Last week, at the Newton Lecture Series, Ryan Gilbert, Executive Chairman of Better Finance & Smartbiz talked to students about his journey as an entrepreneur. Better Finance is one of the fastest growing fin-tech startups in Silicon Valley that provides credit solutions to small businesses through its loan platform and marketplace. The company enables banks to make loans more efficiently and small businesses to get credit with ease.
Ryan addressed the reasons why he chose to explore fin-tech. Having worked at bKash, a Bangladeshi financial service provider, Ryan thought a lot about how access to money and easy loans was an essential feature of achieving happiness in life for people in the developing world. The desire to make people happy changed Ryan’s ambitions and convinced him that fin-tech was the field he was keen to pursue. The challenge to close the gap that exists between different financial policies as well as regulations on financial technology is something Ryan relishes.
After first explaining to students in detail what fin-tech is, Ryan also talked about how the word is increasingly over-employed in the industry — instead, Ryan likes to refer to his work as ‘technology enabling the financial services industry.’ His main goal, is to win the one currency financial technology finds hardest to earn – the trust of both consumers and services.
Ryan also had some very interesting life lessons for students: he stressed on the importance of being different and refusing to accept the norm – ‘Don’t believe everything anyone tells you. Make the decision yourself.’ He also emphasized on the importance of developing grit, something that he believes universities don’t traditionally focus on developing, but is absolutely crucial to success in the professional world. ‘It’s tough out there – and you need grit to go out there and compete.’ Ryan’s major emphasis was on developing people skills and absorbing as much practical knowledge as possible.
Ryan’s talk, moderated by Victoria Howell addressed both key aspects of creating a business: having ‘the complete fruit basket’ in the search of creating a perfect product, and possessing soft skills, such as grit, competence, hard work and relentless energy.