What is it like to work for one of the fastest growing Estonian startups?

Kreet Prants, the verification operations lead at Veriff, the Estonian startup of the year, gives an overview of the fast-growing company’s goals, working culture and the kind of people it is looking for to join its team.

Veriff is one of the fastest growing startups in Estonia, providing web and mobile identity verification solutions that help reduce fraud and meet “Know Your Customer” (KYC) requirements, and offering innovative online identity verification solutions to other companies. I go investigating in its comfortable and bright office right in the middle of the Tallinn business district. I am greeted by Kreet Prants, the verification operations lead, to tell me more about Veriff, its goals, company culture and the kind of people it is looking for to join its team.

Kreet, could you tell a bit more about yourself. What is your background and why did you decide to join Veriff?

I have previously worked at TransferWise, also as verification operations lead, and this was where I got to know and understand the processes and complexities of verification better. I spent altogether four years at TransferWise and felt I wanted to put all the things that I learned during that time to good use somewhere else as well. Veriff so far has proven that this is the environment where I can do that and develop my skills.

The field of verification – making sure people’s documents are valid – is the same here, but the goals are different. Veriff has a very clear goal in mind: we want to make sure people are able to access the services they need to wherever and whenever. At the same time, we aim to give our client companies the sense of security they need to have to allow their customers to use their services. It is a very clear and strong goal and the whole company is coming together to make that happen. We are moving very fast towards making it a reality and it is very exciting to be here.

How would you describe the ideal candidate for the position of a verification specialist? 

First and foremost, we are looking for people who find verification really interesting. This can be for very different reasons, because the people in our team also have very different backgrounds and majority of them have not worked in this field before.

All of our team members work towards solving this puzzle together: we are figuring out very complex problems by breaking them down to smaller pieces and solving them one by one to get people verified safely and securely. We do not compromise on the security aspect.

So, the ideal candidate is enthusiastic about verification and understands the problems we are solving with our product. They should feel motivated by the opportunity to help other people – because this is what it’s all about. It is not only about helping the clients who want to get verified, but also helping your teammates and helping the companies who are using our service. The general attitude of helpfulness, paying attention to what is happening around you and being ready to pitch in when it is needed, is crucial.

The team is very diverse, and you all seem to be very open-minded.

Yes, the team is very diverse, and it is not a goal on its own, it has simply happened. I like it a lot as it shows that it does not matter what your background is or where you are coming from – if you share our common goals and characteristics, then you should fit right in very fast. It is all about the attitude!

We currently have people from 10 different nationalities – and this number might be outdated very soon already. In our team, it is still 50/50 – half of the people are local and the other half from outside of Estonia.

How is the work organised daily?

Our service runs 24/7, which means we are available around the clock, including weekends and public holidays. All the teams also must have this availability – this generally means we work in shifts. The shifts change in time, depending where customers need us the most. As our team grows, there is also more flexibility in scheduling. We do all the planning in advance to make sure the people can arrange their lives accordingly and have plenty of free time to spend outside of work.

The majority of our day focuses on actual reviews of different documents, analysing the facematching, looking at the bigger picture of the data we have gathered and making decisions based on this data – to understand if it makes sense, if there is a problem, and marking down these decisions so that companies can use it in order to make their own decisions.

We don’t expect people to come in and already know all of this by heart; we have different resources, reference materials and databases and we have a full training to get people up to speed. Eventually it just comes down to this personal interest in verification again – you should have this goal in mind that the world is not uniform, people come from very different countries and backgrounds – and use different documents. Access to different technical solutions is not the same everywhere, but we still want to give everyone an option to use our service. This is what our verification team is working on every day – putting all the knowledge we receive from doing the checks back into product development.

What kind of different teams you have?

We have one big verification team, but within it we also have smaller teams who are moving towards focusing on their specific areas of support, so that they can bring additional expertise – for example about different countries, specific document types and so on.

In general, we are working together, we are sharing different responsibilities, we are always flexible when helping each other out, but we are also taking on specific team focuses, so we can research some topics in depth.

What are the possibilities for growth and development within the company? How do you motivate people? 

In verification, there are a few parallel threads that are very relevant. One of the first things you can develop is to become an expert at what you are doing – really advancing your knowledge of different regions and countries as well as different document types. This knowledge will help you not only in Veriff, but also in different areas of compliance in many other companies as well.

