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The Front Page of Global Fintech

The the largest fintech community in the world. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest in news opinions, and all things financial technology.

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🎧The Fintech OG Series: Charley Ma and Reshma Sohoni

🎧The Fintech OG Series: Charley Ma and Reshma Sohoni

Welcome back for the next episode of the Fintech OG series! 

This week I'm excited to have Charley Ma of Exponent Founders Capital and Reshma Sohoni of Seedcamp on the podcast. Beyond their professional insights, both of them offered candid reflections on personal growth and where fintech is headed next. By sharing their professional achievements, key choices (going to work for a tiny company called Plaid even though many told him not to), personal setbacks and times of struggle, there's a lot of great advice for listeners, whether in fintech or not. 

Don't forget to follow, like and share the podcast!

Lastly, thanks to LoanPro for sponsoring this episode! I you’re in the market to streamline your lending processes or if you just want to see what next-gen loan management looks like, go to ⁠loanpro.io⁠ and book a demo. 

‎The This Week in Fintech Podcast: 🎧The Fintech OG Series: Charley Ma and Reshma Sohoni on Apple Podcasts
‎Show The This Week in Fintech Podcast, Ep 🎧The Fintech OG Series: Charley Ma and Reshma Sohoni - May 14, 2024

Transcript

Julie: Well, Charley, you were one of the very first people I met in fintech. So Reshma, tell me, I'm gonna start with you.

Tell me a [00:03:00] little bit more about your background. Like, how did you get into fintech? And what's made you want to stay in it? I don't know.

Reshma: yeah, I so I started Seacamp back in 2007 in Europe so context matters. And I think, you know, Europe's Continues to have some leadership around kind of the infrastructure in, in terms of when you think about basic banking and, and payment systems and, and all of that, like, now that I've moved back to the US after 20 years, I'm like, Oh, I can't believe.

You know how the U. S. works right from a at least from a consumer standpoint. So I think it's starting, you know, starting investing 6 15 years ago. Our 1st investments, although we're a horizontal fund, our 1st investments were in fintech. I think it was to say. Wow, there's an incredible infrastructure granted, you know, any fragmented ecosystem across 25, 30 countries.

But actually a pretty powerful [00:04:00] system that connects it all and, and, and therefore some great innovation to be built on top of. So, so yeah, I mean, we saw this. We saw quite early, but I guess what keeps me here is this constant flux of fragmentation and fintech, consolidation, fragmentation. It's this, you know, constant movement towards better experiences and kind of ultimately always bring it down to like faster, cheaper, and just better.

And you know, in the consumer space that's happened in a big way, a whole new bar kind of gets, gets set. And then in the, in the B2B space, but I'm sure we'll, we'll unpack. So that's a little bit about my 16 year history. I think also again, consumption of FinTech services, like your kids are starting much earlier. I mean, if you think of, and. Another theme is around fintech and everything, you know, playing video games they're consuming financial products within, within that, right? It starts as, [00:05:00] or, or even like apps on or Netflix or whatever early on to then my, my son is a big user of Revolut and for, for kind of just store purchases and then Greenlight for stocks.

At age 11 unthinkable. So, you know, it's the sort of fintech has reached down user experience wise down to down to that age group, right? Which is fascinating. Kind of again, how he will grow up your kids. Your 1 year old will grow

Julie: totally. It's crazy. Charley, you don't have kids quite yet, but you did get married this past year. And I remember back when we met you know, a lot has changed for you personally since you've been in here too. But I'll pose the same question to you. How did you get into FinTech? And what's made you stick around as well?

Charley: Yeah it took, I sort of stumbled my way into FinTech. So my, my, the first job out of college, I managed to sort of beg my way into this rotational program at J. P. Morgan. It was more of a, like, mid office, [00:06:00] back office rotational program, but as a result, I got exposed to technology at J. P.

Morgan, or maybe more so the lack of technology at J. P. Morgan. And I specifically was spending a lot of time across our sort of corporate and investment bank but particularly around our sort of corporate clients and technology stacks. Understanding sort of what a lot of the infrastructure at J. B.

Morgan was built on top of, and a lot of it is, you know, I feel like the hype cycle right now is on generative AI and LLMs, and you go to a bank and it's like, well, no, but still, you know, the vast majority of payment systems are on COBOL. I remember we had an initiative to it was a, it was a critical risk issue for the bank of, we didn't have enough engineers that actually understood COBOL because it's a dead programming language to a certain extent now.

