New Captain On Deck: William Benkő Takes Charge As Salarify's Hungarian Country Manager
Ahoy there! Salarify's crew just got a boost with the arrival of William Benkő, our very own Hungarian country manager. He's here to steer our team's mission in Hungary and beyond to new horizons. William is a businessman, investor, coach, TED Talk speaker, and former president of the American Chamber of Commerce, who also played a role in the creation of one of the world's most successful ATM networks, Euronet. We took the opportunity to interview him upon joining our team:
Welcome on board, William! Please tell us a bit about how you first came across our team.
I have known Bence from the founding team for a long time; he was a student of mine at Speak Academy many years ago. We got to know each other and developed a fondness for each other, and we have stayed in touch ever since. Initially, I helped in the background, for example, providing financial support when needed. Then I started introducing Salarify to companies and connected Bence's team with the American investor group which eventually invested a significant amount in the company.
I prefer to focus on a few things rather than juggle numerous tasks. Currently, my focus is on three areas: Salarify, my medtech passion project called Follow My Patient, and public speaking. I chose these areas because I believe they offer a valuable solution for people in general, by addressing real, tangible problems.
For me, Salarify's greatest value lies in removing the stigma associated with workplace financial matters, whether it's requesting an advance or providing income verification for a mortgage.
We aim to eliminate the shame factor. Now, there's no need for people to endure the embarrassment of explaining to their employer why they need a small advance or what type of property they want to purchase.
When did you decide to join Salarify?
As I spent more time with Bence and connected his team with various companies, it became evident that the project was gaining substantial momentum. I saw an opportunity to ease some of the burdens from the founders, allowing them to focus entirely on what matters most. This is how startups operate initially. At the beginning, founders handle every task, from mundane errands to administrative duties. However, as the company grows, certain responsibilities must be delegated to others, making it clear that specific matters are no longer the founders' responsibility. I saw this as an opportunity.
It's worth mentioning that Salarify is currently undergoing transformations in its strategy, particularly with Salarify Pay, as we collaborate more closely with financial institutions. This is an area where my past experiences can be beneficial to the team. Within this framework, our banking partners (globally) can quickly and easily launch their own earned wage access service.
Additionally, when I introduced Bence's team to the American investors I mentioned earlier, they didn't just say "yes," but they said "hell yes."
At that point, I said to myself, if these seasoned venture capitalists evaluate this company that way, then I trust their judgment, and I won't miss out on such an opportunity.
How do you envision Salarify's future in Hungary and beyond?
When I joined Euronet in its early days, there was no euro yet, and we created a solution where we could settle across nine currencies at midnight . That company, which had a difficult start, now conducts billions of transactions monthly and plays a significant role in the European and international financial markets. I see the same potential in Salarify's journey. The two products - Salarify Pay and Verify - are gap-filling, value-added products that are genuinely needed.
This is what kept us going at Euronet as well. Despite the headwinds in the beginning , we knew that eventually, people would get used to the ATM because it's way too convenient.
Over the past decades, you have worked with numerous companies. What is your take on financial well-being? Do companies pay attention to this area? Or is talking about finances still taboo?
I have noticed that employers are generally aware of the financial challenges faced by their employees. However, they may be unsure of how to assist or view these challenges as something individuals should address on their own, rather than as a responsibility of the company. We advise companies to provide financial guidance and tools to their employees, as this can have a positive impact on the overall work environment.
It is also crucial that we don’t approach new solutions by thinking, "my employees won't understand it" or "they won't be able to use it properly." A good analogy for this is email vs. paper-based mail. It's certain that we send about 1,000 million times more emails today than the number of paper-based letters we used to send through the post. The same people who used to send letters now use email, and the world didn't assume that they wouldn't understand how to send an email. They were given an opportunity, started using it, and we smoothly transitioned. The same approach applies in our case.
Lastly, do you have a message for our readers?
Absolutely! Don't lose hope or believe that good opportunities have vanished because they haven't. By keeping an open mind and staying alert, you will eventually come across promising opportunities. As Steve Jobs once said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”