Business In:Brief with Yanir Yakutiel (Lumi)
Founder and CEO of Lumi, 2018-present
Yanir Yakutiel is the founder and CEO of online business finance platform Lumi. Lumi offers customised unsecured business loans to SMEs across Australia. The business prides itself on fee transparency and providing fast access to finance.
Yanir shares with us his thoughts on all things business, including how all startups could learn a thing or two from the Queen of Pop Madonna when it comes to staying relevant.
What was your first job?
My first ever job was when I was 12 years old. I washed cars in the local neighbourhood.
What's your proudest achievement?
In terms of my proudest business achievement, I'd have to say that while it was challenging, transitioning the business from Sail to Lumi was one of the toughest things I have ever done.
I previously founded fintech startup Sail, but stepped away from the venture in 2018 due to misalignments in the vision and strategy of the company. This was a big moment for me and my growth as a business leader. I strongly believe in keeping businesses focused on building products and services that stay true to the original vision and mission of the company, even through times of adversity when it can be tempting to deviate. The decision to start Lumi was so important to me because I realised that I wasn't alone during the process and that I had a great team behind me, who shared that same vision.
14 former Sail staff members stuck with me throughout the transition because they had faith in me to deliver what I said I was always going to deliver, and because they believed in the Lumi vision too. Having this kind of team backing me up in business is more valuable than any other assets you could ever have. I cannot imagine a more important business milestone than that.
On a personal note though, I would say my biggest achievement thus far would be my family and my son. They will always be my priority.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
Startups are a team sport. I feel like it's common for people to focus on the founder of businesses, in the same way that basketball (a "strong link" sport) tends to focus on the superstars such as Michael Jordan because they are often the biggest driver of a team's success. At the end of the day, running a startup is a quintessential "weak link" team sport. In startups, if you don't have someone strong in every position, you will not succeed, no matter how good the CEO is at their job.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
We'll definitely be doing more of the same as we have been for the past 18 months. We'll be raising more capital to allow us to expand our balance sheets, and our key priority is to always ensure we're creating value for our customers and that their interactions with us are always positive. As long as we are able to do that and stay ahead of the curve, our offering and competitiveness will naturally keep growing.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
I'd like to give an example outside of the realm of business. I would have to say Madonna is one of the most inspiring icons of all time. The way she has managed to evolve and stay relevant is unbelievable! For almost 35 years she has reinvented herself countless times in order to stay trendy, and that is something every startup should try and emulate in business.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Life is a long game.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
I would say, be prepared for what you're about to face. It's an unbelievable challenge but incredibly rewarding if you get it right, and you cannot do it half-heartedly.