Interview With Parker Graham
Describe your product or service:
“Finotta is an award-winning startup that builds personalization technology to help banks and credit unions better serve their customers digitally. We empower their mobile app with new features to increase revenue for the institution, save money for the user, and generate better financial health for all through personal financial guidance, regardless of what financial journey they may be on.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Finotta's name is inspired by the Italian word ‘finito,’ which means ‘finished.’
We believe we are here to finish building the banking technology that other companies have left behind
Our Mission: To empower financial institutions' customers by creating solutions that generate financial equality for all
- Lead with Love — Love for yourself, love for your teammates, love for the mission, love for our customers
- Radical Transparency — Speak your mind. If there are no secrets, there will never be any surprises
- Unapologetic Accountability — Row the boat. Excellence inspires others and drives us all forward
- Eternal Hope — We believe the work we do today will create a better world for tomorrow
- Good Times & Good Vibes — Changing the world is tough. We will do so by laughing hard, loud, and often.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“We've raised $3.3M to date, the latest round coming from one of our largest customers and current launch partner.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We currently have 10 full-time employees and two part-time. We are a unique startup for our size in that we are made up of 33% women, and 12% are in the LGBTQ+ community. We have people from all walks of life, including avid snowboarders, hobby craftsmen, gamers, “Star Wars” nerds, podcast producers, and music producers. We love our users and work tirelessly every day to make their financial lives easier.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“The current company we have is really the rebirth of a previous idea of mine. Finotta started as a debt robo advisor named Destiny, and after a failed attempt at launching, I talked to my users and found out a bigger problem than what I currently was addressing. That led to the pivot of building technology for banks and credit unions and eventually the name change to Finotta. Through the process, I lost my two co-founders, reestablished the culture I wanted to build and people I wanted represented, and fast forward two years later, we are at 12 people and counting and on the cusp of being a household name in our industry.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“A LOT of Google domain searches for what was available is the easy answer. I literally tried 3 million ways to get a name with ‘fin’ in the title and landed on ‘finito,’ which in Italian means ‘to finish.’ I felt that we were here to finish what was left to be built in banking tech. Lo and behold, Finotta was born.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Looking back, I always had an entrepreneur's mindset, but it didn't really manifest itself until I got into the business world after playing pro football. I kept seeing inefficiencies in the different businesses I was a part of, and finally, I got tired of trying to build things for big bureaucratic companies and wanted to build something for myself. A few other negative things happened with my last job, which gave me the push to finally go out on my own in a real way.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“I encountered all the roadblocks, and most founders do; they just might be different for some. For me, my biggest were fundraising and clarity of how to build a company. Countless meetings with investors and customers and being told no 300 different ways really shaped me into the founder I am today. It took me four years and a lot of losses, but we are finally on the other side and know those roadblocks were worth it.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“We work with mid-size banks and credit unions, ranging $1 billion to $50 billion in assets. We established this from talking to banks and customers from all different sizes and honing in on who has the pain point we solve for plus the money to buy the solution to the problem.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We market directly to our customers through targeted social and PR campaigns, along with email outreach and conferences.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“The biggest one is engagement, which to us means how many users use us at our banks and credit unions in a given month. We are roughly 10x better than our next closest competitor who has raised about 100x us, so keeping our business stickier in comparison allows us to sell at a faster and easier clip.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“Startup book — ‘Shoedog’
Startup podcast — ‘How I Built This’”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“I have a playlist of punk/alt/heavy rock songs from the 90s and 00s that gets me hyped for big meetings and gets me into work mode.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“GUSTO IS THE FREAKING BEST! takes away so many of my HR headaches.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“It's a lot less product and selling, and a lot more people management on a daily basis.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I'm a bad example of this — I'm a firm believer that to have what others don't, you have to do what others won't, so I'm constantly working and building. As a founder, I feel that if we work hard enough, we can create a place where others can find that work-life balance versus us getting to experience it, if that makes sense. There's a time and place for it, but it's not very often if you want to be successful.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Sleep (eight hours) and working out (at least an hour a day). If you do those two things, you'll be refreshed and able to grind harder than others at a higher clip.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“A very high pain tolerance, spiritually, mentally, and physically, and the only way to achieve those is to earn them. We can't help our circumstances, but you can help how hard you work and how good you are at keeping your psyche in check to perform at your best.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“Walmart lawn and garden when I was 15. It taught me that it doesn't matter what position you are in or where that position is at — if you have the right attitude, you can create a special moment with anyone. For example, I remember lifting heavy stones into an old lady's car one day, and the fact that she had those stones for her garden made her day. She talked to me about it for 20 minutes, and I just sat and listened to her, and she sent a note to my manager about it. That always stuck with me — it's how we treat people in the little moments that matter most, in my opinion.”
More on Finotta
Parker Graham’s startup Finotta offers a platform that can help banks turn their mobile apps into true “digital branches."
Parker Graham, founder of fintech startup Finotta, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.
We asked Parker Graham, founder of Finotta, to share the most impactful ways to support their startup, and this is what they had to say.