• Let's Humanize Finance


    Inside the Minds of the Innovators Behind the FinTech Revolution


    Conversations with the people behind the companies that are changing finance, changing our experience with money and changing the way we live.

  • Innovator Podcasts

    President and Co-Founder

    From an early employee at PayPal to making philanthropy and giving back a personalized, addictive experience.


    Click here to listen to Premal's podcast on SoundCloud

    Click here to listen to Premal's podcast on iTunes


    Premal Shah is the Co-Founder and President of Kiva, the early pioneer in online lending through its non-profit crowdfunding platform that has lent to over 2.1 million borrowers with loan dollars in excess of $915 million. Premal co-founded Kiva in 2005, and has worked to promote Kiva's mission and reach more communities around the world for more than a decade. Kiva's repayment rate has been over 97% on loans disbursed across 82 countries worldwide. Kiva has also created tremendous impact on a group of people who have been subject to a poverty penalty because they are poor. Instead, Kiva's micro-loan platform has provided a hand up rather than a handout and has humanized finance by enabling lenders and borrowers to connect through personalization of the loan process. Premal has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and to FORTUNE Magazine's "Top 40 under 40" list. Prior to Kiva, Premal worked for PayPal for 6 years as Principal Product Manager during the company's formative years. He is a graduate of Stanford University.


    In this episode we cover:

    • How Premal's transformational trip to India motivated him to try to fix the injustice of poverty in the world.
    • Why Kiva is a non-profit, rather than a for-profit online lending platform, and how being a non-profit enables Kiva to be an "overperforming donation" rather than a below-market rate investment.
    • How the power of feedback loops in building a product and experimentation were the biggest lessons that Premal has learned through building Kiva.
    • How Premal and Kiva want to make philanthropy and giving back an addictive experience.
    • How becoming a father has changed Premal's perspective on running a company and how he's shifted his leadership mindset from hustle to honing Kiva into something that creates enduring public good and intergenerational value.

    Quick Hits:

    • Biggest Mentor?: Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn and former PayPal colleague.
    • What Keeps You Up At Night?: (1) figuring out how to optimize for stability rather than optimize for the new and (2) figuring out how to get the best talent to work on problems of financial inclusion.
    • Saying You Live By?: "The point of life is to give back from a place of feeling full."

    Founder and CEO

    Keeping up with savings instead of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians": building a wealth management platform for everyone.


    Click here to listen to Matt's podcast on SoundCloud

    Click here to listen to Matt's podcast on iTunes


    Matt Cohen is the Founder and CEO of Invest Forward and Grand.co, an innovative and holistic wealth management solution that aims to help the everyday American manage their entire financial life in a simple, transparent, and low cost way. Matt has been very thoughtful about building out the Invest Forward platform and I’ve never seen him as excited about his work as he has been with Invest Forward. He’s built out a strong set of partnerships and has a good set of investors (including Transamerica Ventures). Matt has a strong background at the intersection of finance, technology, and making an impact. Matt has been a Partner at City Light Capital, a top impact investment VC firm that he helped build from the ground up. He also has finance and startup experience as a banker at Citi and Bear Stearns and was a founding member / VP of Business Development at Netfolio, an early 2000s fintech startup.


    America has a savings problem. Spending has certainly been made easy, but savings, for a variety of reasons, has not. In Invest Forward, Matt has built a holistic wealth management solution that aims to improve people’s financial lives by improving access to information and advice on personal finance and enable people to take actionable steps in their financial lives that help them easily save and invest.


    In this episode we cover:

    • How 33% of Americans have $0 saved for retirement, how 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover an emergency of $500, and how fintech platforms can help people change their behavior and better understand their financial health.
    • How fintech platforms can help America’s consumption obsession and help people keep up with their savings and expenses rather than Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
    • How little changes in people’s personal finance behavior, like automating savings, can make big changes in people’s financial health.
    • How hockey and his high school hockey coach helped shape Matt’s view on building Invest Forward and building a team culture.
    • How thinking about your financial life like your physical health can help you be responsible with your finances.
    • How having a peer group who can talk finance is so important and how Marshawn Lynch, the star NFL running back, has been an expert saver and has imparted that wisdom on his NFL teammates.

    Quick Hits:

    • Biggest Mentor: Matt’s dad.
    • What Keeps You Up At Night: How he can create a technology platform that democratizes access to financial services and impact a lot of people.
    • Saying You Live By: “If you’re not falling down, you’re not trying hard enough.”
  • Why Humanize Finance?

