Found In The Rockies

Stef Sample (FUNDID) \\ Simplifying business finance & access to capital

November 09, 2022 Les Craig Season 3 Episode 5
Found In The Rockies
Stef Sample (FUNDID) \\ Simplifying business finance & access to capital
Show Notes Transcript

In today’s episode, we welcome back the original host of Found in the Rockies - Stef Sample. Stef now has a new company, FUNDID, which is empowering business owners on their growth journeys by simplifying business finance & access to capital

Here’s a closer look at the episode:

  • Growing up in Billings, MT
  • Moving to Missoula to study Chinese
  • The Insight Studio and supporting other entrepreneurs
  • How The Insight Studio helped inspire FUNDID.
  • Raising her Seed round.
  • Thinking of fundraising like a competitive sport
  • The importance of having a good marketing plan in an ecosystem.
  • If you ask for advice, you get money. If you don’t ask for money you get advice.
  • How the VC world is broken.
  • Closing the seed round.
  • Getting business funding to small businesses - which account for 98% of all women owned businesses
  • Launching a business charge card direct to those who need it. 
  • A move to Salt Lake to grow FUNDID
  • Family Balance



Stef LinkedIn:

FUNDID LinkedIn: 

Stef  00:00

I think because I jumped all in so quickly with multiple companies from day one. I've never had the problem of being stuck in the business doing the work. I've always built companies from a high level, and trusted and hired excellent people. And I've never felt the need to micromanage it. And I think it was a necessity then a learned skill because I had so much from the very first day I was in it.

Les  00:36

This is Found in the Rockies, a podcast about the startup ecosystem in the Rocky Mountain region, featuring the founders, funders, and contributors, and most importantly, the stories of what they're building. I'm Les Craig from Next Frontier Capital. If you've been a listener for so long now that you basically have our episode intro memorized. You may also react to today's guest with kind of a “wait a minute, isn't this repeat?” And as a matter of fact, today's episode is technically a repeat of May 17th 2021. Because today's guest is Steph Sample, who is the founder and CEO of FUNDID. So what gives? Well, here's the twist. 15 months ago Steph hosted me as a guest on Found in the Rockies. Hi, Steph, welcome back to the show.

Stef  01:29

Thanks. It's really exciting to be here. I like being on the other side of it.

Les  01:34

I mean, it's so cool. This is your this was your podcast, you started this in the Rockies and handed over the reins, you know, graciously to to me in 20 I think it was when was that? 20…2022 2021. Right fall?

Stef  01:49

Yeah, yeah. Cuz it's like, we originally started found in the Rockies more as like a creative outlet. I just needed something new going on that felt like a new form of marketing and learn something new. And then when I started FUNDID, I couldn't really justify the bandwidth that was taking it didn't really have brand alignment to who I was doing. And you are kind of at the center of the startup world in the region. So it just made sense for you to take over.

Les  02:18

Well, it's it's been such a joy and so much fun. And we'll get into all that. But But first, why don't you since you haven't had the chance on the other side of this. Why don't you just really tell our listeners kind of start at the beginning. Tell tell us all about kind of your your story where you grew up and take take it away?


Sure. Wow, where to start? Um, so I'm originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. Which is honestly not something I've said a lot for a long time. I've just said like, Oh, I'm from Montana. I grew up in Billings. And I did like I moved to Montana when I was in fifth grade. I had never, like gone back to Salt Lake. But it's kind of a recent thing, which I could get into why all of a sudden salt lakes appearing and where you're from again, but um, ended up kind of being raised in Billings, Montana, which, at the time, I thought the entire state of Montana looks that way. So I really like was happy in Billings. I know. People have like weird things about Billings but I actually love growing up in Billings, I thought it was an awesome place. Um, Red Lodge Montana. I grew up skiing there. And that is like still my favorite mountain in the state of Montana.

Les  03:36

As long as they get enough snow, right? because we call that rock dodge some times.

Stef  03:40

I know, honestly, when I was in high school, it had great snow every season. So this is like a new thing. And I don't get over there anymore. So I have a different experience at Red Lodge. 

