Feed drop time! We’re on a break from the show as we prepare for v5 of SquadCast and work on revamping the SquadCast podcast. So, we’re bringing you carefully curated feed drops from some of our favorite SquadCasters.
This week, meet Adriana Flores-Ragade, an advisor to SquadCast.fm. In this episode, Adriana interviews Richie Serna.
From Adriana’s website
We interviewed Richie Serna in 2018 when Finix was still in its early stages with 4 employees. Two years later, Richie and Sean Donovan have led Finix through a series of successful venture funding rounds and have scaled their impact. We talk with Richie about his journey in raising capital and scaling, advice for underestimated founders and VCs, life hacks, and the future of fintech.
Why we chose this episode
We really admire Adriana’s podcast and her mission to empower Latinx voices on Latinx America. Also, as startup founders ourselves, we found this story really inspiring!
Also in this episode
- A pre-roll from Unfiltered Limin’ with BLT
- Get in touch with us on social media
- Written and produced by Arielle Nissenblatt
- Mixed and designed by Vince Moreno Jr.
- Artwork and logos by Alex Whedbee
- Hosted by Zach Moreno and Rock Felder
Unfiltered Limin’ w/ BLT Host: Hi! Before we get to this week’s episode of Between Two Mics, we want to tell you about another show we know you’re going to love.
Unfiltered Limin’ w/ BLT Host: And it’s recorded on Squadcast. Check out our podcast, Unfiltered Limin` w/ BLT. It’s all about Caribbean culture versus American culture.
Unfiltered Limin’ w/ BLT Host: You can find it on your favorite podcast platforms like iHeartRadio, iTunes, Spotify, and the list goes on. All right, let’s get to Between Two Mics.
ZACHARIAH MORENO: Hey, Between Two Micers. Zach and Rock here, and welcome to the show.
ROCKWELL FELDER: We’re currently on a break from the podcast, but while we’re away, we’re still dropping episodes from some of our favorite shows.
ZACH: In a moment, we’ll hit play on one of those feed drops. We chose these podcast drops very carefully, and we hope you’ll stay tuned to enjoy them.
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ZACH: While we’re away from Between Two Mics, we’re working on getting v5 of Squadcast ready for all of you. We’re also working on revamping this podcast. If you have any suggestions or ideas, we’re very available on social media, just search for Squadcast FM on all platforms.
ROCK: Thanks for tuning in and being a part of the Squadcast story. Enjoy this feed drop.
ZACH: Hello everyone, this is Zach, the co-founder and CEO of Squadcast. And in today’s episode, we’re excited for another feed rop. But this time from our distinguished advisor, mentor, and friend Adriana Flores-Ragade, or as I like to call her AFR. And AFR is the host of a podcast called Latinx America, where she interviews founders and people doing incredible things from Latinx backgrounds. And in this interview, she talks with Richie Serna on the topic of launching a FinTech startup. And this was one of the interviews that Rock and our team I really enjoyed. And thank you very much to Adriana for allowing us to share this with you, our audience today. And thank you everybody as always for listening to the show. Catch you later.
ADRIANA FLORES-RAGADE: You’re listening to Latinx America, a podcast focused on highlighting catalysts who are using leveraging for creating technology to help our community achieve more. With your host Adriana Flores-Ragade. Thanks for joining us again for our 50th episode. During this episode, our guests Richie Serna will share insights about the evolving financial technologies space.
ADRIANA: According to a report released by Deloitte titled FinTech By the Numbers, fintech’s and marketplace lending and payments have been around for about 20 years. However, in the past decade, we have seen many traditional financial services companies increasing their own investments and efforts to stay up to speed with new FinTech technology disruptors. Richie Serna is a co-founder of one of those up-and-coming disruptors. Prior to founding Phoenix Payments, Richie graduated with honors from Harvard University and began his career in management consulting for Booz & Company, a financial services group. He later moved to San Francisco where he learned to code and joined Balanced Payments, the first payments API for marketplaces, as a software engineer. His story is a good example of how the determination, perseverance, and willingness to work hard to make this idea a reality has radically changed his professional path.