And so we actually had to teach. figure out a way to teach new engineers and knowledge transfer, you know, from all of our 70, 80 year old engineers that built the original stocks on, on ACH, you know, how to maintain the system. I remember thinking, wow, this is, this is crazy. This is, it's literally [00:07:00] hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, billions, trillions of dollars of, of, of GDP flowing through our systems.

And yet the tech stack is still up to 1970s. And so that was sort of my first. Entry into being others. There's something interesting here,

Julie: That could

Charley: to joke

Julie: away

Charley: it is

Julie: terrible.

Charley: Yeah, yeah, and I think I also got really lucky on timing so I was the weird analyst that as a result was interested in payments and There were some really interesting technologies trying to merge right we had Bitcoin blockchain and end up being one of the People at the firm that was that spent a bunch of time and as a result got end up getting a weird amount of executive attention across our payments business because of all this innovation that was happening in payments.

Then at some point, decided, Hey, Jamie Morgan, it's going to take us a while to build the things that I think I want to kind of work on and build. And so decided to go ahead and switch over to the startup side. And I would say haven't left since, but I have left technically. But still in startup land now as more of an investor.[00:08:00] 

Julie: Got it. Wait, are you still an ally or no?

Charley: No, I actually left Alloy. Yeah, so no longer, I left Alloy, yeah, about a couple quarters ago. And so now a full time investor and more to come there. 

Julie: Rashma, I saw you shaking your head quite a bit when he was talking about just the, the integrated old systems and stuff like that, too. What what are some other examples? I'm sure you've seen a number of things like that, both you know, in the U.

S., U. K., and elsewhere. What are some examples? Key examples you can remember from your time in fintech of things like that happening Like how the heck are these systems still running on stuff like this, etc

Reshma: Yeah, I mean, I think you know, Charley's put it put it right is like, you've got this. You've got the old systems, old engineering talent, or maybe not old engineering talent, but new engineering talent with old systems, right? And you've got, I mean, you've got this challenge of legacy, you know, you take J.P. Morgan. I mean there've been a bank that financed. World war [00:09:00] two, for the allies, right? Like that bank is still there now with chase and even bigger definitely too big to fail So, I mean, I think these these old banks are the thing that exists and you know an ever powerful part of our basic financial system globally and and this constant kind of new New technology new, you know new generation of talent All all pushing sort of for these bigger experiences and, you know, no other industry where again, like the bits of of anything being faster or cheaper translates into just billions and so so, you know, you've got that constant tension and it needs it.

Right? So I think we're to the question of kind of where. I mean, constantly on data, right? All LLM adds this new, new concept around around data as well and how to use data. So data just deployment, I. T. deployment, which we just, we just, you know, Charley just covered and then [00:10:00] workflows just like how do humans.

Interact with their end customers users through this whole technology of data. I. T. Workflow, you know, through these workflows and everyone wants to be smarter and better and not kind of a wrote, you know, wrote workflows. So those three particularly particular areas. And I think across the board security.

So I think the challenge of our future in FinTech is really the, the negative consequences of this faster, better, cheaper, that's being pushed, you know, honest by, by users, by by our humans working in our companies, by kind of all the incredible technology leaps that are happening. I mean, fraud and risk.

At every level and I just actually think like if you had slower systems that would have helped me a few weeks ago when I had some physical break in, which then translated into a cyber [00:11:00] theft of, you know, my identity and I mean, yeah, that's a whole other podcast we can, we can do, but these things are interlinked now and the fraud is fraud is sophisticated.

And I almost think like if we could go back to stopping some of these pay or slowing some of these payments, it would have helped me not lose. A few thousand within seconds while I was on customer service and and and going through their archaic Identification systems while somebody walked in with my with with an an id into bank and and withdrew money, right so yeah, these these are all the places where where there's so much to play for again with bips where literally You Tiny little percentages, which translate into billions. And, and that's fascinating.

Julie: So that actually leads me to into one of my other questions is where do you think fintech has succeeded during your time there and where do you think it's kind of failed businesses and [00:12:00] consumers?

