The Esketit Experience: Jakub Krejci
Today we continue the Esketit Experience video series. Usually, we, as platform managers, are interviewed by different bloggers and publishers. Today we will continue to do the opposite. We will talk to one of our investors, who at the same time is also one of our biggest affiliate partners.
He has his own YouTube channel and blog where he educates people about P2P. So today, our guest is Jakub Krejci, the leader of the P2P Empire community. We’ll talk about investing, the P2P world, and everything around it.
Vitālijs: So hello Jakub, it is nice to see you again.
Jakub: Thanks for having me.
V: So, let’s start with a simple question. Who are you?
J: Yeah. So as you introduced me already, my name is Jakub Krejci. I’m the founder of P2PEmpire.com, which is one of the very few independent P2P lending comparison sites where you can read all sorts of reviews about P2P platforms and where you can read the latest developments. And also, watch interviews with a lot of stakeholders in the P2P industry and get more educated, so you can make more educated investment decisions.
V: And that project is the only thing that you do for a living, or is there anything more on top of that?
J: Yes. So because we have quite a sizable team already, I don’t have much time to dedicate to other projects. So yes, p2p is my main focus these days.
V: OK, sounds good. And how did you start your P2P journey and how long time you are already in P2P?
J: Yeah, so I started in 2017. Back then, I joined one of the largest P2P lending marketplaces where again some of my first experience with P2P loans and I’ve been investing for about two, two-and-a-half years. I got some experience, but I was really a passive investor and I didn’t really pay too much attention to the latest developments which had a negative impact on my portfolio at some point. And I was looking on the Internet for more critical information which is not so basic and I couldn’t find anything, and nobody was providing any sort of information that would help me improve my portfolio performance in the long run. And I was waiting and waiting and nothing happened. And then at some point, I was like, “Oh well, let’s just create a place for investors where they can get authentic information and clear all that noise that’s out there and try to make a more educated decision when it comes to investing in loans.”
V: And have you previously had any publisher experience or any experience in making videos?
J: So yeah, publisher experience, yes, in a sort. I helped to build a finance website in the past. In terms of YouTube production, I had no experience and it was terrible in the beginning. I can’t remember the first videos I ever recorded. It took me like 8 hours to record a 10-minute clip and then I was editing myself as well, which took another 8 hours and the production quality was just terrible. But yeah, I kept doing it, and yeah, now it’s much faster. We have an editor on the team, so the viewers of our YouTube channel can actually get some high-quality production and enjoy the content as well. So yeah, a lot of things have kind of evolved over time.
V: Yeah, very interesting experience and also funny at the same time. Let’s talk about Esketit. But so, how did you get to know about Esketit?
J: Yeah, so I’ve thought about this question today in the morning and I couldn’t really, could not really remember. I think someone from our community actually brought it up, perhaps on YouTube or via e-mail. And typically, we get a lot of emails from various platforms all the time. And personally, I’m like, I don’t care, you are not established, I don’t have time to spend and investigate. And do some good agents, et cetera. But yeah, I think the first mention of Esketit was definitely from someone in the community.
V: Hmm. Yeah. And I can remind you that I was also one of those people who were bombing you as well.
J: Maybe it was some kind of anonymous account on YouTube. Just spread the viewers get it right.
V: I was the one who was just emailing, emailing your assistants. I remember how hard it was initially to get through to you.
J: It’s much harder now. So you got lucky, I guess.
V: Yeah, I’m happy about that. And then after you got to know about Esketit, why did you choose it? And why Esketit? Why do you like it?
J: That’s a good question. I think I did not invest in Esketit before actually visiting you and the team in Riga. There are a lot of reasons for it, but I think three major points which kind of persuaded me to invest on Esketit: First was our talk at the Creamfinance headquarters with the person who is responsible for investor relations, where we discussed the approach of Creamfinance, one of the largest lenders on it comes to risk management and control risks.
And I got answers to all the questions, even questions that I did not expect a direct answer to, which I was quite surprised. So that made a good impression. Outside of that. So that was like the first reason probably why I started investing, and then I had a really good talk with the Chief Risk Officer who’s responsible for “Money for Finance”. And I think it was one of the most educative talks I’ve had with someone who is really experienced in risk management. So that was like kind of the second point which led me to increase my investment and overall my impression, and also from the visit and throughout the last few months and the communication I had with you or anybody from the management, I realized that the founders are investing a lot of money into people and hiring professionals in every position, which is not always the case with people and platforms. So this is also something that appealed to me, and at the end of the day, it’s all about people running those companies because, at the end of the day, they are the ones making the decisions which impact the risk of investors’ investments. So I think those three main points persuaded me to invest.
V: From my side, I also only confirm that the conversation with that is that they also checked, checked out was very interesting, and definitely I suggest so any investor who is really interested in how things are being done in Jordan by us. So to watch that video, I think it was something a bit less than an hour long, right? And yeah, it was full of very good insights for investors. OK. And then I will ask you a bit opposite question about Esketit. So what do you not like?
