Marathon Series: The Estonian unicorn company Veriff

I’m here in Estonia because I feel like we’ve gotten too comfortable in America. Everyone seems to just be focused on the four or five companies that seem to control everything.

I want to learn from a place that supports entrepreneurship and technology at such a critical level.

Kaarel Kotkas is the founder of Veriff which helps banks, marketplaces, and other online businesses start trusting relationships with customers.

Kaarel Kotkas

Kaarel Kotkas


Kaarel Kotkas is the founder of Veriff which helps banks, marketplaces, and other online businesses start trusting relationships with customers.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs, about how they built their business. And I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs. I’m here in Estonia. Why Estonia? Number one, I feel like we in America have gotten a little too comfortable. We were the ones who were used to innovating everything, and then the rest of the world copying. And so, we had this sense of, we just have to look at ourselves. Why should we look out at the rest of the world? The rest of the world is looking at us.

And then some changes happened. And I think they can be exemplified in the bike sharing world where bike sharing didn’t originate in the U.S., it originated in China. It was entrepreneurs who noticed what was happening in China that said, “How about bringing this to the U.S.?” started making it more available. And what I realized is there so many more interesting approaches to business, so many more ideas happening outside of the U.S. than in the U.S. There’s a sense of optimism in tech outside of the U.S. that is missing in the U.S. because all everyone is focused on is, is why did these four or five companies control everything when in reality these other companies like yours that are doing a lot.

So that’s why I decided to travel the world and do interviews and the reason that I’m here in Estonia country that I never thought to show up here is this guy Ragnar. That’s how I’m pronouncing it, Ragnar. Right? He is a guy who cofounded Pipedrive. And he’s an investor who said, “Andrew, come on over here to Estonia. I want to show you how amazing it is.” I said, “Yeah, yeah, sure.” And then I started seeing all the companies that were being built here. I started to see a country that actually supported technology, that actually allowed things like voting online and everything else online and entrepreneurs who are building phenomenal products that we weren’t that we didn’t realize that we are actually using like Veriff.

Joining me today is the founder Kaarel Kotkas. Veriff is an online identification company. Basically what it means is when you’re going on to a website, and the website needs to confirm that you are who you are, they don’t do that on their own. They outsource it to his company. And if they don’t, often they’re fraudsters who pretend to be other people. I’m smiling as I say this because it’s a story where he was a fraudster pretending to be other people. We’ll talk about that in this interview and how we built it up, and how big is the company now? What’s the valuation?

Kaarel: Valuation wise, when you don’t raise funds, we don’t need to evaluate the company, but granted we are growing, and being or 300 people company.

Andrew: Fair to say you’re a unicorn. I got a unicorn in this room, that you’re one of the unicorns?

Kaarel: I don’t see it as a [unicorn 00:02:37], so . . .

Andrew: Okay. We’ll talk about that thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is email marketing done right it’s called ActiveCampaign, and the second, if you’re looking to develop an app, understand that you don’t have to code. There’s a company called Bubble that will enable you to code without coding. This is going to change everything. It already is. It’s called Bubble. I’ll talk about them later.

What can you say about revenue? For your business? For Veriff?

Kaarel: Many people are asking. I think from this side for the valuation game, yeah, something we say, share publicly.

Andrew: Can you say how many customers? How many transactions? Give me a metric that shows how big you are?

Kaarel: Metric?

Andrew: Yeah.

Kaarel: Yeah, we are growing at the moment year-to-date 90% month over month.

Andrew: 90% in revenue?

Kaarel: Yeah. Basically our heartbeat is connected to the amount of verifications that we do and we’ve been growing [quite moderate 00:03:38].

Andrew: I’m going to adjust your microphone here. It’s kind of weird that now because I’m talking to guests in person, I’m touching their chests, you know? But I want to make sure you sound crisp for the audience.

Kaarel: So let me know what it is.

Andrew: I will. I’m going to adjust it like right over there. That should do it.

Kaarel: Okay. Amazing. I try not to move much.

Andrew: No, no. You move a lot. I want you to get to be yourself there. Maybe that’ll do it right there. There, that’s a good move. Give me an example of a company or government that’s using you.

Kaarel: I think we started with traditional banks actually right in the early days with traditional banks. Even though it wasn’t the smartest move when I was thinking back now in time. There was a lot of [time 00:04:25] with [volumes 00:04:27] and so on. But through a time when we got to line with those customers they weren’t very big in terms of volumes but we learned a lot from them. We built our product being compliant . . .

Andrew: With banks?

Kaarel: With banks in the early days. And when we got those first seven, six banks, then we understood, okay, we’d like to get some more done. And identity verification isn’t the question of fintech and financial businesses anymore. It’s becoming an essential part of every business online. So we understood that in order for us to grow very fast and globally we have to get an overview of all the markets and then we started to focus on bigger customers. And one of the biggest ones we can announce now about is

Andrew: Let me again adjust this microphone. I don’t know why it’s not cooperating with me today. What are you doing for blockchain?

Kaarel: We are verifying the people that would like to open up a wallet or exchange account on

Andrew: To make sure they are who they said they are?

Kaarel: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: What’s the danger if I say that I’m Steve. If I say that I’m Steve Baumert and I want to buy cryptocurrency, what’s the danger?

Kaarel: I see it’s something that we now have to face. I believe there’s a big future in terms of cryptocurrency. I’m not so strong a believer in my own, sorry for saying, without balance. I don’t know whether Bitcoin is going to be the one. But overall in terms of cryptocurrency, I really see a huge future with it. In order for us to meet it, for people to use it on a daily basis, we have to be able to fight against that money laundering and make it more secure that right people are able to use it. And right one are having success on it. So is the one that we understood that is going to make that change by being at first very triple platform that makes people be secure by holding up their funds there and so on. It plays a big approach even though it’s in the background.

Andrew: I was kind of thinking that you were going after more consumer-based use cases. Like you talk a little bit about what happened when you were living on a farm and how you ended up on eBay. Because I feel like that’s more of a case study that I thought you were going after. What happened there?

Kaarel: From the early days at that time I had no idea of going into this market. Growing up on a farm we had to collect hay for the winter. Like the winter here in Estonia is like proper, proper winter.

Andrew: Super cold.

Kaarel: Super cold.

Andrew: And lasts for how long?

Kaarel: It’s basically half a year.

Andrew: Half a year, gets dark early from what I understand, gets dark for a long time, very cold.

Kaarel: But for three months it’s over minus 25 degrees.

Andrew: Wow-wee. Okay, and so you had to go out and collect hay. This is a very city boy thing for me to ask. What do you do with hay?

Kaarel: You have to give it to the cows.

Andrew: So you have to store all of the food for winter.

Kaarel: Exactly.

Andrew: Got it. So you were just collecting the hay and storing it. Collecting and storing it.