Charley: Yeah, I think that it's interesting. I sort of have a thesis where I think that at least if you were to kind of, you know, scope fintech in the last 10, 15 years or so I think a vast majority of innovation. Has occurred on the consumer side, right? Arguably the most successful fintech outcome, I would say, is probably NewBank, right, out in Brazil.

And so the rise of neobanks Has been an interesting development, right? I think even 10 15 years ago the idea of a kind of VC backed bank that was technology first competing for Deposits, competing for lendings amongst consumers, would have been seen as crazy, right? I remember when I was at J. P. Morgan We're like, there's, there's no way that, you know, anyone can ever kind of take market share from us.

And it's, it's going to be the land of big banks, right? I think that now the biggest shift that I've seen actually is that one, all the large banks are taking it extremely seriously now, right? Like [00:13:00] fintech is no longer an emerging thing. Going back to career wise, I remember when I started my career in fintech, I remember thinking, Oh, I'm concerned about siloing myself.

I think this might be too niche of an industry to go and specialize in. And. In retrospect, it's kind of silly to say that just given how massive and large financial services is and just how many different areas of innovation I think can exist around kind of fintech financial services. But I still believe that the vast majority of.

A lot of the infrastructure has been more at the kind of consumer app level. I think where I'm excited about for the next 10, 20 years is actually going after the infrastructure level, right, on and I think the key thing there is actually figuring out ways to partner with incumbents, partner with regulators and figure out a way to actually modernize and update our systems, right?

Historically, I would say a lot of the innovation has been sort of, you know, Pursued at the UX UI layer. There's some interesting sort of data infrastructure layer that's been built There's some [00:14:00] interesting kind of wrapper infrastructure layers on top of say issuing bank authentication private processing lending underwriting, etc but I think We're talking about before the underlying core layer of well at the end of the day like in the u. s Right. The most exciting innovation happened in payments is RTP, right, are fed now, and it's being led by regulators, right, to a certain extent, which is both exciting and also scary, to a weird way because they are not technology driven and tech first entities, and there's still a lot of, I think, externalities That are going to come out from that, right?

We're seeing in other emerging markets, UPI in India, PICS in Brazil, right? There's Just markets getting created and destroyed Because of I think top down driven innovation from a payments perspective and I think the US were not the beginning cycle starting to see that

Reshma: Picking up from, from what Charley said, you know, absolutely. I think I'm the kind of you, UX UI from, from kind of edge. Into core. [00:15:00] I mean, all of that has really pushed the edge actually to the point that it's it's impacting, you know, it's impacting the core.

I'll tie back up to, like, I think if I had for my, for my own, this experience about the identity theft and theft is I think if it had been a neobank, I would have been protected because the edge. Experience I would have been able to stop my cards and I did and I was using for something else. A legacy infrastructure, which didn't have all these features and functionality.

Right? So I think to a fundamentally large problem. Around fraud and risk risk of the too big to fail the risk and in so many elements, you know edge has pushed better experience. I think it's success succeeded in being able to stop some of these, you know, these effects. Right. Then it has some issues on its own, which is like.

If you get a phone stolen in the UK, you can go into into edge [00:16:00] products and and it might ruin your life as well. So, but that's pushed into into core. And so I think you know, connected with I think the regulators are watching and the big banks are watching to say, how do we pull some of these successes into across core again to move things from more redundancy into systems.

So things have been on Prem. And so moving it, what are things we can move into cloud versus versus keeping on Prem authorization, authentication, a lot of this kind of layering and also risk at what level can banks especially as they get bigger and bigger, some of them push more risk onto the onto the edges.

So example is one of our companies. Griffin is a brand new bank. Okay. Literally from the ground up, it's gotten a UK banking license far faster than others because it's bringing, and the FCA really likes them, it's bringing a whole new level of kind of risk management [00:17:00] into you know, moving sort of taking certain risks at the core level and pushing certain risks for neobanks and fintechs that can be that can have that can hold some risk at the at the edge level, but not have it seep into the core and implode our financial system.

So I, you know, I think the success on the edge has really pushed things into into the core to say, we need we can put in that same level. Of experience and and interface into again, what we do in core banking to, to help reduce risk. Fundamentally.

Julie: And, [00:19:00] you know, we focus a lot more broadly on FinTech In our conversation, but i'd love to dive in personally We we talked about like why you entered it and why you stayed in it But what have been some highs and lows for you? In your career and some key decisions that you made that have made you reach the level of success that both of you have today Charley, i'll go back to you first

Charley: That's a tricky one I

Julie: like five questions in one so

Charley: yeah, yeah. I would say, sorry, could you repeat, I guess what are the two core questions I should answer?

