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When Running a Startup, There is No Such Thing as a “Perfect”​ Time

It was the middle of summer when we received an email calling for startups to demo at Finovate. We were busy (as always) but this was an opportunity to debut our UnBias™ product in front of thousands of potential customers, partners, and investors.

It wasn’t a “good” time (but is it ever?!). We had some massive customer engagements in flight, product updates, and a brand new UI in the works, and last (but certainly not least), I was approaching the third trimester of pregnancy with my second child.

Despite all of these reasons on the contrary, I knew we had to do it. With the markets and financial landscape evolving so rapidly, increasing access and fairness in lending is more critical than ever – and we know we’re uniquely positioned to help.

After all, after years of talk about addressing bias in lending, we are now seeing lenders want to take proactive action to tackle this complicated and difficult issue. It’s no longer acceptable to simply “check the box” on minimum requirements to address fair lending. These formalities will no longer meet the expectations of regulators, customers, or stakeholders – all of whom are looking for lenders who understand how high the stakes are. Since Day 1 of Stratyfy (more than 5 years ago), we have built our products around this mission at our core: increase access to financial products and help lenders say “yes” to more borrowers, safely. And the market is finally ready for us.

We were the first demo – literally – at 9 am on Monday morning. Not the time slot I was hoping for, but the team helped me realize that this, too, was a great opportunity – a chance for us to set the stage, make our mark, and then reap the rewards for the full three days of conference that followed. And this is exactly what we did. It was a lot of work, a big investment of time and stress budget, but we made it happen – and I couldn’t be more proud of what our team accomplished.

The entire team contributed to the effort, and it was awesome to watch it happen. This is what makes working at a startup fun, exciting and challenging – this combination of audacious goals, tight deadlines with big pressure, and individuals finding a way to make their mark.

When my co-founder Dima and I were backstage waiting for Greg Palmer to call our names, I was nervous. But the moment we stepped on stage and I got the first few words out of my mouth…. “13 TRILLION!” … all of the practice and preparation fueled us forward. And to my surprise, I actually truly enjoyed the 6 minutes and 54 seconds.

Why? Not because I enjoy the spotlight (I don’t), or because I got to invent an entire lender named after my favorite hockey team (Go Penguins!), or because we finished just before the 7 minute gong – but because I had the opportunity to draw attention to the complex, urgent issue of bias in lending AND what Stratyfy can do to help lenders address it.

We’re seriously committed to changing that 13 trillion statistic, and to reshaping the financial system so that opportunity is truly equitable no matter who you are. And looking out at the crowd, or chatting with interested visitors at our booth afterwards, I could see people were genuinely engaged in what we’ve built – a signal that our industry is finally ready to take action and join us in our mission.

I left the conference proud of Stratyfy, our team, and our mission. This collective momentum towards reimagining a more equitable future is so critical to our industry and to the people it serves. And a nice perk of Finovate: we took home Best in Show!

We met a ton of potential customers and partners who align with our mission and believe in the value that UnBias can deliver to their businesses (if you’re one of them and we haven’t chatted, feel free to email me). I even got to talk more about it with Greg later on the Finovate Podcast (check it out here).

So while there’s never a “perfect” time for anything when you’re running a startup, I’m still riding the high from FinovateFall. Plus, I am pretty sure I was the only presenter who was 8+ months pregnant – and having my latest little guy be part of the whole thing was a pretty awesome cherry on top!