Many entrepreneurs enter the startup world because they want to make a change and develop something that will improve people’s lives.
This feeling is at the heart of entrepreneurship: leaving your comfort zone and starting your own journey because you feel the need to change the reality you and others live in.
After years of working in the corporate world, I decided to use my skills to create something important to me that would make a difference in my country. For the past 5-6 years, I’ve been building Vexi, a Neo Bank that provides financial services, starting with a credit card, for Mexicans who don’t have access to traditional banking products.
My mom was a 20-year-old single parent when she had me. She raised me while studying and working as a reseller. At the time, the financing sources she could access as an entrepreneur were my grandparents, uncles, aunts, or loans at extremely high-interest rates. If a product like Vexi had existed back then, I’m sure my mother’s life would have been easier. I decided to become an entrepreneur and build Vexi because I knew firsthand the effects of limited access to resources and opportunities, and I wanted to be part of the solution.
These are my recommendations on how to build a product that can improve people’s lives.
Find a real problem and create a solution around it
If you want to make a difference, the first step is to identify what it is that you want to change. But before you identify the problem you want to solve, there are some considerations you should take into account:
- Without fully comprehending a problem, it’s very difficult to identify it – let alone solve it. Gustavo Rojo, Vexi´s founder, worked a long time in traditional banking and witnessed the sheer amount of people being rejected. This is how he knew there was an issue with accessing credit in Mexico.
- Ask yourself, is the problem big enough to create a product around it? You have to do your research on the following:
- How many people are affected?
- What are the characteristics of the potential users?
- Is it just a particular segment or a larger market?
- Do the tools you are thinking of fit with people’s habits and customs?
For example, according to data from the National Financial Inclusion Survey 2021, there are 56 million Mexicans without access to credit, and 55.8% of Mexico’s workers are employed in informal jobs. Mexican adults who don’t have credit cards also typically deal with shark loans, which are online loans with interest rates equivalent to 500% annualized. Only 1 in 10 adults has access to a credit card in Mexico, and we knew this was where we could make the biggest difference. We decided that the middle-class population in Mexico would be the most impacted by the product we were building.
From A to Z
At Vexi, we had to figure out the most important steps toward creating a company. We decided that the best way would be to analyze the whole process and break it down into parts. This allowed us to focus on one thing at a time and move forward. Each company is different, but there are some lessons we learned along the way that might help you understand some fundamental processes.
You’ll want to start with these two questions:
- What do I need to form the company?
- What’s the market like? What are the low-hanging fruits?
- Research the potential customer, their characteristics, and other options available in the market.
Then, your team should establish the technical and compliance prerequisites. In our case, we had to investigate how to become a qualified credit issuer and the associated legalities.
After you settle on a brand and communication strategy, you need to focus on the customer journey–which is key to creating a product that improves people’s lives.
We designed our platform to be an app for people who had never used credit cards. To help customers understand how they work, we put a lot of emphasis on explaining financial concepts. For example, we knew many people were confused by interest rates. So, we created a simulator that would show them exactly what the cost of financing would be. If we hadn’t bothered to make sure our customers understood the logic behind our product, Vexi wouldn’t have made a difference in their lives.
Finally, the last step you’ll want to focus on is in establishing rules for your customer success team. This includes deciding which channels customers can use to reach out and building a FAQs page. Having this structure in place will be key as your business grows.
Customer feedback matters
Nowadays, technological tools allow us to have a lot of information about the experience of customers. In our case, it allowed us to understand the following:
- Where do customers spend more time in the app?
- Where do they buy, and at what times?
- What categories do they purchase?
This type of information gives you a lot of clues on what your customers need, how they are using your product and how you can serve them better.
You also can use surveys to compare customer satisfaction and loyalty over time and, with the data collected, be able to pinpoint when customers lose interest. At this moment, it is important to be innovative and offer alternatives.
However, you can’t forget the human factor. Technology can never replace body language cues, such as facial expressions. To stay ahead of your client’s needs, schedule interviews and focus groups on a regular basis.
As time goes by, it’s important to measure and observe how your customers feel about using your product. This will give you a good indication of how you’re changing their lives. You have to track how their needs evolve because they change over time, and what worked five years ago might not work today. It’s crucial to stay relevant to them and continue making their lives better.
For example, we started offering a credit card for those who had never had access to one. Then, we evolved and improved our product to bring our customers the best credit card experience possible with all the benefits that are available in the market today, such as a cashback program, travel insurance, and more.
Measuring your impact
Although Net Promoter Score is a reliable metric to know whether your product is relevant to the customer, it doesn’t tell you in what measure you’re changing their lives.
Social listening tools provide a comprehensive understanding of your product’s reputation because you can discover what people are saying about it on social media platforms. For example, we discovered that Vexi users weren’t paying such high rates for credit anymore.
To get an accurate understanding of your product’s impact, include these questions on customer surveys: What other alternatives did you use before mine? And also, do you still use them after trying mine? If clients stop using other products after trying yours, this metric can tell you how much you are changing their lives.
Another way to tell if your product is important to customers is by observing what they use it for. For example, we keep track at Vexi of how many clients use our credit card to purchase necessary items like groceries and prescription drugs.
As entrepreneurs, we want to make a difference. We see how the world works and want to make it better for our families, friends, country, or even region. I hope the advice I’ve shared here helps you better understand how to overcome the challenges of building life-changing products. If I had known these things from the start, my journey creating Vexi would’ve been much simpler. Even though it is difficult to create products with the potential to change people’s lives, the rewards are more than worth it in the end.