Julie: Yeah. So personally, what have been some highs and lows for you since entering the space and what have been some key decisions that you've made that have, you know, given you the high profile and the level of success that you have today in FinTech.

Charley: Yeah. Honestly, a lot of it is luck. So it's always hard to say you know, what decisions did I make that were right or wrong to a certain extent? I'll start with the decision that I, that I think that I made that was right, which is actually almost like no decision to a certain extent, which was, you know, [00:20:00] Staying at plaid for the period that I did and being able to just see and experience that growth It sounds maybe crazy now, but plaid was not a very popular company for the early stages of the company.

You probably, people probably listened to Zach or William, our founders, talk about some of the early fundraising struggles that they had, right? Even up until the Series B, I remember it was kind of this inside joke of, Yeah, we were never on the front page of any of our venture capitalist investor pages, right?

If you go to the portfolio page, like, we weren't at the top. We were never the case study up until I remember is our series C when I was like, Oh, now people are starting to mention We were early investors in plan right or we were early supporters or early believers and I remember being like No, I don't know I remember a lot of y'all never responding to my to our emails because we weren't your top portfolio company, right to be fair it also took it was a pretty extensive build and I think it took a lot of belief and faith from the founders to be really really [00:21:00] opinionated and Both kind of, you know, spend a lot of time listening to customers, but also really, really diligent on this is the vision that they want to build, right?

Want to enable developers to have easy access to products. To build new fintech product solutions on and then and then we'll kind of build that market up, right? The founders from from day one was what got me excited about joining Plaid was they had a strong belief that that's where the world was going and we needed to build best in class developer tools for that ecosystem.

And to their credit, they were obviously very, very right on that. And so I think there are a lot of ups and downs across Plaid. Like there are definitely days when I thought, yep, we're. Like, what are we doing here? This is not going anywhere. To other days we're like, wow, we're, everything is crushing, everything's going well.

And I think the best part of that experience was just being able to see and experience all of that. And then, you know, take some of that knowledge and continue to build upon that with, with other companies I was forced up to join. And just being able to experience that growth. A lot of that, for better or for worse, was luck.

And then I think the other [00:22:00] part is to a certain extent being first principle thinking around What I think is interesting in FinTech and why I'm excited and interested about that. I think for a lot of the companies that I joined at one point in time, they were considered non consensus or contrarian as to why I decided to join them.

I remember when I, when I, when I initially joined Plaid, I emailed all my VC friends, the few that I knew of, Hey, I'm thinking of joining this company. And literally I got back, we passed this company multiple times. Here's all the reasons why like I would not join this company. And I was like, but there's things that I was personally excited about.

I think that's, to me, the thing that's compounded the most of, I think, my own strong opinions in certain markets and ecosystems, and just being able to kind of get feedback loops around that has been important to me, and I think that's, has compounded, to a certain extent, on what I've enjoyed so far.

Reshma: I mean, I wholeheartedly agree on 1st principles. So I'll start start with that as I think that that has been key to our longevity. In infinite tech is investors [00:23:00] from 2007. Eight to today. And I think with every kind of everything in consumer again, and money makes the world go around. And so I do think a lot of actors come into play in consumer.

And we've said no to a lot of things because we're going back to first principles. And I'm like, maybe this is slightly A better experience as such but it's not really solving first principle needs in order to become that truly exceptional, exceptional company that, you know, users make into a verb and, and, and love.

And especially on the consumer side, you, you do need to, you do need to become that. Right. And so, but we're not, We're not rejecting consumer outright like I think it at a whole new level and I think to to really stand out and build a massive business today is just you know you have a whole new bar and experiences try to beat by 10x and and we [00:24:00] we're really not seeing sort of founders who are building a bunch of those and and to be fair I think we are seeing them in in In markets, maybe we're not as active in us being particularly Europe and and U.

S. or Europe expanding into us. So I think that's happening for sure. And in Africa, I'm India and so forth. But, you know, so I can't contextualize around that. But we are we definitely see ourselves investing in consumer again, but it's got to be around those 1st 1st principles. And I think on the B to B side, I probably are.

