How our entrepreneurial approach is transforming business solutions

BEN BARBANEL, HEAD OF DEBT FINANCE

 

In a financial landscape dominated by one-size-fits-all banking solutions, mid-sized businesses often find themselves overlooked and underserved. Traditional banks offer off-the-shelf products that lack customisation and fail to address the unique pain points of mid-sized businesses striving for growth. Meanwhile, most digital-first banks cater to smaller, less complex enterprises (e.g. single director, single entity), leaving a significant gap in the market that we call ‘the Missing Middle’. Enter OakNorth, a financial institution that dares to be different. 

The story of our inception is one fuelled by frustration and driven by entrepreneurial spirit. Back in 2005, when our founders, Rishi Khosla and Joel Perlman, sought financing for their data analytics company, Copal Amba, they encountered a systemic flaw in the banking industry. Despite possessing a profitable business model and a track record of success, they were met with rejection. Traditional banks were too fixated on past financials and overlooked their potential for future growth. 

Determined to disrupt the status quo, Rishi and Joel envisioned a bank that pushed the boundaries of innovation and embraced an entrepreneurial mindset. Thus, in 2015 OakNorth was born—a financial institution founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Unlike our counterparts, we recognise that no two businesses are alike, and therefore, their growth plans demand customised banking solutions. 

We have flipped the script on traditional banking. Instead of being told what’s available, we’re asking businesses what they need. We’re working alongside Founders, CFOs, CEOs, and Directors to build an offering from the ground up, that scales with entrepreneurs and businesses, and addresses their unique pain points. This shift in perspective fosters a collaborative partnership between us and our customers, empowering mid-sized businesses to thrive as they grow. 

What sets us apart is not just our commitment to innovation and bespoke solutions, but also our focus on flexibility. Recognising that businesses evolve over time, we ensure that our solutions can adapt to meet changing needs and circumstances. Need to open a new current account quickly, speak to someone about your growth plans, or apply for a loan? We can do it all. We pride ourselves on providing our customers with an efficient and integrated banking experience. This agility enables our customers to navigate challenges and capitalise on opportunities with confidence. 

As we journey into our ninth operating year, we remain guided by our founders, who continue to embody the entrepreneurial spirit that defines the bank’s ethos. Our vision serves as a constant reminder of why OakNorth exists—to champion the aspirations of ambitious entrepreneurs and mid-sized businesses and drive economic growth within communities. 

If it isn’t clear already, our founder-led approach is more than just a business strategy—it’s a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship. By prioritising customisation, flexibility, and a deep understanding of our customers’ needs, we are reshaping the landscape of business banking one entrepreneur at a time. 

If you would like to discuss your business banking needs with one of our experts, please reach out to our team at [email protected] or you can learn more here. 

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