Star of the WeekInterviewsRegTech

When you live and breathe a business, it is easy to forget that not everyone has even a basic understanding of your technology.

And if you don’t meet potential partners and clients on their level, you could lose out.

Marius-Cristian Frunza, founder and CEO of Schwarzthal Tech, is a PhD in mathematical finance at the prestigious University of Sorbonne. The author of several books on modern-day financial crime, he is an expert witness for litigations, disputes and financial crime cases in the British courts.

His business – second on our sister publication BusinessCloud’s RegTech 50 innovation ranking last year – has an AI platform, Wunderschild, that fights financial crime by gathering publicly available information and assessing potential customers’ connections with criminal or suspicious networks.

It aims to revolutionise the way compliance works in the financial sector by shifting the approach from traditional ‘know your customer’ (KYC) policies towards a new concept – Know Your Network™. 

He says balancing the level of knowledge required in a conversation is a challenge. “We are a B2B business and we sell [an AI-enabled database] which is rather sophisticated,” he explains to TechBlast. 

“You may assume from the beginning that people automatically understand what a database is and how the technology works. But it’s not true. People are still very averagely informed with regards to technology – especially in this area of legal services and compliance. 

“So it is important to understand the level of knowledge of the person you are speaking with, and to adjust the discussion to their respective level – not going higher, not going lower. If someone is still working with paper or using Excel, they will automatically say no! That’s a challenge.”

Schwarzthal Tech

Before Schwarzthal Tech, Frunza ran advisory business Schwarzthal Kapital for 10 years. He says there are huge differences between a consultancy and a Software-as-a-Service business.

“When you work in services, you are selling time. To scale the business, you sell as much volume as possible and need a lot of headcount [to service that],” he says. 

“When you are selling subscriptions, you are selling attention: you want the user to spend more time on your app. So you measure time differently: what is the level of engagement and the level of interest with your user?”

‘I sold my business for £22m but I still had so much to learn’

Around 30 corporate companies – “SMEs and above” – and 100 smaller clients such as private individuals and small investors use Schwarzthal Tech’s platform. Frunza is keen to democratise the fight against financial crime by making the platform available to all.

His business raised £150,000 in a pre-seed funding round from SFC Capital last year and is also supported by the Mayor of London, London & Partners and Startupbootcamp accelerator.

Alongside a pilot with a tier one British bank, it is also working closely with institutions across the EU including consulting firms, asset managers and commercial banks.

With a team of around 15 – including 12 engineers – Frunza hopes to close “at least five tier one and tier two banks in the UK and EU” in the coming months before turning his attention to the lucrative US market.

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