We say a lot more. Yes, to, to based on first principles, but to Charley's other point is the ability to just survive the, to, to meet your moment in time when the market opens up and your technology and your, you know, Contrarian thinking, you've just been able to stay long enough. You've built those relationships to be able to make a plaid actually come alive and work.

It delights your end user ultimately, but then, you know, [00:25:00] you have to, you have to just survive to get there. I think that's where a lot of our lows have come, is us us almost buying ourselves into that vision, but we just weren't able to stay stand the test of time or finding the downstream capital to be able to, to support you know, for example, in wealth management, that's been a very tricky area for, for us, for most technology, I think, to find to find success in.

So those are like, that, that's a lot of the highs and lows. Those are definitely the ability to have patient capital. Along, you know, along the B2B journey, and then on the B2C side, I think truly like first principles based founders who can, who can predict correctly. That's where the luck for us comes in as investors is predict Very clearly what the world is going to look like in 10 years for consumers.

So, you know, Revolut itself is like a 10 year company now. I think when you see them in the market, it seems like they're [00:26:00] just a few years old, but, but they're not, it's, it's, you know, taken a long time to get to 30, 40, 50 million users.

Julie: Charley your experience at Platt in particular, how has that, shaped your vision as an investor now? Because you mentioned that, you know, you talk to a lot of investors like, is Plaid a good company to join? And they're like, no, absolutely not. Like we passed on them. I feel like that kind of can influence, what your strategy is as someone that's on the other side of it now.

Charley: Yeah, no, I think to to to what we're talking about, like for being first principled is easy to say and very hard to actually do right. Where I think the most particularly where, where I tend to invest in, which I, I try to be a kind of first check investor at pre seed or seed and backing the founders that I want to back and markets that I find interesting and have a thesis in I think like the, the, the, the, the, the most exciting investments are those where.

I was the only investor in right where at the point in time that investment or that founder was [00:27:00] extremely non consensus and then over time becomes consensus, right? Like, that's where I think the magic really starts to happen, particularly in early stage investing. But I think requires at least from my perspective, what I've learned, I guess, is like one.

I usually try to have as prepared of a mind as possible around the markets and the ecosystems that the founders are building in. And the way that I've decided to do that is being, I think just specializing is sort of what I've decided to pick on specific markets, even specific parts of fintech, like those parts of fintech that I just don't grok and ensure I can, you know meet an amazing founder and I probably, I may not even know that's an amazing founder, right?

And that's gonna be my bad but the way that I've chose to specialize my time, and I think there's no right way or wrong way to invest, it's just what works best for me, is taking specific verticals of specialties, going really, really deep in those verticals of specialties, and then leveraging sort of my operating network to get a point of view around there, and then working with those founders that I'm excited about, and being First principle on hey, I think what you have on here is really really exciting [00:28:00] and interesting And I would like to believe in back that right and hopefully over time if we're able to survive long enough You know it hits in the money and hopefully that company becomes consensus and starts doing really really well But I think that for me was a big learning experience Right where even the quote unquote best brand name VCs, right?

You are oftentimes very consensus driven, right? And I think that it was hard to see that when I wasn't on the, on the investing side, I think. And then when I started to move over from as an angel, the more, more as a more full time investor, started to see that more of, it was actually really, really, really rare to find, you know, folks like Seedcamp that are true first check believers into founders.

And being really being totally fine with, yeah, I'll be the only investor and I'm more than happy to back the company if I believe, right? I think that's actually really, really rare to find in investors.

Julie: Reshma, how did your background in M& A [00:29:00] and at Vodafone shape how you started Seed Camp and why you wanted to focus on such early companies since that's not who you're focusing on in traditional M& A?

Reshma: Yeah, actually after, after I did banking, which I really did not like and did not have a skillset for,

Julie: like 99 percent of people that do banking do not like banking.

Charley: Yeah, it feels like everyone says they like banking. It's kind of a psychopath, but, you know.

Reshma: And our closest friend but I think this, the, what I luck, I was fortunate to work with early stage founders on on selling their companies at the time, I think a good M& A still had the ability to sell as well as buy today. I think it's all about buying rather than, you know, if you're selling, you're in trouble.

Right. And so, so I think I had, I got that experience. That's the part I love. Actually, I went in to work with SoftBank and News Corp had a joint venture. So I worked in venture capital right after my banking days, but it imploded. It was called eVentures and there were eVentures in [00:30:00] India and Australia.

