By Gavan Smythe, Managing Director, iCompareFX
What was the inspiration behind founding your company iCompareFX?
For most of my adult life, I have existed as an expat – this is the reason iCompareFX exists today.
I started the company in 2014 after discovering the easiest way to wire money internationally was through a specialist currency provider and not the big banks.
I soon discovered finding the right money transfer company was complicated and there was a lack of trust due to the unknown. Feeling increasingly frustrated by the fees, length of time and bureaucracy of transferring money through the banks, I knew there had to be a better way.
From here, I saw a gap in the market. The company set out to inform and educate consumers so they can make better decisions as individuals and businesses alike. The consumer deserves transparency about the cheapest and fastest way to send their hard-earned money.
2.What is your USP?
iCompareFX does not use inaccurate or out of date pricing. Instead, the best supported money transfer companies are displayed for each currency corridor. Listed currency specialists are sorted for individuals sending small, medium and large transfer amounts. Uniquely, the companies best suited for business partnerships are also displayed.
We’ve created a unique 36 data point scoring system to ensure the best money transfer companies are reviewed and rated objectively. This ensures iCompareFX’s collective values of transparency, customer focus and quality are maintained.
3.What is the biggest obstacle that iCompareFX has had since its founding?
Balancing my old corporate life and investing more time into iCompareFX, all while starting a family and juggling the responsibilities of parenthood has proved the biggest challenge. Having my fiancée join me in the business has helped, as it assisted in our focus and drive and removed the loneliness that can come with being an entrepreneur.
4.How has the pandemic affected your business?
We were migrating from Australia to Canada when coronavirus hit, which led to my family getting stuck in Bali during the global pandemic. We’ve embraced the challenge of running a global business from an unfamiliar setting, but having a truly global team of designers, developers and agencies around the world has come with its difficulties too!
5.What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from starting your own business?
The journey you set out for yourself is not always the planned path. You have to be flexible and adapt to changes and challenges along the way. If you can turn them into opportunities, then all the better.
6.How did you overcome the usual struggles associated with starting your own business? What made you persevere through the most difficult times?
Being a start-up in the early days was a lonely experience. There was no one I could chat to who understood my business the way I did. It’s daunting making large-scale decisions on your own, but you have to back yourself. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes not, it’s a combination of skill and luck.
7.What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? Professionally and personally?
Prepare for a roller coaster. There are highs and lows but at the end of the day, stay true to your vision and values. Identifying your repeatable processes and removing or automating where possible will be a valuable time-saver, allowing you to focus on organizing, planning and execution.
Don’t be afraid to learn every day. Making mistakes is okay. Learn from your mistakes. Fail fast. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
8.Do you suggest start-ups have a ‘5-year plan’? If so, what did that look like for your business?
Of course, if you can. However, I do not always think that is practical. You don’t know what ‘you don’t know’ when you are entering a new business, industry and market. It takes time to get up to speed and adapt accordingly. Hindsight is everything and I am sure all start-ups would look back and say they would have done the last 5 years differently if given the chance to do it again.
9.What would you say has been the ticket to your success, personally and regarding your company?
Aligning to something I am passionate about and compliments my skills. My IT background lends itself well to the digital component of the website. My finance and statistics education to the science and financial aspect of the business and, of course, my personal bugbear of giving money to the big banks. If I can save money through foreign currency exchange and transfers why wouldn’t I help other people and businesses do the same?
10.What are your plans to grow and expand the business?
Continuing to fine-tune the website experience. There are always areas to improve and tweaks to be made, so our customers get the best possible experience. To look for opportunities to educate small businesses on currency and financial products to ensure customers get the best fit for their business.