going to launch later this year and will take cryptocurrency usability to the next level.

 

6. Three words that would describe your culture/team?

Obsessed, hungry and kind.

 

7. What are your thoughts on the cryptocurrency space?

If an innovation is truly good, it is going to stick around despite initial apprehension. There are so many reasons why crypto is here to stay, from fuelling the decentralised programs that will run on the blockchain, to helping people take control of their transactions, currency and value. The biggest advantage of cryptocurrencies is their ability to send huge amounts of money quickly and cheaply.

Admittedly, adoption isn’t wide enough for crypto to overtake fiat currencies just yet, but we will start to see incredible growth over the next three years as barriers to access are reduced. People don’t want to be carrying cash around anymore, and they especially want to be able to travel from one country to another without exchanging money. As soon as more ways to use crypto come to the surface, adoption is going to skyrocket.

 

8. Any tips for people looking to get into crypto?

If you’re looking to conduct smaller trades, it’s worth comparing traditional cryptocurrency exchanges. They behave similarly to a foreign currency exchange, with buyers and sellers trading based on the current price of the cryptocurrency, while the exchange acts as the middleman.

For large trades – say, $50,000 or more – you might consider an OTC trading platform like HiveEx.com. By this method, your funds are traded via a dealer network. Brokers find buyers or sellers who individually hold large amounts of crypto and pair them for sale. For us at HiveEx.com, we have liquidity providers and our own pool of funds which we use to buy and sell crypto from people at great rates.

If you’re looking to jump onto the crypto bandwagon, it’s crucial to remember that there is no hard and fast rule. Your first step is to work out the amount you want to trade and how you want to trade to determine your best options. Remember that it’s super volatile and high risk even though it’s seen some huge rewards, so only put in what you’re willing to lose.

 

9. Anything else you would like to share?

When it comes to crypto, doing your own research is paramount. One of the biggest risks people face is the learning curve for new users. Cryptocurrency is a complicated market and there is a lot of incorrect and misleading information out there. It is often represented as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, which makes those new to the market want to jump straight in.

At the end of the day, it’s your money you’re investing. Don’t be pulled in by these schemes and try and get your information from as many credible sources as possible. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Thanks Fred so much for your time and insights! 

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Topics: Q&A - Industry Experts and Thought Leaders, Industry News - Finance

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