How did you get into the industry? As many entrepreneurs’ stories go, I found the fintech industry by accident. I found a problem I wanted to solve when I was making a purchase at a store. At the time geolocation based check-in apps like Foursquare were popular. I regularly used them, but didn’t like the friction associated with pulling out my phone, searching for a venue, and then checking in I wanted to create a platform that would automate the check-in process at a venue when I swiped my card and made a purchase. Growing up, I was one of those kids who asked a lot of questions. I liked to understand how things work, and as I got older I began to learn about emerging technology solutions, trends and their application to respective industries. I’ve generally found that once you understand the interworking’s of something, you can see opportunities that others don’t. And, the more I learned, the more I realized I could apply these new technology solutions to traditional products currently in the market. As it turned out, my check-in idea was pretty complicated because of how the payments flow works, but as I looked into it, I became fascinated by the banking and payments industry because of the potential for much-needed innovation. Soon after this revelation, by chance I met my co-founders and we started Urban FT, which set out to be a world-class provider of digital banking solutions. After 5+ years we’re making good progress.
Career Advice? The first thing I tell anyone entering any industry is to never stop learning. Understanding how your industry works is so important. It allows you to put things together that others can’t, and understand why processes are the way they are. This can only be accomplished through effort. Read articles, blogs and books. Talk to people. Listen to podcasts. Watch presentations. It’s easy to coast and be mediocre, but to truly excel you need to have an in-depth understanding. Everyone is selling and trying to position himself, his solution or company in a way that makes it sound amazing. By actually understanding how things function, you can ask smart questions that reveal the truth. The second is perseverance. Everyone will tell you why your solution isn’t a good fit, why it won’t work or how it isn’t what he needs. Chances are those people have already developed opinions long before they met you and are operating solely on their personal experiences and assumptions. So what can you do? Poke and prod until you find a way to prove their unspoken assumptions wrong and position you and your solution in a way that gets the results you want. Achieving success isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and the way you get there is by putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t give up and keep moving forward. Finally, have fun. Be positive and optimistic. Enjoy the journey no matter how rough it can be. If you put yourself out there, it will be more rewarding than you expected, and in ways you never thought. Choose to be great.