From Launch to Exit – Maintaining A Consistent Vision through Changing Times

This article was published in the Fall 2020 issue

by Steve Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Finicity

When Nick Thomas and I started Finicity in 2000, our vision was to help individuals and families improve their financial health. We launched with Mvelopes, one of the first fintech budget apps. Two decades later–through changing times and pivoting our business into an open banking platform—our vision remains the same: helping individuals and families improve their financial outcomes and overall financial health.

With that vision of helping consumers as our north star, we’ve grown to become a trusted and proven open banking platform for fintech innovation. Our clients are among the most forward-thinking organizations in the world, transforming the way consumers and businesses experience money—from budgeting, saving, and borrowing to transacting, investing, and lending. These innovations ultimately improve financial health by providing better outcomes and fostering greater financial inclusion.

Our Journey to Acquisition

After spending 30 years building tech successes in Utah, we were pleased to announce our acquisition in June 2020. The acquisition was really important to Nick and me as we had worked long and hard to get there. When we looked at building our company and any potential exit, growing Utah’s tech sector had always been a key consideration. Even as we focused our business on a more B2B model, our team continued to prioritize the consumer, and that’s helped us really put them at the heart of the open banking discussion.

Open banking gives people and businesses more control over their financial data. This increased control enables consumers to put their data to work for their benefit by determining which third parties can access their information to provide new services like money management programs or to initiate payments on their behalf. We are constantly innovating better solutions for the consumer, putting better data in their hands, giving them increased control over the use of their data and creating better context for them. All of that leads to better financial outcomes.

At the end of the day, what we were most interested in with any potential acquisition was continuing our vision to better the lives of individuals and families. Beyond shareholder equity and the obvious impact on team members, I believe cultural fit is essential to long-term success. Having been involved in several other acquisitions, I have found that the culture of the acquiring business must fit with your own company culture to deliver the hoped-for outcome of combining companies. I’ve experienced both. A cultural mismatch can be disastrous. Don’t ever underestimate the impact of culture.

Building a Utah Business

As we built Finicity into where it is today, Nick and I have leveraged executive leadership experiences from public and private organizations, spanning large enterprises to small startups. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for Utah’s technology and finance presence, or the startup talent we’ve been able to recruit in our own backyard.

We’re proud to have been honored among the Best Places to Work in Fintech by American Banker, Utah’s Top Workplaces by the Salt Lake Tribune, Best Companies in Salt Lake City by Comparably, and more. Consumers will always be at the core of our business, but happy employees are the foundation and first step toward driving innovation.

Our advice for others in Utah who are looking to build a successful startup company: don’t forget where you came from and the values that got you there. Be committed to your vision. Our consumer-centric approach has not only helped us improve financial literacy, financial inclusion, and financial health, but has also established a foundation for our business that’s stood strong despite constant change.

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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Fall 2020GhostMagazine-cover---Summer-2020-3
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