I joined Upvest to build next generation investment infrastructure and to enable all the innovation happening in Financial Services and especially investment landscape. It used to be slow, expensive, and cumbersome to do that in this space with incumbent players, but we wanted to change that and allow companies to move fast and focus on their core products instead of worrying about infrastructure. I also wanted to work on something that matters. With our product we can help the next one hundred million people to get on the investment ladder and start preparing better for their future. After my time at Wise owning the Wise API as part of the overall business offering, I also wanted to build a pure API-only business. To me infrastructure and APIs are the foundational piece for any innovation nowadays.
When I joined Upvest we were still building our earlier product for blockchain asset custody. We provided a regulated (we were one of the earliest companies in Germany to get the Crypto Custody bank license needed for that) custody services for other companies that needed infrastructure for managing that, be it from cryptocurrencies to other tokenized assets like real-estate. But in the first months, we ended up realizing we want to go bigger and decided to pivot to provide a fully-fledged B2B investment infrastructure API for investing into any kind of asset legally investable, starting from ETFs, mutual funds to stocks and cryptocurrencies. I am a big believer in platforms and APIs are the building blocks of great products. I can power hundreds of investing products with my API.
Due to my integral involvement in this pivot to what the company is right now, I was made a co-founder. But to be honest that did not change anything, I had come in with a co-founder mentality already as this was my chance to build something great from scratch. Initially I was the CTPO looking after both product and engineering which would have been fine if we had stayed in blockchain but after the pivot I wanted to have dedicated domain expertise in this industry and a dedicated product function separate from engineering. So I split out and ramped up the Product function by seeding it with a Product Manager and helped hire our CPO to take it over. We work in cross functional teams though with a Tech Lead leading the engineers and working closely with their Product Manager.
I helped us set a framework of using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to drive focus in all departments. I have set up most of the initial people processes in the company due to the fact of having to deal with those first in Engineering as the biggest department (half of the company, 75 of 155 people, are in Engineering).
I created the engineering strategy to support our business objectives and designed the initial cloud native architecture and tech stack of the new platform. I set up the organizational structures, ways of working as well as the culture of autonomous teams needed in delivering software products effectively at scale. I ramped up the engineering team hiring processes and the team from 5 to 75 engineers distributed in Europe in a hybrid model.
I delivered the product to launch with our launch partner Ginmon in August 2022. I delivered product functionality for us to win customers like Vivid, Shares and some of the biggest neobanks in the world, Revolut and N26. And more to come…
I set up the API as a Product mindset and external facing Developer Experience capabilities around that to make sure our clients come first in everything we do. This is usually an overlooked area in companies.
I helped us raise a total of ~$80M of funding in our A and B-series fundraising. I have helped us hire and fill the rest of the management team. I helped us get all the needed bank licenses from the German regulator as well get thru all required audits.
Technologies: Go, Docker, Kubernetes, LinkerD, Kong, Google Cloud Platform, Kafka, Confluent Cloud, DataDog, BigQuery, Looker, Event-Driven Architecture, Microservices
CTO for TransferWise for Business reporting to TransferWise CTO. TransferWise has since rebranded to Wise.
At Wise I was leading engineering for the B2B side of Wise dubbed Wise for Business (including Wise Platform). I reported to Wise CTO. We transferred £1bn of customers’ money per week and saved them over a billion per year in bank fees. Wise for Business was a cross-functional department of about 80 people spread between London, Budapest, Tallinn, New York, Tampa and Singapore. I lead a transformation to platform and API-first thinking, shifting focus from our apps and website to the capability we offered through our APIs to all integration partners. Aim was to be wherever our consumer of business customers used their money daily and integrate right into those processes and flows. During my lead, the business side grew twice as fast as the rest of the business with ~75% YoY growth and above all projections.
