Celine Lazorthes is the optimistic and passionate Founder and CEO of Leetchi Group. Leetchi Group includes Leetchi.com, a leading European online money pot (+5M users), and MangoPay, the disruptive B2B payment solution dedicated to marketplaces, crowdfunding and sharing economy.
LTP: MangoPay was launched in 2013 and has achieved success quite quickly. Can you tell us a little more about MangoPay?
Celine Lazorthes: MangoPay is a payment solution for marketplaces, crowdfunding platforms and the sharing economy. For my first venture, leechi.com, I had to develop a payment technology because there wasn’t any dedicated to third-party payments. Many online platforms came to see us because they were looking for exactly the same system that we used. Thus, we opened the technology and launched MangoPay in 2013. It has two major advantages: it’s all-inclusive and customizable. The API enables the platforms to accept multiple payment methods, escrow the funds as long as they need, split the payments for different vendors and automate the payout. It also includes KYC controls and makes the platforms fully compliant with the European regulation PSD2. As such, it's a truly end-to-end service offering. Furthermore, the API is totally customizable and can be tailored according to the platforms' needs.
LTP: How has the acquisition by Crédit Mutuel Arkéa and being part of a bigger organization strengthened MangoPay?
CL: Crédit Mutuel Arkéa acquired 86% of Leetchi Group in September 2015. We have been maintaining a closer and closer relationship with them for over five years. From the beginning, we built a strong partnership with their payment service provider, Payline by Monext. As a result, the synergy between our products has been strengthening over the years. CMA is known in France as an innovative bank and acquired or invested in a lot of FinTech companies in recent years like Fortuneo Keytrade Bank, Yomoni, Prêt d'Union and Linxo.
I think MangoPay represents an exciting opportunity for CMA to expand its market share and have a complete offering. Many important marketplaces bank with them, but previously, CMA didn’t have any end-to-end payment solution like ours to provide their clients with.
Thanks to the support of a major European bank, we are able to gain greater brand awareness. People appreciate MangoPay’s technology and now it’s become even easier to choose us as we are part of a major banking institution. Three of our new clients are among the top 10 marketplaces in Europe.
LTP: Could you please provide us with some statistics on MangoPay’s growth in terms of transactions/users/revenue?
CL: Today, over 900 European platforms use MangoPay's API with more than 10 million people globally paying in via MangoPay's system. In 2015, we processed more than 200 million euros. We operate in the 31 European Economic Area countries from our Paris, London and Luxembourg offices. Our office in Berlin opened a week ago and, in 2016, we target to double the processed volume.
LTP: We don’t usually see women CEOs in FinTech, and it is great to see that you are running the company. Can you tell us about the challenges you face?
CL: In the European FinTech industry, 5% of CEOs and 7% of key executives are women. MangoPay stands out as both the CTO, Laure Némée, and I are female. The FinTech industry inherits the gender gap of both the finance industry and the tech industry, which means it has an even bigger struggle on its hands!
When you open a position, the percentage of women among the spontaneous applicants is very low. You need to welcome the idea of recruiting from other industries and look for high-caliber candidates with potential rather than simply seeking a “copy & paste” of skills. Furthermore, you can observe a virtuous circle. The more women in the company, the more women applicants. Today, one-third of our employees are female. I am convinced that mixing women and men in our team help us to understand better the intricacies of our clients.
LTP: Do you have a message for budding women entrepreneurs?
CL: Just take the risk! It's worth it! Being an entrepreneur gives you so much freedom. As a woman, I think it was maybe a little more difficult at the beginning because most investors are male and they are not used to encountering female entrepreneurs. But it's your role to transform that surprise into success. Over the years, I would say being a woman has probably helped me because it offered me visibility. Recently, I received the Mercury prize of Honor of HEC Management School, the top French business school, one year after Renaud Laplanche, Founder & CEO of the Lending Club; I was the first woman to receive it in 17 years!
We need to encourage women into having ambitions and dreams. I think every entrepreneur dreams of changing the world and this is what motivates you at the end of the day!