Kaarel: Yeah, hundreds of pounds of hay that we have to collect keeping the farm . . .

Andrew: And you were doing this?

Kaarel: We were doing it, yeah.

Andrew: You personally?

Kaarel: It was the whole family’s job to get it done. And all of those big hay posts that we’re trying to get these few plastic hay twine and my obligation was always to collect it. This was something that was all around. It was so odd and I really understood it so big of a problem that just for once we have to have a lot of these plastic [cape 00:08:14] find there.

Andrew: Your job as a kid was to walk around and pick up the plastic and throw it in the garbage.

Kaarel: Yeah, exactly. And at one point I understood that maybe we can find something. I have to admit it wasn’t so much of an environment kind of thinking, but I think it was more of from the practical belief that maybe we can find something that keeps those balls in shape and given the cows can eat it if there’s a need.

Andrew: Right. So after they’re done eating it, you don’t have to go and pick it up. It’s something to eat. You started researching it and what did you find?

Kaarel: I found a biodegradable hay [inaudible 00:08:51] and made sure that it degrades on its own and it’s better for the environment as well. But there was nothing like that in Estonia, so I found something from eBay and the only payment option for me was to use PayPal. So yes, at first we had get the farm something that I really wanted to try on. Second of all, I started setting up the PayPal icons and I did everything they asked for but I had no credit cards so I had to use it as debit account. So I fill out the application form and then they asked me to upload a copy of my ID as well, which is did. Then this ID that I just upload went through some kind of checks. Within two days I got an email, “Unfortunately, you’re not 18 years old so we cannot offer you the service. And at that time without thinking, why is this? Because I just opened up the same picture from Photoshop, changed my date of birth from 1994 into 1984, uploaded the same picture and my order was confirmed.

Andrew: PayPal did this or eBay?

Kaarel: eBay use PayPal as a payment.

Andrew: But who were you uploading you face into?

Kaarel: PayPal.

Andrew: To PayPal. So basically you scammed PayPal for the right pay using PayPal.

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: And because you were able to Photoshop your date, you were able to open up an account and that is one of the problems that yes, you’re fine as a kid trying to buy some way to wrap up your hay. Not a big deal but that’s potentially a huge issue.

Kaarel: From my side it was more of a question of only payment option that I had no credit card was to use PayPal. And I had setup a PayPal account and yeah, it was easy. It was easy even though I’m an 18-year-old you got everything you want to get done.

Andrew: Okay. So you did that but at that point you didn’t say somebody’s got to create a company to solve this. I will be the person. But you filed it away.

Kaarel: Yeah, and I kept on doing other thing is focus on sports and just doing some websites and things on my own and never considered myself as a developer actually, more of a hacker.

Andrew: What type of hacking?

Kaarel: If I like something, I learn about it, then I can get stuff done that I want to.

Andrew: Like what? Do you remember one of the early . . .

Kaarel: Yeah. A lot that I learned from the early days was one that I convinced different purpose these website owners to update their [workers 00:11:30] even though many of them didn’t want to do it because that had some customized design there and they were afraid of getting . . . it gets lost. So the ones that didn’t believe it as a threat, I did some research and changed some information on their website and then I showed them it’s actually problem, so they said like, okay, got it. Please come here, set the charts theme with everything and make this do . . .

Andrew: Whoa, hang on. You’re saying to get a client when you were building websites to get a client who ordinarily wouldn’t sign up for you because they’re happy with what they had and they didn’t realize the vulnerabilities, you would go in and make a change on their site and say, look, I made this change on your site, trust me, your site is vulnerable, you do need to update. Let me update it. And they would say, okay, fine, update it but also can you create a child theme so it’s easier for me to update. Again, that’s how you got clients?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s brilliant. Okay. How did you do this? We were having a conversation over chips and cheese outside. I asked you, was your motivation to get off the farm to make enough money to never have to bay hay or whatever you have to do again and feed cows again? And you said, no, that’s not it at all.

Kaarel: I mean, like, the money is always a tool of getting something done.

Andrew: So why were you doing all of these websites as a kid? What’s the draw? What was it?

Kaarel: I really wanted to learn something.

Andrew: I’m going to adjust the mic again by touching your chest. You just wanted to learn something new. But come on, you’re calling up people who have websites, you’re dealing with super creative ways of getting them to yes, for what?

Kaarel: For learning new things and over time . . .

Andrew: Just to learn new things?

Kaarel: I mean, at first it was a hobby. It wasn’t something that really . . . I wasn’t thinking that I’d end up within this sector. Like I said it was just something interesting to do.

Andrew: Just something to do. What did you say you wanted to be as an adult? Did you spend time thinking about it?

Kaarel: Yes. I mean, for instance 9 years my aim was to become a doctor to go into medicine and this has been always ideal way of doing things. And this was actually only thing that they wanted me to learn a lot in the high school.

Andrew: Doing what?

Kaarel: Just biology, physics, mathematics . . .

Andrew: The only thing that motivated you to learn was the fact that you were going to be a doctor one day.

Kaarel: The big goal that a I really wanted to do at one point. But yeah, like living on a farm it was like great. You had a lot of time like living on a farm in the morning before school, you had to go give some hay to your other parts of the family. And then at the end of the day they always had something to do. When I had to move to Tallinn because of the defensive trainings and all the things we didn’t discuss it I understood that I had so much spare time before the school day and after the school day. It was more of a hobby of getting to learn new, new things and this was the website part was one of it

Andrew: I’m trying to figure out what should I take away from this. We grew up in the U.S. with this idea, and this is part of what we talked about outside when I brought this up people were saying that’s Andrew your approach of I started building a business because I had to make a lot of money. That’s a very American thing. That’s not how we think. So what is a framework here? it’s just that I’m supposed to take away from this. What is the big lesson? Andrew, just do what’s fun and maybe it’ll work out and if not worst case your own a farm and enjoy your life on a farm? Is that the big lesson?

Kaarel: I think any lesson at the end is to find something you really love doing and you really love doing it for free and when you keep on doing it and putting your heart and everything into it by becoming the best one out of it then all of the rest follows.

Andrew: That’s it?

Kaarel: I can say from this point of view. Second of all, I mean, in life you always have to have luck as well. bad luck is something that you can create but is understood that Luck comes those who have no time to rely on it and in order for you to be lucky you have to be at the right time in the right spot. So you have to put a lot of energy to be everywhere, trust me you’re going to be so many times at the wrong time at the wrong spot.

Andrew: But if you’re in a million places, then you might end up in the right spot? And for you what were some of the places that were the wrong spot when your way to the right spot?

Kaarel: I think like, yeah. When talking about faith and there was a lot of interesting places no. I mean like yeah in the early days that I understood that what might be my biggest learning is that when you ask for people for advice, advice always favors to giver so it’s always important to talk with different people, ask for advice but make those decisions on your own.

