Morgan O’hana (Defacto), new female fintech figure, role models

“The beginning of my story is more complicated than the end”, he laughs. Morgan O’hanaco-founder of Defacto, a fintech specialized in instant credit for SMEs that has just completed a €15 million seed round. His identity card is atypical: birth in the United States, father Moroccan, mother South African, schooling in French-speaking Switzerland. At home we spoke English, while at school we spoke French. “I use a lot of Anglicisms all of a sudden”, the young woman apologizes.

His family situation gave him a taste for travel, especially to a continent. “I always knew I was going to work in Africa,” says Morgan O’hana. After a master’s degree in financial engineering with the theme of access to capital as a backdrop, he returned to BCG in the field of private equity.

She divides her time mainly between Casablanca and Johannesburg. But not only. “I worked for large European and Asian companies that bought boxes in Africa. I had to verify the actors’ processes on the spot. For example, I visited a port in Gabon”, recalls the director. During a mission, she was sent three months to Paris. Three months that turned into six, then twelve.

The Spendesk adventure

After more than three years at BCG, Morgan O’hana wanted to work in digital technology and in 2019 she met around thirty startups to better understand this ecosystem she knew nothing about. She then met Rodolphe Ardant and Jordane Giulyco-founders of Spendesk, a fintech specializing in corporate expense management.

“I remember very well that lunch where I tried to convince her to join us, giving her the perks of working in a start-up, while hiding the disadvantages from her,” laughs Jordane Giuly. At the time, the French unicorn only had about forty employees… compared to over 400 today.

In the beginning, the young woman did sales, marketing, pricing… As the start-up grew, she became responsible for partnerships to approach accounting firms and financial directors on a part-time basis.

It is by exchanging with more traditional companies that the need for credit has increased. A remark she shared with her office neighbor Jordane Giuly. “We wanted to create a product in-house, but it was a completely different system, another technology, very complicated,” recalls Morgan O’hana.

Back to a small fintech

In mid-2020, Jordane Giuly leaves Spendesk and he convinces her for the second time to participate in his new adventure: Defacto. The duo joins Marc-Henri Gires, technical director of the CTO. Launched in June 2021, fintech offers an instant credit solution for SMEs up to 100,000 euros.

Unlike traditional lending platforms, Defacto provides an API, a kind of IT connector, for B to B marketplaces and fintechs. The start-up works, for example, with Malt, a French marketplace that connects freelancers with companies. “When a freelancer sells a mission, the big group pays Malt within sixty days. Thanks to Defacto, you don’t have to wait that long and it pays off right away”, summarizes Jordane Giuly.

In six months, the start-up borrowed €6 million and is targeting €70-80 million by the end of the year. To finance companies, it contracted debts and now claims a financing capacity of 400 million euros. Objective: to finance even more SMEs in France and soon in Germany. “Morgan is thinking and moving fast. Which is an advantage because in a start-up, you die if you don’t move fast enough,” says Jordane Giuly.

The small Defacto team

The fundraising of 15 million euros, led by the Swedish fund Northzone along with Headline and the GFC, will notably allow for this internationalization. On the other hand, no wave of recruitment planned this year, just five or six profiles. “We are not looking to create an armada of salespeople, but to recruit people that allow us to build relationships with companies”, underlines Jordane Giuly, referring to the Spendesk era.

Defacto still has one thing in common with Spendesk: the start-up is very masculine. In your 13 employees, there are only three women, including Morgan. “More than 50% of the team is tech, so male. This is very difficult to find engineers “, admits Morgan O’hana. It is also difficult to talk to female investors. ” Northzone was the only fund I could trade a woman “, says the leader who remains optimistic about the feminization of the ecosystem.

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