Phenomenal vision not, not necessarily phenomenally executed. Plus again, meeting the dot com. Bust that timing. Timing wasn't great. But within that, I worked in an early stage, especially India, U. S. 10 years before India became a thing, which which it is today, right? So timing's everything. But that's again where I got to really help companies right at the zero to one journey.

And and I think you, you love it or you don't, like, I'm definitely probably not a great, I wouldn't be a great series B or C investor, even though I have the MNA background, I'm just, I love pre seed, seed. I love that risk, risk taking moment. And so I think package, package some of that up. And then with Vodafone, you know, being in a European HQ company, which was really important to me at the time when I joined, I didn't want to be at Oh, Google has their California office and it's a, you know a European kind [00:31:00] of office in, in London or whatever.

Yeah. Well, the decisions get made back in California, truly. So with Vodafone, I was able to see a tech technology company with a massive global footprint, obviously, particularly in Europe. And I think kind of seeing the. Nature of building a brand from, from scratch across that European footprint gave me kind of a sense of this can be done.

In Europe, it's damn hard across languages across these markets. But, you know, in that time, in the 16 years, there has been this unification of regulation, particularly in the in the passporting and sandbox environments and so forth. So that's given, you know, foundational basis. But I think Vodafone really showed me you can build this massive brand and technology business all across the European footprint and go global with it.

Married away. The ability to work with really idea stage [00:32:00] businesses, you know, kind of getting, getting them to up, up, up into, into the market from those beginnings. So, yeah, it's pretty foundational to, I think, and then in Seed Camp coming in to, well, coming in to start it was like, okay, we, we've got, we've got more talent across that European footprint than we do in the U.

S. And every single city in Europe wants to be number, number one. I think you want to package that up into unification and trying to, you know, trying to make that kind of consolidate together into, into that kind of a brand you can, you can take global. So I think I saw a lot of those aspects where there was a lot of talent.

There were incredible technology. It just wasn't coming together in, in sort of role modeling and the capital access to then really become globally dominant. But I'd seen an example or a few examples of, of companies being able to, to break through.

Julie: So, going back to something Charley said at the start of the [00:33:00] conversation, that he just got lucky on timing was part of it, is now still a good time to join fintech? And if so, what areas would you if someone was coming out of school, would you advise them to go into?

Reshma: Yeah. And and you know, in a nutshell, I think any down period in a, in any. Cycle is a brilliant time, especially when, when, you know, you, you add the layoffs and, and again, new paradigm technology shifts as well. Like this is a Venn diagram. That's a great time to, to take risk and, and, and start up. As I, as I said, I think there's just a lot of opportunity in the, in the B2B side.

So, you know, whether you can get this kind of experience at some of the some of the neobanks, which are, which have become. Proper banks, proper institutions, I should say of themselves. I think that's a great place, whether it's the kind of old banks as well. I think there's it's a brilliant time within you know, the world of data, it workflow [00:34:00] security to, to start some things up.

And I think with consumer, again, if you have a, a real vision going back to first principles of how the lives of whether that's users, More unified in a global journey. I do think like I do think Africa is moving differently Latin is moving from a consumer standpoint moving differently enough if you have the ability to And I don't envision, you know a world where some of that comes together for consumers Then yeah, what a phenomenal opportunity to or timing to start some, you know, start something up now, right?

So those are my those are my two areas, but I do think investment investors are More sophisticated around things in consumer consumers are sophisticated themselves on kind of the experiences they want. So you can't be, you can't be building something for even the next three years. I think you've got to look out seven to 10 years out and, and, and, [00:35:00] yeah, know what kind of reality will look like that.

Charley: Yeah. I would 120% agree with freshmen. I think right now is, it's probably the most exciting time to be building in FinTech and also to join, be joining a FinTech company. I think that you know, given what's sort of happened in the last three, four years, there's obviously, I think an overexuberance or excitement on, on FinTech that happened, particularly on the venture land, the venture landscape.

Even for me, it was really hard to see, like, who was doing well and who wasn't, right? It just seemed as though everyone was getting preempted left and right. If you were starting a company and you had a reputable background, you had a term sheet and those term sheets would get bidded up, and you'd be like, but you don't even have a product, what do we, what's going on here, right?