Richie, thanks for being with us today. Um, can we start by learning about your personal journey into tech?
RICHIE SERNA: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, so I’m originally from Southern California. Um, born and raised in Santa Ana. Uh, both of my parents are Mexican immigrants who came from Zacatecas. Uh, dad is a bus driver. Uh, my mom works as a translator. Uh, and ended up going and studying political science in college, um, attended Harvard University, which, uh, was very excited to be the first in my family to go to college and started off, uh, as a management consulting at a company called Booz & Company where we were advising various financial institutions, credit card companies, uh, on various strategic matters. So that’s where I first started to kind of get into the FinTech space. Um, when I started looking and thinking about what my next steps were, I was considering private equity. I was considering venture capital and really got interested in sort of the startup bug. Uh, so I started to speaking with a few of my friends who were in venture capital, telling them about a few of the ideas that I had, and they all thought they were really interesting. Uh, but I didn’t have a few things. Didn’t have, um, uh, the coding skills that would be necessary. I wasn’t an engineer. My parents weren’t rich enough to fund my company or my ideas. And then lastly, I hadn’t worked at a rocketship startup in the past. And so when I started thinking about that, I realized I couldn’t really change my parents’ background or their financial status. It couldn’t change having worked at a rocketship startup. And so what I could do was go out and learn software engineering. So this was back in 2012, 2013. I ended up moving to San Francisco, uh, and joining one of the dev boot camps and teaching myself how to do software engineering.
ADRIANA: So when you said you tried to learn, um, coding skills or tech skills, can you tell us a little bit about what you did to get that learning that you needed to launch your venture?
RICHIE: Yeah, absolutely. So first, uh, I guess I had done a little bit of software engineering back when I was, uh, in middle school. Um, we could have a course. It was for a quarter-long, where they would teach us how to do, uh, just static pages. Right? HTML pages became really obsessed with it at that time. Uh, but there wasn’t any more advanced courses, uh, when I got to the next semester. So that’s kind of where my education ended. When I got to college, I was kind of discouraged. In that I had a number of people who told me that, you know, the people who are doing computer science were those who have been coding since a young age, so I decided not to do it then. Um, and when I came out to San Francisco, I actually read a TechCrunch article that was out. This is back in 2012 or so. And it was talking about the development of these tech dev boot camps. Where you could go there, nine to 12 week intensive course and learn software engineering. So I started teaching myself and realized that I needed a more immersive, uh, program and then decided to come out and participate in dev boot camp, which was the original developer bootcamp that was based here out of San Francisco. So did that. And, uh, after I completed my course, uh, started looking around for various jobs and opportunities, and basically begged and pled uh, to a company called Balanced Payments, uh, which was basically the first payments API for marketplaces. Competitor with Stripe. Uh, and, uh, begged and pled to the, uh, the CTO and the co-founders of the company to bring me on and tell them that I would basically, uh, work for food and, uh, started there for about six months, as a contractor, until they finally gave me a full-time offer. So basically told them that, you know, I’d be the first one in, last one out of the office. And they did that and prove myself. And they were gracious enough to give me a full-time offer. I ended up being an engineer there for two years and then once, uh, Balanced exited, decided to start Finix. Which is the kind of startup that I run.
ADRIANA: Well, that’s powerful. So you had already graduated from college and you were already in the workforce and it was a career shift that you did. So, and did you begin learning the skills that you needed to move into the tech world and to follow your, um, your dream of starting your own venture. You talk about what you’re doing with your company. Can you first start by defining what FinTech is? And can you also share some insights in terms of diversity in this field?
RICHIE: Yeah, absolutely. So FinTech is a very broad term. I think today it really encompasses any sort of technology that’s involved with fund movements, so movement of money, um, or anything that was traditionally in this bank-the space that banks would play in. So you’re seeing, personally for Finix, we’re in the payment space. Right. So think about any time there’s an e-commerce transaction. Anytime funds are moving between banks. That’s really what we play in. Uh, there’s also people who are in the wealth management space. So there’s robo, uh, platforms that will automate, um, basically wealth management, uh, for you. There are companies that are really trying to revolutionize, uh, banks and really, um, democratize all of the data that was previously not accessible. Companies like Plaid, uh, who are really making it easy to access your personal banking data. Um, you-you’re seeing even new age banks that are starting to pop up. Companies like Chime, uh, who are making it very easy to have a much preferable consumer banking experience. So there’s a very, very broad set. And I think that’s one of the things that makes it very challenging, uh, for investors as well as people to get to penetrate into the FinTech market, uh, because each one of those has its own regulatory burdens, and its own unique domain expertise that’s necessary to kind of understand how that ecosystem works. I think the second part of your question was around diversity in the industry. Is that right?
