What’s the story behind two guys going abroad to work, only to establish a prospering financial company in a few years’ time?
Robert Lewandowski (RL): We met more than a decade ago, when we were both working in Northern Ireland. At that time we had nothing to do with the financial business; as many other Poles we went abroad in search of a better paid job and started in the catering industry.
Gniewko Juralewicz (GJ): Polish community in Ireland is very much tight-knit, so there are plenty of opportunities to meet interesting and resourceful people. Robert and me had similar goals and prospects for cooperation, so we decided to leave our then-jobs and start doing business together. It was a spontaneous decision (and thinking about it now – kind of a daring one) but it was worth the risk, as can be seen.
What prompted you to start EasySend?
GJ: Initially, our services were more multisector – we wanted to help Poles working in Ireland settle into new life. While living there, we noticed that sometimes people have difficulties finding themselves in the new reality. We then did everything that could be of use for the Polish community – organized transport to Poland (including flight tickets), as well as managed insurances and international money transfers. For two years, we even published our own newspaper with news about Poland! After a while, however, we focused on money transfers to Poland. There were no companies specializing solely in them at that time and so these services were much needed.
RL: Thanks to the fact that we operated very efficiently, we’ve won the trust of the Polish community in Ireland – and trust is the most important factor in the financial industry. We knew that people coming to us entrusted us with their hard-earned money. We put great effort not to undermine that trust – and by running our business like that we didn’t really need much advertising: Poles heard about us through the grapevine. A recognizable brand, which helped thousands of people, was created.
Fast forward a few years and we decided to extend our activity to the whole UK. It was a brave move but we had enough experience and made a good team. It was then that Michał Kaźmierczak, our current CFO, joined, bringing much experience from the financial industry and helping us move “to a whole new level”.
What made you come back to Poland and open the office here?
RL: We were homesick I’m from Gdańsk and, while abroad, I always knew that sooner or later I’d come back. Gniewko wanted to start a family here, so in 2012 we moved to the Polish coast. At first, our office was tiny – just a few desks, our own computers and a lot of overtime. However, EasySend grew fast and already after a couple of months we had to look for a new place.
GJ: Our current office at ul. Grunwaldzka 223 has been the headquarters since July 2013. We’ve opened the IT department that oversees our fast money transfer system. Apart from that, there’s our one and only Customer Service – the Call Centre works even on Saturdays! We also have AML staff, as well as Sales and Marketing departments. In addition to the Gdańsk office, we recently opened a London branch to be even closer to the customers. You can find us in the district of Ealing where the most Poles live.
How many people are currently working at EasySend? The company is definitely doing great – do you have plans on extending your presence to new countries?
GJ: Right now, EasySend is a team of 40 people – we’re not a large corporation. The atmosphere of cooperation is of big importance to us – we care about every customer. Naturally, we’re constantly developing and do have big plans for the future! We can’t say too much yet but we’re thinking about new European (and not only!) markets. Without a doubt, we want to keep improving our products – currently, we are the only company that operates such cheap express international transfers in less than 10 minutes (or at least such that don’t involve huge commissions for quick execution), which makes us very proud.
RL: We’ve managed to accomplish all this ourselves – we had no support from third-party investors or the EU. As we once were exactly in the same place as our customers, we understand their needs perfectly – and they appreciate it. Thanks to their trust and loyalty we can keep moving forward.
Thank you for the interview and I wish you even more success in the future!