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LBS alumni Franz Thomas Fuerst and Saurav Chopra are recognised for creating exceptional entrepreneurial value
Two London Business School (LBS) graduates have been honoured with Accomplished Entrepreneur Awards.
The awards, established in 2010 by LBS’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), celebrate alumni who have built thriving businesses. The winners are Franz Thomas Fuerst, Founder and CEO of WebID Solutions GMBH, and Saurav Chopra, Founder and CEO of Perkbox.
Fuerst created the first online, anti-money-laundering compliant personal identification service, with approval from Germany's Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF). Chopra built a platform to help employees stay motivated and inspired.
German banks and regulators initially resisted Fuerst’s idea in 2010 to move the banking application process online using video ID telephony. Fuerst soon realised, however, that securing buy-in from the BMF would help him leapfrog naysayers and start the business.
After receiving the BMF’s endorsement, Fuerst launched in 2014 and signed up 25 banks within 12 months. The service is convenient and safe, with online customers completing their application forms in the usual way and then going through a structured conversation with an identification agent – via video-call. Answers are cross-checked against more than 20 proven robust behavioural traits to truth-check customers.
Today, WebID serves 130 banks, including Barclays and Amex, and the service is being rolled out to financial services institutions worldwide. Turnover in 2018 is estimated to reach €12.5 million (£10.8 million).
Fuerst said: “I feel honoured and humbled to receive this award. I am accepting it as recognition of all the hard work that the founders, management team and, especially, the more than 450 employees have put in to get WebID to where we are today.”
“WebID has grown at pace,” he explained. “We have outgrown our processes on an almost annual basis. We constantly adjust to shifting requirements and processes for our teams – that’s what makes WebID a fun place to work.”
He added: “We’re going international and already have offices in New York and Silicon Valley. We’re also entering new high-stakes sectors such as insurance and mobility services where firms need to KYC – ‘know your customer’.”
Jeff Skinner, Executive Director, IIE at LBS, credited Fuerst for being “a ray of hope for those who think that entrepreneurship is the domain of 20-somethings. He’s now well into his forties and isn’t showing any sign of easing off the gas pedal.”
Chopra’s Perkbox emerged after a series of pivots. Originally launched in 2011 as Huddlebuy, a group-buying platform for small and medium-sized enterprises, the re-branded Perkbox developed a digital engagement platform for employees.
The platform started out offering small perks, but now provides a host of staff rewards and recognition. For instance, employees can vote for their most cooperative colleague and the winner receives an instantaneous prize.
In 2015, Perkbox had a modest team of 25. Today it employs more than 200 people and is set for a £50 million turnover in 2018. It supports firms of all sizes – including start-ups – to look after their staff and customers via various perks and benefits.
Skinner said: “Our winner is an extraordinary example of the power of tenacity and determination. Saurav is done pivoting for now – but he’s constantly enriching the portfolio of products and having a wonderful time practising what he preaches.”
Chopra said: “After changing our business model, we’ve now found our true mission. We want to ‘help businesses build a better society one relationship at a time starting in the workplace’.
“I feel truly honoured to be recognised at these awards. However, they’re really just an acknowledgement to all the Perkboxers who have done the hard work behind the scenes. My thanks goes to them.”