Les  03:50

Beautiful area, though. Really cool town. Yeah,

Stef  03:53

yeah. And then I went on going to college, which was full transparency, like I was the first person in my family to go to college, I didn't really have this pressure to go. If anything, like there's a lot of concern around the cost and if it was worth it, but I got a lot of support, mostly from like my soccer coach and his family in going to college. So I did end up going to college in Minnesota ended up in China for college, and became a Chinese major and I needed to finish my degree and that is what brought me to Missoula, Montana. I was, you know, like trying to apply for college, from China and and I paid for my own school. So in state was kind of the way to do it for me. University of Montana had Chinese as a language is the only school in the state that did so I'd never even been to Missoula, applied, got into the business school, got into the Chinese program and rolled into town like the morning of classes. And I’ve really been here ever since I thought I was gonna go back to China. I had a sports marketing job there that I loved. But as stories go, I met my husband while I was at the U of M, he was an entrepreneur here in the state with a business already. So moving was kind of out of the cards for us. And in a lot of ways, I felt like I was forced into becoming an entrepreneur. I, because I was stuck here. You know, like, I definitely had this like, well, I'm stuck in Montana, which sounds ridiculous now, like, but it was really hard back then. And I remember like, I had a really good relationship with a business school professor. And I must sound so pathetic, like whining about my life, like, oh, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I have to, I guess, be an entrepreneur in Montana. And that's really what I've done and so you know, since ‘08, graduated from college started my first company. And I've been a small business owner in Montana ever since and till recently, and I'm now in a venture backed company, but still owners, small businesses, and honestly, I identify way more with being a small business owner than, like, a founder, like, I was like, “What is this title founder”, like business owners don't do that kind of crap. They just call themselves business owners and kind of in a new phase in life.

Les  06:29

Awesome. Well, and from an eco perspective, ecosystem perspective. You know, I remember, you know, from the time we met, when I moved here in 2015, you definitely have been one of those, you know, one of the entrepreneurial forces in the state, I mean, constantly innovating, constantly, you know, sort of pursuing opportunities. I mean, the podcast is an example of that. Also, the Insight Studio, I love what you were doing there. And if you want to talk a little bit about where it where that came from, and what the Inside Studio has done.

Stef  07:04

Sure, yeah. You know, it's funny like I have, so like I said, I started my first business right out of college. It was a bag company, which it was so fun, I like made these marathon bags, I would like go to marathons, every weekend, set up my Expo booth, and like hawk my wares, all the people walking by, like trying to get them to buy them. And then I feel like my journey has been kind of this, like, progression of like business after business. Got into like franchise brands, I bought a business, you know, out of Texas and moved it to Montana, and then the Insight Studio and it's not that I ever, like saw myself as like an ecosystem builder, a Montana innovator, I think what I was, like, always looking for was to do something that was like really big, really challenging. And in Montana, I always felt like you had to take these like steps towards that. Which was my own limitation. That wasn't a limitation anyone was putting on me. But that was my mindset of I don't know, just not, I guess not being willing to like really jump in. But Insight Studio, I think, was a really fun company that led to FUNDID, I had been taking kind of some consulting gigs in growth, which has always been my strong suit in companies have really like listening to the customer journey and tried to understand it, and then figuring out how to scale and market in a really scalable, efficient way. So I'm helping all these other companies do that. And I eventually decided, instead of, you know, isn't like any good entrepreneur, instead of selling my own time. Maybe I should create a company and have a team around me, which was an amazing team and still is the Insight Studio. We were like, a team of my five we were all expert marketers really good at HubSpot, which is a software a lot of startups use. And we would go in and help companies kind of set up their HubSpot use case, make their data really efficient in there and find insights. That team is actually who built FUNDID my new company with me, except for my, the first team member, Andrew, who's awesome, like nicest guy in the world, came to me as we were transitioning and said, like, you know, I told you a long time ago, I've always wanted to be a business owner. Like is that in the cards here at the Insight Studio? So I actually have transitioned the company to Andrew, we helped them rebuild the team. And like, it's probably been like the biggest joy of my life actually, is to help someone else become an entrepreneur to see like a business that I was really proud of carry on and continue to serve customers well, and then just to see Andrew like, grow in that role and do such a good job with it. And it kinda comes back to why I care about the small business space so much is like Andrew is crushing it, he's, like, so good at running this company. And then to think like, he couldn't have just done this, like, the capital isn't out there for him to just do that, like, he was lucky to have out, you know, to work for me and maybe like, yeah, of course, and all like owner finance it and no big deal. But, you know, so many totally capable people don't get to become entrepreneurs every day, not because of a lack of skill, but more of a lack of how the system works.

Les  10:37

Such a great point. And I think we see that probably with even greater density in a place like in an ecosystem like Montana, and not to you glazed over a little bit, but I mean, the Insight Studio, you've helped multiple companies in our state, early stage companies, NFC portfolio companies, I mean, it's, it's, it's very much part of I think, who you are and what the Insight Studio is all about is like, providing, you know, especially with regards to, you know, kind of optimizing, sales and marketing, but helping early stage companies grow and be successful in under conditions that otherwise they maybe wouldn't make it. Right?