RICHIE: Uh, I mean, I think the reality is that there’s still needs to be a much stronger push for diversity across all of Silicon Valley. Um, it’s very true, uh, in the FinTech space as well. Um, often I go to a lot of the, the, the payment conferences, the FinTech conferences. There isn’t a lot of diversity out there. Um, you’re starting to see more innovation though, that’s coming from Latin America, a lot of startups that are starting to pop up in some of these more local ecosystems. But I think, you know, there’s a few of the founders that you start to see at a lot of the same events, but, um, our company, personally, uh, has a very strong mission to, to increase diversity. So we’re a team right now of 18, 10 of which are engineers. And half of our engineers are engineers of color. So we actually have, um, three engineers that are of Latino background, um, two who are Mexican and one who’s Puerto Rican, uh. And then another individual who’s of Mexican descent as well on the business development team. We’re not necessarily focusing on the Latin American market. Um, but it’s something that, you know, we take as a very large sense of pride is increasing the diversity in this space as well.
ADRIANA: So your company is really changing the narrative for communities of color. Can you talk about your company, and what you do and what issues your company’s trying to solve?
RICHIE: Yes, absolutely. So Finix Payments, what we basically do is provide software to banks, financial institutions, payment processors, to allow them to pay out funds in real time to any existing debit card or credit card around the world. So if you are familiar with sort of the way that money moves between banks. A perfect example is the way, uh, that typically people get paid out via direct deposit, right? So you work for two weeks, you get paid out after you give some-your company a voided check, that’s called a direct deposit. And that works on the ACH network, which is basically the network that moves money between banks. That’s a very antiquated technology. It was built in the 1970s, uh, and basically works on a batch process. So basically if I submit, uh, an ACH request to send money to you, it would take anywhere between two to three business days for those funds to work, uh, to get submitted. So if you’ve ever used Venmo to try and send money to your friends, and you know, you try to pull money out of your Venmo wallet, it’ll actually take you a few days to actually get that money and have it usable. So, what we’ve basically done is repurposed, uh, their credit card and debit card networks to be able to send money to you in real time, 365, 7 days out of the week. So there are no restrictions, right? All we need is the 16 digit code on the front of your debit card, and we can send that money to you instantly. And so when we talk about sort of a real life use case, the perfect use case is, um, the ride sharing economy, right? Imagine you’re an Uber driver and, you know, you get paid out once every Wednesday via ACH direct deposit. Um, you’re waiting for those funds. Uh, and usually you’re riding in the gig economy because you have a bill to pay, cell phone, rent. Um, something that’s coming up and is very urgent. What you want to be able to do is drive on a Saturday night to get those funds, and pay off your bill. Now, with this technology, any Uber driver, Lyft driver can actually go into the app, finish their shift on that Saturday night, hit a button, and that money is readily available for them to go and use right away or take and withdraw from the, from the ATM. So as you can kind of think about it, we’re really increasing the liquidity for people. Um, so they don’t have to wait for the money that’s already there. And so it’s not just for Uber drivers, right. You’re seeing this in insurance claims space, right? Where a hurricane hits somewhere, um, in Florida. And you have to wait for the funds to clear over ACH, which will take you two or three days. Now they can instantly send those, those funds to someone who’s in need. Think about this whole predatory landscape of, um, check cashing businesses. Think about, um, just a whole world, you know, that impact of, of liquidity, of being able to move funds has a very large impact on people who don’t have that kind of cash flows. And don’t have those kind of cash reserves. People who are working check to check. So that’s a big part of what we’re really focused on, on empowering and enabling.
