Startup Profiles: Meet Mohammed from Benji

Tell us about your startup and what inspired you to start it.

Benji is Canada’s first neobank for small businesses. We provide a free business operating account that combines your deposits, bookkeeping and spend management — all in one place. No branch visits required.

We built Benji because we were frustrated by the effort it takes to manage our business finances. Building a business is hard already and our bank never made it easier for us. Most of the time when we needed something from our bank, we were asked to visit a branch — in the middle of a pandemic.

On top of that, when we tried to use tools to keep track of our business finances, the solution wouldn’t always work because they had issues connecting to our bank’s transaction feed. As you can imagine, wrapping up our year-end finances was always filled with unnecessary stress and anxiety.

At Benji, we believe Canadian entrepreneurs deserve a better business bank. Rather than pay to use multiple tools and services that don’t always work together, Benji combines everything in an all-in-one business operating account. Our goal is to help Canadian entrepreneurs build a more resilient business. 

What energizes you to pursue your startup even when things aren’t going as planned?

I talk to 3-5 Canadian entrepreneurs every week. It’s not a quota I have for myself but rather a result of me actively conducting outreach and interacting with entrepreneurs on various social networks. Learning about their problems not only helps me understand what we can do better than a traditional bank but also acts as a reminder that what we’re building is desperately needed in Canada.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own startup? Why?

Get yourself a co-founder that you can trust unconditionally. Building a startup is a journey filled with obstacles. You want a partner who’s willing to overcome these obstacles with you and has the necessary complementary skill sets. I started Benji on my own and it was an overwhelming experience trying to tackle everything myself. Having Jordon join Benji as a co-founder helped take a lot of the weight off my shoulder and put us in a much better position for success. You’ll go much further (and faster) with the right co-founder.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities and/or challenges for fintech in 2022 and beyond?

I think the biggest opportunities lie in migration to and/or hybrid solutions built with blockchain technology. The biggest challenge for fintech startups is working within a regulatory environment that gives preference to the incumbents.

What brings you joy?

I genuinely enjoy helping people build a better relationship with money. In our society, we don’t talk much about money, unless maybe when we’re flaunting it. So when I have a friend or family member that asks me a question about personal finances, I get great joy talking to them about all of their options and helping them think through their financial goals. Over the years, I’ve built my own “Waterfall System” that helps people visually prioritize their finances.

What is your motto in life?

Not sure if it’s a motto, but I have this quote from Maya Angelou that I keep on a post-it note: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

What is one thing you’ve learned so far or taken away since joining IFH Lab?

Partnering with large companies like Shopify or FreshBooks doesn’t make sense as the best path for member (we call our users members) acquisition.