Genti Zotaj: Implementation is More Valuable than Ideas


Genti is an entrepreneur, with a long experience in the field of finance, technology and analytics. He is founder of Green Leaf, AiLend and GReg, companies with an international reach in the Regtech and Fintech industries. Beyond entrepreneurship, he has been engaged as a consultant in technology and data projects for some of the largest banking groups in Europe such as Unicredit, Sber Bank, Erte Group and other companies.

AILend helps simplify communication between Banks and Customers and eliminates the need for physical interaction in bank branches given the time we live in with COVID 19. Using advanced technology and artificial intelligence AILends helps for a quick, affordable and easy lending.

This is how Genti describes his journey.

How has the journey of this product been so far and at what stage are you now?
Our path has not been easy. The phrase "If you can do it in New York, you can do it everywhere" is ridiculous in my opinion. Meanwhile, it would be fairer to say “If you can do it in Tirana and similar places, you can do it anywhere."
I consider myself lucky that a big International bank like Raiffeisen has appreciated our work and vision. Meanwhile, we have moved in the international market where we are present as a company but also through international partners. I can go on and on with this story that seems to me like part of a big ‘puzzle’ that is completed every day with a new piece.

Have you received investments so far? Or are you self-financing?
We are a company that has refused funding. In other words, we are self-financing. There are several reasons for this.

Our choice has been a hybrid nature. We have built partnerships that cover expensive activities for us, in markets like Luxembourg, Switzerland or Singapore. But on the other hand it builds a healthy relationship where like us, like these partners have "skin in the game" and commit to the success of the collaboration.

Startups often mention figures such as 1 million, 2 million or even 10 million euros in funding; a reality that sounds very nice on television but is quite different when you have a closer look. These relationships are often complicated where choosing the wrong investor ends up building a toxic relationship, "slavery" and a change of vision for companies. On the other hand investing in the wrong company leads to the unjustified spending. Rarely, these relationships are successful. Hopefully for us it will be successful when it happens.

Since we started this work, our interest has not been an "exit" but we do everything because we love it. This behavior has resulted in the fact that today, as in the partnership with Raiffeisen and other international partners, we have built business relationships which are growing day by day.

You were the winner of the Elevator Lab Challenge 2019 with AiLend. Can you tell us the purpose for participating in this competition?
Recognizing the seriousness of Raiffeisen Bank and the fact that our two products, AiLend one of them, are related to financial services, Fintech, Elevator Lab seemed like a good opportunity to share our vision in the domestic market. Fortunately, we were chosen as the winner among more than 20 startups in Kosovo and Albania.

What does Ailend represent and who does it serve?
Our principle is the use of technology in function of the needs of the people. In the case of AILend it is credit facilitation and education for everyone, whenever they need it.

AiLend addresses the client's need by speaking their language and facilitates communication with banks. For example, a person needs a home and credit is the means to meet that need. In this case, we treat the client and his need as primary by removing banking jargon from communication. On the other hand we eliminate or minimize the need for physical interaction between the client and the bank by enabling communication and exchange of documents to take place online.

There is a perception about traditional banks as expensive, while their service is among the cheapest in the market. The fact that they are perceived as expensive also comes from the difficulty of accessing them, given that there are rules strictly dictated by the Bank of Albania.

AiLend has the adequate technology and philosophy to help traditional banks have speed and security in decision-making by meeting the requirements of the Bank of Albania, but also quickly serving the need for customer capital.

How has the participation and being the winner of the Elevator Lab affected the development of the AiLend product and its extension abroad?
AiLend is a platform that the whole team is very proud of. We have started and built every piece of code in Albania with great confidence and great quality. But there have been moments when we have shown our work with the inferiority complex which is also dictated by the fact that there is a lot of prejudice in international markets about being an Albanian technological startup. Over time, Raiffeisen Elevator Lab, and other companies have joined our path, and have support our growth in international markets.

Every piece of history makes us very proud and motivates us to rank among the Albanian success stories in the world.

Would you recommend to various Albanian startups to participate in such competitions? What are the values that a startup can benefit in different stages of its development from these participations?
Elevator Lab and the relationship with Raiffeisen Bank is one of the most professional relationships that a startup can find not only in Albania but everywhere. I would recommend it to any startup, at any stage of it.
Regarding the issue of money, I think this is the smallest problem. Today, we can afford to be investors, but we would not invest in a company that sees the problem in capital. You have to prove your worth and the money will come.

One last tip for all those young people who may have an idea or a dream. What should they do with it? Where should they be inspired?
The work of an entrepreneur is one of the most difficult and carries with it the risk of failing at any moment. But it is also among the most beautiful because it creates something that can have an effect on the lives of millions of people.
What I have learned from experience is that implementation is more valuable than ideas. Implementation is the difficulty. Many startups give up when things get serious.

There are days when you feel motivated and others when you think everything was in vain. There is no success story that comes easily and it often happens that success comes when you are not focused on it, but on the product and the value, it brings to the market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}