    An Uber Moment? Whether or not banking is going through an "Uber moment" (Antony Jenkins, Barclays), banking is changing due to the forces of technology. Banking is certainly necessary - and finance is critically important to people's lives.


    Banks and Finance: Worse than Going to the Dentist But Can't Live Without It. Finance performs basic functions that enable people to spend, save, and invest. Even for Millennials, who have an intense dislike for banks, which is evidenced by data showing that 71% of Millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their banks are saying, finance is something they can't live without. Banking and finance apps are the second most important apps in their lives, ahead of email, Instagram, and Pinterest (Foundation Capital Millennial Survey).


    A Golden Opportunity to Humanize Finance. There is woeful distrust of banks and financial institutions that currently serve customers, particularly by Millennials. Given the general lack of trust in banks, FinTech companies have a golden opportunity to provide customers with a decidedly better experience. FinTech companies are humanizing finance by responding directly to the needs of the consumer.


    Giving People a Reason to Enjoy Their Experience with Money. Take SoFi. Worth over $4 billion, SoFi is a prime example of a FinTech company trying to change finance by giving people a reason to enjoy interacting with them, one customer at a time.


    How many banks will screen a client's resume to help them get a job? Not many, but SoFi will.


    How many bank CEOs will invite regular, everyday customers over to their house for dinner and drinks? Not many, but SoFi will.


    Building Trust and Setting the Stage. SoFi is just one of many FinTechs that is maniacally focused on making finance an experience that consumers enjoy. FinTech companies don't see their relationship with the customer as a one-time transaction, but rather a long-term customer relationship where they build trust and set the stage for many more future interactions that customers appreciate and enjoy.


    The Intrepid Entrepreneurs. But, despite the customer-centric focus of many of these FinTech companies, their CEO's - and their founding stories - are hidden behind the veils of their beautifully designed websites. While customers may know that they are interacting with a FinTech company that genuinely cares about their customer experience, they don't know the intrepid entrepreneurs who are building the solutions that are changing finance as we know it.


    Let's Humanize Finance. Let's Humanize Finance is an interview series that aims to bring to life the backgrounds and aspirations of these daring entrepreneurs who are trying to change how we interact with money and change how we live our lives.

  • Let's Humanize Finance

    Thoughts, musings, and ruminations.

    I’m excited to launch the latest edition of the Let’s Humanize Finance podcast with someone who is building a wealth management platform for everyone. You can listen to Matt’s podcast on SoundCloud here. America has a savings problem. According to a recent survey by GoBankingRates, a third of...
    I’m excited to launch the first edition of the Let’s Humanize Finance podcast with someone who has built a company that is a poster child for humanizing finance. You can listen to Premal’s podcast on SoundCloud here. Premal has built a company in Kiva that has not only impacted the lives of...
    Tales of entrepreneurial success are often recited and celebrated like folk stories. How Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built Apple, how Elon Musk bet on himself to create company after company, how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to found Microsoft, one of the world’s most successful companies. ...
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  • Founder's Story

    Tales of entrepreneurial success are often recited and celebrated like folk stories. How Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built Apple, how Elon Musk bet on himself to create company after company, how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to found Microsoft, one of the world’s most successful companies.


    For every Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, there is an entrepreneur out there who people have not yet heard about. But it doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as passionate about building something meaningful.


    Money is meaningful. Money is so fundamental to people’s lives. Finance performs basic, yet critical, functions that enable people to spend, save, and invest.


    Simply put, finance is some that people can’t live without.


    There are countless FinTech entrepreneurs who are working tirelessly to help families save enough for their kids’ college educations, to help people get out of debt and improve their credit scores so they can buy their first house, to lend to small businesses in a fair and transparent way.


    I’ve come across many entrepreneurs who are so passionate about building businesses that make people’s lives better by changing people’s experience with money. Let’s Humanize Finance is about highlighting the incredible work that FinTech entrepreneurs are doing to make finance more transparent, more accessible, and more efficient.


    I’ve been lucky enough to be in the coalface with some of these FinTech entrepreneurs as an early, pre-product, pre-launch employee at two different FinTech companies. I’ve seen how hard it is to build a business, much less build a business where you are asking people to entrust you with their money.


    If there's some I've observed from meeting with countless FinTech entrepreneurs over the past few years it's that today's FinTech company builders are truly the architects of tomorrow's financial system -- and they are the beacons of light guiding people along the journey of their financial lives.


    So many of these FinTech entrepreneurs are truly passionate about making people’s lives better, so I want Let’s Humanize Finance to bring to life how much these entrepreneurs care about what they do and that finance is not just about making money.


    - Michael

    Michael Sidgmore

    Founder ​

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