Entrepreneurship is a team sport.
Nat’s story of finding her way into entrepreneurship is a bit unconventional. Her first part of her career was working for international development companies like the United Nations. Over time, she realized that if international development was going to survive and be a force of change in the world, it needed to have stronger business principles. So she went back to do her MBA.
During her time there, she was hooked into the startup world, so once she graduated, she decided to take a shot at starting her own company. Just as she was getting settled back in Vancouver, a friend called her and asked if she wanted to start something in the Fintech realm. After a quick google search of “Fintech,” Nat was drawn to the idea. That’s where her journey began, just 3 years ago.
Finn.ai started off as a consumer facing product. They brought in a concept that had yet to exist Canada, hoping that it would catch the same traction it did in other parts of the world. Instead, they discovered that there was more demand in working with banks. They quickly made this pivot to adjust to the environment and created a new iteration, which is the Finn.ai we know of today.
NAT CARTWRIGHT: CO-FOUNDER & CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF FINN.AI
Finn.ai is a white-labelled virtual banking assistant, powered by artificial intelligence. We put a ‘personal banker’ in every customer’s pocket, helping them to manage their money wherever they are, whatever they need via a simple, natural conversation.
A few key takeaways…
Get involved in the things that interest you. In the beginning, say yes more often.
It’s amazing how one opportunity can lead to another and take you down an unexpected road.
After Nat was rejected from med school, she pursued an internship in Kenya instead. During her time in Kenya, she met a professor who suggested that she should consider doing a Masters in Public Health in Sweden. Interested, she said yes and made the move.
While completing her Masters, she landed a job at the World Health Organization in Denmark, just right next door to Sweden. Eventually, her boss asked her to join his team in Geneva, which of course she said yes.
It’s inspiring to see how Nat forged her own path where she could continue doing what she loved. It may have been different from her original plans of being a doctor, but she ended up travelling across the world and having unimaginable, hands-on learning experiences.
Founder partnerships are one of the most intense relationships.
You have to be fully vulnerable with each other. You see each other at your best and at your worst. You have to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses so you can create the best relationship. It’s more valuable for each team member to work on their strengths and really make that their superpower. That way, everyone can compliment each other’s weaknesses.
When you start out, there’s going to be a lot of people who won’t believe in you. You’ll have to rely on each other to make it through.
Once you gain traction, you might need to say “no” to new opportunities in order to have a stronger focus.
One of the difficult decisions Nat and her partners had to make in the past few months was saying no to new projects and potential business partners that just didn’t fit in their product scope.
Once they started to get their footing, they had to narrow down their product offering. On one hand, it’s tempting to bring on new clients who can provide new streams of revenue. But more isn’t always better.
It’s a tough conversation to have, and a pivotal one too. It can make or break your growth. Nat and the Finn.ai team made the decision after consulting with numerous advisors and mentors. Once the decision was made, they trusted their guts and stood behind it 100%.
Surround yourself with great people who you trust.
There’s ups and downs as an entrepreneur. There are going to be good days, but many more bad days. One of the biggest pieces of advice that Nat shares is to make sure the people who are there for you on the good days also stand up for you on the bad days.
There are lots of people who will come to the parties, but the people who are there where during rock bottom are the gems to keep around.
Hey I’m Celine, Content Creator for Launch Academy and a 3rd year marketing student at the Sauder School of Business of the University of British Columbia. I love trying new recipes, working on creative projects, and picking the brains of ambitious and inspiring people. Here, I share my conversations with local entrepreneurs who are making a mark in our community.