Whereas I think now we've it might be maybe a bit of an overcorrection on lack of excitement in fintech from, from typical venture investors. But I think that one, it's sort of left people that continue to be excited about investing in fintech are still in fintech where there's, there's still absolutely massive profit pulls disruptions still [00:36:00] waiting to be built and found within financial services.

And we've just scratched the surface. I think of what. Fintech could be, but on the flip side I think to Reshma's point too people have become a lot more sophisticated, right? I think that a lot of the quote unquote obvious errors in fintech you know, there were probably a bunch of companies tackling those in the last three, four years that got funded as to whether they're actually building products in the space, TBD, but at least a lot of companies got funded, right?

Whereas nowadays I think that if you're really serious about building something and you're solving it at an end customer pinpoint and you're able to You know, define the capital and believers to go back that company. I tell founders nowadays, hey, if you're actually solving a pain point in today's market, it means you're actually on to something, right?

In the last three, four years, I felt as though a lot of fintech was sort of building fintech for other startups, for other fintech companies, and it felt this kind of weird Ponzi scheme of venture capital money going to venture capital money going to venture capital money, whereas. I think that the groups of founders that I've talked to now recently are much more [00:37:00] interested and excited about, Hey, there's actual really hard problems that we're solving.

The builds are relatively non trivial but we have a vision and we're excited about building this. And the thing I tell them is, Hey, if you're able to get product market fit in, in this sort of macro climate with the amount of attention that's being spent on budget and the CFO as a key buyer and decision making process Like, you can't really argue whether or not you have product market fit nowadays, and it sort of reminds me of when I originally joined Plaid, right, where It took us a while to find those initial customers and to get to go to market product market fit, and we're kind of building back in hard mode again, which is what I think venture capital backed startups should have been in the first place, right?

It's a very non trivial exercise to be building in this way. Like, raising venture capital and building hyper growth companies is a very, very Unnatural way to build a company. I tell founders all the time. It's the number one way to kill your company is to raise venture capital Like it's a very unnatural way to be building a company And so from a founder perspective, I think I'm excited about founders that you know, [00:38:00] are, are starting companies because they really, you know, viscerally want to solve the pain point that they're trying to solve for, not trying to start a company just to start a company or because it seems cool.

And then from an operating standpoint, I think it's a great time to be joining companies in fintech. I think the key thing to optimize for, I usually kind of over index on, on two things for People that want to join startups. It's kind of growth plus team And I would spend a lot of time understanding, you know, how is that company?

What are they building? How are they growing? I do believe that growth at the end of the day what drives Both obviously like company enterprise value and the actual experiences that you accumulate At a company and then the team is the other thing that compounds right just surrounding yourself with An amazing network of people.

If that startup doesn't work out, more often than not that network of people will bring you to the next one or will be the founders that you work with. And those are the two things I think will compound from a career perspective as an operator.

Julie: All right, so we're going to end with a quickfire round and the way I'll make it work is I'll start with [00:39:00] Charley at the first one and Rush will have extra time to kind of think about our answer and then we'll swap it for the next one, etc. So it won't always be Charley that has to answer really quickly or vice versa.

And they all should be fair. Not they're not super complicated. Don't worry. So Charley, what is a personal highlight for you from the last year?

Charley: Oh, getting married. Yeah, getting married and then the second one going to my honeymoon. Obviously big personal accomplishments. And then, The third one we'll, we'll announce at some point, but yeah, starting a new venture capital firm with a good friend of mine.

Julie: Very cool. Reshma.

Reshma: gosh, that's hard to top. So I won't, but you know, what's a, like, what's an industry that needs severe innovation, work, better work ethic, all of that is construction or realist, you know, property development finally moved into two years after buying it cause we were just renovating. So I think if there was ever a low moment, that was the process.

And so my highest. Comparable [00:40:00] to like, you know, counterweight to that, to that low moment. So that happened in January. We did close our sixth fund, which is 140 million pound fund in March. So I think that, yeah, that's pretty great as, as well, but more, more sort of stable personal highlight this year.

Julie: We, we like stable too. Reshma, if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Reshma: Oh, wow. So I've got an interesting answer to this one, which, which I asked someone, so I'm going to go steal that one, is Kim Jong un's sister.

Charley: Oh,

Reshma: No explanation will be provided.

