5 Things No One Told Me Before I Quit My Job to Join a Startup

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Two months ago, I took a massive risk: I quit my job with a government organization and took a job with a startup. I left what many would argue is the safest job, to go work for a company with little job security. My parents thought I was insane. Was it worth the risk? I sat down with my friend Sean Michael, who also recently transitioned to a role at a startup, and we came up with 5 things we think you should know about working for a startup:

Anything is possible, money and time are your only constraints. During the interview process, Empire Startups Founder Jon Zanoff asked me what my ideas were. I rattled off a few things I knew would make a tangible difference, and Jon said “Great, now you just have to make them happen”. At the time, I didn’t realize he wasn’t listening to my answer, but rather gauging my reaction to having that much autonomy. Startups are high growth organizations, so the possibilities for improvement and growth are limitless. The number of hours in the day and the costs associated with these changes are usually the only barriers. It was really easy for me to propose the launch of a blog and make the case for the value it could add, but after adding a few more projects into the mix, on top of my standard workload, I see how my own time and energy is a limit to how much we can do. 

Bureaucratic hoops are replaced with rings of fire. Start-ups require quick, on-the-spot decision making. In larger and more hierarchical organizations, projects get held up while getting proper-signoff. It can be frustrating to put forward a proposal you’re enthusiastic about, and then realize it will take several months just to get approval for the project, let alone implementing it. In startups, you’re frequently the decision maker and the rescue squad. You have to put out fires and make rapid-fire decisions while giving every decision its due diligence. You can put an idea forward, get the go ahead, and begin implementation all in the same day. The question isn’t whether you have ideas, but rather do you have what it takes to deal with a crisis while also managing several timelines.

Throw away all notions of the 9-to-5. We all know that work-life balance is important, but that balance shifts when you work for a startup. If your startup-up is scaling quickly (which you hope it would be!) you’re almost always on call. Every issue that pops up is urgent, and requires your immediate attention, which means answering emails on weekends and solving problems in your pajamas. Perhaps you work entirely remotely, so you’re home becomes your office. This all sounds daunting, but as most startup employees can tell you, is also incredibly rewarding. I found that being entirely in charge of a project meant that I was happy to take a call on a Saturday, or in one case, even teach myself enough Python in one evening to complete a project. When you have autonomy over your work, you feel responsible for it, and at the end of the day, proud of your organization.

 If you’re really worried about losing all work-life balance, or even worried of burning out, ask about the company’s flexible working policy prior to taking the job. Can you work from home, or take work home in the evenings instead of sitting at the office until late at night? At the same time, you need to be realistic about how much time you are willing to dedicate to your job. Startup employees are passionate about what they do, and that leads to more than 40hours a week, almost every week. Only take the job if you’re passionate about the mission, and ready to do whatever it takes to help the company succeed. Everyone around you expects hard work, but it’s because they love their job, and expect a similar level of commitment from their colleagues.

Making waves is encouraged. In government and corporate environments, the challenge is to be innovative without rocking the boat too much. The bureaucracy involved in making even minor changes are enormous, and can be exhausting. In startups, however, you want to make waves – and lots of them. Every process is always up for reevaluation, and flat, agile organizations are always interested in looking at new ways of doing things. This can be really exciting, since you have more room to think creatively and will see your ideas being incorporated, but it does take time to take a risk and shift away from the sense of security and stability of corporate guidelines.

You will become your own teacher and boss. Resources and time are stretched thin at startups, so you’re expected to take initiative and make things happen yourself. This isn’t to say you will not get training or that you’ll be left to flail in the deep end, but rather that you are expected to look for your own answers. At times, you’ll feel like you’ve been abandoned, left to your own devices, but think about the tools at your disposal, and be prepared to make mistakes. Case in point: We recently switched over to a new CRM system at Empire. I was tasked with migrating information from one system to another. I was expecting guidelines on what information we want in the new system, but I was basically told to just make sure the new system had everything we needed, and was easy to navigate with a clean format. It was on me to learn how to do this migration and to set up the new CRM as I saw fit. I created my own criteria for the database, and set myself goals and deadlines. I knew I could reach out for help at any moment, but I was energized by the process of finding my own way to the end goal.

