Jörg Olbing, the founder of debtify, tells us about changes in the NPL market.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jörg Olbing: I’m doing well. Because education has moved online, I get to spend a lot of time with my daughters (who usually live with their mother). Thanks to online school, my daughters have been living with me for over 3 months and are used to living with their dad now.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded debtify.
Jörg Olbing: I sold my last company to an international corporation 4 years ago. After that, I traveled through Asia and saw many new countries (which was much easier pre-Covid). I spent a lot of time in India and intended to transition towards a semi-retirement. But after a few months, I realized this wasn’t fulfilling to someone as entrepreneurial as me. That’s why I spent most of my time researching and analyzing how innovative business models could revolutionize the debt industry. That’s how the idea of debtify first emerged. When the Covid-pandemic first hit, I realized that it was the perfect time to launch. Digital business models were on the rise and more efficient debt management could help alleviate some of the economic damage caused by the pandemic response. After that realization, I put together a team of experienced and talented co-founders. Since then, we’re successfully building the world’s first debt-centric ecosystem: debtify.
How does debtify innovate?
Jörg Olbing: Instead of creating yet another software, we provide an open, digital ecosystem in which all market participants can discuss, develop and ship solutions to simplify debt. This accelerates the digitalization of the industry by simplifying and accelerating debt management for everyone.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Jörg Olbing: We’re a “child of the pandemic”. That’s why our company has been completely digital from the beginning—especially when it comes to our internal tools for communication and collaboration. These times have been an extraordinary opportunity to use state-of-the-art tools from the beginning, as efficient, digital collaboration has gone from nice-to-have to must-have.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Jörg Olbing: It was an important step to build a remote company from scratch. We now have locations in 4 different countries, which allowed us to find the best of the best team members. Remote work culture is part of our DNA. But building a remote company also comes with challenges.
Completely digital collaboration and communication surfaced some doubts and hurdles we had to overcome. But now, all of us at debtify value close collaboration and community across countries, cultures, and time zones.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jörg Olbing: We use Slack for all of our internal communication. Emails are somewhat frowned upon at debtify. Slack led to substantially increased efficiency. Just this small switch multiplied our efficiency. We also use video communications for live meetings, which eliminates all business travel expenditures. That increases our efficiency even further. Additionally, we’ve implemented a multitude of software tools into our collaboration workflows. Compared to my first business, building debtify has been dramatically faster and cheaper.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jörg Olbing: There are multiple companies pursuing platform business models in the debt collection space. Since we take it a step further by building an ecosystem, our business model is completely different, which means we have no direct competitors (besides the status quo).
Your final thoughts?
Jörg Olbing: I believe that the shift towards fully digital business models during the covid crisis is massively underrated. It might take a few years, but many industries and companies will make enormous leaps forward, building on the opportunities which have opened up in the past 12 months (if they acted upon the chances given).
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