J: On your platform specifically, right? Well, I think you know the interest can always be higher. Investors want to earn, earn decent interest, especially in the current market conditions where inflation is quite high. In Europe, you know, you can do that by listing higher-interest loans, but as the supply of loans is currently lower than the demand, it’s natural that you’re decreasing it. Another aspect could be the improvements in the loyalty bonus, but other than that, I quite like the platform. It’s quite simple. I really appreciate that you are not a multi-lender platform where you get outside lenders and become like a P2P marketplace – that’s not my favorite platform type, I would say, in the industry, but yeah, that’s I think that’s it.
V: OK. And yeah, if you are talking about a bit broader perspective in terms of all the investments that you do, what is not only P2P-related, So what other investments do you do? Yeah, outside P2P?
J: Outside P2P, I do some real estate, and I do business. So P2P Empire now has seven people working on the project, and we also have some freelancers helping out with certain tasks. So yeah, it’s quite high, quite a big investment for me already. So I’m focusing on that to provide the maximum value for our readers and people who are watching our videos. So that’s, I would say that the biggest asset class.
V: OK, sounds interesting, and if we are thinking about all your investment experience, you mentioned that you started P2P in 2017, maybe you have also done something before. You also mentioned in your P2P experience, you have had some failures. What failures, in general, have you had in all the investor experiences that you want to mention to our investors to also get some knowledge and some learnings out of that?
J: Yeah, like you already mentioned, it’s always important to learn from mistakes. So any negative experience that I ever had with any investments for this matter, I take as an opportunity to improve and learn and analyze the event and what has happened. And it’s not always been like that, but in recent years especially, I developed a more critical mindset and critical thinking when it comes to investments and, yeah, failures in terms of lost capital. And in the P2P learning experience, I lost some money on a platform that was a Ponzi scheme. I think it was an Estonian platform that is no longer operating. They were listing high-yielding business loans, which was a good example of what not to do. Other than that, I’ve had no major, big, big losses.
They can’t think of anything specific, but the P2P space is quite risky. And one of the things to really pay attention to is the latest developments not just on the platform but also in the markets where those loaner generators are issuing loans. So I think this is one of the things that people should pay more attention to. But even if investors are losing money in any type of investment, it’s important to analyze the situation and try not to do it in the future or decrease the chances of happening again. So I look at them as a learning opportunities. I think if you’re just a beginner starting out with investing in any type of asset class, you should have some learning money aside where you just test certain investments and see how it fits for you, and how you can cope with it emotionally as well because I feel like sometimes investors are quite emotionally connected to their money and they check that account every day – you know how it’s developing, “Ohh, stocks are up or stocks are down. Bitcoin it’s minus 50% today.” Yeah, so I think that there’s one of the lessons people should first, learn and then with time and experience increase the investment also.
V: Yeah, but from what I have heard that as you have only had one platform where you lost some money due to the platform mainly being like a Ponzi scheme your approach to checking the platforms works quite well.
J: Yeah. And there was also Groupeer, but I had, I think, just €100, so that’s nothing major. It’s really the beginning of just seeing how it works. But yeah, it didn’t work very shortly afterward. I think that before I started P2P and in the first months I had very different thinking and different attitude towards P2P investments. And if you are a passive investor who checks their account once a month and doesn’t spend too much time on anything else, you know that your knowledge is going to be quite limited, and at some point, eventually you might face some losses because the industry is developing so fast and there are so many risk factors to consider. So I think because of three years of constantly being in touch with the management of various companies and seeing how platforms evolved and how they behave towards investors, I think that really helped me to better understand the industry as a whole and also better evaluate my positions these days, especially on platforms where my exposure is bigger.
V: Yeah, yeah, sounds interesting. My next question is, many of your listeners who watch your videos know it already, but many of our investors don’t follow your videos yet. So can you share with us how much of your investable funds, and I mean that in percentages of all the funds that you invest, you allocate to different asset classes how?
J: So I checked it yesterday, and for P2P loans specifically like hard funding planning platforms, it’s about 17% now, and it’s a bit more – around 20% – in real estate and the rest is business. So, of course, business and cash. So even the business is split – we have some run rates that we need to operate on, and so generally, I try to keep the cash buffer low because it’s just losing value on the account. So I try to invest where I can where I think there’s a good risk-reward ratio, yeah.
V: And in P2P, it’s 17%?
J: Yes, 17%.
V: Yeah. So because I would say 70% would be quite a risky exposure for the funds allocated even though I know some investors who do something like that.
J: Yeah, I mean the other thing you investors that leverage it, right, I mean that’s a whole different level. You are leveraging already leveraged products. So, 70% of investors like to ask other people how much your exposure is here and there. I think generally everybody should find their own personal exposure limits to certain asset classes based on their knowledge. And there is a risk assessment in that specific asset class. So the benefit of P2P learning is that, generally speaking, you have quite a high liquidity, and you can easily plan the returns right? If the platform is not doing some shady stuff. But it comes with experience, I guess.
