Moth to the flame of innovation – why I traded the golf course for startup finance
What’s it like to hop from the old world of finance to the new? Daniel Greiller, Chief Commercial Officer at Weavr, joined us while the company was still in its infancy. Here he sheds light on why he traded a lucrative corporate life for the start up life.
Ten years ago I realised something big. I’d been working in the corporate sector for a while, but, as much as I enjoy barbecues and golf days, they weren’t something I wanted intrinsically linked with my work – and something wasn’t clicking for me.
You might be familiar with this situation; it might more or less describe where you’re at right now. And sure, when you look out the office window at the prime riverside views, or you attend extravagant wine-laden lunches, if that’s enough to keep you going, then by all means carry on. But I doubt it’ll hold your interest forever.
For me, the goals of double-digit growth and shareholder returns didn’t really provide enough motivation. What I wanted was a mission that made a real impact in the world outside the office, and to see my work helping to shape the company I was in. With that in mind, I left the corporate sector and began the journey that would bring me to Weavr.
Making an impact starts with a problem
When I graduated from university, my dad gave me some advice for choosing a career: find something that people will always need. That was how he’d found his calling as a civil engineer, and it was what led me to start out in the world of banking and finance.
After a decade in banking (OK, perhaps I’m not always a fast learner!) I realised working my way up the banking ladder wasn’t fulfilling me. So I stepped away from the world of Big Corporate and tried my arm working in a startup. First one, then another, then a third. I’d found a culture driven by rooting out persistent problems in a sector and moving fast to solve them, and that was exactly what I’d been looking for.
What drew me to embedded finance wasn’t that it was an evergreen sector with career security. It was because I’d seen the problems that existed around integrating finance into digital platforms and the barriers that made it so difficult.
Early on in my journey I realised I’m no entrepreneur, so solving those problems myself wasn’t on the cards. But I knew the finance sector was ripe for disruption, so I started looking for companies who were working to do just that.
Freedom to change the game
When I came in to Weavr they’d been going for 18 months already. But they were still a small team of people with no paying customers, and they’d just raised their seed funding of $4.5m.
Start ups are a sea change coming from the corporate world. In any startup it’s harder to get things done in the early days because you don’t have the weight of resources behind you, and you have to be constantly punching above your weight if you want to make an impact on the market.
Being a small company also means there’s freedom to experiment and innovate, more agility and room to get things done. At Weavr we build up a cycle of execution – what we make on Tuesday will go live on Thursday and be bringing in results by Friday. Every time I see the impact of my work on Weavr and our mission, I know that all the late nights, early mornings and weekend hours to get there have been worth it.
It isn’t just seeing Weavr grow or its bottom line improve – it’s knowing that what I am doing is an integral part of achieving our goals, and knowing that I believe in those goals. In a big corporate enterprise it’s easy to feel like if you don’t turn up to work for a month, nothing much will change because someone else will keep the wheels turning. But in a startup, the goal is to make big strides forward and every drop of talent is valued massively.
The best time to innovate is now
“That’s the way we’ve always done it” is, in my opinion, the worst reason to do anything. Take social media, for example. 20 years ago it was a niche corner of the web (anyone remember MySpace?!), but now everyone from teenagers to grandparents has at least one account in their pocket. That evolution has changed the internet as a whole beyond recognition. Anyone who wasn’t ready to look beyond the way they’ve always done things has been left behind.
The same is true of finance. Digital platforms and financial services have never really meshed well in the past. The regulations and build costs have been too prohibitive for startup founders, and financial institutions aren’t usually quick to embrace new technology. But now those problems are disappearing, and disappearing fast.
Early adopters like Amazon and Uber have already proved that embedding finance into a digital platform isn’t just possible but profitable as well. Every day since, the barrier to entry for the next big startup has fallen lower and lower. Eliminating it entirely is the reason Weavr exists, and the reason I joined in the first place.
Now I get to sit at the crossroads of finance and digital, helping founders solve real-world problems – whether it’s MONET giving control back to creators, Troc unlocking money stuck in supply chains or finway helping SMEs plan and control their budgets and expenses. It’s finance but it’s also way more. It’s a cocktail of finance, digital and a new wave of thinking, and innovation is the drink we’re serving.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a product on the drawing board or a fast follower looking to build on something huge, there’s never been a more fertile time for creative disruption. An Ivy League education or tens of millions of dollars isn’t a requirement anymore. There’s no longer a right way to bring an idea to life, only the way you take.
Are you well fed on corporate lunches but starving for real meaningful adventure, like I once was? If that’s you, I’d urge you to take note of the surge of innovation happening in the world. Take a good long look at what’s possible – and see whether you can bear to stay in that comfortable life any longer.
If the Weavr mission resonates with you, consider joining our product team. Or if you’re looking to found a business, give us a call. And if you’re already building something, we’ve got the tools that will help: check out our guide: embedded finance made easy.
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