A new generation of tech innovators: Interview with Sami Osman

A new generation of founders, innovators and entrepreneurs are rapidly making their presence known across Europe. Running a business is no longer an old man’s sport and startups led by millennials and Gen Z are fueling a new era of tech development and innovation. 

We put a spotlight on young founders recently, identifying some founders that are already staking the startup scene by storm. One of those entrepreneurs was Sami Osman, the co-founder and CEO of Quartr. 

Since then, Quartr actually picked up an extra €2.5 million, taking its Seed round to a total of €7 million – in just two years of existence. Based in Stockholm, Quartr is a startup bridging the gap between companies and stakeholders. In true GenZ style, Sami met his co-founders on Twitter’s financial community #FinTwit and so, the startup launched before the team had even met in person. Quartr is used by both investors and companies to achieve more insights and information, helping make investment decisions that are more informed and inherently better for the long run. It has reached over 300k downloads in 160+ countries in its first year.

We talked to Sami to learn more about his experience launching a startup as a young founder, and what he is planning for the future. 

Tell us about your experience launching a startup.

​​I started Quartr because of the inaccessibility of the information I needed to make day-to-day investment decisions as a retail trader. When the idea came to mind, I reached out to the brightest people I had been in contact with on financial Twitter, or ‘FinTwit’ as it’s often known. Since we were still strangers interacting with finance pseudonyms, we set up a Zoom call to discuss how we’d move forward, and from then we became Quartr’s co-founders. After that, and long after starting the company, it took over 9 months for all of us to meet in real life. The founding team is now family to me. I love them all.

How did you go about getting funding? Any challenges you faced along the way?

Most of our investors start off as users of our app, which is a great position to be in. Having a relatively straightforward value proposition helps as our initial meetings are more about the product roadmap and our vision rather than explaining what we’re doing. Investors buy into our vision as they themselves are experiencing the problems the app is solving, which is a fortunate place to start. For us, investor meetings are valuable moments to collect genuine feedback on our product and other friction points that we can work to solve.

The finance world has a certain reputation – how would you describe it from your point of view? Is it still an ‘old boy’s club’?

From what I’m seeing, the reputation of the finance world is changing. The old-fashioned culture of ties and shiny shoes sitting on all the power has started to be replaced by casual t-shirt-wearing guys and girls in Silicon Valley. Technology did initiate this shift, but increased access and financial awareness on social media has definitely also had a role to play.

Of course, if you walk through a financial district in any country, there will still be the old guard wearing stereotypical finance clothing, however I’ve recently noticed this uptight environment loosening up a bit. As a start-up with mostly Gen Z employees, we’re trying to stay casual. We even have a no-tie-wearing rule at the office. It’s important for people to feel comfortable at work.

As a young founder – do you think you approach business operations and management differently? What are your key priorities for the business?

I am sure that my generation has a completely different mentality compared to previous groups. First and foremost, we were born into the digital era. Attention spans may have reduced, but we’re more aware of ongoing happenings and trends, and therefore companies with younger founders tend to be a bit more mission-driven. In terms of how to run a business, our entire adult lives have been shaped by monetary easing and falling interest rates, and this affects how our generation approaches business.

We are products of our environment and nowadays it’s easy to always favour growth and owning users’ time. I’m sure what era you’re born into directly affects how you do business. There will always be people that take advantage of this, but increased investment has also given more entrepreneurs the opportunity to realise their mission. For us, as for everyone else, it’s all about execution and operational excellence. The one that solves the most obvious problems wins in the end.

What’s next in your plans?

With so much money circulating in financial markets, it’s amazing how far left behind most common tools are in terms of User Interface and User Experience. We’ve built a  simple and elegant app, and now we’re adding to our core to truly become the new home of company communications. My goal is for every interested investor to enter our platform and say “wow”.

Meanwhile, companies are right now onboarding our B2B platform, which allows their Investor Relations departments to leave a lot of time-consuming and manual work behind. This is a platform I’m especially proud of, and our team is working with Investor Relations heads to solve even more friction points for IR teams. 

Any advice for young wannabe founders out there?

If you feel that you are solving a problem for yourself and others, don’t listen to those who tell you it’s not possible to build something bigger out of it, or that another company is already solving it. If a company had solved this issue, then why does that problem still appear in your everyday life? This is especially true in the digital world, where if you solve a problem you can both find your audience quickly and then scale fast if there is a need in the market.

In order to scale quickly, be prepared to let go of the control. As a founder, it’s easy to want to be everywhere and have your hands in everything that is happening in your company. That’s not possible for two reasons: 1) you have only 24 hours each day 2) you won’t be good at everything. Find someone whose judgement you trust, and let go of some control. Be there to support and guide your vision, and make sure the company is developing according to the bigger picture.

In the early stages, it’s pivotal to always be ready to fundraise. People are prepared to be generous and helpful, and even if they can’t set you up with investment themselves, they might well be able to connect you with someone relevant that you can learn from or that can help your company grow in another way.