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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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šŸŽ§The Fintech OG Series:Jake Gibson and Nik Milanović

šŸŽ§The Fintech OG Series:Jake Gibson and Nik Milanović

Happy fintech week, friends!

This week I'm excited to have Jake Gibson of NerdWallet and BTV as well as our very own Nik Milanović on the podcast. Beyond their professional insights, both of them offered candid reflections on personal growth, the importance of resilience, and the impact of their work on personal identity. Their stories revealed the nuanced challenges of building meaningful careers in a rapidly evolving sector, emphasizing the value of continuous learning, mentorship, and the support of a strong community (and CrossFit). By sharing both their professional achievements and personal setbacks, they provided a valuable perspective on what it takes to succeed, suggesting that the path to innovation is as much about personal development as it is about technological advancement.

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

And again, huge thanks to our sponsors at FS Vector! Go to fsvector.com/headmaster to learn more about their new compliance training platform and additional services.

ā€ŽThe This Week in Fintech Podcast: šŸŽ§The Fintech OG Series:Jake Gibson and Nik Milanović on Apple Podcasts
ā€ŽShow The This Week in Fintech Podcast, Ep šŸŽ§The Fintech OG Series:Jake Gibson and Nik Milanović - Apr 9, 2024

Transcript

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

We are back with episode number five of the FinTech OG series. I am joined by Jake Gibson of NerdWallet. And better tomorrow ventures as well as Nik Miller Novick, our very own founder of this week in FinTech. One thing I've really enjoyed diving into with these guys was the personal finance angle, just given their backgrounds. As hardest FinTech has tried to really make an impact on the underserved. It feels like there's still just so much to do. And we just haven't made the strides that we would have thought we had when this was such a big focal point of FinTech, you know, even a decade ago, so I really love getting their perspectives there. And then just their thoughts on where FinTech goes from here and their advice for FinTech professionals that are currently building companies. You know, they each have interesting perspectives from an investor point of view, from a founder point of view, as well as from working at larger companies. Jake started as a trader on Wall Street. And Nik worked at Google for many years. So I really enjoyed getting their advice for aspiring founders or current founders. And I think you guys will, too. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. Don't forget to follow and like us on Spotify, Apple or wherever you listen to podcast. Jake Gibson is the founding partner of Better Tomorrow ventures a seed stage venture capital fund investing in FinTech companies globally. His career began with six years on Wall Street as an interest rate derivatives trader, and then he spent four years as the co founder and CEO at one of the original consumer FinTech companies nerd wallet. He then became a full time angel investor while helping Schumer not build the 500 FinTech accelerator and the two of them wrote early checks into Mercury flex port ramp can Elbert human interest and chipper cash to name a few? In 2019, they went on to found BTV the firm they wish they'd had when they were founders. Well, it feels weird to give an intro for next and you all very much know who he is. But Nik Miller Novick is the founder of this week in FinTech and the GDP of the FinTech fund. He spent 13 years in FinTech previously as head of BD for Google Pay, VP of strategy at peddle and Director of Partnerships at funding circle. I've known Fs vector from my early days in FinTech when I was a reporter at Bloomberg trying to keep up on everything that was happening in the regulatory world with financial technology, which, spoiler alert, there's a lot going on all the time. In a previous episodes, we've talked about their advisory compliance and training offerings. But another service that Fs vector offers is around state licensing for lenders and money transmitters. Obtaining and holding your own license can be a competitive advantage and an unlock to expanding your product offerings, but it's not an easy path. If you're looking to become a licensed money transmitter lender or digital assets company, the FS vector licensing team can help acquire and maintain those licenses for u fs vectors licensing team works in tandem with other services they have to offer including product advisory, compliance, independent assessment and public policy. So if you're thinking about any of these topics, give the FS vector Team A shout at fs vector.com or click the link in the show notes.

Hey, I'm glad we're finally making this work. You guys. Yeah, likewise, I want to start up you guys have known each other for a while. How did you two first me?

Jake  

Oh my god, probably just through the regular FinTech investing circles, standard serendipity, I would guess, or your way that I meet people as they already know shield, and so I get connected them. So

Nik  

it was it was COVID it was the pandemic, Jake and I are both really lonely. And so we connected in Slack.