Stef  11:18

Yeah, yeah, it is so fun like the Insight Studio. It's funny because they’re a sales and marketing company. But, and this rings true and FUNDID. Now, I've always had this philosophy of a good marketing plan is to be really damn helpful and believe in karma. And in that is like, it's like the whole company. The Insight Studio is built around that motto. Always, like anyone could email the Insight Studio and be like, “Hey, I use HubSpot. It's really messed up, like you'd meet with us for an hour.” And it's like, of course, we'd love to share knowledge having no like, having no idea where that's gonna go or expecting anything. And some of our best clients along the way, or we're like, random people, we help for an hour and never talked to him again sending us like awesome clients down the road. And I just like I love those kinds of models when they work. 

Les  12:10

Yeah, super fun. So So speaking of like, the, the opportunity that you know, pulled you pulled you away from from almost at HubSpot pulled you away from the Insight Studio into something totally new. I mean, what you had going was it was incredible. Take us through that journey. Like what how did? How did the idea and the motivation and the spark for FUNDID really get get going?

Stef  12:39

Yeah, it's a it's a good question. So when I started the Insight Studio, I was limited on what I could do, because I still had another company in my portfolio that I was anchored to, that really did limit how big of another company I could build or how much time I could spend. Because until I found a way to exit this other business, which was in the franchise space. I was just like, couldn't go out and do a whole lot. But I also knew that I was helping all these businesses, and I was selling my time. And so when I started the Insight Studio, even early on, I told the team, which was the same team through the whole journey. I know better than to sell our time, I don't believe in services businesses. Because my time is really valuable to me, and it's not scalable. But we're really good at this. And we all have kind of this skill set. So we're gonna go out and help a lot of companies, we're going to learn a ton. And at some point, we're not going to do this for other people anymore. So interesting, like, I actually built the Insight studio, never intending on sticking with it long term, which I know is like a crazy concept except for if you know me, you know that I'm literally not capable, nor do I want to ever do something for more than 10 years. Like ever in my life. I'm very comfortable with that idea. And my team knew I was too because I had done it a few times before. And so with the Insight studio, what happened was right before COVID hit an amazing opportunity to exit the franchise business I was in. So I sold my stores to one of the bigger franchisees in the in the brand. So new time on my hands COVID Just hit um, and what happened was I was already kind of on this kind of, I don't even know how to explain. I was in this like rabbit hole of understanding women entrepreneurship, because I personally have a super shitty experience that really like opened my eyes to these like limitations and like why are these experiences different for women. And I had started a nonprofit to try to help other women entrepreneurs. Paylor. Sorry, maybe Yeah, yep, no problem. And so I was on this kick of like, you know, like women need to be better represented and they need to, like be able to grow their businesses, then I exited one and then COVID hit. And then the first round of the PPP loans came out. And there was this article in the Wall Street Journal that was called out that essentially, the first round of funding would do like a bunch of like traditional bankers that like turned around and gave it to all their, like traditional clients, which happened to be pretty much all white dudes, right? 

Les  15:47

You’re being very kind with more traditional, using traditional as a substitute. But it's Yeah, it wasn't wasn't good. Yeah.

Stef  15:54

Yeah, and it wasn't like intentional. But that was just, you know, another signal of how the world works. And I was just so pissed. When I read the article, like so mad and I swear to God, the next article I read, is I get this email. This woman I'm in a business group with named Jesse Draper of Halogen Ventures, wrote this Medium post. It was like, women are not an f’ing charity. And it actually talks about how in the time of COVID, what happened in the VC landscape, is actually VCs retreated to safety, and funding into diverse founders, specifically, women actually crashed in COVID. And there's like, and there's all this crazy data around it. And so I literally went from like, already super passionate about women entrepreneurship, reading this article about the PPP loans, like skipping underserved business owners that needed it the most. And then, like VC was drying up for women, and I’m like so f’ing pissed. 

Les  17:02

So you literally were like, I'm gonna do something about this, right? 

