Brandon Krieg is the Co-Founder and CEO of @stash. He is passionate about fintech, electronic trading and the future of investing. He is a Big NY Rangers fan.
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- Sometimes it pays to just shut up and listen to your customers.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:19] – Free Podcast Course – A free 15 day course on how to Create, Grow, & Monetize YOUR Podcast!
- [00:55] – Brandon has lived in New York for 22 years with his family and dog
- [02:15] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: “Leveraging technology to solve big problems”
- [02:43] – When Brandon was starting in fintech in 1998, the biggest problems he faced were the fees and conflict of interest in trading
- [03:28] – The problem now is investing and how to start
- [03:57] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: “Pre the dot com crash of 2001”
- [05:09] – Brandon learned that you always have to think of how you can evolve as a business owner and entrepreneur
- [05:44] – The greatest lesson Brandon took away from the experience was to essentially “shut up” and listen
- [06:28] – “I’ll never know the answers more than the customers do”
- [06:57] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Stash
- [09:00] – JLD says when someone close to you says you have an AH-HA moment, you have to take action
- [09:22] – What have you learned as Stash evolved that surprised you as a founder? – “How little I know about everything”
- [10:18] – Brandon was also wrong about needing to have a lot of money to start investing
- [11:11] – JLD quotes MLK, “you don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step”
- [12:07] – Brandon’s plan is to take it one step at a time
- [13:05] – Every entrepreneur should be evolving with their customers
- [14:04] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear of failing and risk”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Shut up and listen”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I take a little time everyday for me or with my kids without my phone”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Slack
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Lean Startup
- [16:56] – Connect with Brandon via email or on LinkedIn
- [17:12] – For those who want to try Stash, Brandon is giving you $5! Open an account and type “fire” in the promo code space
- [17:42] – “Let the data guide you in your decisions when you take the step to start your company”
- [19:09] – Jump on Brandon’s offer and start investing now
- [19:39] – How to Finally Win – Create your dream life one step at a time!
Brandon Krieg: Yes, I am. I’m ready to ignite.
Interviewer: Brandon is the cofounder and CEO at Stash. He is passionate about ThinkTech electronic training and the future of investing. He’s also a big New York Rangers fan. Brandon, take a minute, fill in the gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Brandon Krieg: Yeah, thanks. I have lived in New York now for 22 years in New York City. I have two kids, a wife, and hard to believe I have an 85-pound dog in New York City as well as all the others. So, it’s fun. I’m busy. Yeah, the New York Rangers – I’m a diehard New York Rangers fan. I’m actually proud to say that I went to every New York Rangers home game, I think, for eight straight seasons. So, yeah, I’m – and the kids changed that a little bit but now I have a dog that shares a name with the team, so it’s great because I’m always thinking about them.
Interviewer: What’s the most success the Rangers have had in the past eight years?
Brandon Krieg: Almost winning the Stanley Cup a couple of years ago was a pretty big deal but, with the Rangers, you know, it’s just drama, like any New York sports team. So, when you least expect it they do great and when you have high hopes for them they don’t do great. So, every day I strap in and just wait to see what happens. It’s fun. I love being a fan now.
Interviewer: So, Brandon, you’re a fan of the Rangers. You also have some expertise, some specialties in specific areas. In just a couple of sentences, what would you define your area of expertise?
Brandon Krieg: Leveraging technology to solve big problems and how to think through – how to solve these big market mass consumer problems through technology.
Interviewer: So, with something that we, as entrepreneurs, don’t probably know about leveraging back, like what do you know as an expert that we don’t that would be helpful if we knew?
Brandon Krieg: You know, I think that everyone will see this answer differently. It really depends on what you think is a problem. So, throughout my career now I have been in ThinkTech or financial technology since 1998 before it was a buzz word and super cool to work in it. You know, I always looked at – you know, when I first started out we were trying to solve a problem around fees and conflict of interest in trading. It wasn’t a huge mass market problem but it was a big problem and it affected a lot of people and it rolled all the way down to the retail investors. I worked for 15 years tirelessly trying to help solve that problem and now I’m proud to say that electronic trading is a huge industry. I turned my attention with my cofounder in this team to a really big problem that affects more than a hundred million people, which is investing and how to start investing.
So, those are two problems that I have isolated over the years but, you know, look at any startup – ultimately, if you’re going to do startup you should find a big, big problem that you can be the painkiller for essentially.
Interviewer: For you it hasn’t always been that way. I mean, you’ve had a lot of success in the past number of years. You’ve also had some struggles as you’re building your business and doing your thing but if you had to pinpoint your worst moments to date in the entrepreneurial side and the business side of things, what would that worst moment be? Take us to that moment, Brandon.
Brandon Krieg: Pre the dot.com crash of 2001, you know, we had set up a business to really hone in on a specific problem and we really dug in on it. We weren’t really thinking about, you know, what’s the bigger picture. Like, where do we take it if the market changed. So, we were really focusing on education for online active traders in the stock market. You know, what we didn’t realize is when the dot.com crash happened, you know, a lot of the day traders in the market erased. They were gone. They left the market.
We were sitting there going, okay, we have all this technology and all these people. What are we going to do now? I think what I learned back then is a lot of the things over the years that have evolved is you always have to be listening and thinking about how you evolve as a business and as an entrepreneur. That’s something that I was part of a team that, you know, figured it out really quickly because we HAD to but I go back now and every day I wake up I make sure I’m listening and I’m learning and I’m paying attention to how the company that I’m part of needs to evolve and then how I need to evolve – if that makes sense.
Interviewer: That makes a lot of sense. What do you think the biggest thing you learned from that listening was over that experience?