Unknown Speaker  

Well, you're gonna hear

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

if you got if you guys didn't meet until COVID. You both had been in FinTech for a while before that to Jake, tell me a little bit about how you got into this space and sort of, you know, what's made you stick around?

Jake  

For sure. So I have always been really into finance. And you could even take it all the way back to when I was a kid like I was just obsessed with money, which can happen when you don't have any. And then I ended up going to MIT for college and I studied math and finance ended up working on Wall Street as an interest rate derivatives trader. I did that for about six years during the financial crisis. So if you want like a crash course and how markets work, how the economy works, how interest rates work, fed The Fed policy like you name it, and the financial crisis was the time to do that. And being on an interest rate desk was kind of the front row seat. So I got some experience that way. And then it was kind of coincidental that when I was leaving Wall Street and I wanted to move to California, and I wanted to start a company, or at least has kind of own something of my own, and not just work for somebody else anymore, buddy of mine, who I've known since middle school had started working on what would become NerdWallet which, you know, we weren't calling it FinTech back then, or even thinking of it as fintech. And ultimately, NerdWallet became, you know, a lot more than kind of a FinTech company. But I guess that was how I first started to dabble in, in FinTech. And then I left NerdWallet about four, four and a half years after after starting to work with Tim. And I started angel investing. And then so I was naturally kind of gravitated towards the things that I knew and that I really enjoyed. And so that tended to be FinTech and did a ton of that, not exclusively in FinTech, but a lot of my angel investments were in and around fintech. And through that I met Steele when he was starting a FinTech focused accelerator called 500. FinTech that was part of 500 startups, wanted to do some office hours and help out some of the portfolio companies that he had invested in and got sucked in. I loved working with him loved working with them, ended up investing in the Fund helping him raise the fund helping him like build the program, helping him like source companies and mentor the companies through the program. And then we ended up kind of going all in on FinTech and starting our own fund a few years ago on the back of that.

Nik  

Yeah, I'm pretty boring. I've only worked in FinTech. So I need a new hobby. It's so funny, I have a good friend who invited me to a FinTech reading group, or book club recently, and I think I think I have as much FinTech in my life as I need right now. I did a lot of research on international development and micro econ, when I was in college and worked in microfinance. And I really liked the mission of micro lenders to provide non bank financial services. But I did not like the nonprofit model where you're super grant dependent for your organization to survive year over year. And so by some coincidence, I ended up working my senior year as an on campus representative for a company called bling nation that Mickey Malka founded and he would go on to start Ribbit capital after blank. And we had this crazy idea is to slap stickers on people's phones to give them away to use to make NFC payments to point of sale terminals. And it wasn't a great product idea, because nobody wants to put a clunky NFC chip sticker on their phone. But it was a really interesting window into the idea that you can have digital payments in person where you know, I only had a debit card in college, I didn't even have like the credit to get a credit card. And so one way or another, I ended up getting connected through that to the co founders funding circle. And they're both coming out of GSB, Sam and Alex. And so they hired me as their first employee in 12, when I was like a bout a year out of school. And so I was there from, you know, a company of one to a company of 600 people and left shortly before the IPO and went to New York where I was part of the early team pedal. So Jason and Andrew, the co founders over there brought me on and I thought, at first Hey, this is an interesting place to park for a little while and just you know, helping get a product off the ground. But at the time 2016 nobody was really doing cash flow underwriting and nobody had launched a consumer credit card and fintech which building an absurd thing to say now. So I felt like there was really something there. And I ended up staying on for three years and the company grew again from like five to 100 people and then ended up getting have to go had a PDA Google Pay and with them for a couple of years. But I honestly enjoyed the hair on fire early stage startup world a lot more than 100,000 person company world, or their trade offs plus the minus. Every lunch was nice. That makes sense.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

Yeah. Jay, going back to you, did you always want to start your own thing? Or was that something that just after a few years of working on Wall Street, you're like, you know, I'm just I want to try to do something on my own versus working for someone else.