ADRIANA: And what prompted you to come up with this solution?
RICHIE: Uh, so when we were working at the previous startup that I was at Balanced Payments, uh, we were providing software for marketplaces, platforms, gig economy, crowdfunders and one of the things that we noticed there was, it’s easy to charge credit cards, right? It’s easy to make purchases, but now to actually get funds and pay out, right? Paying out a crowdfunder, paying out a driver for an app, any sort of submerchant that works with this marketplace, that’s where the big friction is. And that’s just because how dated the legacy banking systems are. And so that’s when we started really thinking about how can we create. A more creative, uh, sort of use case or solution to enable those real time funds. And so that’s when we started working on basically reutilizing the card networks to be able to send money in real time. Um, so it’s been a sort of a personal and, and larger organizational focus for us for a number of years, and, and trying to solve that pain point and understanding that that friction does have an impact on people’s livelihoods.
ADRIANA: I would just think about many low income communities. And even in my, my personal situation with my family, as I was growing up. We were living paycheck to paycheck. So something like this would, would make a difference.
RICHIE: Absolutely. But my mother in particular, uh she’s as I mentioned before, a translator, she works at a small contracting, uh, at, at a contractor that basically hires various, uh, translators. I believe they pay them once a month. Right. And if you think about that and having to wait for a check to then clear from that, from that point. Um, this is just a huge burden. And so I think that’s something that we really want to bring, uh, into the 21st century is our financial institutions, right? The way that we move money. It’s crazy that we’re in the world’s largest economy, and yet it still takes us two to three days for, uh, for us to move money from a bank account to another bank account.
ADRIANA: Seriously. Um, we’re talking about the traditional financial institutions and you’ve mentioned them a few times. How are FinTech startups like yours actually competing or collaborating with them?
RICHIE: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. A few years ago, um, and actually when I was working in management consulting, uh, I was told that, you know, startups in the FinTech space never really do anything, right. They always flare out. I think with, over the last few years, you’ve seen companies like Stripe. You’ve seen, uh, uh, companies in, in every sort of FinTech space that are really starting to revolutionize, um, technology and the way that people consume it. Uh, and banks have not been able to pace with this, right? They have a lot in terms of distribution, but having the engineering firepower to really execute on these more innovative ideas, isn’t something they’ve been able to realize. It’s hard to attract that type of talent and it’s something that we have been able to capitalize on as well. Um, but I think as opposed to us being, uh, or viewing as ourselves as being in direct competition with, you know, banks and larger financial institutions, we’ve viewed it more as a partnership opportunity, right? They have a large, uh, customer base, but they don’t have the technology to be able to enable that, and, and really push forward the, the ecosystem. So that’s why we’ve taken the approach of really partnering with various banks to give these capabilities to all of their end users.
ADRIANA: So they’re your clients?
RICHIE: Yes, in many cases they are.
ADRIANA: Okay. Perfect. Um, how important has it been, um, to have a strong network, like you have, and especially for the success of your company, and what you’ve been able to do so far?
RICHIE: Yeah, I think in, in, in FinTech, in particular, in payments, uh, your networks are, are pretty much everything, right. Um, you’re trying to enter into these very large institutions where there are tens of thousands of people. Trying to navigate that organization to find the right stakeholder, to find the right decision maker, um, trying to convince the entire organization to buy into the vision, into the platform. Those are all difficult things to do. Um, you could spin your wheels for months on a specific deal. And if you don’t know the right people, you know, it might not ever materialize in terms of an actual deal. Um, I think we’ve been very lucky in that myself and my co-founder, uh, have been in the payment space now for a number of years. I’ve been in space now for five or six years, he’s been in the space for 10 years. Um, and those types of relationships that you build, um, are important in building trust with your partners. And also just that time to really, um, establish that relationship. So, um, you know, there’s so many regulatory issues are so many pieces that you need to be able to get through, um, that you do need help, right? It takes a community to be able to understand all of the various, um, implications, all the, the various barriers, and be able to, um, get up to speed on those. Um, has definitely, uh, we we’ve leveraged a lot of assistance from a lot of our previous relationships from our previous companies as well.