Andrew: What do you mean that advice is always there it benefits the giver more question mark

Kaarel: Because everybody even if they don’t think it as that [inaudible 00:16:18], they already when giving advice they just say it in a way that favors their way of thinking.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Kaarel: So if you think of some kind of investments and customers and so on, if you are asked for advice from any of them it will always favor the giver. So you will always have to listen they make every decision on your own.

Andrew: Let’s go back into the luck thing. I understand this eBay thing happened. You came here to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia because you wanted to do what?

Kaarel: Actually, windsurfing.

Andrew: Windsurfing. Just for fun?

Kaarel: I got an invitation to two star on the national team so I was on the national team trains were here Tallinn.

Andrew: What is wind surfing?

Kaarel: Wind surfing is just on the water with a sail.

Andrew: It’s a sail on top of a surfboard you hold on to it And then your goal is to what? To be the fastest the most elegant?

Kaarel: Fastest in my case.

Andrew: That’s it.

Kaarel: It was the part that I was really into. And growing up on this island like everything underwater is something that I did.

Andrew: Hiiumaa, that’s the island that you grew up on.

Kaarel: Yeah, the coolest island in Estonia.

Andrew: What makes it so cool?

Kaarel: Because I mean like the people there and everything. It’s so sincere way of doing things. Even though like in terms of area, it’s bigger than the Malta. It’s has only 4,000 people living there. And you know every one of one them.

Andrew: And you weren’t bothered that everyone knows you? And knows what you’re doing in a small town essentially of 4000 people? You don’t get to date much. You don’t get to escape your friends.

Kaarel: But if you were like 15 years old I mean I got everything that I asked for.

Andrew: That’s it?

Kaarel: I mean, yeah. That was an interesting time. You were able to dish out whatever you want to and I mean, from my side when I . . . it was a very simple when many friends of mine when I moved to the capital said like, “Ah, come over let’s play some kind of rally games.” But I remember when I wanted to play some rally games then on this island, I just took a car and then went for a drive. I got my first car when I was 10 years old because it was like essential.

Andrew: A real car?

Kaarel: Yeah, a real car to run the farm.

Andrew: Got it. So you would just go and race these cars as a kid?

Kaarel: I mean, yeah. We have like 250 hectares place and this was only way of getting around.

Andrew: Got it. So you and your friends could go race. You were happy with this?

Kaarel: It was amazing. You were able to everything physically not just online.

Andrew: What am I doing in Tallinn then? Maybe that’s where I should’ve gone. All right, then one of the big companies here an actual unicorn. You guys are not unicorns standards yet, right?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: Your series A earlier, doing well Y Combinator backed which gives you a lot of prestige. TransferWise is one of the biggest companies in the world. You get a job interview at TransferWise back when you were in the 12th grade. They asked you to do what?

Kaarel: It was a [part 00:19:17] and I really worked on the security space on different parts, and I then I was inform of that.

Andrew: So you found a security issue with TransferWise?

Kaarel: Not from them directly at the beginning, but their recruiter basically heard about me. There’s one guy who is always somewhere around and when he finds something, then he sends an email. At that time and TransferWise contacted me and asked me to come over and let’s have a cup of coffee. And for me, it was like yeah, amazing. Then I meet up with them.

Andrew: One of the big Estonian success stories, let’s go see them.

Kaarel: And what you’d like to do and I said like I always like to think different ways out and find some ways of improvement within different [thingies 00:20:02]. And then they said like, “Okay, this identification part is something that is really, really big, huge conversion, drop, and churn when signing up new customers, and on another site you have to make it more secure.” I said like, “Yeah, [inaudible 00:20:18]. I’ll really go and dig deeper into it.

And then I started to do it, and the first check was the PayPal check that I did. And it worked.

Andrew: What do you mean you were checking PayPal? So TransferWise for people who don’t know. We first discovered it when I was having to pay somebody internationally and the guy said, “Please stop paying a PayPal because PayPal is taking the big commission. TransferWise is a cheaper way, and it makes things easier.” And he said, “Please use that,” and I said, “All right. I’ll go figure it out. It was fairly easy. We started paying him using TransferWise, that’s what they are. What’s the PayPal connection that you were doing?

Kaarel: I mean, like, yeah, from this stop I really started to this identity application out with the Photoshop ID and [inaudible 00:20:54].

Andrew: Oh, you said, hey, this thing that I did at PayPal I can come back and test it with TransferWise too?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: And so you made a fake photocopy ID with them too?

Kaarel: Yeah, a lot.

Andrew: And for TransferWise?

Kaarel: TransferWise used different providers to get those things that I had done to really power up their site verification.

Andrew: And did it work? Did they let you through?

Kaarel: And then I understood those same flaws that were like, more than 10 years ago remained in 2016.

Andrew: Even at TransferWise?

Kaarel: It was TransferWise, we were using different providers and this was the understanding what they found out that those providers are not doing a great job of verifying.

Andrew: So they were using a company to verify the people who were coming on their platform, and that company didn’t catch the same issue, the same hole that you used 10 years ago when you were a kid to buy . . . got it. To buy the, what is it called? The hay whatever.

Kaarel: Hay [perform 00:21:48]. So basically this plastic rope, right.

Andrew: So just replace it with something that’s more biodegradable. So you found this issue with TransferWise. Let me take a moment talk about something else and then we’re going to talk about my sponsor then we’re going to come back into the story. A lot of people who listen to thinking, “Hey listen, this guy’s a developer. Of course, he can build these phenomenal things. I’m not a developer.” I’ll tell you something. I interviewed the founder of Bubble. And he said, “Everybody says the world needs to learn how to develop.” The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg at the time said that he was learning to code and encourage everyone else to learn to code.

Here in Estonia, one of the reasons why you guys are doing so well in the tech economy is you guys teach development, teach coding in the first grade. The founder Bubble says I’m going against that trend. I’m actually going to say you don’t need to code. I’m going to create a platform that anyone could create apps in without coding. I said, “Anyone?” He goes, “Yeah, anyone and the future is my software and software like mine should enable people to create without having to learn to code. Just like if you want to build a web page, you can use lots of different tools to build web pages you don’t have to actually do it yourself.” And so that’s what it is.

I was very doubtful of the whole platform and the whole Bubble platform and then I started to see these companies. And then after I interviewed, even more companies started companies saying we’re using Bubble. We just don’t talk about because who cares what platform we’re built on. And I said, “This is amazing.”