Stef  17:05

Yeah, I like literally, like, looked over at my husband was like, I'm not going to be on the sidelines, like, I'm going to do something I'm going to try. I have the time now, because I exited this business. And what I did was, I didn't really know what I put it out to my network, which I've always been super grateful to have such an awesome network, it specifically in the financial services segment of the network I'm in. And I said, like, hey, like, I'm super pissed, I'm really good at being doing something when I have a chip on my shoulder. And I need to solve for these small business owners like I have to try. And so I just want to learn like how to, and I got so many responses, like so many amazing people took meetings with me, told me like all they knew from like, 30 years of experience in small business, lending or support. And I would just like, take in all this information, go and play with it a little bit, come back with ideas meet with people again. So I really went in knowing like, I want to have an impact on how small businesses in America have access to, to capital, and also just business finance in general. I don't really know what the solution is, and I want to be really open minded on what it could be. Um, so it just kind of like went on this journey and started asking people, and then it went really, really fast. Like this was like, February of 2021. And by is like April 1, I formed my company and met my lawyer at Cooley for the first time. By, I think it was like May or April, I'd launched what I thought was going to be the best lead generation tool for the company because I knew in FinTech, that customer acquisition costs was one of the biggest problems and so I want to kind of de-risk it more for myself and investors. I love that investors think that I de-risked it for them, I did it for myself. Right? Like, this is gonna be my time in the future. And that went live, it immediately worked. It was going really well. We built what's called the grant match program. And then I think I started raising in August and closed my first round of funding, which is my seed round in November.

Les  19:19

Incredible at the speed of startups for sure. What was what was can you tell us a little bit about the process? I mean, the origin is incredible. I mean, it's no surprise to me that, you know, Steph Sample got really passionate about something and now she's like, not going to quit until it is it is solved. But tell me about like, beyond that, fundraising, like because it's it's hard to do anything in this kind of space, especially in this category without raising money. And as a Montana bass founder. Tell us about tell us about that journey.

Stef  19:54

Yeah, um, you know, leading up to this moment, I never intended to do anything in venture Um, if anything, I was opposed to it. I was fortunate, right? Like, for over 10 years, my husband and I are the sole owners of our many businesses. We are bankable because we have assets to leverage when we go to start new businesses. So I was kind of like, well, why would I possibly take anyone else's money like, but when I was out exploring and understanding how to solve this problem, and I just knew that's what I wanted to do with my time. I knew I had to do it at scale. I didn't even know what FinTech was, I had never even heard the term. So when people were proposing like, and really in order to do this, you really need to use data in different ways. You need to like be able to kind of look at the full picture of a business and you need to use technology in order to do that. And and that means this thing called fintech. And I'm like, Okay, let me Google that.

Les  20:58

There's literally like, one timeframe is this like, this is literally like in early April. What did you find when you Googled FinTech?

Stef  21:12

I mean, it was it was actually kind of funny, because I'm like, What is fintech? And it's like FinTech is financial technology. And it's like, well, no shit. But what is that? Yeah, so I kind of got turned on to this idea. And, and it was like, hey, like, you know, you're in a phase in life where you want to build something really big. And I did, like, so it's like, I really, really care about this problem. But I also, I really, really care about seeing myself compete at the highest level too. I'm a super competitive person, I think I'm capable of a lot more than I've done to date. And it and I'm in a phase of life where I want to compete at that level, I want to build companies at that level. And getting into something venture, bankable is how you do that in a lot of ways because of the money, the everything that's on the line, the kind of like size of the decisions. So I kind of was like, alright, looks like I'm doing it this way. And I think I called the on like, oh, Les, you're not gonna believe that this, I’m actually going to raise money. Like, I'm sure you fell out of your chair.

Les  22:20

Yeah, I was like, you really? You? I did not expect you to call me and ask me that. No, but I mean, I, I think I think it says a lot. And, you know, I was I was really excited for you and proud of the decision when you when you decided to go down that path. What was it? Like? What was the process? Like for you?