Another similar thread has to do with anti-fraud where you can build on your knowledge of documentation and country-specific details and add general understanding about how our product works and what are the different checks we can build into the system, identifying the patterns how fraudsters are trying to bypass the checks.

We are always helping our customers, so there is always an option to focus more on the customer support aspect. Helping the businesses is somewhat similar to account management where you really have to get to know a specific customer very well. We have a handful of customers that we know in detail, so in many cases you can help them before they even come to you with an issue or a question, because you understand where they come from and where they might need some clarification.

On a wider scheme on things, there are also other teams in Veriff besides verification – you can always decide where your skills shine and where you feel you can benefit the most, so there are always opportunities in other teams as well.

It goes without saying that there is always the possibility to become a team lead. We are, for example, organising leadership skills bootcamps, for people who have not necessarily been in a leading role in the past, but feel like they want to develop their skills for the future. This is meant for people regardless of their roles, so that people feel confident when they take on this extra responsibility.

What motivates you and the team most about working at Veriff?

For me personally, I always want to see the impact of my work and feel it is meaningful and that again comes down to the goal that we are working towards.

When I have a very big, clear and relatable goal for myself and within the company, then this is a big driver for me. I know that by doing what I do, I can help a lot of people now and in the future with real problems – and this will help them save time, money and have a better life overall. Personal impact is very important.

Another crucial point to go along with it is that besides my personal impact, I can also feel that the whole team feels the same and is doing this together, so that I am not the only person responsible for everything. Everyone is hands-on-deck, if something needs to be fixed then the whole company comes together to solve that problem. This feeling of people having your back, helping and supporting you when you need it – especially in an environment where the tempo is fast and the goals we set for ourselves are high, is very reassuring.

What about other benefits – do you have team events and get-togethers?

We are currently trying out a lot of new things – as right now, our growth pace has become faster. Initially, we just had different team events and company events, but now we are adding all kinds of different formats in-between, so that even in smaller groups people can find time to come together and share ideas, learn together, different workshops, leadership bootcamp sessions, lunch sessions to learn from other team. We are constantly adding different formats where people can come together and learn from each other as well as get to know each other better.

Veriff also participated in project Career Hunt that was organised by Work in Estonia in order to attract more talents from other countries as well. How do you support and help people in the process of moving to Estonia and settling here? 

First, because our team already is very international, we have gathered first-hand experience about the challenges and difficulties of helping people to move to Estonia. Veriff, of course, helps with documentation, which is quite easy for Estonian startup new joiners. The new joiner simply has to take this leap of faith and decide they would like to come to Estonia themselves, but from that point on we will definitely help them get settled and our team members always make an effort to help everyone feel at home.

Can you give some insight or hints about the salary as well?

It is important that people understand that we really value the effort needed for night shifts, as it might affect your personal life and needs some extra adjustment – this we compensate with additional premium. In general, our salaries definitely match the complexity of the work – and overall, we are investing in the general working environment as well. Veriff employees have sports benefits compensations, healthy food and snacks in the office, they are able to take part in all kinds of different events to help them unwind as well.

What is the bigger picture for Veriff and where do you see the company is going and growing in the future?

We have very ambitious goals. I cannot give all of them away right away, but what we are working towards is figuring out how to give the opportunity of verification for people all around the world. In some countries, things are straightforward, and the documents are issued in a safe and secure way by the government. Many governments, however, are maybe not putting as much effort into security measures. Taking all of this into consideration and figuring out what are the alternatives we can bring to the table, so that companies feel that they can trust our checks and allow the people to get access to the necessary services.

Our clients still need to feel it is an effortless process which only takes a minute in their daily lives, it is easy to understand and fast. The bigger goal is to reach people in all of the countries and allow them to get access to different services they might need.

Currently Veriff service is already available all around the world, although the physical office is based only in Tallinn.This will also change, and we are planning to expand to other locations in the future.

Any last piece of advice?

I would like to invite people to consider joining Veriff (or any other company) based on what the real goal of this company is – and if it resonates with them. You can find different opportunities to grow and develop almost everywhere, and the salary usually will match the effort that you are putting into your work, but it all starts with the goal of the company. Is it something you really care about? Is it something you want to help come to life? If yes, then let yourself be heard!

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Cover: Verification operations lead Kreet Prants (in the middle with the white shirt) with her team.