Working for Empire Startups has been an incredibly rewarding experience, but startup life was definitely a significant adjustment. A job at a startup gets you a lot of autonomy and responsibility. It can be an incredible growth opportunity, as long as you’re prepared to be flexible and change your mindset towards what office culture looks like. Startups are for you if you’re ready to work hard and let your passion fuel you, to push yourself harder than you’ve been pushed before. If you’re balancing different things, and are not sure that you can dedicate your entire self to this role, working at a startup probably isn’t for you. Startups really value diversity of experience and perspective, so if you’re worried that you’ve never worked for a startup before, don’t be. A fresh set of eyes is always welcome, and a focus on the future is paramount.

FinTech Funding Rounds Recently Closed | Oct 20th Report

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Climb Credit $130 M Oct-19 >
2 Finova Financial $102.5 M Oct-18 >
3 LendingHome $57 M Oct-17 >
4 Feedzai $50 M Oct-17 >
5 eShares $42 M Oct-11 >
6 Digital Asset $40 M Oct-16 >
7 Ripio $31 M Oct-11 >
8 CoverWallet $18.5 M Oct-12 >
9 OmnyWay $12.75 M Oct-12 >
10 Konfio $10 M Oct-11 >
11 True Link Financial $8 M Oct-11 >
12 Visor $6.5 M Oct-10 >
13 ePesos $6 M Oct-13 >
14 TableSafe $5.83 M Oct-11 >
15 Homebot $4.5 M Oct-11 >
16 Alloy $3.8 M Oct-18 >
17 CardX $2.1 M Oct-18 >
18 Collectly $1.9 M Oct-24 >
19 VISOR ADL $1.7 M Oct-5 >
19 Proof, Inc. $1.7 M Oct-10 >
21 Payment Rails $1.1 M Oct-10 >
22 Covera $1 M Oct-17 >
x bcause Undisclosed Oct-16 >
x Bloom Impact Undisclosed Oct-20 >

Source: Crunchbase

FinTech Funding Rounds | Oct 6 Report

Didn't Kabbage just fundraise? Following their August raise, Kabbage leads this period with another round. In related news, Earnest was acquired for $155 M, a long slide for a former-unicorn.

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Kabbage $80.57 M Sep-13 >
2 ConsenSys $40 M Sep-19 >
3 Activehours $39 M Sep-19 >
4 Roofstock $35 M Sep-18 >
5 Stockpile $30 M Sep-20 >
6 Taulia $20 M Sep-14 >
7 Chime $18 M Sep-21 >
8 UnikoinGold $15 M Sep-11 >
9 Ensurem $12.25 M Sep-13 >
10 Slice Labs $11.6 M Sep-13 >
11 Vestwell $8 M Sep-20 >
11 Koho $8 M Sep-13 >
13 Albert $4.3 M Sep-11 >
14 Lively, Inc. $4.2 M Sep-7 >
15 Clearsurance $4 M Sep-16 >
16 Alt Thirty Six $0.67 M Sep-21 >
17 Havven $0.25 M Sep-21 >
x Anovia Payments Undisclosed Sep-21 >

Source: Crunchbase

FinTech Funding Rounds

There's been increased activity since last post! Ellevest is in hiring-mode (see our job board) after their latest Series A/C round — did you see Sallie at our NYC conference back in April?

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Braavo Capital $70 M Sep-13 >
2 Raise Marketplace $60 M Sep-19 >
3 The Zebra $40 M Sep-19 >
4 Ellevest $34.6 M Sep-18 >
5 ChainLink(LINK) $32 M Sep-20 >
6 RealtyShares $28 M Sep-14 >
7 Tuition.io $7 M Sep-21 >
8 PayJoy $6 M Sep-11 >
9 dv01 $5.5 M Sep-13 >
10 YayPay Inc $5.3 M Sep-13 >
11 AlphaFlow $4.1 M Sep-20 >
12 Liveoak Technologies $2.5 M Sep-13 >
13 iraLogix $0.8875 M Sep-11 >
14 Machool Technologies Ltd. $0.5 M Sep-7 >
15 PieShell $0.05 M Sep-16 >
x Galaxy.AI Undisclosed Sep-21 >
x Groundspeed Analytics Undisclosed Sep-21 >
x HomeZada Undisclosed Sep-21 >
x LenderClose Undisclosed Sep-15 >
x Life.io Undisclosed Sep-21 >
x RefundNote Undisclosed Sep-14 >
x TerraManta Undisclosed Sep-11 >
x Wellthie Undisclosed Sep-21 >

Source: Crunchbase

Recent FinTech Fundraising Rounds

The steady beat of ICO-as-fundraiser has started showing up on our biweekly reports. It's interesting they're showing up on Crunchbase as generic "funding rounds" — see BitBounce and SURETLY below.