Stef  22:37

Yeah, you know, um, it's so funny, because like, in the moment, it's like, Oh, my God, this is hell, like, This really sucks. And now looking back, I'm like, “Dude, you raise a lot of money in two months?” Like, it wasn't so bad, right. But, um, you know, I really treated it. And I feel like I've said this a million times, like a competitive sport that I must win. And I'm totally serious. Like, I was super strategic. Because of my network. And my connection to San Francisco for the last few years, I have a lot of great resources that taught me the game of raising venture, I didn't treat it as this like, you know, fluffy thing where I'm gonna go tell the world about my passion, and there just gonna wanna throw money at me and be like, go make rainbows. And, um, you know, it was like, I learned. Yeah, I was like, Okay, this is gonna be really hard. I need to be really prepared. I need to have like all my ducks in a row. And I really did like I was helped by this. This one guy who's so awesome, named Kyle from am fam ventures. And he was just a friend through my network. He wasn't someone I was pitching, but he like, he's like, Well, do you have a data room? And I'm like, what's the data room? And he's like, Well, let me show you how to build one and, and I took it all very seriously, like, I treated it as if there were a lot on the line. And that there was going to be a very small chance that I was going to be able to raise money. And so I needed to work really hard at it. And I did what everyone did, I bugged the hell out of my friends. I begged for introductions, I replied 10 times to people until I got the intro. I was willing to take any call at anytime with no notice. And I put myself out there over and over again. And, you know, like, sold my vision too, I mean, I think what I was lucky was I knew to get something live that can show that I can acquire this segment. Because in this small business specifically, there's kind of a thought that it's really hard to surface these businesses. They're they cost a lot of money to acquire. And so I don't know Oh, if I was so smart in that, or if I was lucky that that's where I started. But, you know, I had a lot of users of my grant match program in a really short period of time, at an incredibly low acquisition cost. And I leaned into that really hard, right of like, Look, I know I could acquire these people, I need to go build this product now. But honestly, like, I would say, less than three people made almost all of my introductions. And the people that

Les  25:39

So, you focused on a really tight kind of first degree network that actually brought ultimately, your investors to the table. Is that right? Is that what you mean? 

Stef  25:50

Yeah. And, and honestly, like my lawyer, from Cooley made the most key introduction for me, that opened the most doors. And what's so cool about that was when I met this individual, it had nothing to do with raising money, it was just for advice and help. And so we had this relationship built on total transparency. And me just and I like, which is good, because I literally am not capable of like holding back anything. So when someone like that, that knows you inside, and now how you're thinking, how you think about companies, is the one that wants to invest in you wants to get you investors, it's, it's a good thing. And so, it was just kind of interesting, because the people that ended up writing checks, were more people that I was getting advice from, than I was pitching. 

Les  26:50

It’s like the old saying, right, if you if you ask for advice, you get money. If you ask for money, you get advice, right? 

Stef  26:56

Yeah, and I didn't intend it that way. But, um, but I will say it was really hard. And it's a really broken system, which I'm assuming, you know, like, it's totally ridiculous, that in our world, a VC wants you to go out and find an introduction to them. I mean, talk about limiting. If you think about like, your job as a VC is to return your fund. You should be working your ass off to be getting founders on your calendar founders should not be working their asses off to get on your calendar.

Les  27:32

I have nothing to say. I feel like you're the host again. And I'm in the hot seat. No, you're right, though. You're right, though. 

Stef  27:39

And you're great at it. I'm just seeing like, That's them. And no wonder women don't get funding. Yeah, well, you know…

Les  27:47

I really like a couple couple takeaways from what you said, I think is phenomenal advice for founders, especially founders in our region. And our number one, I love this takeaway of the lawyer making the key introductions, because I think most often, especially in founder circles, I can't say that lawyers have like great raps and reputations. I mean, they're building these founders hourly. It's like, that's the business model. But I couldn't agree with you more. Or I think some of the best intros I see out there are also from service providers as well..

Stef  28:16

Yeah, I have like, I have the most amazing lawyer ever. And in fact, I like I don't even like telling anyone her name anymore. Because I don't want her to have time for anyone but me and my friends who use her.

Les  28:31

She sounds like she needs to grow the firm a little bit better. Yeah. The other the other thing, though, that you hit on, I think is great is, you know, you talked a lot about, you know, despite the fact that Yeah, sure. It's, it's a broken kind of some of the process in the industry is a little broken and disjointed. But you focused on understanding that right? Like, what's the data room? Oh, okay. I'm gonna, I don't know what that is. But I'm gonna make the best damn pre-seed, seed stage data room. I mean, one of the best I've ever seen when I when I took a look. I mean, you nailed it. And like, that's sometimes what it takes is like that extra diligence of organization, process, and then ultimately getting those warm intros, like, yeah, accompany aside, founders aside, sometimes that's the difference maker, right? For, like, whether or not we close a round, right?

Stef  29:23

Yeah. And for me how I thought about it, because, you know, it's so easy to be mad at the broken process. But I remember I'm in this like, small business group, and there's, there's VC in the group and a couple of founders that are venture backed, and I remember just having this moment in this group where I said, like, I'm gonna play the game well and fix it later. I'm like, you know, it's like these are the cards have been dealt. This is the game of how to get the capital. And I care more about these small businesses that I want to serve to be mad at the way that the process works. And I just have to play the game. I have to understand it. And I have to get through it. Because it you know, it really is easier to be like, “This is so frustrating. I live in Montana and like these people in California expect me to like know their Stanford buddies, like I don’t know their Stanford buddies. I don’t want to know their Stanford buddies.

