Editor’s note: The Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast, based in Atlanta, publishes a monthly interview spotlighting one of its members.
This month, the organization caught up with Maarten Van Der Putten, senior vice president for business development at Brightwell, a financial technology firm that helps mobile/global workers get paid and manage their finances. The company’s main product is a payment card that helps cruise ship workers better spend or send their earnings, but it’s an example of how many Atlanta firms find niches within the payments sector and expand outward from there. Mr. Van Der Putten formerly worked with ParkMobile, a Dutch-owned app based in Atlanta that allows remote reservation and payment for parking.
The interview has been reprinted with permission as part of an ongoing content exchange between Global Atlanta and the chamber.
Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast: What is your business industry category or specialty?
Maarten Van Der Putten: Brightwell is an Atlanta-based financial technology company that provides financial services, including cross-border remittances, P2P transfers and digital bank accounts, to hundreds of thousands global workers from more than 140 countries. Brightwell’s mobile-first platform and suite of financial tools simplify personal finances for a community that is traditionally underserved in the marketplace.
We are on a mission to create products that serve the financial needs of global citizens, so they feel more connected to and in control of their money.
How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
I am tasked with finding new growth opportunities for Brightwell and expanding the business. One day I’ll be speaking with strategic partners about launching a new market then the next I’ll be discussing M&A prospects with my CFO. It’s a broad role but certainly one I enjoy very much.
Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you unique?
TransferWise, Remitly and WireCard are our main competitors. What differentiates us is that we offer our users a value store with a prepaid card. Many of our consumers are from Southeast Asia and unlike an American consumer, not all have traditional bank accounts and are new to the digital economy, so this is quite the benefit.
How was the business started?
Brightwell was born as a spin-off from a Chicago-area bank in 2009. Under new leadership, the company’s culture transformed from that of a bank to a modern fintech organization with an agile startup mindset. The senior team saw an untapped opportunity within the cruise industry and focused our efforts to capture that unique market and have thrived in that niche ever since.
How many employees does the business have?
We currently have 80+ employees, with nearly all of us based in Atlanta.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
Cliché as it sounds, I came to Atlanta for a young woman and an internship opportunity. The internship led to a job and I never quite got away from Atlanta. I was only planning to be here for six months but have grown to love this city.
What is your number one business goal over the next year?
We are working on some very special items I’d love to share but I can’t just yet. Publicly we are looking to double our user base and close two major clients next year, both of which I’m confident we will do successfully.
What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with Americans/Dutch?
“Be honest but sweeten the delivery.” The Dutch are known for being blunt and while New Yorkers can accept that, locals in the South may not be so appreciative.
Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc…
Thanks to the NACCSE for creating an environment where Dutch businesspeople can come together, collaborate and learn from each other.
Always happy to meet new people or help out where I can, please feel free to reach out through email or connect on LinkedIn.
Mr. Van Der Putten can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast at www.naccse.org.