Bambu Founder Story – When “Fin” meets “Tech”

Sep 22, 2020

It’s the start of something new. 

What could lead an experienced finance professional and a serial software developer to “risk it all” by venturing into the world of startups? At age 50 and 35, respectively, Ned Phillips and Aki Ranin embarked on their entrepreneurial journey. 

The journey started with a dream to empower the future of digital wealth through their company. In their first year of founding, they launched the first robo-advisor in Singapore with Crossbridge CONNECT. Four years later, today, Bambu has $14M in funding, millions in revenue, and 18 clients worldwide. 

Why B2B digital wealth software (or Wealth-as-a-service)? The idea was sparked when Ned worked in a B2C fintech company and found banks always asking if their software could be sold to them. “This is an opportunity, why not get it started,” he thought as he witnessed deal after deal being turned away by the company then. 

 

From Finding to Founding

But who would do it with him? No suitable co-founder was in sight until Luke Janssen, a mutual friend, introduced him to Aki Ranin. At that point, Aki had spent twenty years in corporate life, “jumping to the tune of others”. He was done and wanted to build something of his own. Thinking about the same business problem, this meeting was a golden opportunity to build something good together. 

Most would not recommend founding a company with someone you just met. What more with differences in backgrounds (tech vs finance careers, grew up in Finland vs Scotland, “millennial” vs boomer). But where people saw differences, Ned and Aki saw synergy. Ned could bring the “fin” and Aki could bring the “tech” in fintech. Ned had the finance knowledge, selling skills, and vast network while Aki had passion, unique vision, and technical expertise. Their partnership was also guided by shared values like humility, positivity, honesty, hustle, humor. That was in 2016 when they decided to birth Bambu.

 

What shall we name it?

Deciding on what to name the startup was not an easy feat. The first name settled on was “Cache,” but it did not catch on. It got changed to “Mangosteen,” but Mangosteen also had to go (although its purple color remains till this day). Eventually, the decision was to settle on a plant-based name. Why may you ask? Well, the most successful robo-advisory companies in the US and UK are named Acorns and Nutmeg. Being headquartered in Singapore, choosing an Asian plant made sense. Since bamboo was fast-growing, sturdy, and prevalent in Asia, it was tweaked to become our name “Bambu.”  This is the spelling of bamboo in both Finnish and Bahasa and helps us set our brand apart online.

 

How far we have come 

In the past four years, the dynamic duo has led the company to raise $14M in funds (and to be backed by Franklin Templeton and Peak6) as well as growing it from 12 employees to the 70+ employees today. From Singapore alone to having offices in San Francisco, Dubai,  and London. Clients like Standard Chartered, HSBC, Beanstox (Kevin O’Leary), Franklin Templeton, BCA, and many others trusted and continue to trust Bambu to deliver the best digital experience for investors. 

 

What’s next 

For the next few years, Ned and Aki hope to bring Bambu to new heights to reach millions of users and empower them to save and invest for their future digitally. Becoming a real global leader in B2B Fintech and dominating as number 1 in the WealthTech category.  We remain committed to making Bambu the best possible place to work, and ensuring every employee has a share in our success through the options program.