Wharton FinTech
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Wharton FinTech

Sean Salas, Co-Founder/CEO of Camino Financial — Catalyzing Economic Growth for Small Businesses

Miguel Armaza sits down with Sean Salas, Co-Founder and CEO of Camino Financial, a Fintech company pioneering access to affordable credit to underbanked Latino businesses. Since inception, the company has raised over $125 million in debt and equity from top industry investors.

Sean grew up in between Mexico and the US and got his MBA at Harvard Business School.

In this episode, we discuss:

Sean’s journey in between the US and Mexico. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California to Mexican parents, at age 12 Sean moved back to Mazatlán, Sinaloa where the Salas family would live for the next eight years.

“I had the chance to go back and experience the roots of my Mexican culture and experience the beauties of Mexico and the limitations of the opportunities that were available to me.”

Launching Camino Financial while at Harvard Business School and the incredible benefits of using your MBA time to start a company. After a few successful years in investment banking and private equity, Sean and his twin brother Kenny left the industry to pursue their MBAs at Harvard Business School. They quickly realized that HBS and the MBA environment presented the ideal opportunity to launch a business.

“What I found in business school was something really exciting — there are very few better places to incubate a startup other than incubating next to really talented people that are open, willing, and investing two years of their life to innovate beside you in their respective startups.”

Importance of serving SMBs and how the company is leveraging technology to provide a more inclusive solution and improve underwriting decisions.

“We use different data points that can be better proxies for cash flows, in the absence of a rich pool of bank transaction data… we look at other data points that help us create a proxy and that methodology is called income surrogate underwriting.”

How Camino Financial continues to innovate and why education and cultural nuances are important for clients.

“Capital in isolation is not the solution. What does that mean? We need to offer our members tools and resources so that they can better maximize the return on that investment that they’re going to make with our loan. So we’ve also built a very strong competency around content and we’ve actually built the largest bilingual content library here in the United States.”

Lessons and reflections for aspiring entrepreneurs… and a lot more!

Sean Salas

Sean Salas is the CEO and Co-Founder of Camino Financial, a fintech platform pioneering access to affordable credit to underbanked Latinx businesses. He is often featured as a commentator discussing FinTech and Latino entrepreneurship, including appearances on Univision, CNN, and Discovery Channel. Sean also sits on the board of two non-profit organizations, the US-Mexico Foundation and the Harvard Business School Latino Alumni Association (HBSLAA).

Sean co-founded Camino Financial with his twin brother, Kenny Salas. The twin brothers were raised by an entrepreneurial mother, who built and lost her business. While completing their MBAs at Harvard Business School, the Twins co-founded Camino Financial under the notion of never leaving a small business owner behind. As CEO of Camino Financial, Sean has built a team of over 50 employees distributed globally and raised over $125 million in debt and equity.

Previously, Sean worked in private equity and investment banking. Throughout his experience, Sean oversaw four portfolio companies with combined revenue of over $250 million, invested close to $50 million in direct equity investments, and structured $1.2 billion in debt financings. Sean has a BA from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

About Camino Financial

Camino Financial is the first AI-powered Community Development Financial Institution (“neo-CDFI”) expanding access to credit for underserved Latinx entrepreneurs in the U.S. Camino is uniquely positioned to offer affordable loans as it combines its proprietary AI technology with access to CDFI designated low-cost capital and resources. Camino Financial has also produced the largest bilingual content hub to empower Latinx entrepreneurs to thrive and graduate into lower-cost, longer-term credit products.

Full interview → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple

Previous Episodes You May Enjoy:

Jarrid Tingle, Managing Partner of Harlem Capital — Transforming the Face of Entrepreneurship

Oportun CEO, Raul Vazquez — Democratizing Credit, Compassionate Leadership, and Navigating an IPO

SoftBank International CEO Marcelo Claure — Investing, Dreaming Big, and the Golden Era of Entrepreneurship!

Alexa von Tobel, Co-Founder at Inspired Capital — Bucking the Status Quo

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-founder/CEO of Ellevest — Wall Street Stories, Building Resilience, & Overcoming Bias

Amy Nauiokas, Anthemis CEO/Founder-Cultivating Change & Building Resiliency in the Financial System

TechCrunch’s Mary Ann Azevedo — Covering the Pulse of Fintech & Latin America’s Tech Scene

Fabrice Grinda, Founding Partner at FJ Labs — Serial Entrepreneur & Investor in 700 Startups!

Miguel Armaza is Co-Host of the Wharton Fintech Podcast and Co-Founder of Gilgamesh Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focused on fintech in the Americas.

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