About Taavet Hinrikus
Taavet Hinrikus quit technical school in Tallin at the age of twenty to become the first-ever employee at Skype. He stayed at the company for seven years, helping to build it from scratch to its first few hundred million customers, and served as Skype’s Director of Strategy until 2008.
Mr. Hinrikus’s new venture was born out of sheer frustration with the high bank fees charged for transferring money across the borders or between currencies when he moved from Tallin to London. In 2011 he co-created TransferWise – an international money transfer platform. This makes it possible for regular people to avoid additional (and oftentimes hidden) fees by providing information about real mid-market exchange rates. After that, the only thing left to pay is a virtually insignificant service fee.
Already fifteen minutes after launching its services in 2011, TransferWise got its first user who wanted to send 2,000 pounds abroad. Since then, Taavet’s company has grown to seventy people and has transferred more than one billion pounds. At first concentrated solely on the euro and British pound, it now operates transfers also in Swiss franc, Polish zloty, Turkish lira, Romanian leu, Bulgarian lev, Georgian lari, Hungarian forint, and Danish, Swedish, Czech and Norwegian krone. TransferWise has also attracted 33 million dollars worth of investment from Richard Branson, Peter Thiel, and Max Levchin, the co-founders of PayPal.
Mr. Taavet is also actively involved in the development of the startup community for which he serves as an advisor and angel investor. His piece of advice for future startup CEOs? “The No. 1 task for the CEO is, to create and nurture a world-class team,” he summed up for The Wall Street Journal.