Alexandre Prot makes a fortune by modernizing daddy’s bank

He is the son of an influential banker, Baudouin Prot, who headed the BNP Paribas group during the financial crisis that began in 2001-2008. He too has chosen finance, but in the opposite camp: that of start-ups dedicated to revolutionizing and competing with the old world of traditional banking. Alexandre Prot, 39, founded Qonto in 2016, a fintech offering easy-to-access banking services to small business customers, at transparent prices and often lower than those of banking networks.

A master stroke: the young company announces this Tuesday, January 11 a record fundraising of 486 million euros, which values ​​it at 4.4 billion euros. “It’s a little dizzying”, concedes the entrepreneur. Qonto does not have the status of a bank. To date, it has only 220,000 VSE, SME and self-employed customers. Its very rapid growth, however, attracted investors. Alexandre Prot and his partner and co-founder, Steve Anavi, were spoiled for choice.

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The next step, if the business becomes profitable, could be an IPO. “The advantage would be to be able to raise more capital, to attract the right talents with the remuneration and visibility that the listing allows, lists Alexandre Prot. There is also a psychological advantage: if one day we are part of the CAC 40, that gives a slightly different stature. “

“Improving services for small businesses”

Before getting there, Qonto has set itself the goal of identifying 1 million customers by 2025, and developing in Europe. The two founders and friends met on the benches of the Alsatian School, a melting pot of the Parisian elite, then lost to follow-up and found by chance at a party. Once their first joint start-up was sold – Smokio, which specializes in connected electronic cigarettes – in 2015, they draw conclusions from this experience.

“There really was something to be done to improve banking services for small businesses like the one we had just created. “ Hence the idea of ​​creating Qonto. What does his father banker think of it? “He didn’t really advise me, he just told me: Why are you going to bother in a rather complicated sector, with regulations, the risk of fraud, etc. “, says Alexandre Prot.

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« And it’s true, it’s an objectively complicated sector, that’s why there has been so little innovation for very small and medium-sized enterprises ”, he admits. Five years later, Baudouin Prot “Is very proud of the road traveled, he told me so, specifies the son. He is incidentally a small investor in Qonto, very happy with his investment ”. Alexandre Prot too, who has just made a fortune. “For now, it’s all a bit theoretical, he reacts. It’s paper. “