ADRIANA: Thanks Richie. So let’s go back to, joining this industry. What, what skill set would you say someone would need to develop to join a FinTech startup? And I know that you mentioned earlier that for your first opportunity, you, you know, you almost begged to be given that opportunity. Right. But, um, that was your entry into this, into this field. What would someone, you know, listening and thinking about joining a FinTech startup, such as yours, what would they need to do? Um, in terms of developing a skillset or transitioning, um, what transferable skills?
RICHIE: Yeah, no, that’s a great question. I think at first starts off with doing your homework, right. There is such a vast ecosystem. There are so many providers, so many companies that are doing different things, but they might sound similar on, uh, on the surface. Uh, and so understanding what part of the FinTech ecosystem really interests you. Um, there are just so many moving pieces even to each FinTech company. Um, the understanding of where you can add value, uh, is something that really will distinguish a candidate when they enter into the market. If they understand the basics of why compliance matters, if they understand who the traditional providers are, and why these new startups are innovative. What are the value propositions? There’s a lot of sort of fluffy marketing out there, but if you reach out to people, you know, work at these companies, asking them to grab a coffee, asking them to, you know, kind of share a little bit more insight into what they do. That’s how you really start picking up sort of those nuggets of information that, that help you grow and really better understand the domain of expertise. And a lot of it is sort of being passionate about it, where, you know, for me, uh, I really like to geek out on this type of stuff. I spend a lot of my nights reading API docs for, you know, um, identity verification APIs. Or things like that. And so it sounds super nerdy and it’s something that that’s very helpful, but whenever I go to no conversation, now I can, you know, Uh, my own thoughts to it. And I think that’s something that really demonstrates to people that, you know, you’re willing to learn. I think the great thing about Silicon Valley in particular is that people are willing to teach you, right. If you want to take the effort, or make the effort, um, to pick up a certain skill set, to understand an industry, people in general will be happy to grab a beer, to grab a drink, or just jump on a phone call to kind of, you know, teach you a little bit about what their world is like.
ADRIANA: Thank you. And thanks for sharing this advice. Um, if someone is actually thinking about launching their own venture, you are a co-founder of your own company, which I think it’s awesome. Um, what advice would you give to them that you wish someone had given you before you set out to launch your own company?
RICHIE: Oh man, that’s a great question. I think one thing is, it’s always going to take longer than you think. You can never go as fast as you want it to go. Right. And especially when you’re in the FinTech space where there’s so many regulatory burdens, things are just slow, right. That doesn’t mean you will have free time, right. You will be working 24/7. I get most, I wake up most days between 5:30 to 6, and I work most nights until midnight or 1. Right. And so. It’s just, it’s something that you just really have to be passionate about and understand that, you know, you’re not going to have that overnight rocketship success. Right? Most of these companies never had that. You, especially for the companies that you heard, that are, you know, big monster successes, they worked and toiled at it for years. And oftentimes it wasn’t their first attempt. Right. I worked at a previous company called Balanced Payments, as I mentioned before. Uh, and that’s where I picked up a tremendous amount of information. It took three or four years before I started my own company. Right. And understanding that you have to put in the work early on, you have to really start to understand what are those things that differentiate your value proposition, your company. Uh, I think those are the things that, you know, are helpful to keep in mind. Um, but aside from that, it’s, it’s just, you know, a lot of is purely grit. Right? I think one of the, one of the best things that somebody shared with me, very early on was, you know, a lot of it is just taking that leap of faith very early on. Right. Go off, start your company, um, and start working on it and, and get your hands dirty early, um, because whatever you started off as your initial idea, um, you probably won’t be working on that idea two, three years down the line, right? You’ll pick up some piece of information that will not necessarily result in a full pivot of your company, but will drive you in a sort of different direction. And that’s, those are the pieces of that that really add to providing a really innovative product.
ADRIANA: Thanks, Richie. What type of support or resources are available out there for potential founders, um, that you’ve learned, uh, are available kind of along the way, your journey?