I looked after our API strategy and all integration partners from banks to connected apps. Banks like Monzo, N26, Bunq, BPCE, etc. used our API for their cross-currency transfers across the globe with an ever-increasing coverage of locations and currencies. I opened new bank partners and markets in the US, Canada and Australia with Stanford Credit Union, Novo, Eq and Up as well as Activo in Portugal I launched our first connected app partner with Xero Pay with TransferWise for all their SME customers. I launched our integration with GoCardless.
Technologies: Java, Spring Boot, microservices, Docker, Kubernetes, AWS, Kafka, iOS, Android, Swift, Kotlin, React, Angular.
At the innovation hub we were tasked with experimenting with potential future business models, working on Proof of Concept and Minimum Viable Product projects in the logistics space for Fleetboard, a fully owned subsidiary of Daimler Trucks. I applied Lean Startup and Design Thinking principles in making sure we validated early and developed purpose-fit solutions just-in-time. I worked a lot with blockchain technology in various forms on fragmented supply chains and IoT. We evaluated both public and private blockchain technologies and applied them in our projects.
My role as in-house CTO at InMotion Ventures was a varied one. I ran the technology part of the incubator program for mobility startups helping them with technology strategy, expert consultancy, recruiting their tech founders/CTOs/engineers, mentoring, architecture, best practices, etc. I also took part in technical Due Diligence work for the investments we made with Jaguar Land Rover’s funding. One of the interesting companies I worked with was Dovu who worked on a blockchain solution to help people monetize and give access to their mobility data.
I was the Head of Technology (SVP) at a B2B eCommerce-company for food catering and delivery. I was the first technical executive (or employee) in the company to define, build and launch the MVP of the product. I kicked off the whole tech department from zero and hired a cross-functional team from 0 to 15 folks to be able to deliver on the objectives. The team had backend, frontend, mobile, UX and product folks. I defined and set up continuous delivery and deployment practices. I architected a fully cloud-native API-first microservices based architecture for the backend with three client applications (iOS, Android, responsive Web) and delivered the MVP to launch in 9 months.
TUI Group is the biggest leisure travel company in the world with 77000 employees and revenues of over 20 billion a year and profits of 1 billion to match with close to 300 brands globally. I lead a cross-functional team of 40+ in their Mobility Hub in London delivering mobile app experiences for those brands from our core white-label offering. I reported to the Group CIO. I delivered a number of critical updates and feature releases to existing core source markets. I launched new markets in Benelux for the TDA (TUI Digital Assistant app). I delivered the TDA to 8 countries in 13 languages for both iOS and Android across mobile and tablet. I re-platformed the product from an outdated tech stack to a more fit for purpose stack. I transformed the way of working in the whole hub thru agile transformation with effective stakeholder management. I internalized the tech team from 70% contractors to less than 30% building robustness in the in-house team.
I helped Futurice grow from 10 people in Helsinki to several hundred people in Helsinki, Tampere, Stockholm, Berlin, Munich and London. During my Futurice time I hired a lot of team members across different sites. I had oversight on all the major technologies on mobile used across the business. Thought leadership, evangelism and mentoring within the company. A lot of hands on architecture and solution work in addition to helping sales and consulting on technology.
Technologies: anything and everything to do with any mobile platform (Symbian, Maemo, Meego, Android, iOS, Tizen, Ubuntu, FirefoxOS, PhoneGap/Cordova, Titanium, React Native, Xamarin, etc.) or cloud backends (Azure, AWS, GCP)
Biggest public reference cases: Goal+ (formerly Samsung Kick) and HERE Maps Windows 8 app. Below are the different roles I had at different times in Futurice.
I had my own consultancy on the side for 7 years in Finland where me and my partner did work on mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Xamarin) and backend (Node.js, .NET and PHP). Acted as the CEO for part of the time as well.
One of my most hardcore software projects so far. We delivered the GPU-driver for one of the first mobile phones to have a GPU, the Nokia N8. Low-level Kernel-side Symbian development. Implementing OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0 and OpenVG 1.0 for the Broadcom chip.
Technologies: C++, Symbian, Kernel-development, OpenGL ES, OpenVG, low-level programming