Focus on your customers early on

Passbase: bank-level identity verification with just a few lines of code

Please introduce yourself and your startup Passbase to our readers!

My Name is Felix Gerlach, I am one of the founders of Passbase and responsible for everything which belongs to the product of Passbase. After a couple of stations in the startup scene in London, San Francisco, Singapore and Bangkok, I am putting now all my efforts behind Passbase to build with a dream team of sharp people the smoothest product in the identity space – the stripe for online verification.

How did you get the idea to Passbase?

We originally started in 2017 as a cryptocurrency portfolio management product where people could buy and trade over 1.000 different coins long before other players adopted it. People started to love our product and we got good traction while bitcoin run up to $20k.

In mid of our hype, Apple took our app down because they required us doing verification checks for every user for every exchange. In the worst case, a user had to run 8 times through a verification check, which was completely unreasonable. We just couldn’t find a solution in the market which suited our needs of smoothly verifying and re-authenticating users, so we pivoted by 180 degrees into an identity company and literally built a solution for our own problem.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?

The hardest part of starting a company is actually to onboard the right people, especially the first 10 will coin the whole company in terms of culture, management style as well as performance. For us, it was crucial to make this right. You might have heard that people are saying that you should fire people faster than you hire, which I can completely underline. Rather wait, before you make a hasty hiring decision, it will cost you more time and money to have a bad hire sitting in your company. Try to hire out of your own network, start to seek actively. Mostly, the best engineers won’t apply to your company, you have to find them.

Who is your target audience?

We currently focus on rising markets which have a strong need of user verification but don’t want to hold hyper sensitive data points from their users or don’t have the capabilities to build the tech stack around it. Those markets include P2P marketplaces, mobility startups or age-restricted products. If you are a company with these problems, feel free to join our beta program.

What is the USP of your startup?

We built our product by putting developers and ease of integration first, like modern software tools should be. The analogy to Stripe is very often brought up in this context. Developers are able to integrate our technology just by copying a few lines of code and using their API key. In the long run, we want to develop our architecture towards decentralized user owner identity profiles to offer people full control over their own identity data.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?

Due to our early phase, there are rarely work days under 10-12hours. Right now, we are completely focused down to ship as fast a possible product features and learn from early feedback as much as we can.

Recently, we also moved from London to Berlin to build the developer and product hub of our company there. The other part of the team sits in New York City and is leading sales, operations & partnerships. This means, a lot of syncing needs to happen especially in this early phase to make fast progress.

Where do you see yourself and your startup Passbase in five years?

People say that there are three things you can’t buy with money: 1. Love, 2. Happiness, & 3. Product-market fit. Which is true, the hardest turning point for a startup is hitting product-market fit. Some companies never reach this, some companies need more than 5 years. Our ambition is to find product market fit as soon as possible.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

  1. Focus on your customers early on: Nothing is more important to listen exactly what they request. Try to build a community around your MVP. Make them love your product.
  2. Ship as fast as possible: Don’t wait until everything is „perfect“. If you are not ashamed of launching the first beta, it might be already too late.
  3. 3. Make good build or buy decisions: Time is running against you. To ship early on and learn quickly, try to plug in components which got already developed in the market.

More information you will find here

Thank you Felix Gerlach for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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