Two ESMT Berlin MBAs have been snapped up by a mobile payments start-up in Berlin to work on the launch of a small payments service across Europe.
Clement Luton and Tomer Sabag have been working for the unnamed firm since January 2012, after completing their MBAs at the end of 2011.
The service will allow small- and medium-sized merchants to accept credit and debit cards which would have previously been inaccessible to them due to high credit card processing fees, via their mobile phones.
Luton and Sabag explain that the service works with an application that can be downloaded for free onto a mobile device such as an Android phone or an iPad, and then a card reader which is plugged into the mobile device.
The payment company charges a small commission for each transaction, which is still less than what major debit and credit card companies demand. “People in flea markets, doctors making home visits, hairdressers, taxi drivers, corner shops, and a host of other users can take advantage of this service” says Sabag.
Luton explained that they could not reveal the name of the company as things were under wraps until the company was officially launched. “Everyday there is a new company so we do have a lot of competition. When I joined the company at the end of January there were six employees, now we are close to 50 if not more”, says Luton
The MBAs did however reveal that they are gearing towards rolling out the service all over Europe and already have offices in Sofia, Dublin and Berlin.
Their involvement with the mobile payments firm began after a referral to its founder, by a colleague at another company where they were doing their MBA project. Luton said that he received a call from this colleague asking if he would be interested in working for the start-up on a Thursday. By that afternoon, his and Tomer’s CVs had been forwarded and by Friday they had received job offers.
Luton, whose background is in consulting and project management, mainly in finance, for both large corporations and startups, will be handling Business Intelligence. He’s responsible for adapting the company’s business strategies to the fast-changing business environment and implementing tools to manage the sales pipeline.
Sabag has a technical background, having worked in R&D for Nokia and Siemens, works as the head of hardware and supply management for the mobile payment company. He oversees price negotiations, the implementation of the card technology and is working to make sure all the security standards and legal requirements are met.
Luton says that the fast-paced startup environment is challenging. “You could work on an issue and two days later come back to the same file and see so many things have changed”, he says. Sabag concurs that, “It’s still the very beginnings now and every issue that comes up is a big issue”.
They both say that the ESMT MBA is proving invaluable. Sabag says he is always drawing on lessons from the entrepreneurship sessions and the supply management classes have been helpful for understanding the dynamic processes taking place within and outside the company.
Luton mentioned that very often the founder has been heard to say,“Don’t talk to me about questions, just make a decision”. They say that topics from classes have not only helped them recognize what questions need to be asked to resolve issues but also where to search for answers.
The company will be launched in the coming weeks. Clement and Tomer have promised to keep BusinessBecause readers updated on their progress!