Jake  

So both kind of junctures in my life where I have started my own thing, they both happened, because I didn't think anybody would hire me for the job that I wanted to do. And so I grew up in front of a computer, I grew up coding. I always wanted to go into tech. I went to MIT to study software engineering and to get into technology. But the internet bubble burst when I was a freshman, and so all the tech companies disappeared from campus. And then so I saw like all the upper upper classes when I was in college, I end up getting recruited into consulting and banking. At the same time, it turned out that computer science at MIT is very hard. And I don't just mean hard, like intellectually hard, I mean hard like you're spending 50 hours a week on just one lab class and you still have three or four other classes on your on your docket. So I had to work while I was in school, and I also wanted to double major in So doing that with a computer science degree, I know people who did it, but I wasn't able to do it. So I ended up switching to math. And then I, which allowed me to kind of control my own destiny a bit it sounds when I say that I switched to math because it was easier. The computer science people think that's crazy. But it was, it was easier from a time management perspective to be a math major than a computer science major. And then I double majored. And at the Sloan School, like the business school, and studied quant quantitative finance there. And so I ended up kind of get this getting distracted from those tech dreams. But then after spending a couple of years on Wall Street, I was like, you know, this isn't really what I thought it was gonna be. And the iPhone came out, and I'm sitting on on the trading desk on my phone, like reading TechCrunch. All day, I had friends from school, who were a year younger than me and missed that wave of the internet bubble bursting, didn't have to see all that. And so they all went into tech, and started companies like Dropbox. And so I had to watch them from the sidelines. And so I started to get the edge. And I wanted to move to California, I wanted to get into the tech industry. I thought about going to business school, I thought about going to grad school, I took the GRE I took the GMAT, but none of that felt good. I was like I don't, I want to go into tech, but I don't want to go back to school to have to make that transition and waste a few of ultimately what I felt would be wasting a few years in my life. And so I was just like, oh my god, I'm just gonna move to California, and start building something. And it's going to fail. But I'll spend some time doing that for a couple years. And I'll learn enough that maybe somebody will hire me. And I just got really lucky because my buddy Tim was was working on NerdWallet. And I dabbled in a bunch of other stuff and ended up kind of spending most of my time with him and fell in and became his co founder and just stuck stuck that out for for a few years. And we actually were very close to failing after about two years. But like, kind of miracle better to be lucky than good. And then the company started to take off. So So it worked out.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

One of my questions is, you know, what were what was like a big high and a big low over your time period in FinTech

Jake  

said the I mean, the lowest point for me was probably when I left NerdWallet. So we were going pretty quickly, we were I think we were probably doing like 40 or 45 million in revenue, we had something like 50 employees. But I did not feel I was not growing and learning as fast as the company was. Neither my co founder nor I really had like, any sort of background in this stuff, we didn't have anybody helping us out. We didn't have investors, we didn't have advisors, we didn't know what we were doing. He seemed to be kind of adapting to it much better than than I was. And I think I just didn't have like the tools that I needed to learn how to be a really good founder when the company started growing really quickly, and I needed to grow with it. And so fortunately, I mean, at the same time, my my wife was pregnant with twins, I kind of made the decision with me with my co founders help that when the kids were born, rather than going on maternity leave, and then coming back, it was sorry, when the kids were born, I had also started helping hire a bunch of other senior executives that could help scale the company much better than I could including a replacement for myself, a new CFO, and a few other people to replace a bunch of the other kind of things that I was that I was handling. And so I made the decision that rather than go on maternity leave, and then come back and try to carve out a new role for myself reporting to those people, it made more sense for me to just go on permanent paternity leave. But it wasn't easy. And I didn't feel like I was going out. Like the high point in my career. Like I felt like I was going out of failure, honestly. And it took me a long time to really kind of get over that and like disentangle my identity from NerdWallet and kind of get used to get used to being home and then try to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life and how I was going to figure out what I could be good at what I could do well, and how to how to kind of stay productive and everything in the future and kind of create a new career for myself. And then I got into angel investing, and it became full time and I was in pretty hard, but it was working for me. And so it's spending a lot of time with my kids as they grew up. So, you know, in a sense, that was kind of semi retirement. For me, even if I was keeping myself busy. The high point would have been November of 2021 When Tim took the company public. And I had been out of the company for seven years at that point. But I got Tim invited me to come ring the bell with them. So I got to go to the NASDAQ and stand next to him and ring the bell with them. And we invited like a lot of that a lot of the people from like 2012 2013 2014 to come be part of the celebration. And it was a like a really nice family reunion that weekend in New York and gave a speech to all the people that were there. I think what kind of gave me the most pride was looking around that room and seeing like a lot of these people had gone on to do such incredible things with their careers after NerdWallet partly because they had NerdWallet on their resumes, and for, you know, back in, you have to rewind back to like 2012 and 2013, when we were hiring these people, like nobody knew what the fuck NerdWallet was, we had never raised any money or anything like we didn't have TV advertisements. We were just a couple of schmoes from New York that, like started making a credit card calculator and turned it into something more interesting. But these people took a risk to come work with us. And so to see them kind of go on to those bigger and better things, I think was really the highlight for me.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

