Q&A with CEO and Founder of Lendwill – the winner of SHE Startup Pitch 2021

Anzhelika Osmanova share her experience from the Startup Pitch 2021, and how her startup contributes to build a healthy relationship with money.

Who are you, and what does your company do? 

Lendwill is a mobile application that makes it possible for people to turn their usual human-to-human lending and borrowing interactions into blockchain-verified proxies of credit histories that could be taken anywhere the person goes. 

In other words, people borrow billions of dollars from each other every year, yet such personal lending interactions leave no trace to prove future creditworthiness – this data just stays in the minds of individuals who have had the transaction. 

When you use Lendwill to borrow or lend to others, as an alternative to using PayPal, Vipps, or similar, we save all transactions on the blockchain ledger, making the data about your borrowing experience globally verifiable, immutable, and possible to use in situations that require some sort of proxy of trust.

We are 12 people from 4 different countries (Norway, India, Germany, and Russia), and soon we are opening up our office in Lithuania.  We got through one of the most competitive accelerators in Norway, TheFactory (3% acceptance rate), and since 2019, we have been hitting lots of top-startup-lists: top 10 Norwegian startups to watch, Top 10 European blockchain startups, top 4 influential fintech companies, which, by the way, we hit together with Vipps and Signicat, and so on. 

Today, we have a product in beta. Our beta users love the app, and we actively take in feedback to keep improving the user experience. 

Photo: Lendwill

What drives you? 

I am driven by the fact that people use our product and notice all the slight changes we implement. 
I get excited when I receive emails from users pointing to certain features, giving feedback, coming up with ideas for new features. This makes me feel that my efforts, long hours, and sleepless nights count, and that I am not the only one who is interested in making Lendwill a success. 

Another intense driver is the people I work with: my COO Tatiana Pisarevskaia is a superstar. So is Dhenesh Jayabal, Technical Director. So are George (QA Manager) and Joel (IT Architect). 
The same goes for Sukumar (Scrum Master), and for Shivraj (Product Manager). And of course, we would be nowhere without our UX genius Dario Ferrando, and our developers: Gopinath, Sriprem, Senthil… I work with people who are smarter and better than I am and having the privilege of working with them drives me. 

What is a fun fact about you?

I love hugs. So, if you are having a bad day or if you simply need a reassuring tap on the back in addition to a squeezing hug that leaves no personal space whatsoever, you know where to go. 

How was your experience with SHE Pitch 2021?

It was a professionally organized event that I felt honored to take part in. I was excited, thrilled, and overwhelmed with all sorts of different emotions when I was preparing to take the stage. But more than anything, I felt honored to simply be there.

Specifically, what was the best thing about winning SHE Pitch 2021?

It has been a year, but I still can’t believe I won the SHE Pitch 2021. 

The best thing about winning anything is realizing that something you did had resonated with others, and maybe the others had noticed something about you which, though might be remaining a mystery to yourself, still was strong enough to shine through. 

In other words, the best thing about winning was that my business and vision were well understood and that the jury members could see the global potential of Lendwill, and neither my nervousness nor fast-paced speech stood in the way of that. 

What inspired you to pitch at SHE? 

I longed for deep professional feedback on Lendwill as a business. 
It is not often one can get so much relevant information and insight from a group of highly intelligent and professional people in such a short timeframe. 

Sending emails to each of the jury members and asking for feedback would take way more time than exposing myself and the business up for professional judgment in a competition. So, I am happy that I got to pitch at SHE. 

Photo: Lendwill

What inspires you? 

I love solving problems, and the pure fact of it inspires me. 

Who is your role model?

I don’t have a particular person who I could call my role model, but I definitely find inspiration in many people I get an honor to work with. For example, I admire and try to learn from Heidi Frost Eriksen, Linn-Cecilie Linnemann (who, by the way, I met at SHE for the first time), Anders Eikenes (co-founder of Huddly), Espen Halvorsen, Roger Skarvik, Camilla Wollan, Christoffer Andvig (founder of Neonomics) and many others.

How has participation at SHE Pitch changed you?

It definitely made me more confident in what I do. My stage freight did not go anywhere, but I learned a lot of to-dos and not-to-dos from watching my pitch online afterward. 

What is your ambition/scaling strategy now? What is the next step?

Lendwill must be a born-global business to thrive. We are up for rapid internationalization. The next step for us is to launch the service, vigorously test, improve, and launch in more markets. Lendwill’s waiting list includes people from 70 countries. We have a lot to choose from.

Three startups you look up to? 

Kahoot!, Oda, Gelato.

Why should others participate in SHE Pitch 2022?

It is a great opportunity to meet people who have more experience than you do and get their insights, ideas, questions – and to use it all to improve your business. And who knows, maybe you will even win!

What are your best 3 tips for the next SHE Pitch 2022 attendees?

  1. Have a good night of sleep before the event. 
  2. Dare to speak with other attendees. 
  3. Have fun.

Read more about Lendwill here


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