And so I guess a lot of people must have signed up for his service after my interview because he came back and he said, “Andrew, can we just sponsor you?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah,” and so now he’s a sponsor. So anyone who’s listening to us who wants to develop something without learning to code, I urge you to go play around with Bubble. And we have a special URL where if you go to, you will get 40% off for three months. You will also get to see how startups are using Bubble to create apps. You’ll see examples, cool case studies, but basically forget about seeing. Just hit the start button. Join over what is 301,000 Bubblers today. Just go hit that button, join, start it off and then see for yourself. It’s way better than learning. Go do it, right? Don’t you believe? Action? Action better than learning. Thank you, Bubble. to get that discount.

Okay, so when you saw that at TransferWise, why did they give you a job? Why didn’t they say, “Please, look, come on in here”?

Kaarel: They said like, Kaarel, yeah, we ask you to improve it. And then I said, “There’s no way you have to improving it. It’s more of building the platform from zero.”

Andrew: Really?

Kaarel: Yeah. This was the part that I really want to do on my own, because you can’t do something so strong when you build it in-house. And the story of how it was formed was the idea that, okay, when in the physical world, there is [sheriff 00:24:29] that make sure that people are safe.

Now everything is moving online. In order to trust you have to verify. So let’s build online civilization [brave 00:24:40]. Yep, that keeps people safe on for this company to make sense it has to be independent, that has an overview of the whole market because fraud is always open target. You test it out from one side, and then it goes to another, and when you’re brave, that keeps an eye of the whole market, you’re always one step . . .

Andrew: But they would’ve given you a job with them at their office, at their company?

Kaarel: Yeah, I think . . .

Andrew: But you said, no, I don’t want to do this.

Kaarel: Yeah, we agreed not to really pursued proceed on this discussion at that time.

Andrew: Because you saw a business opportunity.

Kaarel: I understood that this is something I really want to do and then TransferWise to say like, yeah, Kaarel we love you being so ambitious and everything. We just want to improve it, not to really build it up from zero.

Andrew: Oh, got it. We’re not looking to get into that space.

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Wow-wee. Okay, and so you said, all right, I think I got it. How long after that experience did you decide you’re going to go and create your company?

Kaarel: I mean, right after.

Andrew: Right away. You saw it, it was like I got to go. I’m giving up on my medical future. that big?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: Were your parents upset?

Kaarel: My mother still is not over the moon about.

Andrew: Really? Because?

Kaarel: I mean, I can describe my mother how it all comes together, even though she follows us on Instagram, she’s like everybody are just so smiling and having fun time or doing something silly as well, even though we are doing, and this is really, really something that there’s some other [inaudible 00:26:07] you have to cure at the moment online because it’s so like . . . we seek what’s going on online.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Kaarel: In terms of this professional identity thieves, making things so uncomfortable for the business sense. And if you think of a trust online, when we can establish trust online then we shouldn’t go to the notary to meet up in person. We have technology that makes so much more securely. We should have as normality that that everything is equal with life online in a physical world.

Andrew: See, I’m trying to think of like what other business can I build on top of your platform. Like you just mentioned notary. I had to get a notary public for something. I know what it was. I was doing my will after I had my second son, I said I got to do something here, right? And so a freaking notary public. I’m not leaving my office. And there was someone would come into my office and I scheduled and they came in, but then why I needed something else it’s a pain. Imagine if I can do this all online now.

Kaarel: There’s hotels that’s starting to use our product for people to get the hotel check-in done while being in a taxi on their way to the hotel, so they don’t . . . they can use the mobile phone as store card to enter the hotel right way without the need to wait in the queue for reception.

Andrew: Wait, why does the hotel need my identity?

Kaarel: Every single time when you’re doing the hotel check-in, if you go to the reception, you always have to fulfill the identification form and all the things.

Andrew: I wonder if that’s true in U.S. but I do notice in Europe, I do . . .

Kaarel: It is. It is a big thing.

Andrew: In the U.S. they ask me for my ID too?

Kaarel: Yeah, they do.

Andrew: Why?

Kaarel: Like it’s for security measurements and making sure if your credit card and payments are going to the right spot.

Andrew: You know what, I wonder if I’ve just become blind to that and it just exists. Okay, so you had if you had an idea. What was the solution you were going to build from scratch to solve this?

Kaarel: I mean, first of all, I really understood, okay, this thing is broken in the online world, and it truly. The cost of fraud is so low, you can really appear to be someone else very easily online. And then I start to think about how it’s in the physical world. And I have a five year old brother of mine, and we with his ID . . .

Andrew: You have a five year old . . . Oh, brother who’s five years older than you.

Kaarel: Yeah, exactly. And with his ID I started physically channels, whether it’s possible for me to appeared to be him.

Andrew: Let’s take a pause here. I want to make sure to emphasize this because you blew my mind over there when we were just sitting and having coffee and talking. You did what with banks to . . .

Kaarel: Yeah, I just wanted to test it out by trying to be him with his ID.

Andrew: You took your ID to where? His ID to where?

Kaarel: Banks.

Andrew: To banks?

Kaarel: Yeah, and I tried to appear to be him.

Andrew: What did you do?

Kaarel: I said instead of my name Kaarel, I’m now Gustav Kotkas. I mean, I really wanted to see how they act and how . . .

Andrew: What they do with it? Did they let you have an account?

Kaarel: Yeah. In many cases, even though I went to five of them, my success rate was higher than I can say it out loud. But this was the problem but they understood they want to keep . . .

Andrew: Basically, it’s bank fraud. You went in and created an account.

Kaarel: It was just a case study.

Andrew: Just for the case study. But what’s the damage there?

Kaarel: I mean like I informed them that I’m about to do it.

Andrew: You did?

Kaarel: They didn’t know that . . .

Andrew: Who did you did you email about it? You didn’t email the branch. You emailed somebody at head office and said, “Look, I’m about to test your system here, that’s what it is. And I’ll tell you what’s going on.”

Kaarel: And they said like yeah, okay, for research purposes.

Andrew: They said okay for research purposes? Okay, all right.

Kaarel: I mean, like if you’re doing those things, even in the past we’ve been setting up an accounts when we were doing sales for Veriff. We set up an account with my name but different data document.

Andrew: Oh, we’re going to get to that in a minute. Okay. But the first thing you did was test it in the real world with banks because your vision was banks are going to create accounts online. I’m going to get banks as first clients. Let’s make sure they really have a problem. You walked in, you created a bank account, you realize, yes, they do have a problem. And then you had to create the first version of the product. What’s the first version that you created?

Kaarel: First version of my product was to the most use of the hardware we have, so we were about to just use devices, camera and microphone, to really have more information of the sole verification session. A second of all, to really set up their registry like integrations that all this information presented can be confirmed. And whether this person really exists.

Andrew: Because there’s some places where you can go and test it and so let me see if I understand this. The first product was, was it an app?

Kaarel: It was actually a native application.

Andrew: An application for yourself that allowed anyone to take a video of their ID.

Kaarel: Yeah, I mean, like the first launch was in 2016 with a bank called Inbank, and they used our products for their customers to open up an account from a distance, so they didn’t have to come to the bank branch. They were able to do it at home.