Charley: of, I'm kind of curious. Okay. No,

Reshma: explanation

Julie: kind of just sitting here waiting like there's got to be some sort of explanation to this.

Reshma: I think you get insights. more from the people closest to to the person versus the kind of truth and honesty from the person in the limelight as as such and so There you go. I found that a fascinating answer and I was like, I will steal that for [00:41:00] the future And here we go.

I get I get to I get to use that one. So

Charley: My answer I would love, I don't think, I don't think I'd be the most interesting conversationalist, but I'd love to have dinner with Richard Feynman. I, I I originally went to college to go study. biophysics is because a lot of the the readings of his autobiography that got me excited and interested in physics.

I just think he's a really obviously intelligent eloquent person and it'd be really cool to listen in on a lecture and a dinner from him, I think.

Julie: Alright, back to you Charley. When you're having a hard time, whether personally or professionally, who do you call?

Charley: Oh, first one would be my wife. Definitely. Yeah, that's the first one. The second one I would say it depends. I I've been trying to do a better job of this of building a bench of So career advisors or mentors for specific kind of problems, and more often than not they tend to be my actual previous managers is usually who I, who I tend to call so I would say like a couple years ago I had a, a bunch of [00:42:00] kind of career thoughts and, and questions and I called upon one of my former managers for a lot of help.

And so I've been trying to do a better job of just keeping in touch and engage with people that invested their time and effort into into my career.

Julie: Very good. Reshma?

Reshma: Yeah, no, I think I think that's right. Picking up on that. I think the reason we tend to do that is the trust and especially I think once you move from the role, you actually deepen, deepen that trust in that relationship to first principles, which we've talked a lot about so far today. And so I think whether for me, that's like my sister and my husband as well.

And I'm professionally Carlos, who we've worked together 11 years now, I think that says something. And so we, we've come to work, you know, we brought it all the way down towards the fundamentals of a value system and, and what are our values. And when you fortunate enough, maybe I'm just a lot older than you, Charley.

So I've, I've had that time to build this bench of very folks with very aligned value systems, [00:43:00] where their manifestation is, you know, Is professional, personal, maybe professional and personal crossover. So I do feel fortunate to have that deeper bench at my advanced age to be able to, to reach into, but I think it's because those value systems have been identified and, and aligned for, for quite some time.

Julie: Alright, last one. Reshma, we'll start with you. What's something that something about you that no one could find online? I feel like all three of us have a decent amount of personal and work information online, so this one might be the trickiest one of all four.

Reshma: Gosh, that is that is tricky. 

Julie: I remember they asked me this it's a question they ask everyone at your first meeting at ORM. And I had to really think about it, I was like, crap, like, I was a journalist, and like, I publish so much on Instagram and Twitter, like, this is hard.

Reshma: I, you know, I think, I think people don't know as much like I, cause I'm American. Bye. Post age 10 and then and then obviously European in terms of career building, but [00:44:00] I'm like a I'm like an obsessed Bollywood So I don't think a lot of you will know that like I listen to I don't watch the movies But I listen to so much music and I'm always a fantasizing about my Bollywood Career that I clear if you're looking at me right now clearly did not belong in but But yeah, so there you go sharing a little you know dark inner secret

Julie: There we go, now it's online. Well, when this is published, it'll be online.

Charley: I was in a similar vein. You can probably figure it out if you dig deep enough. I'm a huge anime nerd. Love anime. Still watch a lot of anime. It was actually my introduction to the internet. I actually can think anime. I was a fansubber, which we'll talk about that. I'm happy to talk about that at some other point.

Julie: That's a whole other podcast.

Charley: a lot of the typesetting and QA. For a few fansub groups back when in order to get anime live from Japan, you had to figure out a way to download Raws illegally, and then you had to have all these [00:45:00] groups that would actually translate it, subtitle it, launch it, distribute it and so that was actually my first sort of entryway into the internet and the power of the internet, was because I wanted to get Live anime in real time for the series I was watching, and so I became a fansub when I was in high school.

Reshma: I'm an amazing startup for you, from france. I'm going to send that to you over

Charley: Ooh, yes

Julie: There we go. There we go. Worlds collide. 

Well, thank you so much you guys i'm glad we had a chance to do this i'm anxious for this whole series throughout we have a bunch of really good people on here including you too so I appreciate the time.