We talked to Kristoffer Hanson of Prestalo about how they offer advisory services without any cost or commitment for the client.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kristoffer Hanson: All good. So far, no infections in our near vicinity, although Spain has been hit hard.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Prestalo?
Kristoffer Hanson: Graduating from business school in Sweden, I went out into the corporate world going for my dream to become an “International Businessman.” After moving up the global retailer H&M ladder and realizing that the corporate world was nothing for me, I left it to focus on entrepreneurship. Family reasons (my wife is from Spain) brought me three years ago to move to Barcelona and start a Spanish market business. Having a background in finance and seeing how a more digitalized market like Sweden operates, I saw a huge opportunity to try to digitize the consumer finance sector in Spain, and that’s how Prestalo was started by me and two fellow Swedes who have a background in other marketplaces and loan brokers in other countries.
How does Prestalo innovate?
Kristoffer Hanson: We make consumer loans more transparent and easy to compare and concede. With our platform, users only have to make one loan application. We can immediately show them pre-approved loan offers from different banks and facilitate the whole process of conceding the loan online. This makes the process faster and more transparent. Today in Spain, many banks only have offline methods for applying for their loans. This means it takes 5-7 days to get a response, and it’s tough to compare real offers and means a high risk for overpaying.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kristoffer Hanson: Initially, our business was hit hard. Banks halted lending, and customers halted buying cars, renovations, travel, etc., ordinary things that we finance. Now we are growing even faster than before the pandemic due to the market quickly becoming more digitalized, and people turn online for these kinds of services. Banks in Spain have been held up in adapting to the pandemic but are now moving ahead with digitalization initiatives to meet customers online, which benefits us as we have more products to offer our customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kristoffer Hanson: Yes – we had to cut down on staff, salaries, and cut down costs. Lessons learned – you can always streamline your business, which is good to know when you don’t know how long it will take to close the next funding round, etc. It also leads us to become more efficient in certain aspects. Also, although it hurts to cut down on staff in the end, your responsibility as a business owner is the business’s survival as well, so even though we can employ fewer people, at least we employ some of them. But it’s always hard to let people go; it hurts.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Prestalo in the future?
Kristoffer Hanson: I have meditated every day for eight years back; this helps me keep a balance and helps a lot in tough times. That said, I am no enlightened Buddha; I can get consumed by work, but it helps me give perspective and remind myself that everything passes. Even humanity in itself will probably disappear someday. Just the Universe will remain (I mean, the earth will be consumed by the sun in a few million years, so if we don’t manage to find a way out of this planet someday, we will be doomed), so you can’t take everything too serious and try to live in the moment and enjoy even the small things in life.
What’s Prestalo’s future? Hopefully, in a few years, we are the top of mind brand in online loans in Spain; it makes all the sense in the world that people turn to us before going directly to the different banks for loans. They ensure they get better deals, and everything is faster and smoother.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kristoffer Hanson: Our main competitors are comparison sites that only work with converting customers on the phone, not digitalizing the whole process. We can stay ahead by always pushing the boundaries, making sure we have the best conversion rates and innovating, and ensuring we deliver maximum customer satisfaction.
Your final thoughts?
Kristoffer Hanson: It’s been a tough year for many, and a good reminder is to try to imagine how life was in February this year, how different our plans looked like, and what we hope to do and imagined this year to be. It is a good reminder not to make too many plans for the future but to optimize the information we have right now. If not, it should show that 3-5 years plans hold low value, so let’s not waste too much time on them.