Andrew: Got it. So it wasn’t your app, it wasn’t in their app, it was already from the beginning an API.

Kaarel: It was SDK, just not an API only, so we were in charge of the whole flow, and the way of using the camera, the explanation to the user what’s happening. You create a whole thing. They had to integrate it and then you said to them, after somebody tested, after somebody went through it, yes, this is a real person. Trust them. They are who they say they are or we’re suspicious. But what did you base it on? You had people take a video of their ID?

Kaarel: It was [departed 00:31:35] mostly. Firstly, we launched it on desktop, because it was departed. People were using their computers when doing those serious business in a way setting up a bank account at a traditional bank so this bank has no other offices. It’s just though in Tallinn, and now they were able to be all around the country by being online . . .

Andrew: That’s why you went for a smaller bank account bank. Okay, but then I still don’t understand. What was the actual product? It was on a desktop.

Kaarel: You are able to open up a bank account, and you’re able to get some loans and so on.

Andrew: That part I get. What I’m not understanding is what were you doing for the bank to confirm the identity.

Kaarel: You had to follow instructions given on the screen, you had to give us the right and permission to scan a microphone. We asked people to follow instructions given to show their face, to show their ID. And we did the rest of the background.

Andrew: And then questions also?

Kaarel: Questions? No.

Andrew: Were you asking questions like where’d you go to school.

Kaarel: No, this wasn’t part of our business. We made sure that together with target knowledge and we able to verify people’s identity, without being tied into those questions and so on.

Andrew: So based on their ID card, and then video? What else?

Kaarel: ID card, people’s behavior within the flow whether they’re doing it voluntarily the session.

Andrew: How can you tell that they’re doing it voluntarily or not?

Kaarel: There’s like different tricks but over time that enabled us to do it was the part of just really understanding whether people are doing it alone, you can very easily detect if there’s more than one face in the video.

Andrew: And if there’s more than one face in the video, it’s an indication that . . .

Kaarel: Then it went to our manual team that had to review the session.

Andrew: Why would you do that for two people on the camera? What’s that indicative of?

Kaarel: There might be some sort of cases that someone is giving you unfriendly help of forcing you to take a loan on behalf of someone else’s identity. There was a lot of cases when the early days elderly people were used to give them instructions.

Andrew: Go create an account so that we can do this.

Kaarel: Go create an account and then we understood that actually it was suspicious behavior that made sure that no one else on behalf of their identity can take a loan from distance.

Andrew: One of things that I understood when I started looking you up was you were also asking for a video of the ID as opposed to photo of the ID because that gave you more accurate . . .

Kaarel: So much more.

Andrew: What did you get from video that photo doesn’t give you?

Kaarel: I mean, come on, photo. People are holding their ID terms in front of the camera on average five seconds, and you’re getting like 60 frames per second upload speeds.

Andrew: So what are you looking at with that?

Kaarel: We’re getting like 300 frames. There’s like a lot of security features we are able to get. And second of all, to be basically on everyday devices we’re using, and now you’re able to do much different super solution to get the best quality out of limited hardware. So if you rely only on a picture . . .

Andrew: What about holograms on IDs? You guys get to see that? I see you’re nodding. So it’s little things like that that a photo won’t pick up. And it’s like [fake 00:34:48] more but with the video you get that. So you created all this for the first version?

Kaarel: Not for the first version, all those things.

Andrew: What was in the first versions?

Kaarel: First version was like to get the data inside at the beginning and then I hired people from the police and border carts, the people who were doing those identification verification checks at that on the daily basis. And then I hired them to be in our back office.

Andrew: To just sit there and to watch as people came in. Was there enough work for them to sit there 24 hours?

Kaarel: No, it wasn’t 24 hours. At the beginning, it was like for us to really see, okay, system says face matches there, data is validated and so on.

Andrew: So it wasn’t in real time?

Kaarel: It wasn’t in real time at the beginning.

Andrew: Got it. And so people would apply and then the bank would tell them, okay, you have an account, open it up. But in the interim between the time they applied and the time they got the yes or no, you had real human beings look at the video tell them whether it’s right. Were they also training artificial intelligence by doing that?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: They were. How were they training artificial intelligence? What were they basically . . . what were they looking at?

Kaarel: I mean, there’s so many things like that we have to get to understand, have all this data and be invaluable to us.

Andrew: Give me an example of something that is obvious now but only once you bring it up.

Kaarel: I mean, there’s so many correlations. I think, you know, in a world where we are fighting fraud, you can’t say it.

Andrew: You don’t want to talk about the [aids 00:36:16].

Kaarel: Even though it’s interesting to see what you can do with the data, you’re able to for example detect if people are right or left-handed based on their [moss 00:36:24] moments where they show their ID with their right or their left hand.

Andrew: Really? Okay. And then how do you know whether they’re right or left-handed really?

Kaarel: You can test it out at one point.

Andrew: So you have a way of figuring out whether they’re really right or left?

Kaarel: Yeah. There is a lot of moss moments with everything. Every single information that we’re using is for us to build up the . . .

Andrew: This is interesting, right. Wait, no, but if the person is putting their ID up with their left hand and they’re using their mouse with their left hand, even if the person is pretending to be a righty, you wouldn’t know that that person is righty. You might if they applied before.

Kaarel: There’s like a lot of things you can do with the data science behind the scenes. And this is for us to make sure that everything matches. We have people doing those sessions. You really have to make sure that the right person. If all the tracks attempt to build that trust for this person to be verified. And I mean, like, in the early days now, we had relied a lot on just matching the page together with the document ID. Actually, our aim is build the trust and make sure that we can make this trust secure and reliable.

Andrew: So, I talked to you out there about how I assumed the people you would be going after our online marketplaces. One of my worst experiences with Craigslist, my last experience with Craigslist was, I needed somebody . . . I bought this couch I really liked. I just need somebody to bring it upstairs. I found someone on Craigslist. These people want the biggest like butchers. They basically took the couch and knocked it into the wall a few times. The guy was so angry, he looked like he was going to hit me a few times, one of the two guys.

I said, “Well, maybe if I have a screwdriver I could take the feet off of the couch first and they go, “With what screwdriver? My screwdriver?” And then he said, “You need to pay me more money.” I said, “Okay, let’s go downstairs I’ll get you more money from downstairs.”

I went downstairs. I was living over a bar for the first month in San Francisco, horrible idea, but I went to the bartender and I said, “Can you give me a couple of bucks?” I forget why he kind of knew me. I was just want to give it to this guy and I gave him a little bit of money and I said, “Okay, now you’ve got to go.” And he looked at me like he was going to hit me but he saw the people in the bar and he said, “All right, I’m going to go.” But otherwise he would have hit me this, and this is because Craigslist has no identity, not even the simplest anything. And they think it’s because they’re being happy go lucky, like hippy, open vibe. No, they’re endangering people this way. And so I thought you’d be going after people like that, marketplaces like that. You weren’t. Your vision was banks as first clients because?