Les  30:21

Yeah. Well, so So you so you, you figured out a way to navigate it? You got

Stef  30:29

And ended up with the best investors ever, by the way, like I like, I truely do. And I wouldn't say that otherwise, like, I feel like I got so, so lucky. And I'm so grateful for my investors.

Les  30:41

So so then what ship ship is set sail, life is good. You win. Like what happened next?

Stef  30:48

Yeah, so it’s a good question. No, not good. But it's it is. So I closed my seed round in November, I raised $3.25 million pre-product from FinTech specific investors, which to me was really important because FinTech is a very complicated, specific game. It doesn't work like a SaaS business. So I was so grateful to get a lead investor, that was FinTech specific, I was super duper excited to also get a VC on my cap table as my second largest investor that only invests in women like I, in fact, I turned down another fund to make that happen. And I'm so grateful for them and the community that they built for me. But I raised the round on the success of the grant match program, our ability, and I built that, like, on what we essentially did was, realize that small business owners in their frustration of not being able to get capital will turn to searching for business grants as a solution. But business grants are really hard to find. They're like mixed in like nonprofit websites, or they're all one offs. So we consolidated that data and made them really searchable. And we, that is still like our main product. And then I raised on the idea of building a card product that would serve as an on-ramp for small business owners, businesses with under 10 employees is who were passionate about just 26 million businesses in the US. And what I care about is it represents 98% of all women owned businesses to and these businesses oftentimes use their personal credit card to run their businesses because they can't get access to credit otherwise. And so my vision was to partner with Experian to create a proprietary underwriting model that approved these business owners for a business charge card that would allow them to stop using their personal card for their business, start using our card as an on-ramp to being even more lendable in the future. So we see this as like an on-ramp entry level product for small businesses that then goes on to unlock all sorts of other lending products. We've been building it ever since. So that was in late November. Um, we had quite the journey. It's actually been so fascinating. Like I've, I've mostly loved every step of how finance works. We looked at bass players, we looked at going direct, we ended up getting super lucky where we got a term sheet from Crossover Bank, which is like the leading bank partner in FinTech really big names behind them. And we chose to go direct to market with our card, which we are about to launch in like 40 days. And that is like record time, by the way. It feels like a lifetime to me. But, we really are like getting a card product to market direct, not through a bass player in like, like record time.

Les  34:01

Yeah, well, I mean, and Stef I gotta I gotta do this, because like, just to remind our listeners, you Google FinTech like a year ago. And now you're like writing the next chapter in the Wikipedia article like you are. It's unbelievable. What you've done.

Stef  34:20

It really is. I really do think I'm like a go to resource and how it all works. But I think it's because I was cuz I didn't come from the finance background. I was so nervous. I didn't know like, what the hell I was doing that I overcompensated by learning every detail. And I left like nothing to someone else to teach me. So now I'm like, it's like, now I like meet a new founder that wants to FinTech and they think they want to do a card product. And it's like, well, you need your bank partner, your processor and your network and here's how they go together. And don't forget about the seven different accounts that make up your flow of funds and, and I'll like stop mid-sentence and like laugh at myself. But um, it's actually really fascinating that like, it's super interesting how money moves in America. So I've mostly like loved learning about it. And every time you learn more about it, you see why this is such a problem for small businesses, um, especially in lending like, you know, there's this, like, why are business loans so expensive why are interest rates so high? And then you like really get into the weeds of it, it's like, oh, shit, like the cost of capital just to lend to a business owner is really high. And, and all these numbers, and if you don't have credit history, you really do need a better way to underwrite and it really doesn't exist, because and then I would say the the problem in tech and in FinTech is that someone some A-hole out there who will have to hunt down one day started this like story that small businesses were serving, and I feel like there's a sentiment out there, that it's like they can't make money on, it probably started with banks. And that's just not true. Like we make money on consumer loans that are $10,000 in our world. So the idea that we can't make money lending to small businesses, it's just crazy. But because of that, to our advantage, we really don't have a lot of competitors.

