The celebration balloons are still hanging in the office. The digital company 360T recently turned 20 years old. It is one of the first great German start-up success stories that began when it was founded in 2000. The investment banker Carlo Kölzer realized at the time how complicated it was for companies to trade with different currencies. They had to order the money from the banks by phone. The companies often received the wrong amount due to misunderstandings.
The bank employee came up with the idea of starting a digital marketplace for foreign exchange. “On the whiteboard” the idea made sense, says Kölzer. Because his employer did not want to implement the project, he quit and founded 360T with two business partners. “The early years were extremely difficult,” says the founder. At first there was no network with the companies. The airline Lufthansa brought the breakthrough as the first major customer. Little by little, large banks and companies came to the platform. At some point, 360T was so powerful that banks couldn’t get around it.
15 years after it was founded, Kölzer and his colleagues achieved the big coup: Deutsche Börse bought their company for 725 million euros, which was the largest fintech exit in Germany even then. And there hasn’t been a major deal since then. After a comparatively low salary and a lot of stress over the years, Kölzer suddenly became a multi-millionaire – he is said to have owned around nine percent of the company when he left.
In the FinanceFWD podcast, Kölzer talks about …
… the difficult start-up phase of 360T
… a turning point in the founding
… the lack of funding from venture capitalists
… the time after the mega-exit on Deutsche Börse
… the problems with integration
… his motivation to keep working
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