Nik, what about you?

Unknown Speaker  

What was the question? Sorry,

Unknown Speaker  

high point and low, high point,

Nik  

low point, oh, hopefully the high point hasn't come yet. But, you know, the early days of funny circle, and this is this is the I kind of get like an abstracted version of the narrative. But it was a company called endurance lending at the time that Sam Alex has started. And then it became like the US entity for funding circle when we merged. So for the first year and a half, it was this company during Slendy network that was in this weird, undefined space, FinTech didn't really exist in the term back then I remember going out, we were trying to pitch for our seed round. And we didn't know what to call the company space that we're in, we were saying like online lending, digital lending, peer to peer lending, tech enabled lending, every VC we talked to was like, please get out of the office, and said, you know, for the first year and a half, we went from one employee me, you know, guy who is putting together a portfolio while and taking out the trash to nine employees. And it was like a painstaking process to grow the team to nine employees, but every single week, it felt like the company was going to fail, like, not not exaggerating, like every single week was like a new existential crisis. And we're like, oh, we'll never get past this. And then you do and you get hit with another crisis the next week. And so for the year and a half after school, when you know, my friends are all in banking, consulting, and, you know, the consultant going into their global offsites. And to loom and the bankers or, you know, staying at the St. Regis and buying BMW is at 23, it was ready for me to look at what we're building and say, you know, this is BS company and Bs space that doesn't exist, like every week feels like we're gonna collapse entirely. And I just don't know, I'm getting underpaid. I don't know if this equity is ever gonna be worth anything. I don't know, if I just stick around. I don't think this is a good career or life choice. So I just felt like that way, week in week out for a year and a half. But you don't have a choice, you know, the only way the other way out is through and you just kind of keep plowing ahead and pushing for and and, you know, for me, I think the day I just said, Look, either this is going to work or it is not going to work. And I'm gonna see through 100% of the way until we get an answer. But I think everybody else in the team felt that way too. And eventually, we met the funding circle team in the UK, we merged with them, we made a company that, you know, stood on its own and raised multiple rounds after that and grew to 600 people, I think it's like 1000 now and went public and, you know, still has its ups and downs, but it actually ended up working out. And I realized that I was lucky because that was, you know, vastly different from the majority of startup experiences actually having the first one be a success. But it was very frustrating. And I, you know, would go frequently, just like cry that frustration on multiple days along that journey. And so I was thankful for it afterwards, because it just made doing the same thing again, at pedal steel, like muscle memory, where we'd have giant things blow up. And I remember being on the phone at three in the morning with our payment processor, whose team was mostly based in Pakistan talking about how they haven't been pulling ACH on most of the card holders who thought that they pay down their balance. And yet, they're going into you know, penalty fees, because the ACH is actually going through and they look what is the problem, but it's a problem that we're going to solve. And then in a couple of weeks, when we get all the customer comes out of the way it will be on the next one. And so the low points, you know, now just never feel quite as low as they do those first few times. And I'm really thankful for that. And I think you kind of have to get that out of the way. And so I try to be a little bit more mindful and meditative and zen like about not getting caught up in the highs and lows. But I think the highest been really seeing this week in FinTech over time, actually become something that people have happy people read it. I'm happy people are in the Slack community. I'm happy I get to create, connect, connect, I get to connect to inspirational guys like Jake through it. But more than anything else, that we have a team on This Week in FinTech, yourself included who are excited to build this together. Like the idea that I could start something that actually motivates other people that want to join the journey and help build. It's just incredibly rewarding. And for me, the difference between funding circle and this week in FinTech and I don't know, you know, Jake might feel similarly is the experience of founding something, you'd see a lot of the same frustrations that your team is seeing, but it's a lot more emotionally involving for you when you start it. And so I feel incredibly lucky that there are other people who want to help build this with me, because it's the kind of thing we're doing what Jake was saying, like, I'm going to start something it'll probably fail, but we'll see where it goes. Like that's how I felt about this week in FinTech the whole time and having other people to Hey, actually leaving this is incredibly flattering. So that's definitely a high point for me.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

