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How Unicorns are Launched: Revolut

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June 21, 2023
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min read

In the world of start-ups, success stories offer valuable lessons. When it comes to lessons in product management, software development, web development, mobile development, MVP development, and finding product-market fit, one company that clearly stands out is Revolut. By embodying the principles of launching early and iterating fast, this unicorn has successfully blazed its trail in the fintech industry.

What is Revolut?

Revolut is a London-based financial technology company that provides banking services. From personal to business banking, Revolut has revolutionized the way people manage their money. By offering a digital alternative to traditional banking methods, Revolut enables its users to spend, send, and receive money with ease.

Who are the Founders?

Revolut was founded in 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. Storonsky, a former trader at Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers, is a seasoned financier with a keen eye for innovation. Yatsenko, on the other hand, was a former senior developer at Deutsche Bank, bringing his expertise in technology and software development to the table.

What inspired them?

The founders were inspired by a common frustration: the inconvenience and high costs associated with international money transfers. They believed that in the digital age, there must be a simpler, faster, and more cost-effective way to handle global financial transactions. Thus, the idea for Revolut was born.

Launching the MVP

Revolut's initial MVP was a straightforward digital banking app linked to a payment card. This MVP was designed to solve one key problem: the exorbitant fees and unfavourable exchange rates associated with international transactions. It took them about a year to build and launch the MVP, with a unique approach of focusing purely on a seamless user experience and offering real-time exchange rates.

Their MVP's success was tremendous. It validated the hypothesis that consumers were seeking a cost-effective solution for international money transfers. The unique selling point of offering real exchange rates, not the marked-up rates traditional banks provided, struck a chord with the users.

How did they iterate?

With the success of their MVP, Revolut then embarked on a path of rapid iterations, aiming to build out their feature set based on user feedback and market research. The hypothesis was clear: by offering additional financial services, they could expand their user base and enhance customer loyalty.

One notable iteration was the introduction of cryptocurrency support, making it possible for users to buy, hold, and sell digital currencies within the app. This was a daring move as it was made during a period of uncertainty about the future of cryptocurrencies. However, this risk paid off, with the feature driving significant user adoption.

Despite their many successes, not all iterations were successful. Revolut's attempt to launch a commission-free trading platform faced challenges, due to regulatory complexities and stiff competition. However, this setback provided invaluable insights into their user base's needs and the regulatory landscape.

Finding Product Market Fit

Revolut raised their Series A round in July 2016, raising approximately $10 million at a valuation of $42 million. The company was growing rapidly, adding thousands of new users every day and processing over $500 million in transactions every month.

Where are they today?

Today, Revolut boasts of a valuation of over $33 billion, a user base of over 15 million, and a strong presence in the international market. Their impact has been profound, prompting traditional banks to reevaluate their fee structures and digital offerings. Revolut continues to focus on expansion, continuously adding new features and broadening its reach into new markets.

In conclusion, Revolut's journey illustrates the power of launching early and iterating fast. Their success underlines the importance of product management, UX/UI design, agile and lean startup methodologies in the fast-paced world of fintech. This relentless commitment to refining their product and adapting to user needs made them a true unicorn in the industry. Aspiring founders can look to Revolut as an example of how to successfully bring a digital product to life.