V: Yeah, completely agree. Now I also wanted to talk a bit more about your readers and maybe what they think about Esketit. So my first question is, what do your readers think about Esketit? Are there any other insights that were not mentioned by you already that would be worth mentioning, so our investors could also consider those things?
J: Well, I cannot talk for all investors, obviously, but we haven’t had any negative feedback at all. If there were some negative sentiments, we would be quickly informed about it. Actually our communities are quite engaged on our YouTube channel or even sending us emails pointing out red flags from various platforms, and Esketit is not part of it so far. So I hope it remains like that.
V: And some part of your content is also about crypto investments, and as we also know Esketit offers a possibility to deposit crypto stablecoins to later convert them and invest in loans. So what do you think about this functionality, and what may your readers think about that?
J: The functionality has a lot of potential because it allows you to also onboard investors from outside of Europe that would like to be part of Esketit and earn passive income. Investors who are using this functionality need to, however, be cautious about risk factors: One is the stablecoin risk, and the other is the fixed risk, right, because all the stablecoins are in the US right back to U.S. dollars, you are converting them into euro, there is obviously a fluctuation in that. So I think it’s a really good feature that sets Esketit apart from some of the competitors. And for those interested in earning yield on stablecoins, I think it’s one of the few legitimate options these days from a centralized platform perspective.
V: By the way, have you heard about this euro stable coin that now is being also introduced this year OC, because we also kind of following its development of it, but it seems that it’s it hasn’t yet gained quite an important market.
J: I’m familiar with the euro stablecoins issued by Status, which is a company based in Malta. I don’t know if it’s the same that you’re talking about.
V: There is also the stablecoin from Circle, I think is the name of the company. They are also issuing USDC and they have also decided to issue.
J: Yeah, I haven’t really researched it, I just got the information from the side, so I can give you an elaborate opinion on that.
V: We are following the development, but obviously there is no big traction for it for now, but maybe it will change, and then if it would be more used, then this is something that we would also be definitely offering, and then in a situation, if we would offer that then there would be no currency fluctuation risk.
J: I mean, generally, I think stablecoins could be really useful for people. Of course, if the reserves backing those stablecoins are regularly audited and are transparent for people to review… From Tether, the transparency is quite limited. So I mean, that’s the, I guess, the stablecoin risk that investors need to be aware of.
V: For sure. And It would also be interesting to ask what your readers think about P2P in general. If we are not talking about Esketit only but about the whole industry, what interesting insights can you share with Esketit investors?
J: I think there are a lot of readers or a lot of investors who are using P2P lending to fight inflation which is quite high in Europe these days and also to diversify the risk across various asset classes. So I think they know the benefits of P2P lending. I think especially our readers, are a bit more educated in that sense and know more about management as well and how everything works. But also I think that at least all readers or viewers are also very much aware of the risks that can potentially materialize. We have a lot of content on risk management already. We’ve done tons of interviews with various experts in this field. So there is definitely a lot of content that can be used mostly for free to learn more about this asset class.
V: And what do you and your readers think about the P2P future as such?
J: I don’t know what my readers think about the future. I’m really not someone who likes to give predictions because even when I read any predictions on the Internet, it’s like… just nonsense, you know. But, personally, from what I’ve seen in recent months, I think that in the future, there is going to be a bit of a bigger gap between the top players and less good platforms, let’s say. I can definitely say who is investing a lot of resources into making the platform better, and protecting investors’ assets and I can also see platforms trying to kind of trick the investors – be it through not obeying terms and conditions or increasing the number of loan extensions, et cetera. So, I think there’s going to be a shift in the industry. That’s at least in the upcoming months. And generally, I think that investors should pay even more attention to the latest developments of particular platforms; our newsfeed is a good tool for that. And also follow up on all the emails that platforms send out and be quite critical and also like think about those critical arguments against certain platforms and how it can impact investors portfolio. You know, that should definitely be something to even pay more attention to in 2023. As you know, we are facing a recession in Europe which is already showing some negative performance of certain lenders in the industry.
V: OK. And then, and the last question from my side to finalize this conversation. So what is your advice for Esketit investors?
J: I think, I think it’s the same regardless if you’re investing on Esketit or any other platform, just be on top of your investment. Be well informed, that’s probably my top suggestion or advice because, you know, after you have done your initial research and got some experience, it’s all about being updated on the recent developments, you know, and make sure that the liquidity is as expected. Do regular withdrawals, even in small amounts, to see that everything works and just monitor investment. I think monitoring is such an undervalued aspect of this industry, especially, you know, because a lot of people promote P2P as a passive income, and it is to a certain extent. But you should always keep an eye on your investment; PTP lending is no exception.
V: OK. Thank you, Jakub. I think it was a very insightful conversation, and our investors will have a lot of good knowledge to take from this also, maybe you will get some new followers to your channel. Thank you.
J: Thanks, Vitālijs.