A phoenix, not a unicorn: How all three of Finder’s founders ended up on the AFR’s Young Rich List

Finder

Finder co-founder Fred Schebesta. Source: supplied.

Having founded comparison site Finder back in 2006, Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia made The Australian Financial Review’s Rich List for the second time running this year. But, 2020 is all the sweeter, as third co-founder and late-comer to the party Jeremy Cabral makes his debut too.

Still, the founders consider themselves to be at the beginning of their journey. And while being named on any rich list is nice, it’s far from the end goal.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Schebesta says achieving spots on lists like this is a nice signpost on an ongoing journey. It shows things are going in the right direction, but it’s not the be-all and and-all.

“You try to achieve things … but it’s not the end goal,” he says.

“It’s still day one.”

While Schebesta and Restuccia each ranked on the Young Rich List last year, this year, third co-founder Cabral has made his debut.

Having connected with Schebesta over Twitter, Cabral joined the business as a third co-founder in 2009, three years after Finder was first founded.

Now, he owns 10% of the business, and enters the Young Rich List in 92nd place, with a wealth of $30 million.

When you’ve been working so closely together for such a long time, it’s nice for all co-founders to get some recognition, Schebesta notes.

“It’s great to be all together,” he says.

“It’s an honour.”

Since last year’s list was released, the business has been growing, month-on-month, in terms of revenue, Schebesta says. He doesn’t reveal any specific figures, but assures us “it’s good”.

Most of that growth is still coming from the Australian market, but there’s a shift underway, he says. The UK and US are gradually accounting for more and more business.

Having never raised external capital, there’s no neat and tidy valuation figure to draw on either.

The AFR’s Rich List team valued the business at about $300 million, although Schebesta says that’s “conservative”.

“It’s not what we would sell the company for … that’s just the rawest raw, conservative value.”

And, while Finder is gearing up to its first-ever capital raise next year, he’s not chasing ‘unicorn status’ of a billion-dollar valuation.

“My goal is to become a phoenix — something that continually reinvents itself and gets stronger and stronger over time,” he explains.

Rather than becoming an ‘overnight success’ and securing a massive valuation on paper, Finder’s mission is “to survive and endure”, he says.

How does Finder make its dough?

Founded in 2006, Finder is, at its core, a comparison site.

The startup exists to help people make decisions, Schebesta explains, whether that’s choosing an insurance provider, a bank, a telco or even an online store that will give them the best deal.

Those providers then pay a small fee for the referral. The way that referral fee is calculated differs, depending on the product, he adds.

In online shopping, Finder is paid a percentage of the basket, for example, when the consumer checks out.

The success of the model lies in being aligned to both the partners and the end consumers, Schebesta says. The same customers tend to come back time and time again.

“The customers get a great deal, partners get a great customer, and we help make that happen.”

In March, the co-founders launched their Finder app, which Schebesta calls a product “for the hardcore comparer”.

It allows people to scan their bills, and automatically checks to see if they could save money. It also gives users a credit score, showing which loans or credit cards they’re most likely to be applied for.

During COVID-19, at a time when people are more money-conscious than ever, that’s taken off. Currently, it’s at about 120,000 downloads, Schebesta says.

“I think that’s the future of where we’re going.”

Next year, the co-founders are looking to raise their first round of capital, in order to gear up for yet more growth.

Schebesta also hints at a new product to be released early next year. While he doesn’t reveal any specific details, he notes it will be focused on cryptocurrency.

“It’s going to be super exciting,” he says.

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