Farnoush Mirmoeini is the co-founder of KYC Hub, a RegTech SaaS enabling organisations to automate AML compliance. She started KYC Hub because she believes intelligent automation and a risk-driven approach can overhaul compliance and save the industry from skyrocketing costs and AML fines. Farnoush ideated and built innovative products that have been well received by clients. Through her leadership, KYC Hub has won numerous awards and recognitions.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
My story of working in fintech started just after I finished my master’s degree in a highly mathematical branch of telecommunication engineering in Canada. I was fascinated with financial markets and wanted to apply quantitative models to investment and risk management. I started my career as a quant in a late stage fintech startup in Canada, and subsequently moved to London. I worked with a number of tier one banks in the cross section of technology, finance, and mathematics, and gradually saw the potential for how advances in computing and artificial intelligence can have a tremendous impact on banking and finance. I stared KYC Hub with my HSBC colleague for the same reason – that we can do much better than the existing solution when it comes to financial crime risk mitigation by using advanced technologies.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
AML (Anti Money Laundering) is important for combating financial crimes and protecting our financial system. AML measures help to detect and prevent illegal activities, ensure the financial system remains stable, and demonstrates a commitment to ethical business practices. Failure to comply with AML regulations can result in significant fines and reputational damage. AML is an essential component of the financial system and will only grow in importance as financial crimes become more complex. Having worked in the banking industry for several years, I have seen how AML fines cause reputational damages and at the same time have seen how inefficiencies and manual processes cause high costs, customer frustration and missed risks. We started KYC Hub because we believed intelligent automation and a risk-driven approach can overhaul compliance and save the industry from skyrocketing costs and AML fines.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
My co-founder and I invested the initial capital in the business to build the product. With the initial product ready, we used our network to gain the first few customers. Following that we approached a UK seed investor for the initial capital. Having done it this way, the initial fundraising process was simpler given that we already had a product, some paying customers and market proof.
What are the key successes?
Since inception about four years ago, KYC Hub has been growing rapidly. We have faced many challenges including the uncertainties during the pandemic, building an international team in different time zones, working from home while creating a collaborative culture, servicing global clients, and competing with known names in the industry. Despite these challenges however, KYC Hub has gone from strength to strength, gaining large global clients, multiple prestigious awards, as well as exciting partnerships. In four years, we have succeeded in growing KYC Hub to a trusted software brand for money laundering and fraud risk detection and risk mitigation.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
One of the major challenges was facing the pandemic when we are at the early stage of our company and just starting to raise equity capital. On top of the challenges that the pandemic caused for everyone in our society, we had to contend with tremendous uncertainty from clients and investors, as well as hiring and growing an international team remotely. We were able to overcome these challenges by creating processes and systems for our recruitment, and also trying different tools and software when it comes to remote working. Investing in a positive and inclusive culture where everyone is working on the same goal and purpose has been very important in our growth and ability succeed.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We are looking to grow KYC Hub’s different product lines and expand further internationally to the US and Africa, while continuing to invest in our innovative technology in order to detect financial crime activities better and faster.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Entrepreneurship is a very rewarding journey, both in terms of personal and professional growth. I have learned a great deal, that I would not have learned in any other job, and have pushed the limits of my skills and strength. It is also very satisfying to see your ideas coming to life, firms using the products you create, and knowing that you are making a big difference in the world by making it a better place.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
I think one of the biggest steps, let’s call it Step Zero, is to think long and hard about the why of starting a business. Answering this question thoroughly and properly is very important, as well as digging deep and going beyond superficial reasons. The most important consideration is a sustained passion for the sector and the problems that need to be solved. Unlike what we see in the media, entrepreneurship is a lot of times unglamorous, difficult, and lonely. One might spend many years in the sector facing difficult times and it is important to be able to go back to the “whys” of starting the business. If these reasons are not strong enough, or are superficial, you would have a much harder time staying the course.
Also, before starting a company, a lot of research and evaluation is needed before you embark on the journey. At times the product, while very exciting and useful, serves such a small niche of customers. So not only do you have to find the “gap in the market”, but you need to find the “market in the gap”.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
I am glad you asked for five people rather than just one role model. I find leaders at times have glaring flaws and while there are aspects of a person that I admire, there are aspects that are quite divergent from who I want to be. I am most inspired by people who dream big, tirelessly follow their purpose and who embody the changes that they want to see in the world
Brene Brown – Her books about courage and authentic leadership has made a tremendous impact on my approach to work and life.
Elon Musk – For having a vision about space exploration, and taking the first steps to develop space tech to make this possible.
Masih Alinejad – An Iranian activist from a humble background. For decades Masih has worked for human rights and has become a leading figure in women’s freedom movements in Iran and Afghanistan.
Nirmal Purja – A Nepalese mountaineer who set a world record for climbing all 14 of the world’s 8000-meter peaks in under seven months. Nirmal Purja’s achievement is inspiring because it demonstrates the power of perseverance, dedication, and hard work.
David Attenborough – Through his documentaries he has brought attention to the beauty and complexity of the planet’s ecosystems. His passion and unwavering commitment serve as a shining example of the positive impact that one person can have on the world.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” (Seneca)
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