Over that same time period, where do you think FinTech has added the most value? And where do you think FinTech has kind of failed? And maybe failed isn't the right word. But you know, if I would have asked you 510 years ago, if x would have happened by now, you'd be like, yeah, like, of course, that'll be a thing by 2023.

Jake  

Yeah, I think that I mean, it's kind of a shame to say this. But I think the thing that FinTech has done the best and driven the most, well, I'm gonna, I guess I kind of have to answer. So in the US, where FinTech has kind of driven the most success has actually been pushing the incumbents to get off their asses. So, you know, there's been some successes along the way, there's plenty of good businesses that have been built. But I think the biggest impact has been kind of leveraging the things that had been built to force banks and insurance companies, and you name it to actually start rethinking their businesses and start kind of focusing on customer experience in a way that they weren't before, and moving more and more online in a way that they hadn't before. And I think kind of one of the biggest failures, it's hard with FinTech because, you know, I kind of equate finance and health as kind of like similar things, right, where there's just such a huge dollop of like, consumer behavior that falls into it, that goes well beyond just a pure technology problem. Or like a lot of finance, the issue is typically not a technology problem, or a product problem. And a lot of finance, the issue is, you can't force somebody to do something they don't want to do. You know, and it's kind of the same thing with health and nutrition and fitness and whatnot. Like, we all know, we need to eat more broccoli than chocolate chip cookies, it just sucks. And so we're not going to do it. And so the like, you know, the easiest answer to why PFM haven't worked is because it sucks, and people don't want to do it. So your average user, I mean, the macro oceans of the world, and people who like to hyper optimize everything, are really into this idea of a PFM. And the kind of people that like to start companies are really into the idea of a PFM. Because they want to hyper optimize, like their credit card rewards and their budget and their what have you like just where all their money is going? Are they getting the highest yield, like all that stuff, 99.9% of the population does not want to spend a single minute of any day thinking about their money, except how much money are they making, it's really the only thing that they care about. So that makes a lot of stuff and finance heart, and they were the biggest failures has been that like, we can't, we have not yet figured out the right way to deal with user behavior in those sorts of situations. And so and it and then I'd say the kind of related to that is also that like another big problem in financial services, and in FinTech broadly, is that the biggest opportunities are to help the people that just don't have access to these products in the first place. And that's also tends not to be a technology problem, because the real underlying issue is just that they don't have enough money. And so, like managing your budget, and stuff like that is not relevant if you don't have any money or managing your savings, or like investing and things like that just aren't as relevant if you don't have any money. And so I don't know that like tech can really solve the problem of helping people get access to more money necessarily, but I'd say like, those promises that you get pitched in 1000 different pitch decks around like people not having access to cash not having access to loans, and not being able to, like manage their finances or whatever. We have not yet figured out how to take those user behavior problems and those kind of like fundamental underlying, like, call it maybe a policy problem and solve it with with technology. You

Nik  

want to use thing dichotic I still manage my budget in a spreadsheet that update daily. The first thing I do morning, I like wake up, I walked the dog I work out and then I put my spreadsheet and I just make sure that I'm not insolvent. And I use mint and I use monarch money to and I liked the product. But for me, like I just didn't have money for the longest time and needed to have like a really tactile way to say like, oh, wow, I'm spending too much. I gotta pull back or like, Oh, hey, I'm actually gonna, you know, Drinks on me this Friday. But it's like, it's such an ingrained habit, though. Like, you can make the best PFM in the world. And I'm still going to fall back to you know what I was doing to start with? Yep. Yeah.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

