Startups Awards Hall of Fame: Husayn Kassai, Onfido

Having taken home three titles at the Startups Awards 2016, Onfido co-founder Kassai talks international growth and the invaluable Awards network

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Founders: Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin
Year started: 2012

Launched in 2012, Onfido was built so that businesses would no longer have to face the laborious, fiddly and time-consuming task of background-checking candidates while hiring.

With a data-driven service using machine learning to perform identity verification online, Onfido provides an innovative automated solution. Operating on a pay-as-you go model, the accessible service is used by a staggering 1,000 clients around the world, including HelloFresh, Crowdcube and JustGiving, and has attracted over $30m in funding.

A result of Onfido's ground-breaking achievements, at the Startups Awards 2016 the company was crowned with not one but three accolades – Sage Startups Business of the Year, Tech Business of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for its enterprising founders.

Now, we catch up with co-founder Husayn Kassai on the business' plans for the future, and learn what the dizzying array of wins has done for the start-up's growth…

What’s happened in the last year since you entered the Startups Awards?

We’ve grown! Onfido’s now a team of 150 across our offices in London, San Francisco and Lisbon. From day one, our team has been our biggest asset, and we’re proud to have added world-class experts to our product, sales and engineering functions in the last few months.

We think identity verification will become the key to remotely unlocking a huge range of global goods and services. We’ve been working hard to get closer to that goal, adding a range of new features to our product. That’s helped us win some fantastic flagship clients including Couchsurfing, Zipcar and Tesco. It’s been a busy year!

What’s been the single biggest highlight for the business since winning?

There have been a few. We have a clear vision for identity verification and are passionate about taking that global. We’ve had some great opportunities to do so: from presenting our RegTech Principles for Innovation to the US Treasury, to accompanying the Prime Minister on a trade mission to India, to being named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

And this week, we celebrated our fifth birthday! Seeing how far we’ve come in five years has been incredibly motivating, and we’re looking forward to building on that success in the next five.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next year or so?

The US is our biggest market and we’re focused on developing our solution there. Identity verification is particularly complex in the USA as there are lots of different document formats and legal requirements, so we’re investing substantially in R&D.

We’re also looking beyond the US to expand the technology into new markets. As the technology continues to evolve, it will open up access to services like banking, voting and healthcare to millions of users worldwide – so the sky’s the limit!

What did winning at the Startups Awards mean to you?

We won three titles at last year’s awards! It was a huge honour, and great recognition of not only our success, but our potential. Startups' has been a friend of ours since the early days, and the awards have been really valuable in helping us tell our story and reach new clients.

Why would you recommend entering awards like this?

The UK, and London in particular, has a really strong start-up culture. The awards are instrumental to supporting that community by recognising success and encouraging young entrepreneurs. For Onfido, the Startups Awards provided an invaluable network of other early stage companies and a great forum to exchange ideas.

Applications for the Startups Awards 2017 are now closed! To enter your business in 2018 and follow in Onfido’s footsteps, bookmark this page.

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