Kaarel: Actually, yeah. We view the business slightly differently. For us, at first, the data we have, personal information as we are using, it’s actually something that we have to make sure it’s super, super secure. With the banks we were able to really get the first knowhow with the hardest customers on earth in a way to make them comfortable with this data, then build the product that we are not ready to scale on a higher volume without compromising and taking unreasonable risks. So from our side, was definitely we are going after customers like those.

Andrew: You know what, when we’re talking out there and you said, “Andrew, one of the reasons is I just didn’t think of it. I guess. I didn’t think of it,” right?

Kaarel: I mean, like, yeah, starting because banks. I didn’t think of it, it can be so hard in the early days.

Andrew: Yeah, you went after the hardest customer out there.

Kaarel: But then, now I’m happy that we did it. I know GDPR came along in 2016 something. Then it was a time everybody say like, okay, it’s crazy, GDPR and all the data protection.” Oh my god, it was like the easiest thing. We build it, our product compliantly. And second of all, it was time and we went after . . . when it launched our first public cooperation with the city of Berlin. So when you think of Germans doing business and how seriously they take the data protection.

Andrew: What is the city of Berlin doing with you guys? You know what, actually, let me pause for a moment and talk about my sponsor and then we’re going to come back in. All right, my second sponsor is a company called ActiveCampaign, this email marketing with real deep understanding of people.

Let me ask you this. Imagine if you wanted to do this. If you said we want consumers to start to demand Veriff. We want them to go to Twitter and say, “Hey, Twitter, why are you allowing any knucklehead to impersonate me unless I somehow go through some random thing, [Kafkaesque 00:40:52] process to get a checkmark, and who knows what the checkmark means?”

What if you said, consumers should start going to Twitter and demanding this, there’s a reason for privacy online. Well, to do that you need to have an ongoing conversation with them. So what you do is maybe you go to ActiveCampaign, you create an account to start collecting email addresses, then you have to understand some people are consumers, some people are your eventual customers, business owners. How do you identify who’s who? Well, you could have a form of people fill it out, but you want to limit that by form.

What you do instead is you have ActiveCampaign on your site. And if people keep going over to the business part of it, how to implement, what the pricing is, etc., you just tag them and say, they probably want to sign up, and you start to send the messages about, “Here’s how easy it is to sign up for Veriff. Here’s how we can integrate. Here’s how easy it is. Here’s our customers that you would recognize and respect are using us.”

But if they have the other tab, which is, they’re going to blog posts about how to tell the sites that you want to use Veriff, how to understand the dangers of sites that don’t have Veriff. You turn them that way, then you start to send an email messages that are based on that. If you decide you want to have a one day campaign where everybody hits up Twitter all at once, well, how do you reach out to those people? Well, you can integrate some SMS and start firing off messages.

Now all this can be done with this super sophisticated software. The reason I like ActiveCampaign, they make it easy. Even your virtual assistant could manage the whole thing for you if they’ve never been online and used marketing automation software. Super effective company been around since forever. I urge everyone who’s listening to me go, I’m going to go to this page right now., when you go there, they’re going to give you a free trial so you can get to try it out for yourself. They’re going to give your second month for free. They’re going to give you two free one-on-one sessions so a human being can walk you through actually using it, and make sure you use the software features. Finally, if you’re with some other . . . Are you with another email marketing software?

Kaarel: No.

Andrew: Wow, you guys don’t do any of it. Okay, if you were, they would migrate you for free. They’d say, okay, we’re going to solve your problem.

Kaarel: Amazing. But then forward the link to my team.

Andrew: I will forward the link to your team. All right,

Let’s come back into this. I really like that. You know what, I wish that Twitter would integrated it in. I feel like Twitter is, it’s doing the harm to their people by not making it easier for more people to get the blue checkmark, and being clear about what the blue checkmark means.

Kaarel: Yeah, I mean, like, it’s so much important. I think I don’t even have to describe it so much in terms of how much, how important is to really know that you’re dealing with real people. Think of like, yeah, Twitter and all the things, I can imagine how many like, yeah.

Andrew: Now I’m going off on a tear here. There was somebody who was emailing my past guests saying, “Can I please use your software for free?” There’s no verification in email. Yeah, they were sending messages. You can send a message on Twitter, create an @AndrewWarner, @RealAndrewWarner right on Twitter, start sending messages to my past guests saying, “Can I please use your software for free?” They’ll start doing it. And there’s no fricking verification and that’s the problem. These are small issues that hit us a lot and we just accept it as the price of doing business in the world today. And there’s more to it than that.

Kaarel: But I think, yeah, this is actually a huge problem. When you see all the credit card frauds, everybody connected to some extent and have been having issues with the credit card fraud. When you see on the world point to spend that goes to wrongs hands, it’s 200 billion per year. And when you see how it’s been fixed so far, it’s been by charging countless people more. And then we as honest people have to cover up businesses like fraud costs.

Actually the right way of getting those things in line, no matter in which sector we having to look at, it relies on the proven identity.

Andrew: This is another thing we talked about. You said, look, there’s a cost of everything we buy online. Part of that cost is what it takes to manufacture it. Another part of it is like the people behind it, and then another part is the fraud that they have to factor in because they have to pay that and they’re passing it on to you.

Let’s come back into. So, you started going after banks. Banks became your first clients. Because you were in Estonia there’s an advantage with banks, which is what?

Kaarel: I don’t know even, which is the huge advantage. [crosstalk 00:45:17]. I understood that banks have a problem that we have like Estonia as area is bigger than the Netherlands, but we have so few people living here. You can’t be competitive bank if you have to have bank branches around the country to be there for a couple of people per week. In order for this bank to make sense you have to move online. In order to be online, you have to be secure when onboarding new people. This is was the story that we shared and how we started out with the banks.

Then we got this part covered. You understood, okay, if we can automate more and more and more, we know exactly what we have to do in order to scale. And then we start to think of internationalization.

Andrew: And before we get to Berlin, which I know we’re going to come back to, you went to Lithuania, right or where did you go?

Kaarel: Latvia.

Andrew: Latvia, excuse me. Latvia. Then, Y Combinator. Who was it Y Combinator who said, “What are you doing? Why aren’t you going beyond this?”

Kaarel: It was the time. Right in this building in 2017. I met up with Gustaf Alstromer from YC. He was having office hours here at the time and I remember how proud I was that after one year of hard work, and finally left the market. Then he said to me that you’ve picked a great product, but you’re still stuck here in the Baltics you really have to get it on a larger scale now, and you should apply to YC so we can get you to the U.S. market to get a pass . . .