So basically, it sounds like people that need it would never use it. And the people that would potentially use it might already have a spreadsheet that they're doing it with. I'm

Jake  

the opposite of Nik. I don't do anything. Like I really just don't pay attention to any of it. And it's it's funny because I used to get asked all the time, like Jake, what's in your wallet, you started a company that's all about credit cards, and I was like, I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that I do not pay attention whatsoever to what's in my wallet like I get the one card that I need. It's either a chase sapphire reserve or I use my apple card because it is the default when I go to use Apple will pay. And I do not pay attention to the rewards for it's just not. It's just so much mental friction to do these things. And there are people that are built to like chat Optimizely saying shield was one of them. I think that I think in his old age, he's he's losing that, that interest. But I was never that, like I just I can't focus on that many things at once. And if I started hyper optimizing everything I lose my mind.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

Nik, what about you? Where do you think FinTech has failed? Or fallen behind? And where do you think it's added the most value during your time in this space?

Nik  

I mean, it's like that that question is a really good one. And it can be so dependent on my context. Like I can say one thing about fintech. That's true in the US and like completely untrue if you look at Brazil, and so it's hard to kind of answer it globally. But if I were trying to, like create kind of a pithy statement about where I think FinTech haven't haven't delivered, I think the obvious problems are like, quote, unquote, obvious really haven't been solved in FinTech. But what happens, like when you get into anything, you start looking at the obvious problems, and then you realize that there's an underlying problem below that, and then you realize that there's a problem below that, and then you realize there's a problem, a lot of that. And I think the more nuanced fundamental problems with financial architecture and money movement, and core infrastructure actually have been solved in a really interesting way in a lot of different places, and a lot of different, you know, even esoteric niches or financial services. And I'm optimistic that that'll get us to a place where we can start layering back up, and we'll start solving a few of the more obvious problems in the future. So you know that I think that that kind of mirrors a lot of people's FinTech journeys, it's like anything else, like you get into Game of Thrones, because you watch the TV show. And the next thing you know, you're reading the books, and then you're leaving the subreddits, at 4am, reading conspiracy theory, and you just get more and more into something and you realize that there's a lot behind it. And I think a lot of people are starting FinTech, like I did where you know you want to do is help low income families manage their money better, but you realize that they're like unpacking that problem. There's a lot below it. And it's actually a problem of, you know, are people getting their paycheck quickly enough? And are they getting charged overdraft fees? And, you know, are they able to get rewards on the basic items that they're buying on a daily basis the same way you would with like a chase sapphire reserve card, and there's so many like underlying questions that kind of come back to, like fundamental infrastructure in the financial services ecosystem. And so I feel like we've had in the last decade, so many bright, talented, motivated, hardworking people come into FinTech through like the gateway drug of like wanting to solve the obvious problems, and then end up building companies like plaid like Stripe like ally that are like 234 layers down solving like deep connectivity issues, that will eventually create a good opportunity to ladder back up and started saying like, Okay, if we actually do want to build a killer PFM like now through plaid, you can connect all of your accounts in one place. And now through alloy, you can sign up for it really easily and qualify for new products right in that experience. And now through like an answer, you can like send a real time payment wallet to Wallet anywhere you want, even within your own wallets. And now with conversational AI, like maybe you have like a plain language interface that actually like helps you steer your money without having to like go in and set a bunch of like if this and that functions. And so like gradually, over time, when I think a lot of these building blocks are combined, will actually get back to solving like the quote unquote, obvious problems. But there's like a very long monologue way of saying, I'm really excited by what I'm seeing. I like the esoteric, non obvious problems that have been solved in the last decade. And I think that that'll eventually get us back to solving the obvious problems in the future. But as like Jake said, We haven't done that

Jake  

yet. There are a ton of unsolved problems. And that's going to be the case, if you just think of financial services, just like any other industry, like none of these industries are fully solved with technology. And the more technology we introduce the more you kind of create solutions for some problems. And then you create new problems. And you create a whole new wave of technology. And I think that right now, like like Nik alluded to, we just had this kind of wave of infrastructure come along, which was kind of a new thing. Like it was very similar to when the consumer internet was born, call it 20 years ago, earlier than that. Everybody was kind of building everything from scratch, right? And then you had AWS, you've had all this other infrastructure come along to work nowadays. You don't need to know how to code you don't need to really need to know anything to start a technology company. And there's the the barriers to building and the barriers to entry have fallen considerably. And FinTech until recently, like if you wanted to be a banking application, you kind of had to build a bank. And if you wanted to be an insurance company, you kind of had to build an insurance company. And that's not the case anymore. Like we have at least rudimentary like API's and infrastruc Sure to help make those processes easier. And so the barriers to building and the barriers to entry are falling. I think there's a long way to go. I think those sorts of enabling technologies tend to compound on each other over time. And eventually we'll get to a world where it's almost trivial to build to like, manufacture and deploy financial products. But we're not, we're not there yet. And then what I'm not creative enough to really understand or like for CEO have like strong visions for this. Like those things tend to create whole new sorts of innovation that is totally unpredictable beforehand. Like nobody was talking about Instagram or Tiktok. When we were building, like toy stores and pet stores online, 20 years ago, 20, God almost 25 years ago now. And so, like, I think that there's still a lot of innovation to come just by nature of the fact that we started to lay this groundwork to make things easier for people to build and innovate in financial services. So I'm still I'm still very bullish on it.

Nik  

I'll talk Jake's book too. I think that there's so much unsolved work to be done in FinTech. I think Fintech is, I think all of us can spend the rest of our lives in FinTech. And there will continue to be interesting developments in the space and interesting challenges and problems solved. I think it's a very, we're still at a very, very early chapter in the FinTech story. If I were talking to a new grad, though, I would say honestly, like what you do, for the first couple years of your career, like really doesn't matter, so long as you are learning to work. And you are learning to learn, and you are around really smart people who are going to push you. And so like, go into banking, and go into consulting, go into sales and trading, like join Google, it doesn't matter. Like just be around smart people and like seek them out whatever place you're working in. And like really teach yourself how to learn in a work environment. Because, you know, I came out of undergrad and I had the good fortune and also misfortune of like going to a pretty good university at Stanford. And so I came out of undergrad at 22 thinking that I knew everything in the world. And like I, you know, got my face completely smashed the first couple years of my career, because coming out of school, I had nothing to contribute, I knew nothing. And I needed to really, you know, develop credibility, but also learn how to learn within a work environment. And so if I were talking to my young self, what I would say is like, go someplace, you're going to be around smart people, where you're going to have to challenge yourself, and they're going to challenge you as well. And eventually, that will make you the kind of person who will find interesting problems to work on and have the credibility and the capability to go and work on them.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

I've always been someone that even my friends, I love having friends that are just like hard workers probably even better in their jobs in my I am and it just continuously motivates me to be better. And as a journalist, and as someone like, I love FinTech in the sense that anyone I was meeting as a journalist in this space, whether it be Charlie mom, Matt Harris, it all motivated me to be just this better human and work harder. So I definitely resonate a lot with that, too. So something that Helen did when she was doing the long form formats for us was a fire round at the end. So now I have a fire round of questions for you guys. I'll start with Nik and then Jake will answer and then we're going to swap just so the Nik has more time to think and then Jake, etc. What's something no one could find out about you online?

Nik  

I mean, imagine how hard this question is gonna be personal, you gotta like really did dig deep in our guys. When I was in middle school, I was training to be a junior, I was trying to be a junior Olympian, kayak, athlete or kayak or Jake or let you

Jake  

in this, you know, I don't think this is uncommon amongst founder types, but is certainly not something you talk a lot about. But I was an absolute degenerate when I was a kid. And so I was a real behavior problem. Like there were certain years in school when I got sent home almost every day, or at least every week, especially when I was a lot younger. And then like middle school, high school, I got suspended from the bus a bunch of times because our bus driver was kind of an asshole and I always had a problem with authority. I got suspended from school a couple of times and this in mind you this is a gifted school that I was going to and Atlanta and I kept getting suspended or sent to the principal's office or whatever, for various behavior problems, including like, one of the funniest in retrospect, but stupid as at the time was basically shoplifting from a book fair, like one of the Scholastic book fairs. And I didn't get caught. I got ratted on by one of my friends. And then are they still your friend? That's no, and they were not for very long after that either. And this was, you know, I was probably God, what was it was like, seventh or eighth grade or something. And the summer after my senior year, I actually spent a night in jail and had to be bailed out by my mom. And I would like to say that I kind of saw the light at that point and clean my act up but my freshman year of college wasn't any better. So

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

For your sake, I hope your twins aren't as much of a handful for you.

Jake  

I can already tell they probably won't be that aggressive, because they're also they have a lot more adult supervision than I did. But

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

Nereo when you're having a hard time, who do you call? Who's your your 911? List? I mean, my therapist? I tend not to, you're the first person to say that, but you're probably not the first person that yeah, I

Jake  

was gonna say, I don't, I tend not, you know, I kind of tend to like to be the person that like, eats all the shit for everybody else in my family. And so I don't tend to unload my issues on the people close to me. And so yeah, I was, I mean, the best answer is probably that, I just take it out of my I wore it to take it out on my therapist, or I take it out on a barbell. So

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

yeah, my husband would say, either therapy or his cycling bike. So Nik?

Nik  

No, I'm the same way I need to get better. I have a really hard time asking for help. And I think you know, there's this like, deep desire to like, have all the answers and solve all the problems myself until like, not need to rely on other people. I've come to appreciate as I've grown older, that like other people in your life want to be there for you whether the people you work with or whether they're, you know, my fiance, or my parents or my brother or anybody else. And so it's not a burden to talk to them about something that you're frustrated about, but it's just not something that's ever really combat related to me. So I just kind of find more and more socially productive ways to take it out. But you know, it's

Jake

something that we can tap on peloton together.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

Yes, we can jump on peloton, I would do. I'll do CrossFit, whatever you want. I'm I love working out and stuff or

Jake  

pick a workout. Actually, I have not forgotten this, Nik, if you can find time for me, either. When I'm in New York, or you're in San Francisco, we got to get together and tear some Shut up. You get a personal trainer for a day. Yeah. Very

Nik  

job. One that one that auction I own you now, say

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

an auction. I feel like you lost an auction. We got to make a

Jake  

promise I'll be in New York the next time? Well, the whole idea was like Nik gets to choose. And I have to basically put up with whatever

Nik

that's true coming out of that

Jake  

could choose like a bar three class or something? And I would have to show up and do it. So

Nik  

um, and there is a brief window of time where I dated somebody who's a Pilates instructor and I was doing CrossFit at the time. And so I had like, characteristically a lot of hubris about it. And she said, you know, boys is really difficult. And I said, No way, it's difficult. And so I went and did a class and it was me. And 31 M shaped women in his class, and I'm in the back and just getting more revenue over and over during like, I

Unknown Speaker  

showed up. How are you?

Unknown Speaker  

Crying? Yeah, so

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

yeah, that's true. That's true. But you went to

Jake  

court power budget, I was the first time I ever went. They tell you to go in the back and grab a white light pair of dumbbells. And so also CrossFit, weightlifting, all that I go in the back and I grabbed, I think probably like an eight or 10 pound pair of dumbbells. And then like, 15 minutes later, you're just holding them out like this and like, pulsating your arms. And I just like sheepishly collapsed and like, walked to the back of the room, dropped my weights and went down for like three or five pounds or something like a fraction of what I had been using. It was totally that guy.

Julie VerHage-Greenberg  

I love it. I love it. You were you were definitely not the first or the last guy to do that either. So you have that you have that. Well, thank you so much, you guys. I'm glad we had a chance to do this. I'm anxious for this whole series do out. We have a bunch of really good people on here, including you too. So I appreciate the time. Thank you guys.

Jake

Thank you.

Nik

Thanks, Julie