Sramana Mitra: What about customer validation? How did you get this off the ground in terms of the early customers and customer input early on?
Ryan Caldwell: We had to take really good care of the end user, which is our largest concern. If we don’t take good care of the customer, we can’t take good care of the bank or the software providers. We had to make sure that we had solutions that the end users resonated with. That was one of our first concerns. We also had to have software that would help deliver value back to the financial institution to help them better serve the end user.
If the credit union or bank can better serve the end user, then they can not only protect that end user but also have a stronger relationship, which eventually will >>>
Over the past decade, online clothing sales have ballooned and Nasty Gal and its founder Sophia Amoruso had managed to build a big brand and fan following among millennials. However, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2016. >>>
Sramana Mitra: What was the concept of MX?
Ryan Caldwell: MX is addressing one of the core issues for mankind, which is people don’t have visibility into their finances. Finance is, in fact, a critical part of life for people. So much of the intangibles that we care about whether it’s family or health are directly correlated to financial flexibility and emergency funds that may or may not be available and to certain amounts of financial freedom.
If an individual throughout their life doesn’t have a solid grip or understanding of their finances, it can not only affect them in their early stages of their life, but the later stages can be truly terrifying as they enter into old age. If individuals didn’t have control of tier finances and didn’t have the ability to reflect on >>>
Sramana Mitra: What year are we at now?
Zvi Band: Around 2010. I had just been the CTO of an enterprise startup. I was consulting. I then tried starting my own projects. It was called Structo. Are you familiar with parse and convey and all these backend service tools?
Sramana Mitra: No.
Zvi Band: The whole idea is that it could be like a remote hosted database so that the developer wouldn’t need a database or a backend. They could build a mobile application or a web application and we would handle the backend. I tried it. It failed. Honestly, it didn’t fail because it was a bad idea. It failed because I >>>
According to a recent report published by online real estate firm Zillow, the new year 2017 is expected to set a new stage of the post-recession housing recovery with deceleration expected in home price growth. However, Zillow expects more millennials to become homeowners, thus driving home ownership rates in 2017. Billion Dollar Unicorn club member Opendoor Labs is helping to simplify the process of home ownership in the country. >>>
Sramana Mitra: What happens after?
Ryan Caldwell: I went to do consulting. I wanted to be at the heart of San Francisco. I did consulting for companies like Microsoft and Visa in London and Singapore.
Sramana Mitra: What was the next major thing that you did after selling this company?
Ryan Caldwell: I gained some experience with large corporations and how they work. I owned about 90% of the company when I sold it, so it was a meaningful exit for me personally. I wanted to see how large companies work, how they made decisions, and what that side was like. >>>
Zvi has raised several rounds of financing on AngelList in the process of building Contactually. Among other things, his experience with the platform is interesting in this interview.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised and in what kind of background?
Zvi Band: I was born in Boston. I was mainly raised on the West Coast. Then my family moved to the DC area to follow my father’s career. I’ve been now a DC resident for the past 15 years. I would qualify myself as a builder. As a kid, I always had Legos in my hands. Legos turned into software and software turned into companies. >>>