Andrew: That’s how you ended up at Y Combinator?

Kaarel: Yeah, I met them here.

Andrew: They were here at LIFT99.

Kaarel: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: LIFT99 is coworking and then there’s also an investment arm, right? Okay, so you were here, you talked to them, they said to apply to Y Combinator. You did apply to Y Combinator, you got into Y Combinator. How did it shape your business?

Kaarel: It shaped our business a lot in terms of getting to your customer actually was so much easier than . . .

Andrew: Because?

Kaarel: . . . then then taking the customers who never use that identity verification before, you have to give them an understanding how everything works at a time. And the way you’ve been doing our sales has been slightly different than it is in states on a daily basis. We’ve been always under-promising, but over-delivering that this is how we started off getting more and more traction. And that really gave us an understanding that, okay, we can be international company so much faster, and having strong support from family of YC and greatest minds there.

Andrew: So what’s an example of something that they did to help you get more customers?

Kaarel: YC was a part of really starting to build up our line and really started to build up how we are interacting. We had no website in a way.

Andrew: Really?

Kaarel: We had some, but we are really, really focusing by being business to business customer, like a business in the background.

Andrew: So the website wasn’t doing much.

Kaarel: It wasn’t doing much, then we worked on getting so much more things done. I can say it’s not pretty fair of saying like only a couple of things that we supported us. It was a bigger picture that made us into the position that, okay, we can we really pull it off.

Andrew: Did you start introducing you to people?

Kaarel: Yeah, definitely.

Andrew: They did, and they helped you get clients?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: And not saying that you’re a Y Combinator backed company helps you get clients too?

Kaarel: In the States, definitely. Otherwise, it’s really hard to really differentiate, even though it’s funny that many . . . Many investors to me have said it me in San Francisco and in the Valley that, “Veriff is great, but there’s a huge problem. You’re not based here. You’re based in Estonia.” And actually, some people don’t really think it out. In Estonia we have this e-identity, e-voting, all those things around us already for 15 years.

Andrew: So it’s an advantage.

Kaarel: We have the people who have been building it up from Estonia. It gives us unfair advantage of having the domain knowhow, how to put it to the global scale now.

Andrew: I have to say, I’m embarrassed now but I had no idea. I didn’t realize. Now occasionally somebody would say something about Estonia, there’s a card you stick into your computer and I thought all right interesting. This is like random experiments. We don’t understand it.

Kaarel: Yeah, I mean, like it’s such big enabler for every business. I mean like it all, all the things that enables you to get done and building it out of Estonia enables you to have the people who can do it before, and how to build those things up.

Andrew: Okay, so let’s talk about the city of Berlin, right. What do they need you guys for, and what are you doing with them?

Kaarel: The city of Berlin is a great example getting to smart city initiative in place.

Andrew: What is a smart city initiative?

Kaarel: It will support our city, and support people moving around so much more like, and better.

Andrew: Like what?

Kaarel: So the city, unable to build up this Jelbi application. That was built by the guy like . . .

Andrew: The city build up a Yelp-like application?

Kaarel: Jelbi.

Andrew: What’s that?

Kaarel: It’s not a Yelp.

Andrew: Oh, what’s Jelbi?

Kaarel: Jelbi is the [brand 00:50:40] of the new application that there’s all in one basically, J- . . .

Andrew: Oh, J.

Kaarel: Not in [inaudible 00:50:48]. J-L-B-E. Yeah. Let’s see. So I can I can get you to the point of it. So it’s actually . . .

Andrew: Take over my iPad here. Oh. Estonia started . . . they’re verifying. Got it. I see it now.

Kaarel: So basically the understanding out a bit is that you can get all the old transportation from one app.

Andrew: Inside their own transportation app?

Kaarel: The [inaudible 00:51:18] marketplace have been a way for all transportation like comes within one app. No matter whether you want to [crosstalk 00:51:27] bike sharing, car rental.

Andrew: Okay, I see it all. Why do they need to verify who I am?

Kaarel: Because it is very important when somebody is renting a car. It’s important to verify. And having a valid driver’s license, so those things together is something which is very important to get in place. And, I mean, I have to say, I’m super proud of this corporation, [inaudible 00:51:51] because it was a big step towards. If you can get the Germans comfortable . . .

Andrew: Everyone else can come on.

Kaarel: . . . and everyone else is comfortable.

Andrew: One of the ways that you got customers was you started to say, you would do what? You’d basically show them that their systems aren’t working by . . .

Kaarel: Setting up an account from credentials. So you’d go . . . give an example of a company that you do that for. I know you can’t mention the name, a type of company, say a marketplace that or ride sharing company or what?

Kaarel: Ridesharing marketplace, all the fintech.

Andrew: You sat down for all these things.

Kaarel: You’d sit with us.

Andrew: You’d find a ridesharing app and I’ve used this because I when I travel, I like to find a local bike and use it, a local scooter. They always ask me for a picture of my ID. I take picture of my ID, and it’s done.

Kaarel: I mean, like, yeah, for many, many companies it’s been like the compliance requirement where . . . but to just comply with regulations. But in order to comply with regulations, it doesn’t prevent fraud, so many companies have been doing this as much as needed than it’s possible to comply with regulations.

Andrew: Regulations they take a picture of their ID, they do it but it’s not enough. So you would go in to what? To a ride sharing company and create fake ID? You’re smiling as they say this, create fake ID, and then create an account and then go to them and say look I created a fake ID with you, anyone can do this.

Kaarel: Yeah, simple.

Andrew: Okay, and then they got their attention, and now it’s not enough to show them that, you have to show them that it matters and that they’re losing enough money or that they’re causing damage this way, right?

Kaarel: Yeah, I mean, in many cases, it’s been just . . . we are like . . . are team is the one that really research them up. Our aim to be honest people trust it, that even when you’re fighting against fraud, you can’t make it harder for the good people to get the verification done in a proper manner. And second of all, there’s some tricks and things we can use to get it from the rest of our side. So, yeah, when you just send people an email.

We have a great product. It doesn’t convert so good and showing that you know exactly what needs to be [inaudible 00:54:01].

Andrew: So, just send them an email saying, hey, pay attention to us, we’ve got this great product. We’re Y Combinator backed, whatever, nobody cares. Say, I just created a fake account on your service, let me tell you how.

Kaarel: It’s a no brainer, which converts better.

Andrew: And it’s a no-brainer. But then it just gets their conversation started. They’re not necessarily interested. One of the reasons why. I’ll give an example. I was just listening to Washington Post report. Or maybe it was The New York Times. It was New York Times about Uber, and they said it was about why Uber hasn’t made money yet and may not put it foreseeable future.

And they talked about the early days of Uber and how much fraud was happening and how Uber was actually perfectly okay with the fraud. Because they said it’s the price of doing business. We just need to move fast, almost proud that they were moving so fast that they can afford to lose as much money.

