The incoming CEO of fintech startup Tyro, Robbie Cooke, spoke to Dynamic Business about the value he plans to create for SMEs when he takes the reins of the challenger bank at the end of March.
Taking over from acting CEO Rob Ferguson, Cooke will join Tyro after departing lotteries business Tatts Group, where he held the top role for five years. Before that, he served as the CEO of Wotif.com for a seven-year period.
DB: What excites you about taking the reins of Tyro?
Cooke: Tyro has established itself as a banking champion for Australia’s small and medium businesses. It has done that by having a singular focus on – and commitment to the SME sector. Being part of that success story and leading the energetic, agile and innovative team at Tyro on the next stage of their journey is what attracted me to the role.
DB: What is your agenda for growing the company?
Cooke: It is early days as I have not yet got in the chair at Tyro! That said, Tyro has been exceptional at building a payments solution that is purpose built for the SME customer. As such, my key focus will be building on the 20,000 plus customers that have joined Tyro and lifting the awareness of what Tyro currently has on offer, including our newer products in deposits and lending. That focus will see us continue to innovate and improve, offering an experience for SMEs that is well beyond that offered by the big banks. Due to the flexibility that Tyro’s large and talented in-house engineering capability provides, the company is in a fantastic position to drive innovation for the benefit of our SME customers.
DB: What is your assessment of the big banks?
Cooke: I think it is fair to say a lot of consumers have been taken for granted by the traditional banks and Australia’s small and medium businesses have certainly not been an exception in this regard. A lack of focus on the specific needs of SMEs, coupled with a lack of product innovation and a considerable technological deficit, has seen the SME sector remain underserviced by the traditional banks. Unsurprisingly disruption occurs when these market dynamics are evident.
Tyro’s focus since inception has been about removing the barriers faced by SMEs in the payments space, and has now expanded to include innovative new banking products purpose built for the SME sector. Tyro has long understood that Australia’s SMEs are the backbone of our economy and has focused in on their specific needs. At the core is Tyro’s seamless integration with hundreds of POS solutions, the absence of lock-in contracts, real-time reporting, fast processing speeds and superb 24/7 local support. This focus has seen more than 20,000 customers come on board and join Tyro. With the product suite now extending to lending and deposits products, I believe Tyro as a business bank providing fair, transparent and smart banking solutions in a truly customer centric way, is providing SMEs with simply a better alternative to the big banks.
DB: What learning will you apply from your past roles?
Cooke: Every business has its own unique attributes, opportunities and culture. It is how you harness those elements that is the critically important thing as an incoming CEO. That said, there are some common themes from my time at Wotif.com and Tatts that should be helpful at Tyro. Both Wotif.com and Tatts were customer-focused businesses operating in very competitive markets that were undergoing considerable structural change and disruption. Both businesses had the advantage of proprietary technology platforms and had large teams of IT professionals to make the ‘magic’ happen. Brand, marketing (online and traditional) and building consumer awareness are perhaps the other areas where my experiences at Wotif.com and Tatts will be particularly useful at Tyro. What I am looking forward to most is building on what has been a very successful strategy of serving the Australian SME market with a market-leading SME banking solution.
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