RICHIE: Hmm. Um, I think, you know, there’s on the internet today, a tremendous wealth of information, right? First off a probably a really great place to start is, uh, the YC website and reading Paul Graham’s articles on, on starting companies. There’s a tremendous amount of thought leadership from VCs, from previous founders, there’s almost probably too much, right. And you could read a ton of it and really never get started. Uh, I think a lot of it though, is going out and actually going into the real world and starting to talk to other founders. Right. I think a lot of those pieces, just for example, how to run a fundraising process, right? What does it look like to go out and close your seed round? You can read a million different blogs are out there, but until you talk to someone who’s done it, and they can kind of give you those little tidbits. That’s really what really helps. You grow as a founder and really helps you understand what are the sort of inside baseball tips. Right. And I think I was really blessed that I, you know, reached out to a few friends who had gone through this process before, um, and who could really share what their experience was like, both from those who succeeded and those who failed, um, explaining, you know, how do, how does venture really work? Um, what are the, you know, venture capitalists looking out not only when they evaluate your company, but how do they work as a network, who share deals, who talk to each other, how to run a process, um, how to, you know, convey your message, not only in terms of your business, but letting them know, uh, letting VCs know when you’re trying to close your round, um, how to convey that you have a certain amount of funds already committed to your, to your, you know, your seed round. So there’s a lot of those things that I think you just have to go out and reach out to people because, and understand and acknowledge that you don’t know it. Right. There’s many times when I first got started off and someone explained to me what a convertible note was, how safes worked, how these various financial instruments are structured. Um, and it’s not something that, you know, you learn in college. It’s only through talking to other founders, speaking people who are lawyers who can really teach you some of this stuff.
ADRIANA: What is a convertible note?
RICHIE: A convertible note is a, is a financial instrument, basically debt, uh, that at a certain point will convert into equity. So it’s a lot easier to raise a convertible note. There’s a lot less in terms of having to value the company, having to do all these different types of due diligence. Um, the great thing is that YC basically has a sort of template called a safe note. Um, which they published publicly and has kind of become the industry standard here that doesn’t put the same sort of financial burden when a note comes due, right? You don’t have to pay a tremendous amount of interest on it and worry that it’s going to bankrupt your company. So, uh, it’s something that, you know, most, uh, institutional and angel and early investors will really understand out here. Um, and yeah, those are the things that, you know, when I was getting started, how to structure your deal, what are the different, you know, tools? What is a convertible note? What are the terms? What is a cap? What is a discount? These are things that when I first went to my first pitches, I had no idea what they meant, and I was just trying to sell the business, but not understanding how I wanted to structure those deals. And I was lucky enough to have a few investors, um, who really helped me out throughout that process.
ADRIANA: So Richie, what’s the difference between the first time you did your first pitch and what have you learned along the way, now that you’ve done multiple pitches, and I am, I was happy to hear that you secure some funding from Village Capital, I think late last year, right.
RICHIE: Yeah, that’s right. Uh, so I got, I think the fundraising process as a whole is very iterative, right? You’ll go in, um, you’ll pitch your company and then, you know, they’ll give a bunch of feedback, a bunch of questions, things that you really hadn’t thought of. Cause really when you’re starting off your company, you’re very deep in the weeds. Right. And some of these investors don’t know much about your industry, about your focus. Uh, about payments, which can be very convoluted. And so it’s starting to think about how you kind of take that strategy, and look at it from a 10,000 foot view. So once we started getting a bunch of feedback, we tweaked our message, and I think it was a lot more about focusing on the, so what, right. Okay. Here, this is this cool technology, which enables real-time payments, but why does that matter? Right. What are various proof points, especially when you’re talking to various VCs who, you know, aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. They don’t even understand why it matters that they get their money right away. They can wait two to three days, and explaining to them why and explaining to them that and showing a proof point in Uber, where after the first year, over 50% of all of their drivers or accepting their payouts through this new mechanism. That’s something that really starts to, to explain to them what that story is and the, so what and why this important. And then you mentioned a Village Capital, and we’re very excited to, uh, include them as count them as one of our investors. We ended up closing, um, uh, our rounded back in last September, raise over $2 million, which we’re really excited about and proud of, um, Homebrew led the round, uh, which is a great, uh, seed investing fund out here in San Francisco. Visa also participated. Uh, so we were actually their very first seed investment they’ve ever made. And Village Capital who’s been an incredible value add investor, who’s really helped us, um, really understanding and making deeper connections in the FinTech space has been super powerful. So I think, you know, people always joke that your VCs are, are, are, you know, pick them carefully because it’s like a marriage, right. There’ll be with you for the rest of your company. And I think I’m very proud to say that we have a lot of great investors who really believe in our vision and are very supportive as well.
