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Please Launch a Fintech Startup

Alternative Title: Stop Being a Coward

Surprise! I’m pissed off at something I read on the internet. But this article in particular hit home in more than one way: it took a swing at both my professional and personal identities.

Personally, I value courage greatly; it’s a core tenet for my career, my family, and myself. I refuse to let risk paralyze me from making a decision. I refuseto raise cowardly children. I refuse to do something meaningless with my life. I refuse to settle.

Professionally? I’ve devoted my career to hard problems: connecting people with opportunity at LinkedIn, building the new operating system for our financial world at Addepar, and now making the everyday economy frictionless for millions of consumers here at Exeq. It’s engaging, rewarding, and a ton of fun along the way.

I think what irked me so much about Matthew Hughes’ article was the combination of a reluctance to tackle hard problems like digital currency with the fear of the unknown.

Let’s face it: the biggest problems facing the world today are hard. From renewable energy to efficient transportation to bringing the financial system into a digital future, if we as a generation shy away from difficult problems, none of these will be solved in the near-term.

The brightest and best shouldn’t be focused on building yet-another-photo-sharing-app, but rather should dedicate their lives to solving problems that matter to the world.

Sure, building a fintech startup is difficult. Let’s suppose that Hughes’ analogy of “in the best conditions, it’s like landing a free-throw from 100 feet, but you’re wearing a blindfold. And your hands are tied behind your back. And you downed a handle of vodka immediately beforehand” is a true depiction of what it’s like to start an ambitious fintech company. Here’s a question that wasn’t entertained in the article:

What happens if the free-throw goes in? It’s a good thing there’s vodka nearby: time to celebrate.

Energy becomes a sustainable resource, enabling generations to enjoy life on this planet. Transportation becomes a seamless experience for moving 8 billion people (along with their resources and ideas) from one place to another. Trade and economies become efficient at scale, creating wealth for the masses and leading to an unprecedented quality of life.

“But it’s too hard!” is just a lame excuse used by lazy people who refuse to tackle the hardest of problems because they are afraid or because it could possibly be inconvenient.

A Lesson from Tel Aviv

Since having joined Exeq, we’ve grown a ton already. We’re a part of the 2017 Barclay Techstars class in Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s been an absolute blast so far, and I’ve learned a ton. One of the Hebrew words that I’ve learned here has been bekef, which is often used as you’re welcome, but it’s also more than that. It’s the equivalent of joy, pleasure, or fun. It means “good vibes”.

I have the privilege of serving alongside a great team of people here at Exeq dedicated to solving the hard problem of everyday finance. The friction, the inefficiencies, the irrelevance. It’s a huge pain point that affects the way that real people lead their real lives. Currently, the way that the everyday financial system functions distracts people from joy. It steals good vibes.

The everyday financial system robs people of bekef.