I’m imagining when you’re calling up a company or emailing them and saying, “I just committed fraud,” that many of them say, okay, there’s going to be fraud on a platform, we’re fine with it, we’ll deal with it later. How do you . . .

Kaarel: I mean like over time and you see the macro trends, nothing to do. Big fintech businesses are becoming pretty similar over time as well. There are three. How do you differentiate from each other? Are like different questions that are coming along there. I think there’s so many . . . like fintech business was in the early days so much connected this part that you have to get huge customer base with as less structure as possible when setting up an account and then you can do whatever you want to. Now always fairly easy for every business to get the huge customer base. In order to differentiate, it comes to the way you treat your customers. And that end there’s also . . . But if you can stop the fraud all the way to onboarding step where you keep on doing, the customer loses when you see something is that’s odd. So, I see together with you, bigger competition, those things that you mentioned not very relevant anymore because the money goes [running 00:55:56].

Andrew: All right. Let’s talk about another challenge. Now, final thing is, Mintos. What is Mintos?

Kaarel: Mintos is actually peer-to-peer lending platform. It’s like a lending cloud because it’s in Europe.

Andrew: And so people were . . . you guys signed them up as a customer.

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: And there was some confusion. What happened there?

Kaarel: I mean like many, many Mintos users really most likely weren’t going to see this kind of way of verifying themselves before. And it’s so much more educating the market as well that if they asked you to take a photo of your face and ID on behalf of your own security [inaudible 00:56:42] else on behalf of your identity, you can have access to those services. So I think it’s at the beginning, there was a lot of, like, educating the user base why it’s important.

Andrew: Because some people were confusing dropping out.

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: And so what do you do to explain it to them?

Kaarel: And when you say why we do it? It exactly it was the game changer to get everyone involved. I think how much you can . . .

Andrew: By indicating the benefit?

Kaarel: Yeah, I mean, at the end, people are more than happy to lend money . . .

Andrew: If you tell them why.

Kaarel: To lend money from the person has been verified.

Andrew: Right, right.

Kaarel: Think of this risk you can reduce and parts at the end that is essentially for their business model to take off.

Andrew: By the way, I’m noticing as we’re talking. You’ve got a scab on the inside of your hand.

Kaarel: What?

Andrew: Look right there. It’s because of what?

Kaarel: Oh, wakeboarding.

Andrew: Oh, wakeboarding. What’s wakeboarding?

Kaarel: I mean, I’m doing the training. There’s basically artificial lake, there’s a wake park and you just need to wakeboard and you just go from . . .

Andrew: A wakeboard is what? It’s like a surfboard?

Kaarel: It’s surfer, but it’s a smaller. Some people do it behind the [marcher boats 00:57:53], but we are doing it . . .

Andrew: Where you get behind a boat, and then you hold on to that cord or something, whatever it is, and then the boat pulls you over. Yeah, this is different because the rope is where? Up in the air.

Kaarel: Up in the air and the electrical motors keep on dragging in the back of them.

Andrew: It just keeps pulling it. So you just stand there on your wakeboard, you hold on to this thing, and it pulls you out, and you get to jump over different ramps . . .

Kaarel: Or whatever you want to.

Andrew: You did that this morning?

Kaarel: Yeah, I do it very fairly often.

Andrew: That’s like an Estonian thing?

Kaarel: I don’t consider it.

Andrew: Tallinn experience.

Kaarel: There’s so many things.

Kaarel: Like what? What’s a fun thing for people to do here if they live here?

Kaarel: I mean, there’s all options you ever need and want to.

Andrew: Like what?

Kaarel: For me, it’s the water sports because you could . . .

Andrew: It seems like you guys are really big on that. I saw water park as I was running doing my marathon. It was huge.

Kaarel: I mean at the end there’s like 1,500 islands. The people are so much connected . . .

Andrew: 1,500 islands here is part of Estonia? Okay.

Kaarel: Yeah, exactly. So everything connected to the sea is something we do.

Andrew: I saw fishing. A lot of it when I was running. A lot of people do an overhand cast in like over shoulder casting and I was, like I’m running behind you. Give me a second. I don’t want that . . .

Kaarel: But yeah, I mean, there’s plenty of opportunities. I mean, you can just limit it with your inspiration. I don’t know, there’s like everything you want. I see Estonia as a great platform. You can do whatever you want here. And there’s all opportunities for you to leverage and your wishes there.

Andrew: It does seem like a very happy culture here. And no, except that people don’t smile.

Kaarel: I mean, it’s an interesting [method 00:59:35]. Even though people are saying like Estonians are as cold as the weather here, no, we aren’t actually. Only way to keep us having some sun in the wintertime is painting sunny on the road. And from my side and really seeing Estonia as a great platform, because it’s such a free country. From my company, we have 42 new citizenships, 60 families this year have moved to Estonia.

Andrew: They moved here?

Kaarel: Yeah, moved here. Actually, United States is the second biggest country where people are . . .

Andrew: Prior to Estonia.

Kaarel: . . . moving here and live here. Actually, yeah, this something that the ones who know about Estonia they see that why not to really when you work from here and have a family here.

Andrew: It does seem like it’s also easier to be a digital nomad here.

Kaarel: Yeah, super easy.

Andrew: You guys are courting digital nomads as a country. Right?

Kaarel: Yeah. I mean, this is super. Actually, yeah, even though the prices and everything in terms of real estate it increases at the extremely fast speed. Like you can you can have so much more with less.

Andrew: Yeah, from what I’m seeing is fairly expensive, highly digital, and it’s just kind of a easy place to hang out. The only thing that’s a little tough for me to get used to is that I have, I have to take my shoes off when I go in anywhere so now I’m getting my socks your socks.

Kaarel: Yeah, I mean, like, we have in our office the same rule, because at the end, it is so much more comfortable.

Andrew: Your slippers right by the door.

Kaarel: Yeah, we have slippers and everything. And I think of winter, you don’t want to be with your winter boots here all day. And I think over time as well it’s part of our culture of taking shoes off. It’s so much more comfortable like that.

Andrew: At first, it was a little weird but I actually . . .

Kaarel: The air is getting to you.

Andrew: . . . stopped even wearing the shoes you just gave me when I got in here or the LIFT people gave me.

All right. Anyone want to go check out your website it’s, Veriff as in verify. Right?

Kaarel: Yeah.

Andrew: And I want to thank the two sponsors to make this interview happen. The first, if you’re looking to code without coding, go check out Bubble. I should give the URL. It’s and then the second is a company that I’m going to introduce you guys to, great email marketing, super automated without asking people to do work, it doesn’t work for them. It’s ActiveCampaign. Check them out at Grateful to them for sponsoring and to you for being here.

Kaarel: Great. Cool.

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