ADRIANA: That sounds great. And it sounds like it’s a good, definitely a good start. Um, speaking of influencers, you probably follow Village Capital. I follow them on social media. What other influencers are VCs or entrepreneurs you follow and why? And that you think we, we might want to follow as well.
RICHIE: Oh man. That’s, that’s a great question. Uh, I just, this is kind of shameful. I just kinda got into Twitter very recently. Um, I honestly shut down most of my social media accounts, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, all the things. Um, and I found it to be very, I’ve become much more productive as a result.
ADRIANA: [laughs] I can imagine.
RICHIE: [laughs] Yeah. But in terms of influencers, I mean, I think figuring out who are the, the, the VCs that, um, really understand your space on a, on a deeper level and have various insights. Um, I tend to follow more of the industry-specific publications. So, you know, there’s a lot of publications that are out there that are very broad in terms of technology, but what are those that are specific to your industry? So you can kind of start to understand what are the larger macro trends that are going on? What are various companies in your space going and, and doing? Um, I’m not, I wouldn’t consider myself like an Elon Musk fan boy or anything like that. I don’t even think I follow him on Twitter. Um, but I think that those are the important things to think through is, you know, what’s your industry? Who are the people that you want to be able to learn from? Um, because those are probably, we’re going to get more information and more actionable insights.
ADRIANA: Thanks. That’s helpful advice. On a personal note, who has had the most influence on you and why, and then same question, but on the professional side, who has had the most influence?
RICHIE: Hm, on a personal side is definitely my parents. Uh, I kinda shared a little bit about their story early on. I think, you know, my dad being a bus driver for, um, for the Orange County Transportation Association. Uh, he had crazy hours, right? He’d be up at 4:00 AM. Working super crazy late hours. I never heard him complain once. And so I think that’s where you really sort of pick up on that sort of work ethic that, you know, I have today and that it continued to exhibit, um. From my mom, it’s just, you know, being such a warm, um, community-focused and, uh, selfless person that, that, that she is, um, makes me want to be a better person all the time. Um, so I think those are people who I really tried to emulate as much as possible. Uh, in terms of professional development. I love to read stories of various entrepreneurs, like I said, that, uh, I don’t think the sort of cult of personality that exists out here isn’t necessarily the most beneficial way to approach the market, but hearing their stories, learning from them is something that’s always super valuable. Right. So, um, and it can be in any industry. Actually, this last weekend, I was watching the documentary series on HBO called The Defiant Ones, which is about, uh, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, uh, the guys who started Beats, and it was so fascinating, so interesting to kind of hear, you know, what their hustle was and, and their, their work ethic and how they approach not only music, but the music industry and then hardware. And where they’ve been able to transform their businesses. And I think one of the things that you continue to see is that for all of these people who are incredibly successful, one of the metaphors that you gave is kind of like a race horse, right? Where you have these blinders, and you’re blinded to all the distractions and really focused on what it is that you’re trying to, to, to, to execute on. And I think those are the people who I admire the most and that I try to learn from.
ADRIANA: Thanks, Richie. Um, are there any habits that have helped you succeed or any other advice that you would like to share with those that are listening? Uh, you know, part of what we’re trying to do is through your story and that of other people that are succeeding in their industries, we want others to think, Hey, you know, they-they’re sharing their stories with us. This is the path they took. I might be able to do that. Or I might be interested in also joining that industry, whether it’s, you know, FinTech or whether it’s, you know, a VC. Um, are there habits that you would recommend or additional advice?
