Building Personal Connection in Fintech
How Courier is Changing the Way Banks Speak to their Customers
Byron Sorrells and Lea Jafiarova never set out to be entrepreneurs. But, they are both passionate builders and problem solvers and with that shared compulsion they decided to tackle a problem all banks face: how can banks speak to their customers in a more personal way?
Courier, founded by Byron, CEO, and Lea, Product Design and Development, is a tool for banks to connect to their customers in a personal way through education, tracking financial health, and “a surprise and a delight, ” such as a coupon to a local brewery a customer frequents.
“If I see something that I want to fix or change, I tend to just sit down and start building it,” says Byron, reflecting on his journey to founding Courier. “I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur for the sake of it; I wanted to build this company because I wanted it to exist.”
Byron’s career as a builder did not start off in fintech or technology. After attending the University of Texas of Austin as an undergraduate, Byron left his home state and moved to Southern California where he worked for Nordstrom as a women’s shoes salesman. “I was very shy and it helped me come out of my shell because I had to speak to strangers every day,” says Byron. His work ethic landed him in the top ten in the country for those in his role.
After honing his sales skills in California, Byron moved to the East Coast where his self-taught programming skills led him to Huge. While working in New York City, Byron also co-founded Healthcare Connect, Inc., his first jump into entrepreneurship, a world he hadn’t intentionally sought out. While his first venture wasn’t as successful as he planned for it to be, it was valuable for the lessons learned and connections made.
Byron returned to California in 2012 to work as a Senior Software Engineer for Twitter, where he started developing an interest in financial literacy and learned how important diversity was in a workplace culture.
At Twitter Byron served as an instructor for Girls Who Code. “It changed my life,” says Byron. “There is zero difference between genders when it comes to intelligence and coding.”
Diversity and inclusion, while they acknowledge is easier said than done, are important to both Byron and Lea as they build their team.
Lea, similar to Byron, did not set out to be an entrepreneur but growing up with a successful businessman father, exposed her to the entrepreneurial world. Previous to joining Courier, Lea has designed digital platforms in the corporate world of media, fashion, and lifestyle for brands such as Glamour, Allure and Condé Nast Traveler.
Lea’s passion for crafting an experience for the consumer and creating the feeling of a brand led her to align with Byron’s vision for Courier. “I really believe in this company,” says Lea. “Seeing the future of what we could do with Courier is an incredible motivation for me.”
As Courier continues to grow as a business and a company, Byron and Lea move forward, overcoming demanding times together. One particular challenge that is especially pertinent for Lea is the lack of diversity in the fintech space. The pressure of being a female co-founder in a male dominated space is present. “Most of my friends are married and have kids,” says Lea. “I live in New York and I am trying to build a business so finding a balance between work and personal life can be difficult. Perseverance is everything.”
Both Lea and Byron intend to build a company with an inclusive culture made up of diverse perspectives. They are building Courier to create a strong company that has a meaningful impact on the financial industry by positively affecting long-term financial outcomes of consumers.
Note: This content was originally published by Queen City Fintech.