Just Started – Chris Papathanassi: Oneiro Solutions

Few types of funding are more complicated than the syndicated loan market. Now, industry expert Chris Papathanassi is working to fix the problem by creating Oneiro Solutions, a new tool for improving transparency with customers.

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Name of founder: Chris Papathanassi
Age of the founder: 38
Location: London
Date launched: July 2021
Number of employees: 2

What does your business do?

Oneiro Solutions is an entirely cloud-based syndicated loan administration platform. Its purpose is to offer a retail-like experience to all parties involved in the lifecycle events of a syndicated loan such as loan drawdown request, rollovers, interest, fee and principal payments, amendments and waivers, and compliance monitoring.

It offers a digital self-service dashboard which can be accessed 24/7, by Borrowers, Agents and Lenders. This simplifies the transaction, keeping each party aware of every step of the loan’s journey and provides real time deal data for ultimate transparency.

Designed to provide ease and peace of mind, our platform gives banks a strong point of differentiation with their customers whilst also increasing operational efficiency and reducing the cost to manage the business.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I’ve been in the industry for more than 15 years and witnessed very little innovation as far as the available syndicated loan administration software was concerned. The systems and processes used by the industry were, and still are, founded upon ageing technology. The majority of the syndicated loan market still communicates using email, fax and spreadsheets. This old-fashioned way of working is slow and not compatible with today’s fast-paced world; it exposes all parties to operational risk, high costs and poor services. This is what Oneiro Solutions plans to change.

How did you know there was a market for it?

With my business partner, George Druncea, we have a background in administering syndicated loans within banks, to selling syndicated lending solutions to the market. We know first-hand of the pain experienced and how underserved the industry is from a technology point of view. The corporate banking world is far behind the retail banking world when it comes to online, digital services and the discussions with market participants from borrowers, agents and lenders highlighted that there was a demand for services that was not being met. Leveraging our industry experience, we decided to embark on a journey to bring to market the world’s first digital syndicated loan administration tool.

What were you doing before launching your business?

I was working at Finastra (formerly known as Mysys) selling the software that the majority of the banking industry is using. Prior to this, I was working for a bank using that same software. This is how I was made aware of some of the issues within the loans industry and wanted to create change.

Have you always dreamed of starting a business?

Yes. I have dreamt of owning my own business all of my life. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, nevertheless, I have been working towards it my entire career, knowing that one day I will need to have the resources to quit my day job and become an entrepreneur. I’ve always loved the idea of building something from the ground up, something I can genuinely call my own and make that a success so I can help people in a number of ways.

How did you finance your business?

So far, it’s self-funded. As mentioned previously, I was always saving for the day I was going to start my own business.

Explain your business model and how you make money.

We sell our software on a licensed basis, typically over a five-year period. The price of the license is determined by the size of the customer and the volume of business they manage on our platform. Another source of revenue comes via services fees for the work conducted to implement the software.

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

Traditionally this software has been extremely complex to build and I was told time and time again that it was not possible to do. However, through persevering to find the right team (extremely important and took a very long time) who made the right technology choices, we were able to build a product that not only handles the complexity of this business but allows very rapid development timeframes.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

It has been both positive and negative. On the positive side, the demand for digital services increased significantly throughout the pandemic and that really put pressure on the industry to expedite their digital transformation projects. On the negative side, the restrictions on travel have meant that we have not been able to meet our prospective customers in person which is an extremely important part of the job.

Describe your first breakthrough.

The delivery of our demonstrable ‘minimum viable product’, which allowed us to start demonstrating the software to our prospective clients. We have had resounding validation from the market.

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

Not as yet. Possibly on the legal side of things in terms of contracting with organisations outside of the UK.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

I love this quote from Les Brown: “Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.” Do not live your life believing that you cannot do the thing that you have always wanted to do.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

To secure the right early adopter of the platform.

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

  1. To have our early adopters live on our platform
  2. To establish ourselves as the next generation /premium syndicated loan administration platform
  3. To establish a global presence through a growing client base and partnerships.

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Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews.

She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.

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