Les  36:29

Interesting. Yeah, I would have never thought of it that way. But you bring up a really, really great point. I wonder if it's just, at some point, the A-hole that you reference just was lazy. And so it's like, I don't have to do any work if I if we just ignore this stuff, so

Stef  36:45

Well, and I think what happens and it's valid, it's like, I'm entering this space, because I'm solely passionate about this segment. So I have a really strong mission, and why behind me to stick with it. But if I were honest, it would be really a lot easier for me, if I served a larger business, I can make more with less customers, it would be more predictable, there would be more data for me to use to underwrite them. And so it's no surprise that a group, like a card company out there that just dropped small business might then be like, “Oh, we're not serving small businesses anymore.” And it's like, well, yeah, because they never had the strong mission behind them, of why they were even there in the first place.

Les  37:31

Interesting. What about anything exciting to announce what's coming next, you talked a little bit about kind of the card launch and stuff coming up. But what else what else is exciting and in store, and maybe also would love to hear in addition to that, any challenges you're working through?

Stef  37:48

Sure. I think the most exciting thing going on is our team. Because of our mission, and our focus, we've been able to attract talent that we don't deserve, that I don't deserve. Um, so I just like love working with my team, they were just in Montana last week, which is so cool when you get to host people from you know, like San Francisco and North Carolina, in Montana. So that was super special. And I just am really, I just love working with this team. It's just a bunch of smart people that are so mission driven, and also really care about winning at the same time. And that's, I think, a really unique special combination, when you can couple, like a strong mission with a desire to win a market. Out and about like launching our card is a really big deal. For us. It's a lot of work like it, I can't I can't even emphasize how hard it is to get through bank diligence, with a big bank player. And what goes into that and what goes into a credit policy. And so it was like 300 lines of diligence, that is just an insane process. Same with the model, like it's so, so hard, but you really come out the other side as a fine like a well oiled machine. But getting that card live is is a really big deal for us something we're really excited to do mostly to serve these business owners. And in a lot of ways, I'm more excited to get it live because it opens up the door for us to then use that data to create better with lending products, because I would say like a challenge for me, or what kind of keeps me up at night is I get to like go out and tell the world about how great FUNDID is. But the reality is, is we aren't doing an excellent job at solving this problem yet. We aren’t offering enough lending products to enough small businesses and creating that data model well enough when we have to get our card to market in order to start getting that data, to create better products for them, but you know, I'd maybe give us like a C on the value we're creating for small businesses right now. And it's really important to me to really be adding more value and creating better products. So that's hard, because you want to skip right to that finish line, right of like being really proud of your product. And instead, we're in a phase where we have to earn the right to serve the smallest customer, the most risky customer, and we have to have a business that can make it that far to do that. And it's challenging to be disciplined and know, like, no, the business has to work first, and then you get to keeping riskier and riskier every day. Um, and I'll say that, like, I think I, you know, I just raised money in a pretty horrible market. Again, I feel grateful, like all my investors more than doubled down on me, I have amazing investors. Um, so it was easier than probably most are experiencing, but it did like put, like the fear of God in me, because I do need to raise again in a few months. So I would say that that's a challenge, but one that I'm like, actively trying to de-risk right now.

Les  41:14

I see. Well, I mean, between the challenges that you've been through, and the challenges that lie ahead, I mean, it's clear that this, you know, it's not going to let up like this is not a trivial problem in a trivial space, like this is impacting and changing, changing people's lives, you know, in in a in a big way. So it's worth fighting for, and probably only someone that wakes up one day and says, eff this, I'm doing it. And then Google's FinTech, like, that's what it would take

Stef  41:44

Crazy enough to do that. So you know, it is such a big problem to like it. It's funny, because in FinTech people were like, aren't our small business lending solutions already? It's like, well, maybe but I don't know any group of businesses sitting around a table being like, geez, we're so glad the financial system solved all our problems. Clearly, that is not what is happening in our world.

Les  42:11

Said no small business ever. Well, I've got like two more, two more questions. They're both kind of fun. So. So first of all, you alluded to this one early on, but I want to revisit it. You said you used to, people would ask you where you're from, and you didn't really say Salt Lake, but you're saying that more now? What? What gives? What’s the deal?

Stef  42:32

Oh you are dancing into an Off Limits topic Les.

Les  42:37

Is it really?

