Secrets of Success Christopher Ansara, CEO and co-founder of ALT/AVE
Solutions for docu-sharing within financial institutions that stand up to malicious attacks.
Preventing fraud and malicious attacks against financial institutions was paramount to Christopher Ansara’s design of ALT/AVE. He shares his Secrets of Success with Business Matters …
What products or services does ALT/AVE provide?
Our core product, docStribute, enables financial institutions to distribute mandatory and highly regulated documents to customers, offering a secure and sustainable digital alternative to sending documents to customers via post, while helping institutions meet the legal requirements set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
docStribute is a distributed ledger solution that uses the Hedera Hashgraph network, a decentralised enterprise-grade public network on which anyone can build secure, fair applications with real-time finality. Leveraging the Hedera network also provides the highest standard of security to prevent malicious attacks.
What type of businesses do you work with?
Our target clients are primarily, but not exclusively, drawn from across the financial services spectrum, including high profile retail and business banking, investment banking, insurance, investment funds, life assurance and pensions, with adjacent sectors, such as utilities and telecoms are also important areas for us. Essentially, we see docStribute as being applicable in any industry where the security and integrity of documents is of the utmost concern.
What problem does ALT/AVE solve?
The digital delivery of certain documents such as terms of service and contracts is heavily regulated, complex, and expensive; often resulting in financial institutions reverting to the distribution of printed documents instead, so as to ensure compliance. Not only is this costly, but results in masses of paper waste with an environmental impact. According to a 2018 EY report, in 2017, financial services companies sent 5.2 billion paper documents to their customers in the post, representing an extremely significant and underreported environmental issue.
When implemented, our solution will result in a 95% reduction in paper usage and a 25g decrease in CO2e per document compared to postal delivery.
It is however important not to understate how financially beneficial our proposition docStribute is for our clients, their customers, as well as being lucrative for Alt/Ave’s investors, whilst at the same time delivering hugely on decarbonising our target clients’ customer communications!
What is your USP?
What we are bringing to the table is trust, minus tonnes and tonnes of paper, and the associated carbon footprint that comes with it.
We deliver trust on multiple levels; namely, for our customers, who need the trust of knowing they are securely meeting all of their regulatory obligations, as well as for their own customers who can trust us to maintain the integrity of their documents at all times. Ultimately, Alt/Ave is enabling businesses to play a big part in helping the UK, one document at a time, to meet its net zero decarbonisation targets, whilst also providing companies with the necessary tools to score high on taxonomy alignment, and end “greenwashing” once and for all!
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged?
At the very core of our values lies sustainability, transparency, and as I already mentioned, trust, which is what every part of our operation relies upon.
So what does this all mean in practical terms? For us, it’s about not taking any shortcuts when we’re developing our tech, and ensuring that we are as energy-efficient as possible. We’re not here to greenwash the industry. There is no point in coming up with a solution that is – from a sustainability perspective – worse than the original problem!
How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
We are extremely fortunate in that, as a young company, from day one we have been able to recruit our team with our values very much in the forefront of our minds. It’s also true that like any living organism, a company like ours is always growing intellectually and part of what we look for in our people is a desire to develop, modify and grow our corporate culture as we continue to mature as a business. Putting people at the heart of such an ethos creates a sense of collective endeavour, and has enabled our staff to fully immerse themselves in our company values, in a natural and seamless way.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
More than happy. We are embracing the hybrid post-Covid home/office model and we have already noticed many positive benefits for employees and the overall business, including increased productivity and improved wellbeing. It also means we have greater flexibility in recruiting talent from all over the UK, not just from London. For us we are getting the best of both worlds; on days when people are together they build the comradery needed in a successful company, while we also reap the benefits of having a mentally well-balanced team.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
It is imperative that you listen to your customers’ needs at all times, and be very clear and transparent when communicating yours. It is also hugely important to deliver on your words. Don’t make promises you cannot keep and your relationships will be all the more harmonious and productive.
At a more practical level, as a fintech founder I would add that because there is such an abundance of technology out there to help you do business, research is crucial. Do it! Taking notice of all the details of what works best for your business can be the difference between a smooth running operation and one that is hampered everyday by the niggling annoyance of investing in the wrong platform, be it accounting software, video conferencing or messaging services.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
Many good ideas ultimately fail to fulfil their potential, and the reason they don’t always convert into great products is because founders and their early-stage employees don’t focus on the mundane day-to-day basics of what they’re spending their money on.
Just as important as getting your revolutionary idea market ready is making sure you don’t self-destruct before you launch. You need to understand what you are spending your money on, and keep an eye on the smaller expenses.
A good idea here is to utilise technology to improve efficiency, and never think you don’t need a good accountant because you do!
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
If you asked my CFO, the answer would be to provide more and better targeted financial incentives for early-stage companies. I wouldn’t disagree but I would argue that a government that is truly dedicated to reaching net zero by 2050 should be creating a simplified framework that rewards all companies that support this goal in any way by having a positive impact on the environment. Perhaps this involves creating a more publicly visible ‘net zero 2050’ campaign that could be adopted by companies that are genuinely working to be part of the solution. This could even help customers and the public understand how environmentally responsible each business really is.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
We understand that it’s a competitive market, and paying close attention to what’s out there is important when looking to position your business. By all means, keep an eye on what your competition is up to, but don’t get too bogged down in playing and beating the competition when what you need to be doing is providing the product your customers are asking for. What you don’t want to do is spend so much time worrying about a competitor to the point where you lose sight of the problem you’re trying to solve for customers in the first place.
Technology is extremely fast-moving, so have a vision and aim towards that vision. For us it’s about creating the safest, most energy-efficient way to communicate with customers. And no amount of monitoring the opposition is going to change that!
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
Our present focus is to consolidate wider understanding of docStribute and raise awareness of the capabilities of the core product.
RegTech is a $6.5bn global industry and non-compliance with industry regulation cost the global financial services industry a total of $10.4 billion last year. There is, therefore, a significant demand for technological solutions to an age old problem – how to stay within the rules, and fulfil legal obligations.
Being a disruptive solution provider, we are growing day by day and are experiencing continued development across the board. We are part of an exciting and growing space, and one which we are well-positioned to become a leader in, so the future is very exciting.