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Blend $100 M Aug-24 >
2 TravelBank $25 M Aug-30 >
3 BitBounce $12.5 M Aug-29 >
4 AutoFi $10 M Aug-24 >
5 Amitree $7.128 M Aug-25 >
6 Domuso Inc. $3.1 M Aug-30 >
7 SURETLY $2.9 M Aug-24 >
8 Bestow, Inc. $2.5 M Aug-29 >
9 Finaeo Inc. $2.25 M Sep-5 >
10 Hoozip $0.25 M Aug-30 >
11 GiveHope $0.15 M Aug-30 >
x Claimly Undisclosed Sep-1 >
x TheGuarantors Undisclosed Aug-31 >
x Cloud Lending Inc. Undisclosed Sep-6 >
x Fair Undisclosed Sep-7 >

Source: Crunchbase

FinTech Startups closing Funding Rounds: Aug 10-24

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Ellevest $32.459 M Aug-23 >
2 stride health $23.5 M Aug-22 >
3 Lumity, Inc. $19 M Aug-23 >
4 PLASTIQ $16 M Aug-10 >
5 Vyze $13.1 M Aug-11 >
6 Emailage $10 M Aug-23 >
6 AutoFi $10 M Aug-24 >
8 SURETLY $2.9 M Aug-24 >
9 Gabi $2.6 M Aug-23 >
10 CheddarGetter $1.25 M Aug-14 >
11 Elsen $0.93 M Aug-17 >
12 Cindicator $0.5 M Aug-15 >
X Insikt, Inc. Undisclosed Aug-15 >
X PHP Agency Inc. Undisclosed Aug-22 >

Source: Crunchbase

Key Takeaways from WEF's Beyond Fintech: A Pragmatic Assessment Of Disruptive Potential In Financial Services

What follows is a summarized selection of takeaways from Beyond Fintech: A Pragmatic Assessment Of Disruptive Potential In Financial Services, a 197-page document released this week by the World Economic Forum. 

Here is a link to the full article.

The document provides insights on the following verticals: Payments, Insurance, Digital Banking, Lending, Investment Management, Equity Crowdfunding, and Market Infrastructure. We've compiled the end-of-section takeaways for your convenience.

 

1. PAYMENTS

WEFPAYMENTS.png

 

2. INSURANCE

WEFINSURANCE.png

 

3. DIGITAL BANKING

WEFBANKING.png

 

4. LENDING

WEFLENDING.png

 

5. INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT

WTFINVEST.png

 

6. EQUITY CROWDFUNDING

WEFEQUITYCROWD.png

 

7. MARKET INFRASTRUCTURE

WEFMARKET.png

Once again, here is a link to the full article

Happy reading,

Empire Startups

p.s. See you at the San Francisco Empire FinTech Conference on Nov 14?

Fintech Fundraising Rounds

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Kabbage $250 M Aug-3 >
2 Bread $126 M Aug-2 >
3 Coinbase $100 M Aug-10 >
4 Filecoin $52 M Aug-10 >
5 Juvo $40 M Aug-1 >
5 Personal Capital $40 M Aug-1 >
7 Stox $33.3 M Aug-4 >
8 Marqeta $25 M Jul-28 >
8 Tierion $25 M Jul-31 >
10 Guideline Technologies Inc. $15 M Aug-8 >
11 Socure $13.9 M Aug-9 >
12 PeerIQ $12 M Aug-2 >
13 Jetty $11.5 M Aug-8 >
14 StreetShares $10.3 M Aug-7 >
15 Flutterwave $10 M Jul-31 >
16 MagicCube, Inc. $8.5 M Aug-8 >
17 Crop Pro Insurance $8 M Aug-8 >
18 Limelight Health $7 M Aug-1 >
19 RentMoola $5 M Jul-31 >
20 Kin Insurance $4 M Aug-1 >
20 investFeed $4 M Aug-8 >
22 Funraise $3 M Aug-8 >
23 CoPower $2 M Jul-31 >
24 Cindicator $0.2 M Aug-10 >
25 AdvisorBid $0.085 M Aug-2 >
26 RealAtom $0.055 M Aug-1 >
X Gluon Undisclosed Aug-1 >
X Abaris Undisclosed Aug-3 >
X Elderscan Undisclosed Aug-3 >