RICHIE: Oh, man. There’s so much. Um, I think the first and most important thing is to learn to ask for help. Right. Nobody has all the answers. You don’t have all the answers. And if you think you do, you-you’re, you definitely don’t. I think there’s a lot of people who are out there who think that they, you know, get the answer to every single question. I know that there’s way more out there. I understand it. I, you know, everyday I’m just trying to learn, and a lot of it, you don’t want to learn through experience. You want to learn through, you know, being assisted by other people. Um, so I think that’s something to really keep in mind and keep that sort of humility there. Um, I think the other sort of tidbits are going back to that sort of keeping your blinders on is, stay focused on what matters. Right? Ignore the noise, ignore, you know, uh, whatever ICO, Bitcoin, you know, get rich quick scheme is out there and really start to understand, uh, a domain or an industry on a deeper level. Right. Find something. And I don’t think that, you know, there’s always this advice that, you know, find something that you’re super passionate about and do that. I find the sort of act of building a company as being really interesting. I like payments. I think it’s fun. And I think it’s interesting in a way that most people probably don’t. Um, but you know, staying energetic and energized about what you’re doing is something that’s pretty critical and then, you know, taking care of yourself. Right. So if that means going out to the gym, you know, once a week, which I should start doing again, uh, to just keep your mental state in check and understanding that there’s going to be a lot of painful points of this journey. Um, do those things that really help, you know, alleviate those stress-stresses, um, so that you can focus on, on being a better, um, founder, on being a better developer, on being a better product manager or whatever it is that you’re really focusing on. Um, you gotta take the time out, you know, to, to work on yourself.
ADRIANA: Sounds like that’s something all of us should be doing.
RICHIE: It’s easier said than done a hundred times or you’re just like, man, I was up till one or two last night. Am I really going to make it to the gym this morning?
ADRIANA: You just reminded me I haven’t been there all week. So, but what’s your next play for either professionally or personally or for your company? What’s-what’s what’s the next play for you guys?
RICHIE: Uh, for us, I mean, it’s really focusing on building out the rest of the team. Um, you know, we’ve made a bunch of really amazing hires from the VP of engineering to a new GM for our disbursement product. Um, so focusing on building that, building the products, doing, you know, kind of keeping your nose to the grindstone, um, and, uh, getting to the series A. Uh, not necessarily that that funding is, is, should be the driver or metric of success. But, um, that’s the next stage in, in sort of the maturity of the organization. I think we’ve continued to build a really great product that a lot of our customers really, um, enjoy and see a lot of value out of, uh, and continuing to build the strong fundamentals of our business. So I think it’s, there’s not necessarily a big secret to our success. Um, it’s about just being able to continue to execute on that.
ADRIANA: Well, Richie, thank you so much for spending so much time with us, um, for sharing your wisdom. And, uh, we look forward to continuing to learn from you and, uh, to following your path.
RICHIE: Thank you so much for having me really appreciate it.
ADRIANA: While I was doing research for this interview, I learned a great deal about the FinTech industry, and I really hope that this interview will entice you to learn more as well. Today’s keyword of the day or of the episode is FinTech. Richie defined it during the interview, and here’s a definition that I found on computerworld.com. “FinTech is anywhere technology is applied in financial services or used to help companies manage the financial aspects of their business, including new software and applications, processes, and business models.” In the case of Richie’s company, Finix Payments, they’re actually creating efficiencies while accessing new markets in the shared economy, as he described by the Uber example. And through technology and innovation, they are developing strategic partnerships to make his company a success. If you’re interested in learning more, please don’t forget to follow Richie’s advice. And also you can set up your LinkedIn newsfeed so you can get daily updates on FinTech stories. You will also find some links to some of the resources he mentioned, and also some of the resources that I filmed while doing research. And you’re going to find those in the note pages of this podcast. And once again, don’t forget to leave us comments when you rate our podcast. Thanks for joining us today. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at Latinx America and on Twitter at America Latinx. Or email any questions or ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Gracias y la próxima semana!
Arielle Nissenblatt is SquadCast’s Community Manager. She’s obsessed with all things podcast-related and is the founder of EarBuds Podcast Collective, a podcast recommendation engine. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys hosting zoom trivia for friends and strangers all over the world and rollerblading.