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How I Became: Pawel Oltuszyk, Co-founder, Frost


Pawel Oltuszyk is an entrepreneur with 12 years’ business leadership experience and is the co-founder of fintech start-up Frost.

Based in Manchester, Frost is on a mission to change people’s relationship with money through its app. The app is designed to support managing utility bills, spending and finances. 

The company marked a big milestone in September, announcing it had raised £1.1m in funding.

Pawel started his career at the University of Central Lancashire where he studied computer science and is also the founder of Optimal Solicitors, a law firm in Manchester.

He shared his career journey, tips and advice on becoming a co-founder.


How did you first get into your industry?

The first wave of fintechs really caught my attention as I saw how they were tackling some of the key pain points associated with the provision of financial services, whilst at the same time barely scratching the surface of possibility. So, to satisfy my appetite for this new phenomenon, I started going to various fintech events, meeting different people from different companies and began to learn and understand how they worked.

What really peaked my interest was discovering how fintech works from a back-office operational perspective. I wanted to understand how the tech was built, and what tools or systems were required to build and scale a successful product. It took around two years of studying and following the industry before my co-founder, Edyta Sliwinska, and I realised that we had the knowledge and desire to solve the problem we’d been wanting to address.

From there, we set out to build an innovative solution that could tackle some of the biggest pain points faced by banking customers. That’s how Frost went from being an idea to becoming reality, and is also how I entered the fintech space. Our aim was to build a new fintech from the ground up, avoiding as many white label providers as possible. We wanted to build upon a very strong foundation where we could have full control over our operations, instead of piggybacking on someone else’s licences, something which regularly happens within the fintech industry. We got our own FCA licence, and built the tech ourselves.

We didn’t choose the easiest route when setting up Frost, but remaining independent has certainly paid off because we have maintained full control over our product and its evolution. This in turn has attracted great investors, and we have recently successfully closed our first round of funding. Prior to this, Frost was totally self-funded.

What do you love about your job?

Although I love my job, every day is a challenge. In business in general, you can usually count the number of ‘easy days’ on one hand. Managing a fintech start-up is on another level to general business – there’s easy days, that’s for sure!

There are many moving parts to each and every day, which often lead to recurring and new challenges arising simultaneously. Due to this, you constantly have to shift away from your comfort zone. Quite often you are required to think differently and work hard, but I don’t mind because at the end, I see results and that’s the beauty of it. Thankfully, I seem to work well under pressure, and that is what drives me.

Who – or what – has inspired you in your career?

I don’t particularly look to others to inspire me. My inspiration has always come from a place within myself and I have a natural drive to make things happen, and to succeed.

What are the biggest challenges about your job?

Challenges come in stages. Right now, we’ve reached the stage where we’ve just closed our first funding round. We now need to refocus and concentrate on the improvement of the Frost product to allow it to continue to grow in line with the expectations of our investors.

Once we are happy that we are delivering on these things, we will begin our next raise, something which we are already preparing for.

What skills have been the most crucial to you succeeding in your career so far?

I think I’m a people person and consider myself to be quite versatile, so I’m happy to work with people from all backgrounds and experience levels, as well as always being ready to jump into whatever area of the business requires support. I like to get my hands dirty and lead by example where I can. I’m not fixed to just one area of the business, which means that I can go and do something else if required.

My daily life is quite varied, one day I might be required to assist our support team with handling IT support tickets, and the next I might be meeting with our advisory board to discuss and outline financial models. Obviously I can’t do everything, but I will always try my best to help with anything. I think this approach helps massively, especially within a young start-up, as there is always a shortage of people, and everyone needs to wear many different hats!

What was your first salary and what could someone getting into the industry expect to earn nowadays?

Good question. I’ve been building Frost for three years, and I’m yet to pay myself a penny for my efforts. I’m not on a salary with Frost because I have been building the business and self-funding it up until very recently.

Eventually, I will be able to pay myself a salary which is considered and reasonable as we want to keep things lean, and expenditure to a minimum. Having said that, when we recruit, we always say that fintech is a good place to spend your career as it’s one of the highest paying industries.

Anyone who is considering a career move, I strongly suggest fintech as a career path because salaries in this industry are typically higher on average and there’s huge demand. Besides the attractive salary, it’s also a really enjoyable industry to work in, especially working amongst so much exciting innovation.

What education or training would be most useful for someone looking to follow your career path?

For me, a big asset is having the technical knowledge to be able to communicate with the engineers. I don’t code myself, and I’m not a software engineer, but I do know the basics. I try to keep up with the latest developments and learn about different concepts.

Although it depends on the role you choose to take, having a foundation of technical knowledge alongside an understanding of the concepts around the requirements when building a product, is vital to making the process run smoothly. Be it a web or mobile app, or software as a service provider, having this understanding will help propel your business and ideas further, faster. Knowing the basics of the finance is also super helpful when building any start-up in any industry.

What advice would you have for someone looking to follow your path?

Building a new product from scratch is not easy, but the reward will be worth it in the end. Brace yourself for the journey, and be prepared to work long hours! My advice would be to never stick to the easiest path.

Building a sustainable fintech business that will solve the World’s problems is a longer-term game than many admit. This might not sound so great, but for me, it’s working. So far, so good.

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