Source: Crunchbase

Fintech Fundraising Rounds

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Vroom $76 M Jul-14 >
2 Betterment $70 M Jul-21 >
3 FreshBooks $43 M Jul-18 >
4 Marqeta $25 M Jul-26 >
5 Karmic Labs $17.2 M Jul-19 >
6 Gravie $14.1 M Jul-19 >
7 Impact Health $13 M Jul-17 >
8 Borrowell $12 M Jul-21 >
9 Self Lender $5 M Jul-19 >
10 DoubleNet Pay $4 M Jul-21 >
11 LoftSmart $2.75 M Jul-26 >
12 Trust Stamp $2.675 M Jul-24 >
13 APiO $2.5 M Jul-20 >
13 Bind $2.5 M Jul-27 >
15 BenRevo $1.28 M Jul-21 >
16 FinTech Studios $1 M Jul-20 >
17 bridgerins.com $0.75 M Jul-27 >
18 LeagueNetwork.com $0.25 M Jul-15 >
x CoverWallet Undisclosed Jul-18 >
x Monotto Undisclosed Jul-25 >
x Symbiont Undisclosed Jul-20 >

Source: Crunchbase

FinTech Funding Rounds

This round of recently closed FinTech funding includes a Mexican startup — ComparaGuru.

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Pearl Capital $15 M Jun-21 >
2 OpenDoor Trading $10 M Jun-27 >
2 Tango Card $10 M Jun-27 >
2 West Creek Financial $10 M Jun-20 >
5 Advizr $7 M Jun-22 >
5 ComparaGuru.com $7 M Jun-21 >
7 Royalty Exchange $6.4 M Jun-19 >
8 Exchangelodge $0.155 M Jun-26 >
x LendUp Undisclosed Jun-28 >
x CleanCapital Undisclosed Jun-21 >
x Ethos Undisclosed Jun-20 >
x Teller Undisclosed Jun-20 >

Source: Crunchbase

FinTech Funding Rounds

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 AvidXchange $300 M Jun-8 >
2 Addepar $140 M Jun-8 >
3 Element AI $102 M Jun-14 >
4 Cadre $65 M Jun-6 >
5 CrowdFlower $20 M Jun-12 >
6 Cardlytics $12 M Jun-9 >
7 BAM $10 M Jun-6 >
8 Sure $8 M Jun-14 >
9 Greenlight $7.5 M Jun-2 >
10 Ceterus $6M Jun-14 >
11 Covr Financial Technologies $5 M Jun-15 >
11 Wahed Invest Inc. $5 M Jun-6 >
13 Beanworks $4.5 M Jun-2 >
13 DealCloud $4.5 M Jun-5 >
15 Compliance.ai $4.0 M Jun-12 >
16 Quantifi $2 M Jun-7 >
17 Fuze Card $1.248 M Jun-7 >
x Loyyal Undisclosed Jun-12 >
x Lmrkts Undisclosed Jun-7 >
x Boost Payment Solutions Undisclosed Jun-13 >
x StockSnips Undisclosed Jun-8 >

Source: MEDICI and Crunchbase

FinTech Funding Rounds | June 2, 2017

RankCompanyAmount RaisedFund ClosedMore Info
1 Bright Health $160 M Jun-1 >
2 R3 CEV $107 M May-23 >
3 Billtrust $50 M May-25 >
4 PolicyGenius $30 M May-24 >
5 Wave $23.786 M May-30 >
6 Blispay $12 M May-23 >
6 TouchBistro $12 M May-31 >
8 LedgerX $11.4 M May-22 >
9 Numerated Growth Technologies $9 M May-19 >
10 Merlon Intelligence $7.65 M May-24 >
11 Carpe Data $6.6 M May-23 >
12 Applied Data Finance $6.5 M May-31 >
13 Spruce $4.5 M May-29 >
14 Long Game $4 M May-23 >
15 T-REX $2.6 M May-24 >
16 Precognitive $1.25 M May-19 >
17 Mylo $0.75 M May-23 >
18 Fuze Card $0.5 M May-29 >
18 MPOWER Financing $0.5 M Jun-1 >
20 Vanbex Group $0.365474 M May-31 >
x MBO Partners Undisclosed May-24 >
x Nomis Solutions Undisclosed May-25 >
x Purpose Investments Undisclosed May-25 >

Source: MEDICI and Crunchbase