Crossing the Pond with Cristina Vila Vives, CEO of Cledara

Brian Chevalier-Jordan
Date Published
March 10, 2022
Read Time

It’s official! As we previously teased in an earlier Interchange episode, Cledara is now available in the US and, on this episode of Interchange, we chat with Cristina Vila Vives, Cledara’s CEO and Co-founder, about their grand American entrance. 

After seeing tremendous growth in Europe over the past few years, Cledara came to the US because international companies were demanding to use it in the United States. They had experienced the Software as a Service (Saas) purchasing and management platform in Europe and wanted the same time and dollar savings they had seen on the Continent. 

“The problem we are solving in the two markets is the same,” Cristina says. “We talk to companies in the US and they have the same problems managing SaaS as they do in the UK and Europe.”

The US is critical to SaaS companies

Cristina didn’t expect to come to the US so quickly, though she knew that ultimately Cledara would need to land on American shores. The United States is, after all, the biggest market for Saas. The US also has a lot of startups and scale-ups, not to mention technology companies, and these are the types of companies Cledara thinks can benefit the most from its product. 

 “You have to be there if you want to own big ideas,” Cristina claims. “It’s a place where things happen.” 

The secret to getting things done: Founder’s focus

Cledara gains their US address after witnessing several other European companies fail to “crack America.” Despite veritable armies of transplants, years of market research, and millions of dollars spent, those fintechs didn’t survive. 

Cledara learned several lessons from those failures, especially the importance of “founder’s focus” — the fact that whatever the founder chooses to fixate upon gets done. In fact, Brad van Leeuwen, Cristina’s co-founder and COO, jokingly refers to it as “the eye of Sauron.”

“The bigger you are, the more layers there are in the organization. You don’t have the ultimate decision-maker involved in the day-to-day, so you can’t move quickly,” Cristina explains. “That brings more complexity to it all. That takes longer and more people.”

Why Bond? The team and the technology

Cristina chose to partner with Bond because of the team’s expertise and the way Bond’s technology is being built. She gushes, “It’s amazing!” We aren’t here to argue.

“Bond has been super supportive at helping us launch without even being able to come to the US in person,” she said. “That’s really the key — being able to have two parties who want to make it happen where decisions are made quickly, where iteration is fast, and where there is focus.”

“From day one we were very positively surprised about the quality of the people you have on the team,” Cristina continues. “They have been very, very supportive and helped us navigate the differences between the two markets.”

She went on to explain how being the first company to use Bond’s Embedded Credit platform was a huge plus for Cledara. “We like to be first. We were very interested in bringing a company from overseas to the US with your platform. That’s massive and we want to be part of that journey.”

You can listen to Interchange on the Bond website, Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast platform.