Stef  42:41

No, no. I think it's Yeah, yeah. So a month ago, I decided to move to Salt Lake from Missoula. And, you know, before all the Montanans get mad at me, we we still are Montana residents. We will be here all summer. Every summer, we have an office in Missoula, where we intend to hire a lot of employees and create really high paying great jobs here. But for me, the reality is, is it is hard to build a scalable company from Montana, especially when you're getting on a plane to New York and San Francisco all the time. And one of my most strategic advisors and helpers lives in Salt Lake. It's a great financial hub city, a great community, the startup community really is excellent there. They're like I was there for like a day and felt like I had a million friends and you know, and ran into you in the streets! Um, it already feels like home. But we are really excited to make Salt Lake more home for FUNDID and to grow our startup out of Salt Lake while still keeping strong Montana roots, too. But it is weird because people in Utah are like, Why did you move here? And I'm like, Well, I guess I'm kind of from here. Haven’t said that in about 20 years.

Les  44:01

Well, I really, I really, thank you for sharing that with with our listeners, because I you know, and I think it's it communicates a really great point, which is the Rockies, there's so many amazing places in the Rockies to live and work and build companies. And, you know, Missoula is one of those great places. Salt Lake City is another one of those great places. So thank you for sharing that stuff. So the last question I have for you, and this is kind of an homage used to do I used to love used to do the rapid fire rounds. Yes. Right. And, you know, I don't know what it is, I guess I talked too much or what we never have time to do the full Rapid Round. But I would like I would like to know, in a Rapid Round style question that you asked me. What is something that you're looking forward to in the next 30 days?

Stef  44:54

I mean, honestly, I mean, Spoken like a true parent, but I think people will relate to this. My kids start a new school next week, which is like the most terrifying thing as a parent ever. And I am just so excited to get through that and settle into this new world because I know they're gonna do great. Like, I know they're gonna do great. And 30 days from now, what will be most exciting to me is just watching them also see that.

Les  45:20

That's, that's such a great answer. And actually, I'm going to take it back. I do have one more question, because I think this is so important to hit on. And if you're listening to this episode up until this point, and frankly, I mean, even some of the details of some of the multiple companies in the franchise, I mean, you've owned multiple businesses at the same time. You've I mean, I think if people really knew even some of the more of the details, they'd be like, well, this is clearly like a lifelong entrepreneur, solo entrepreneur, probably not a parent. You're a mom. You’re an amazing and amazing mom at that. How do you do it all stuff? How do you balance being a mom with being a founder and a successful entrepreneur? And in a career as an entrepreneur?

Stef  46:03

Yeah, you know, I get that question a lot. In fact, I think, your partner, at Next Frontier, that might be what he says to me every time he sees me. And, you know, the reality is, is like, I don't really know, like, I just do. And I love my kids, like, you know, I, the reality is, I'm not willing to sacrifice for our company, at the expense of my family, I love hanging out with my family. They're super cool. We love going camping and doing all the things. So either I actually, I processed this actually recently, because I keep getting asked it. I think because I jumped all in so quickly with multiple companies from day one. I've never had the problem of being stuck in the business doing the work. I've always built companies from a high level, and trusted and hired excellent people. And then never felt the need to micromanage it. And I think it was a necessity than a learned skill because I had so much from the very first day I was in it. And then, you know, my husband said this to me in college, and it's still like a theme in my life is the the “To Do” list will always grow it never shrinks. So you have to have the discipline to walk away from it, so that you could come back the next day with the energy needed to crush it again. Um, and I would say that's kind of like a family theme for us is like, you know, I could work till midnight. And and it's not going to be enough. And so at some point, I have to walk away because if I don't, I'm not going to have the energy tomorrow to even look at the list again.

Les  47:47

Such great advice. Such great advice. Well, Steph, I just want to thank you so much for being on your show. I mean, this is your you started this all and then another thing you touched and started. So fun to have a twist of an episode here where you return as a guest and congratulations on all the amazing progress with FUNDID I think we're all rooting hard to see you win and build an amazing company, which we're all I think, pretty confident you're doing. So could you please, could you please tell our audience a little bit more about where they can find you and FUNDID online?

Stef  48:25

Yep. Our website is and that spell FUNDID is spelled FUNDID. Because of course every word on Earth is taken anymore for businesses. I'm on LinkedIn. That's all I'm on. I don't even know how to use Twitter. I plan to never know. But I am on LinkedIn. And I love to hear from people. I love helping people when I can or at least connecting them to people I could help so female founders in the Rockies that are raising money, I am always willing to drop everything to send forwarding blurbs to VCs for.

Les  49:04

What an amazing offer. Thanks, Steph. 

Stef  49:07

Thank you. 

Les  49:10

Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Found in the Rockies. You can find links in the show notes or go to to get transcripts, links, and contact information for today's guests. If you like what you heard and want more, please don't forget to rate review and subscribe to get notified as our new episodes drop every two weeks. We'll see you next time.