LATAM IN GERMANY: meet Friedhelm A. Schmitt
LATAM in Germany is a new interview series and section, especially designed to highlight the EMERGE21 platform, both aiming to support Argentinian, Chilean, & overall LATAM founders and startups to strive their scaling into new markets, with a focus of having Hessen and Germany as an entrance point into Germany, Europe and the world.
Frankfurt Valley as a Media Partner, will highlight different leaders and founders, whose stories and records should inspire and motivate other LATAM stakeholders to join us.
Today, we bring to our virtual stage Friedhelm A. Schmitt — Founder of FINCITE GmbH, a Technology entrepreneur, scale-up enthusiast and early-stage investor that Co-created € 100+ mil. company value and counting…
DearFriedhelm, could you let your reader know what your roots are? Where are you actually from?
Hello, happy to be here today and do this interview with you. I was actually born in Germany, in Wuppertal to be precise. With a german father and a peruvian mother I had the blessing to have double nationality. But when asking about roots: I consider myself a European in the community of global citizens. I have lived in many different countries and experienced different cultures all over the world. And I am (still) a big fan of the European Union providing us with peace and great possibilities to unite.
What brought you to Frankfurt — Hessen?
Roughly 6 years together with my co-founders Stefan Post and Ralf Heim I founded Fincite. Fincite is a B2B Fintech providing innovative investment management software to financial institutions such as banks, asset managers and insurances. And as proximity is power we saw great value in being close to our customers and partners. That brought us to Frankfurt.
What are you currently working on? Do you think our region is the perfect spot for you right now?
My entrepreneurial journey is fully focused on scaling Fincite, specifically growing our operations internationally. And yes, Frankfurt is the perfect spot if you are a B2B fintech. We have about 250+ banks right next door. We are geographically in the heart of Germany and in the heart of Europe. The international airport and our rail network provides us with transportation that brings us virtually everywhere. But the most important factor is talent. We found so many great colleagues in Frankfurt. For them Frankfurt has not only provided them with education and work opportunities but with a place and environment worth living in.
How much have you been involved in Innovation and Entrepreneurship locally and globally?
For our customers Fincite is often perceived as the trusted partner when it comes to digitizing and innovating their businesses and processes. In many cases this touches the sphere of entrepreneurship for example when established banks found or spin out new entities, so called “challengers” that work on our software. Over the years we learned that apart from technology there are a lot of entrepreneurial experiences, best practices, strategies and tactics that we bring to the table and that provide value to these companies.
As an Expat or Foreigner — how was your experience and things you overcame to be where you are today?
I actually rarely feel like a foreigner. What is very helpful, however, is to know the local language. Language is still very unifying and a great indicator of cultural belonging. Knowing more languages would have given me personally even more possibilities. But I am grateful for where I am and curious for what is still to come.
If you could mix the best of both worlds, what would be the top skills you would mix from both sides of the Ocean (LATAM and Germany)?
LatAm is a huge continent. It is fundamentally difficult to stereotype the individual cultures and characters. There are great people with great skills on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. What I sometimes feel in LatAm, and what is a bit more muted in Germany, is this joie de vivre that is also carried into everyday life and onto the streets. I believe that more happiness can be achieved when every area of life, including work, is infused with enjoyment of life.
Can you share some tips or stories with other LATAM Founders that are about to take the leap to start business in Germany-Europe?
Don’t underestimate your skills and what you have to bring to the table but at the same time don’t overestimate the possibilities awaiting you.
Your local experiences and challenges can result in a very valuable asset that proves to be useful for other countries as well. My favorite example is the unstable currency in Argentina that led to an early adoption of crypto currencies in B2B transactions. This created an ecosystem of innovators in that sector that are technologically advanced and now able to bring this technology to other countries as well.
At the same time the markets in Germany and the rest of Europe are, despite the European unification, still very local and fragmented — and quite closed in many cases. Entering that is not an easy task and will require effort, patience and network. So if you are really serious about entering the European Market please reach out for a chat. You can contact me on all the popular social networks.
To close the interview, we invite all our readers to discover the initiative fromAHK Argentina — Cámara de Industria y Comercio Argentino-Alemana together with Mainstage Incubator and Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH: