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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: Matt Burton and Jon Zanoff

🎧The Fintech OG Series: Matt Burton and Jon Zanoff

In episode number three of the Fintech OG series, we talk with Matthew Burton, former Co-Founder and CEO of Orchard and Partner at QED (now working on something new), and Jon Zanoff, the founder of Empire Startups in NYC. 

These two dove into how they got into fintech, their personal ups and downs (when each of them thought they were going to fail), and what they expect the biggest innovations to be over the next decade. 

Also, huge thanks to our sponsors at FS Vector and Empire Startups! Go to to learn more about their new compliance training platform, and if you still haven't bought your ticket to the Empire Startup Conference in NYC during New York Fintech week, go to and use code "FintechOG" for a special discount!

‎The This Week in Fintech Podcast: 🎧The Fintech OG Series: Matthew Burton and Jon Zanoff on Apple Podcasts
‎Show The This Week in Fintech Podcast, Ep 🎧The Fintech OG Series: Matthew Burton and Jon Zanoff - Mar 12, 2024


Julie: Uh, Jon, where are you calling in from today? New York?

Jon: The FinTech capital of the world. No, nowhere else.

Julie: That is debatable from some people, but

Jon:I let's go then. Sign me up.

Julie:  thank you so much for joining me you guys. I um, so this is part of the fintech og series that we're having here at TWIF and i've been doing it in pairs part of it because I love the whole Like radio show type style versus just me interviewing one person Also partially because there were so many people I wanted to have on here like great people in the fintech space And I was like, I can't do like 50 episodes, , so here we are so tell me how you guys know each other, actually.

Jon: I mean, it was. Prison was the first time, right? I was doing 8 to 10. Honestly, it wasn't me, but, um, Snitches get stitches. No, Matt and I grew up in the fintech community, and, you know, one thing when you were talking about going out and doing OGs of fintech, the reality is every generation has their OGs of fintech.

We've got a funny and, you know, probably this is the closest to your Gen X. segment, but you're going to do your boomer segment, your millennial segment, and your, uh, you know, Gen Z's [00:05:00] investing in private companies before they have a 401k plan segment a little bit later on. But

Julie: and Frank were the boomer segment. Don't tell them I said that, though.

Jon: yeah, yeah. I'll tell, I'll, I mean, they don't, they don't, they can't listen to this on their football in any way, so it's going to be fine. Uh, but no, it was, that was the, and you know, we can dive into this, but that, that was the New York city in tech community circa 2010 to the 20. 12. I mean, Matt, I'll chime in, but he was at the helm of Orchard at the time, just on a, on a rocket ship.

And I was pulling nerds in the same room together. The same thing I do 15 years later.

Matt: I think what was so interesting was like, uh, at that time there wasn't really that many events. I mean, maybe like three events per year. Um, if you sort of don't count money 2020, which was more of a payments conference, I feel like at that time and just starting out. Um, so it was a relatively small community in New York, you know, it's like, uh, it always has shocked me how sort of big fintech has gotten over time, you know, just in [00:06:00] terms of pure employment.

Julie: it's Julie, all the nerds back then knew each other. Everyone knew everyone at that.

Everyone still kind of knows each other though, like it's a, like Fintech just keeps getting bigger but it still feels super small in so many ways, which is what, part of the reason I think all three of us are still in it and what I love about it. Um, Jon, how, how did you first get into fintech? I know you do the events side and everything now, but what, was events your first foray into it? Or, you know, what sort of got you into the space? And then Matt, I want you to answer the same question too.

Jon: mean, God, no. I mean, you know, good for the, I guess, hospitality majors that got into event planning straight out of, out of school. I think I just wasn't that smart. I thought it was a good idea to go get a. Mechanical engineering and mechanics degrees and I thought I was going to go design race cars actually growing up But um, so there's like when how'd you get into financial services, I guess So, how did you get into tech and then there's how do you get out of the fintech community and those two are separate So, [00:07:00] you know, the, uh, kind of spilled it, but I studied engineering and ended up being recruited by trading firms, surprisingly enough, I was either going to go work, um, go buy my first Silverado and go work out in Detroit, or I was going to come to a trading firm here in New York, but they, they recruited us, you know, as heavy as can be out of engineering schools.

And at the time this was, you know, when I was in school, it was the late nineties, the stock market was just. Going crazy. You know, everyone was making, you know, this was like the pregame stop everyone was getting. Super rich on beta investing just in anything to do with the internet. And so I was, I was affected by that and decided, you know what, I can always go back to engineering school, but I want to, I want to see what this is all about when the year two is all about.

And so my career started on the American stock exchange running around. You know, one of those young, bright type a idiots with a trading jacket, um, running around screaming at people, it wasn't, um, you know, it wasn't until years later, maybe 10 years later that I decided, you know, [00:08:00] there's some amazing things happening outside of our walls and, you know, no one is thinking about technology and innovation after hours.

Let me pull some of my favorite nerds together. And that's really how originally it's called the New York fintech startup meetup. And, uh, I mean, those are the early days, just 40 nerds. I bought them the cheapest pizza I could possibly find. And, you know, that's how, that was my start, more 

Julie: You didn't pay for the pizza and bitcoin back then though, right? You're good?

Jon: I mean, not only, not only could I not pay with, you know, ETH, but the, , It was an accounting firm hosted us. The accounting firm didn't know what Pintech was. They didn't want to participate. They're like, you can use our conference room after 6 30, but none of our partners will still be in the building. I was like, would you, you know, throw in some pizza?

And it was just like a hard no. What was it like? Interesting. We'll see. They're just like, absolutely not. So that's where the, again, 2010, that's where the market was that same. [00:09:00] Accounting firm like couldn't get on stage. Uh, couldn't couldn't get on your pod if they paid You know at this point and back then they were just like, yeah, you can you can use our space, but we're not showing up And that was, that was an insect community.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I, I had a very similar sort of, uh, story. I mean, I, you know, spent the majority of the first half of my career in the advertising technology space, which was obviously big in New York as well. Um, and then I started investing some of my own personal money in the early peer to peer lending, uh, platforms and sort of building out some models to sort of, you know, uh, make better sort of predictions and.

Julie: angel investing this was like using their platforms to do

Matt: Hey, I know this is me with a prosper and lending club log in, you know, it's a downloading the like loan tapes and just having fun with it, you know? Uh, and, and anyway, I'd seen the rise of meetup in New York and I was like, this is, An interesting idea that there's sort of like [00:10:00] this SAS business that's focused on sort of like building communities.

Uh, and so I was like sitting around my partner being like, what community should I start? Right. Cause I had sort of been the attendee and I sort of wanted to see, you know, part of me was the products out of me was curious what their sort of host platform looked like, you know, and how they interacted and drove sort of content.

So I started the. Peer to peer lending meetup. Um, and I scheduled it at the bar across the street from my apartment because I was like, if no one shows up, I just go have a drink with my bartender and like we hang out and it's not a big deal. And then every single month more people showed up. It was, it was sort of.

That's when I sort of was like, Oh, there's, there's something happening here. Right? Like no one is, to your point, no one, no one was throwing around huge sponsorship dollars or sort of, you know, really putting carrots in front of people's faces to sort of lead them into the space. It was a lot of people who were just like curious, you know?

And I think that's sort of the common theme amongst a lot of us.[00:11:00] 

Julie: So, um, you know other than Having people actually pay for your pizza now perhaps even better meals than pizza now What's kept you in the fintech space? Like why is this still so exciting and you you know? You Each of you have had so many different forays and met so many people While here and you know, you you've stuck around and you could easily go do something else with your skill set as well Like mechanical engineering goes to other things Matt angel invest like he could invest in other things and stuff too, but y'all just seem stuck in fintech.

What's kept you here?

Jon: I put all the money, um, all the money in my bank and all three of us ask us this question once a week, at least. And so we're going to give a really shiny answer because this is Twiff and you're brilliant. But, uh, there's just no question that we don't sort of, before we're caffeinated, grunt at ourself and say, what the heck are we still doing?

Uh, but now I'll give you, there's, there's some seriousness to that, but I'll also give [00:12:00] you a more serious answer from my side and, you know, You know, that, that truly is the opportunity to support someone's dream and to support the underdog. And those are things that just highly motivate me. And correlated to that is that technology and financial services hasn't been inclusive and they're brilliant entrepreneurs from outside of the coast, maybe don't look like us that are building really interesting things and maybe haven't had that opportunity to support not only themselves, but their, but their families.

So for me, it's all driven by. Uh, thousands of founders that could go to a bank and make 10 X what they're making today. And instead they say, you know what? Forget it. I'm going to eat ramen noodle. I'm going to work in a coworking space. I'm going to five roommates in bedside because I'm going to do something that everyone said couldn't be done.

And. You know, if they're getting up before their alarm, uh, to work on this and hack on this you, you know, Be damn sure that i'm going to get up and do everything I can to pull the community together and pull [00:13:00] resources together for For the folks in the arena. So anyway a little a little long winded, but that's that's absolutely what keeps me in in fintech And I guess in the entrepreneurship slash innovation ecosystem as well.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think the network of founders has to be a big part of it. I mean, it's it, what I've come to appreciate about FinTech is it's super complicated, like even defining what the word

Jon: No, Matt, come on. Everyone's doing it. Everything is fintech. It has to be simple.

Matt: correct, but every time I like, sort of think that I have sort of conquered the major pillars that we sort of bucket in, in financial technology, I find another little space, right? That is, uh, that is sort of. You know, a big, huge, important cog of how the financial system works that like I was completely unaware of and has like, you [00:14:00] know, it's just like, sort of like the, the choose your own adventure novels, right?

Like it's just seems that there's always the next adventure right now. Now, who knows, maybe in five years, we'll be talking about how we've sort of like, you know, FinTech is sort of. And, you know, wiggled its way into every single space, but I sort of doubt it because, you know, at the moment there's sort of a big transition where a lot of the, what we call traditional fintech people are now pushing themselves more and more into the crypto space.

And I think that that's just going to like open up sort of a whole new playing field as, as sort of, we have more sort of real world assets sort of being reflected in sort of that new ecosystem. So I think there's like another 15 years to build. Now, the real question I have is. Is FinTech and VC a good marriage in that regard?

I would say no, right? Like the, the verdict has been, it's hasn't been a good asset class for VC. Uh, but that's fine, right? Like traditionally it was more private equity that [00:15:00] funded it. It was a lot of bootstrapped businesses. It was a lot of strategic investors that came in. So I don't think, I think FinTech can be fine with FinTech VC not being fine is sort of the message on that.

Julie: So when you guys got into fintech I I love asking this question because especially when you've been in it for you know a decade plus [00:16:00] what's something they thought, you know, by 2024, like, FinTech, it's got this. We're good. And it just hasn't materialized yet.

Jon: I mean, that's an awesome question. I also want to go back to, you know, can VCs help fintech? And what do VCs make in this market? I think now is a really interesting time because, uh, thousands of LPs are about to not get paid for funds they invested in in 2010 or 2020 and 2021. And we're divesting in some verticals that I'm still wildly optimistic about.

I'm sure the two of you are also wildly optimistic about it. We're divesting because the market had too much capital and companies blew up. Um, not necessarily because we've invalidated that as an opportunity in the market So anyway, and that also gets spicy because we can throw some shade at vcs, right matt.

Um, but uh, Um the thing that I you know, i'd say Gosh, we could take the question all over the place. What I would say is really surprising is that we don't have any [00:17:00] cohesive intelligence, fintech policy from any of the last three administrations. You know, 2010 to to 2015. I just, I just can't believe it.

 The fact that so few regulators can find their way to an Amtrak station, to come to New York to find out what's actually happening in financial service in the FinTech is, is just, is just mind boggling. 

It's, it's honestly just, um, You know, throwing feces at big evil banks and accomplishing nothing. So, um, sorry for the, um, soapbox, but I think the regulatory environment or specifically policy out of, out of the administration's been a huge surprise. 

Matt: I mean, I think that's spot on. I mean, If you look at sort of the quality of the FinTech apps, let's just put it, whether it's a small business or consumer, you've seen way more progress. If you're a Brazilian, right. Or whether if you're from the UK or Canada than you have in the U S and the, and the issue has not been technology, nor has it been.

Capital to build these [00:18:00] systems. It's been the regulators who just make it incredibly difficult to navigate. Uh, and part of it's on purpose, right? Like we have a culture of, of sort of the regulation is one that they want to, it's sort of by enforcement. So we sort of have to wait until the sec goes after somebody to sort of know what the laws are on a go fund me.

forward basis. And like, that's very difficult because those court cases take years. I mean, if you, if you look, you know, basically we didn't get an ETF in Bitcoin for a decade because we were just waiting for the court system to finally rule on it. And so, yeah, I mean, I think that's one. And then, you know, the other one I think about a lot, um, and mainly just because I'm very involved in a bunch of early stage businesses is just how hard it is to get banking relationships.

I mean, these are like. FinTech experts, well capitalized, everything like we should be able to open up a bank account, right, to [00:19:00] be able to do basic sort of stuff for our customers. And the hoops that you have to jump through with banking as a service or the big banks is, the friction is just crazy. 

Jon: Is that more banking, interesting, innovative companies matter? Are you talking specifically about borrowing a charter to, to, to launch bank financial product? Do you mean like a FinTech partnering with the bank, borrowing their charter, so to speak? So that they can distribute financial products and you're talking more just.

Microbusinesses in general and how much of a pain in the ass financial services and tech is for them all the above all the

Matt: I mean both, but I would mainly focus. Yeah, I was mainly focused. The comment was more focused on, let's say that you want, you have an innovative payments sort of business that you want to do. Right. And you've identified supply chain or sort of the growth of the U. S. Mexico trade, et cetera. Right. And you want to sort of plug in and sort of a B to B to B and plug into logistics people and help them move money and sort [00:20:00] of just Track their businesses, better run their businesses.

Like a huge portion of that is like, can you get through the gauntlet of being able to open up one of these parent child bank accounts? Right. And largely what we've seen in the last decade, I think, is we had this hypothesis that, you know, the FinTechs were going to partner with the small banks and they were going to take market share from the big banks.

And then the big banks were going to have to react because they were losing market share. Well, most of the small banks are no longer doing that. Around right, like Silicon Valley Bank is gone and and many of the other sort of of their kind have disappeared. And then the guys who are left as the banking as a service, you know, are very, very cautious right now.

Like, at the moment, they're worried about losing sort of the regulatory pressure is very high. So, you know, Onboarding new customers is sort of like the lowest priority they have, and it's just sort of stifling innovation. Like again, right? It's, you know, you just I look and it's just I was very wrong.

Like J. P. Morgan ended up having an amazing 10 years from 2014 [00:21:00] to 2024. You know, I didn't have that in in my cards when I got into this. I thought that I thought that 

Julie: of things that have happened in FinTech that we did not have on our bingo cards.

Matt: Exactly.

Julie: Um, you know, on the opposite end of the spectrum, where is something where FinTech might have exceeded your expectations from when you joined the space? 

Matt: Yeah. I mean, look, I think the thing that I'm like most excited about that it's being adopted is the access to earn wages. Right. Like this whole idea that you sort of work for an employer and they hold your money for a period of time, right. Sort of as an interest free loan to the company. Um, and then for a lot of these people who are under financial stress and sort of trying to piece together friends and family before they can sort of hit their paycheck.

Um, and. You know, in the U. S. We're lucky because we get paid every two weeks for the most part, but the rest of the world is not like that. It's once a month, you know? And so I really [00:22:00] do think that in that category, I've just been pleasantly surprised at the ability to sort of Create a new way of sort of letting people access their real time wages.

You know, this was really pioneered by the ubers of the world, right? But now it's sort of spreading everywhere. And the second piece is like there was a sustainable business model that could be created, right? These companies are actually profitable. I'd like a lot of fintechs that, you know, Did do good, but couldn't figure out how to make money.

And then the third piece is that, and it's distribution channel, the employer actually wants to add it as an employee benefit, you know? So it seems to be one of those rare ones that sort of like all the parties sort of agree that somebody knew had to come in to stitch everything together to sort of provide this benefit.

So, um, there's that one that I'm sort of excited about. And then on the peer to peer lending side, uh, you know, my view on that is like the sec just destroyed the space in the U S right. It was like, [00:23:00] we, we were moving towards a space in which we were sort of making the loan individual loan more and more transparent and more and more sort of a, uh, liquid and the ability to trade it.

And we basically got told by the sec that like, they were going to come after anyone who did that for securities law where For the, you know, the vast majority of the history of the U. S. Loans are not securities. So it's a hyper aggressive stance that they sort of took on that side. And when they took that stance, then all of a sudden you, you, there was no sort of path forward for all these guys.

And so Lending Club got their bank, you know, and so if I got a band, they went the traditional route. Now, I think what we're seeing, though, is, is that the They're not very good companies on the traditional side, right? Like once they start to have to sort of like act exactly like a bank, their competitive advantage is way down.

And so if you look at sort of the stocks, you know, there's a whole group of people who all went public and then lost 90 percent of their sort of market cap, you [00:24:00] know, in the first six months. And I just think that that's the problem is that if you have to compete against the incumbents on their own turf, It's incredibly difficult still to today, you know?


Jon: And anyone in or out of your portfolio on the EWA side that you're excited about?

Matt: I mean, honestly, like I'm excited about all of them, right? So I was involved with like rain, uh,

Jon: You want an EWA ETF? Is that what, is that the next business that you're going to launch? That's

Matt: one of the biggest. So, so there's rain in the U S which I was very involved with sort of the founding, then there was menu in Mexico that I was very involved with. And then I've known the wage stream guys in Europe since they've started the business as well and have loved what they're working on. And then obviously daily pay is sort of.

been the one in the U. S. That sort of gets the most press. They had a huge fundraise just yesterday, right? And it looks like they're going to be a big I. P. O. Candidate. Um, they say 2025. But my guess is they're just ready to go as soon as the markets sort of open back up. Um,[00:25:00] 

Julie: Yeah, can you tell us what you're doing yet, Matt, or no? Is this still a secret? Because I think you should spill the beans on this podcast. Ha

Jon: why we're here. That's why I'm here, Matt. Ha ha ha. Ha

Matt: answer to this. And there was a big reveal that was going on. But, um, yeah, I mean, I, I realized sort of, I didn't take a break at Orchard, so it was sort of like five and a half years without a break. And then I didn't really take a break when I joined QED. Um, and then I started sort of incubating companies there and working on special opportunities.

And. I found myself sort of just being like, wait a minute, like I'm just sort of being pulled in a direction. I'm not being mindful of like, is this the direction that I need to be going right back to that earlier question? We have the question of like, it doesn't make sense for us to stay in fintech once a week, right?

I sort of had like a bigger moment in that time. And then, as I sort of reflected, I said, okay, well, I need to sort of not do anything proactively for a period of time in order to sort of have some mental clarity around it. [00:26:00] And so that's sort of like last year, I tried to just not sign up for anything full time.

Um, but the beauty of it was, you know, there was plenty of work for me to do because there's tons of stress in the system. There's a lot of founders who want help raising. Equity raising debt. They're in an M and a process and like their board is not working for them anymore. And so they're just looking for somebody to sort of come in and help.

And so between sort of my existing portfolio companies that I was very close with, as well as sort of a lot of my network, you know, it's like, I found myself like, Oh wow, I have sort of total full plate, just helping these people out. But going forward, like, this is my big question, right? Like I got pitched my first CEO role that I was like, Ooh, I might actually consider that.

Just last week, you know, and it's like, I still wait for that idea. That keeps me up at night. Um, but now I know how hard it is. Like I've now watched at least 20 founders like up close, like where I've been a part of every single major decision they've made [00:27:00] in FinTechs. And I just know it's, Very difficult path.

It's much, much easier to build an AI company or to like, you know, build, you know, in other spaces because you just don't have the regulatory complexity because you don't have the capital intensity of a lot of these models, right? Like they're FinTech. There's just a lot more ways to die. So like I have those scars.

And so I want to make sure that like, if I do.

Julie: ways to die.

Matt: It's true though. I don't, at Orchard in 2016, like very few people know, but we lost 50 percent of our customers in a six month period. All lenders and like they found the most creative ways to blow themselves up. There was not a single one that was the same way that they ended up doing it.

You know, some had issues in servicing and data quality issues and some had issues in marketing and some had like, you know, Internal fights amongst the executives and some debt providers got pulled. Like, it's just there again, startups are [00:28:00] hard, right? You need everything to go right for you. And it's like, unfortunately, like in the FinTech world, you need like, you know, it's not three things to go, right.

You need like five or six to go right in a row. And so it's just, again, I think that that's, it's why the sort of prize is bigger, it's why people are sort of drawn to it because it's harder, 

Julie: I love that from like, The Outsider, you see all these like, successful exits and you just assume like, there were no big things that happened in there. There's not a single founder. That I've talked to from PayPal, to Aaron Frank, who built Final, which is now the Apple credit card, to Matt at Orchard, to whoever you name it, where there wasn't a point where they thought, like, many points where they thought it just wasn't going to work out. 

Jon: I tied into, you know, why I'm still in, why I'm still in FinTech and why I'm still supporting Entrepreneurs, it just comes down to what do you, you know, not to get too dramatic, but what do you want on your, on your deathbed? I want to, I want to have taken every shot, taking every chance, [00:29:00] um, taking big swings and, you know, failed, failed miserably along the way.

And again, if anyone's in the arena and working on that, I'm going to support it. But I think to your point. Not only, um, has every successful company hit roadbombs. I mean, I've been on board meetings. I've been, you know, a millimeter from from top fintech companies today. I've been in board meetings where they were a millimeter from shutting down.

You know this year, Sorry for the plug, but Empire FinTech Week is April 8th to the 12th and the conference April 10th. I mean, we have Unicorn and Decacorn founders that were already getting wiring instructions together to pay back capital before they hit some inflection point. Um, and that's the, that's the difficult journey.

Um, you know, you're signing up to do something incredible. And you have a spot. 0. 1 percent chance of success is the reality of entrepreneurship. [00:30:00] Um, I mean, back to your point, Matt, just really quick on the EWA side. I mean, I like that because it's, it's actually an unpopular opinion. EWA can be polarizing.

A lot of folks and I've been one of them. I got and say, I'd rather figure out how to help consumers save money than spend money. Um, the other thing that I'll go out and say is there's a lot of analog markets or not real time markets that entrepreneurs, of course, intuitively as technologists who say, let's digitize this, let's digitize all it's and digitize, you know, every aspect of capital markets.

And the reality is there's not enough demand and. You know, I'll be the first to admit that I simply was wrong about the opportunity for EWA. It's exploded. Um, and probably the takeaway for entrepreneurs is make sure you stay the obvious, talking to customers, really understand that demand, don't digitize some product or service just because it should be digitized and it's done in an analog fashion today.

So anyway, kudos to you for your spicy and unpopular opinion. Slash Jon Zanuff was wrong about EWA.

Matt: Well, I mean, just to finish that thought, [00:31:00] I mean, the, the thing, and we didn't know this until we were already live, right? So back to this whole thing of like, you have to jump into deep end before you have the data on whether the thing's going to work or not, but when I knew EWA was going to work was when we saw that.

Employees who checked how much they were making on a daily basis would pick up extra shifts and be on time more than non employees. And so there was not just the digitization of the data, of the payroll data, and the timekeeping data. But it was actually when you allow someone to know what their net earnings is on a per day basis, it helps them financially plan better. Right. It's not just like, do I want to pick up an overtime shift on Saturday? They can know exactly what that means in their pocket. And so for me, that's it was less about sort of the pure access point on, you know, somebody who had a Emergency, their car broke down or this or that and needed to [00:32:00] withdraw.

But when you see in the behavior with the withdrawals are relatively small portion of the entire employee base every month, but the number of active users who are just using this as a financial tool to help plan was actually very high. Uh, and the cool part about that is if you have those eyeballs, if you're the money button on the phone for the employees, you know, for them checking their employer data, then you can cross sell.

And that's what like menu has like been and done an amazing job in Mexico with is all of a sudden you're at the point in which you can offer all these other employee benefits via that, that real estate. And for me, like, I don't know how you guys have felt on employee benefits, but like they have never felt accessible to me.

It's always like a pitch that the HR person says that like, you have to go hunt down, you know, is there a mental health. Portion, or is there sort of savings on X, Y, and Z or this or discounts? And my view was, it was always going to end up on an app, right? It's always going to end up on somebody's phone at some point, you know?

And, um, but, [00:33:00] uh, but yeah, I mean, I think that this is, uh, this is the type of conversation it was like, what went well and what didn't go well, what was surprising, what was not surprising. Right. I think that we actually can have perspective. I think if you had asked us two years ago, we would have all said like, you know, that like FinTech was going to the moon, you know?

Jon: Yeah. I mean, I'm, um, I don't know about that. I don't know about that. I've always been, I've always liked to have a bit of, uh, realism and mixed in with my wild optimism, but, um, now it's an interesting take on, uh, on, on, and 

Julie: all right, so we're coming up on our fun round and I want this to not be work related and it's quick fire So Matt what has been a personal highlight from the past year and we'll say personal highlight from 2023 because we're only a couple weeks into 24

Matt: uh, yeah, I became a dad in

Julie: Oh, congrats, that's so exciting. I didn't know that, boy or girl?

Matt: It's a boy, uh, Oliver.

Julie: Aw, I love [00:34:00] that name, so cute. And you would be, uh, slammed by your wife if you did not name becoming a dad as your highlight from the past year then. Jon, what about you?

Jon: same, it just happens to be that I'm a dog dad. I have a 13 month old beautiful baby kitty girl that, uh, that is the center of our, of our universe. I'd say the other thing on the personal side where my, my wife did take first place at New Jersey Spartan Ultra. So if you've ever run 35 miles up and down a mountain, You can compete in a Spartan Ultra and not only 

Julie: just gonna let her take that one, I have no interest in doing

Jon: not only has she done it, but she's uh, She's she's she's been on 

Julie: very good at it, apparently. Yeah. 

Jon: Oh,

Julie: Jon, question for you this time. First, if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Jon: man, we just had this this is like, uh First date topics, whatever, you know or your networking topics Sort of laughing at it and you know who you [00:35:00] want to break bread with there are a lot of people But if i'm only picking one, I'll pick one that no one's going to take which is Keanu Reeves. He's like my You He's my guy.

We're going to sit down. We're going to talk, um, motorcycles and, and guns and, and man stuff.

Julie: I feel like you would be a pretty good dinner guest. I feel like that's probably a good choice.

Matt, what 

Jon: And nothing, and not talking about FinTech at fucking all. You can edit that one as needed.

Matt: Uh, yeah, I mean, I'll do a fintech one. Like, uh, you know, I would probably want to have dinner with SPF. Like I have been following sort of like that whole FTX craziness from the beginning. Um, and I know he's in jail, so it's going to be difficult for me to have dinner with him, but I'm so curious. Like I have so many questions.

For how that played out and what actually went down, you know, and uh, you know I think it's it's interesting because now it looks like the estate is going to actually pay back everything close to par 

Julie: It's 

Matt: [00:36:00] um when it's all said and done and uh You know, I was told at the beginning by a bunch of people that the exact same thing happened at lehman You know that like lehman at the beginning everyone thought was 30 cents on the dollar and it ended up when everything was paid off You know, even after you know If you've looked at the bankruptcy fees that the lawyers are taking, like after they've charged FTX as a state a billion and a half dollars beyond that, it looks like there's a chance that everybody would make

Julie: I love that you've done so much research on this. I'm learning things. Uh, back to Matt for the first one. Um, when you're having a hard time, who do you, who's your first person that you're gonna call? Who's your 911 list?

Matt: Oh, man.

So, so I deal with this a lot with founders. Um, we're in a high stress environment. You need your outlets, right? Uh, what I have realized is that my outlet is Is actually not hopping on the phone and talking to people, [00:37:00] right? Everyone's different for me. The only thing that could sort of relieve enough stress that would allow me to sleep was I needed to be in a really hot sauna or a really hot shower bath.

Like I physically needed to exhaust myself in order to be able to go to bed. So that was my coping mechanism on all of that stuff. Um, for other people it is like they call coaches, they call parents, they call other people. But for me, like My talking about it more would just make it spin faster in my head and my subconscious.

And what I actually needed to do was unwind the thing in order to think clearly. Um, and so, you know, for each founder that I work with, we always figure out what is your sort of release valve. It could be going skiing or snowboarding, right? Or it could be going on a road trip. But, you know, or complaint playing guitar, like you, you need to identify it ahead of time and know sort of what that safe place is because you will get to the point of sort of like a nervous breakdown and you're going to have to sort of, you know, [00:38:00] not, not go down that path.

Julie: Jon. Jon.

laughs Um, I guess, I, I, I guess not. So, you know, related is, you know, my, from a mental health and head space standpoint, very, very similar. Um, I mean, I think I'm on, I'm on 30 straight years of working out six days a week, and if I don't have that consistency, those endorphins, um, and that, um, and those, those chemicals to just overall lower anxiety and, and save off depression, I'm in bad, I'm in a bad spot to be, to be, to be, to be candid, and I can predict, you know, the only good news is I can absolutely predict those weeks.

Jon: Um, it's as simple as as was I able to do something something physical but um as far as phone a friend Um, you know, I definitely have other um, you know Gen xers tends to be gen x ceos ceos just a very lonely spot entrepreneurship is a lonely spot folks who who You know, won't judge and [00:39:00] understand the reality that once a week, you're in an existential crisis and you're wondering if you're focused on the right things.

If you're working hard enough, if you're nurturing relationships that you need to be, you know, nurturing along the way, it's, it's very, very difficult those, um. You know, those are folks like Neil Gnu of Finch or Lawrence Latimer and, you know, Ron J. Williams from, um, Gennaro and from, um, from Venture Studio.

I mean, those are, those are, those are folks that are just on my, my Rolodex. But the quick, the quick, uh, this is a lightning and fun round. It would be other CEOs in the space that just understand the loneliness.

Julie: So, final question and Jon, we're back to you answering first. What's something about you, that no one could find out from the internet? There

Jon: and video phones. You know, that's like a. If you want to talk about like millennials versus Gen X, there's no incriminating evidence from when I was in university, [00:40:00] I don't think, at least not on anyone's phone. But um, um, you know, I'm a big baker.

I think that surprises people. Um, I have a cheesecake that'll knock your socks off. And, uh, and no one's, you know, no one's going to pick Jon Zanoff as winning. A bake sale, but, uh, I think I've won the baking competition at every company I've ever, ever worked in and we'll continue to do so. So definitely a sweet tooth and, you know, whoever I have an apron on, perhaps then, you know, uh, you know, be sitting in front of a terminal coding for, for Fintech.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, well, first off, having the name Matt Burton, it's like very difficult for anyone to find information on me because it's such a common name. And I realized that that's like, at first I was sort of bummed about that. And now I've realized it's actually a good thing. Like, um, yeah, I mean, uh, something that, that people wouldn't know, um, that, uh, about me.

Is, uh, you know, we, we ended up with a flock of sheep. [00:41:00] Um, and so now, uh, you know, in addition to the full time shepherd, I help out, uh, with that, uh, in the Hudson Valley. And, uh, you know, we had a Husky come visit and, uh, basically. Just be lined it towards the sheep and jumped over and wrecked the whole thing.

And the sheep all spilled out onto the main highway. Uh, and so then I was like having to help a bunch of people sort of heard them back in and we thought we had done it successfully. And then all of a sudden we counted them and we were missing one. And so we ended up. You know, as a massive group tracking into the woods, you know, following the tracks cause the snow was fresh, you know, and then finding the sheep and then realizing like, it doesn't matter if you have six people, like catching a sheep is like incredibly difficult.

Julie: Oh

Jon: Did you,

Matt: So it ended up,

Jon: chief? Did you name that chief Norman?

Matt: exactly, exactly. We definitely looked at the tag and we finally caught it. Um, but yeah, that was, uh, [00:42:00] you know, for me, it's always been like, our digital lives are just, and now with remote and everything, it's so very easy to sort of make that connection. That sort of all of work and stuff.

And like, I'm always trying to figure out some way to bring it back to a physical space where building a structure, repairing something physical, you know, dealing with animals, you know, it doesn't need to be a huge portion of my life, but I've realized that, you know, I have a higher quality of life if I can do that every now and then, you know, and I feel like sort of baking is the same way, like you're doing stuff with your hands to some degree and it's like not just writing emails and typing on laptops and

Julie: away from our conversation is that in order to not lose your mind as a FinTech founder, you need to have a herd of sheep. Is that what I'm getting?

Matt: be a baker.

Julie: And be a baker! Perfect! Uh, well thank you so much you guys, I'm really excited for this episode to come on out, as well as the other episodes.

I'm having trouble figuring out which one I want, like what the order is, cause I want all of them to just go out at once and be in the universe. Um, but thank you so much again, I know you both are [00:43:00] very busy baking, or herding sheep, or you know, being fintech space, all of the above. Um, so I appreciate you taking the time today.

Jon: Thanks, Julie. Thanks for having us. Yeah. We'll see you in April for New York Fintech Week.

Julie: There we go! Don't forget about it, guys!

Matt: And see you there. Bye