Finologee’s CTO and Co-Founder Georges Berscheid, has recently been awarded the Tech Talent of the Year Award by nexten.io. Since a young age the Luxembourgish-City native has always been experimenting with new things in order to satisfy his curious mind. The latter might be at the core of the many successful entrepreneurial endeavours of the talent IT professional. Let’s see why.
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Gasperich, 1979. The construction of the A6 highway had just been finished. Clearly, the neighbourhood then was nothing like the one we know today. Georges was born in May. Four years later, his mother, a teacher, and his dad, a bank clerk, will also give birth to a little girl. Despite no relation to IT through his parents, Georges starts being interested in computers very early on. At age 11, the first PC was acquired after a friend of his father advised them to do so.
"I started programming when I realised that it was possible to modify the Civilization I backup files to get more gold coins when reloading the game.”
The before mentioned curious mind didn’t limit itself to IT though. Chemistry basically triggered the same satisfaction and passion.
“Together with a friend, we used to reproduce chemical reactions in the garage of my parents. I remember this one time when we met in front of a chemistry wholesaler in Hollerich to buy nitric acid and test tubes. The employee we asked didn’t want to give us the real stuff, so he just gave us some less extreme products …”
His passion for chemistry was so strong that he almost turned it into his job. However, in his final year, he gave up chemistry at the last minute for a computer science course. In the then teenager’s eyes, IT just felt even more interesting, especially with the radiant opportunities these careers promised in the late 90s.
While choosing computer science might have been a leap of faith back then, Georges could not have known that, as soon as he graduated, he would begin his professional career in the heart of Silicon Valley at IBM. And as with many things in life, there was a pinch of luck involved.
“A young professor who had the same promoter as me, attended the defence of my thesis. He had just landed at Kaiserslautern University after holding a management position at IBM California. He asked me if I was interested in a position there, since they were looking for specialised database profiles, which was the subject of my submission.
For a young computer student, there is obviously worse than starting with a job in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, I had just enrolled in a new, more commercially oriented curriculum in Angers. So I had to make IBM wait for me, and convince my school to let me do a more computer-oriented internship there …“.
Georges loves to experiment, try new things and seeks technical challenges enabling him to learn and improve. So before leaving for the United States he did exactly that. In 1999 he joined his future associate and trusted partner Raoul Mulheims to manage the technical aspects of a platform called Luxusbuerg – the first real Luxembourgish Social Network with around 80.000 users at the end of 2003.
luxusbuerg.lu in 2005
Obviously Facebook came, saw, and acquired all active users, but today Georges even seems kind of thankful:
“During that time we had to start making real money and earn our lives. We thus had to look for projects with compensation, which was not the case for Luxusbuerg. This being said, as students, the experience was rich – we learned a lot.”
Luxusbuerg aside, meeting Raoul greatly impacted Georges’ life. After the two years in California, it was again Raoul who asked Georges to join a new project: a platform enabling mobile payments via SMS while being fully supported by the three mobile operators in Luxembourg. A pretty seducing opportunity for a guy like Georges, who came to understand that big, corporate, vertical hierarchy structures were not made for him. The project and later start up was named Mpulse and enjoyed years of success.
However, in the same way that Luxusbuerg was buried by Facebook, Mpulse had to adapt to the arrival of smartphones, iOS and Android operating systems, as well as their online stores.
“In this context, a payment method by SMS lost its meaning, so we had to find another model. We pivoted towards creating a mobile payments environment. After thinking about a sort of electronic wallet in which users could put their money to make purchases, we came to the conclusion that it would make much more sense – on all levels – to simply have a direct link with the banks. This way, the bank’s clients could securely link their bank account to our service once they were interested in mobile payment."
You probably know by now that this solution was named Digicash, which turned out to be a result of adapting to the environment … and strong persuasion skills as well as perseverance. Looking back, it was necessary for Georges and his associates (Jonathan Prince had joined the duo in the meantime) to continuously and repeatedly ask banks to partner up with the project – until one of them, the Spuerkees, finally did. Today, when looking at the explosive success of the solution, it seems weird to think that it took so much effort to convince the banks to partner up. In any case, the success cumulated in an acquisition by Payconiq in 2017, which allowed the trio to found Finologee and successfully deliver High-End Fintech.
“Being curious, staying atop of evolving technologies, but also testing new things to see how they can improve your tool are essential capabilities in this sector. You always need to be willing to discover, to experiment.”
A bit like in the 80s, in a garage in Gasperich …
Georges Berscheid with his Co-Founders Raoul Mulheims and Jonathan Prince
To finish we'd like to congratulate Georges for winning the Tech Talent of the Year Award 2019.
After 4000 total votes, the community and a panel of industry experts chose him to be the most impactful and leading CTO operating in Luxembourg.
Thanks to everyone who voted, the judges and of course: congrats Georges!
Georges Berscheid wins the Tech Talent of the Year Award