Brandon Krieg: I think, for me, it’s – because I have a tendency to talk a lot – it’s shut up and listen is what I tell myself. You know, the biggest problem that I see a lot of entrepreneurs do is they go into problems with ego. We all have ego whether it’s an unhealthy or healthy ego. You have to hope that more people have a healthy ego than unhealthy and you start making assumptions as to what you think people want without listening to them. So, for me, shut up and listen is important because I need to make sure that I’m listening and I’m analyzing what the problem is and what we’re doing. Again, I’ll just refer to Stash, is what we’re doing right now.
You know, it’s a really complicated industry that we’re trying to solve a problem for an I’m never going to know the answers more than our customers do because they’re the ones feeling the pain. Again, I want to solve that pain for them. So, if I go into these problems with an ego or thinking that I have these preconceived notions of what I think is the answer to a problem, then I’ll fail and I think any entrepreneur will fail.
Interviewer: So, Stash was obviously a great idea that you had and just so seeing that thrill but you’ve had a lot of good ideas, great ideas, crappy ideas. If you could just pick one, Brandon, for a story today that you would consider your greatest ideas to date – an aha moment, so to speak – what would that idea be? Take us to that moment.
Brandon Krieg: If it’s okay, I think the biggest aha moment is Stash for me. I think – you know, because Stash really was born on the street – on 55th Street in the city. Growing up in finance and financial services, I’ve always had a lot of my friends ask about investing and about how do they manage money. It never really dawned on me that this was a problem. I just never thought about it. I’d be like I don’t know, I don’t know, and just move on and not want to talk about money, which is kind of a taboo thing amongst friends a lot of times.
This was going on for years, more than 15 years. One day Eddie and I were on the street and just started literally talking to people on the street and when I started asking questions about investing, to strangers, and they felt comfortable talking about it, I had the aha moment. I almost have the date in my brain. I can’t think of it now. It was an aha moment. Like, all of these years, all of these things I’ve been hearing hit me like a brick. I was like, wow, people just don’t get this. I need to do something about this because there is a solution to this problem.
Well, it you have – you know, not all of my best friends – none of them work in finance. I have a best friend that’s in the chandelier business. I have a friend that sells data. I mean, they don’t truly understand about this and they don’t WANT to understand it. So, yeah, for me the aha moment was that. You know what? Probably everyone else that listens to this show and lots of people have lots of aha moments all the time. I never had one like that but sometimes as an entrepreneur you will have an aha moment and then you go to sleep and then in the morning it won’t be there anymore.
So, for me, Stash was that aha moment that stuck. It stuck so much my wife finally looked at me and said you need to do something about this. I don’t want to hear about it anymore.
Interviewer: You know, when your wife looks at you and says that, Fire Nation, it’s time, your significant other, your spouse, whoever it might be – your best friends, just get out there and do it on some capacity. Maybe as just a side hustle, just to kind of start getting those wheels turning or that ball moving but you’ve got to put it into motion. It’s all about the motion, all about that first step, all about the action. So, let’s move forward now, you know, through Stash.
Like, what have you learned as Stash has evolved that has surprised YOU as the founder, that you were like, wow, I didn’t know this was going to be something within Stash, which I think kind of leads perfectly back into what you were saying. You can’t go into anything thinking with preconceived notions. You have to let your customers, your clients, tell you and guide you and show you the way. So, how did that happen with Stash?
Brandon Krieg: I would say that – you know, it’s funny but what I’m learning is how little I know. It’s interesting.
Interviewer: But what do you mean specifically? Like, what do you know little about?
Brandon Krieg: Everything because I find that I’m wrong most of the time because I listen now more than I’ve ever listened in my life. So, again, I’ll go into a problem and say, “Oh, I know how to fix that problem. I’ve done this before.”
Interviewer: Give a specific example, not just a problem. What is something that you were just like I never would have come to that conclusion on my own? I was totally wrong about this.
Brandon Krieg: That you have to have a lot of money to start investing. That’s a big one. Right? You know, a lot of people think that you have to have tons and tons of money to get started. I said, “Yeah, you do” because I’ve always worked on the institutional side of the business where a lot of the customers I had were investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the stock market or into the market as a whole every day. I never thought that people would invest $5.00, right.
When we started asking people about it and people told me that their biggest fear or the biggest reason they’re not doing something about investing or starting to save is that they don’t think they have enough money to start. So, again, I was wrong about that because if you tell someone they can start with $5.00 it takes away that fear and anxiety and they start. That’s just one example of my current life of where I’m at.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, that [inaudible] [00:10:01] quote I’ve come back to a few times the past couple of days. You don’t HAVE to see the whole staircase to take that first step. Take that first step. Don’t even worry about what that third, fourth, fifth step is going to be. Let it be revealed TO you as you move forward. Now, let’s talk about today with Stash in your life, an 85-pound dog, and the New York Rangers. You have a lot of things going on but what’s the one thing in the business sense that fires you up the most right now?
Brandon Krieg: Well, I’m going to actually answer that question with what you just said.
Brandon Krieg: Because I think that is so interesting. This is something that I share a lot with, with people that ask the question about taking one step at a time. I think that something that we do here a lot is, you know, I just left somebody a few minutes ago and I was asked, “What is the plan for 2019?” You know, I said, “I don’t know the plans for 2019. I have no idea.” I do have a plan to take one step at a time and I think that’s just such a powerful point about just not getting too far ahead. If you have an objective and have something that’s working, hone in on it and focus it and be a master of it. Then you can move to that next step. I just wanted to make that comment. I really like that you said that.
Interviewer: No, I love it, yeah.
Brandon Krieg: That’s really smart.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s great because the reality is, like, I look at my life, Brandon, right now – Snapchat, Instagram stories, you know, these are things that are HUGE for content marketing for so many all-in entrepreneurs that didn’t even exist two months ago. Instagram stories didn’t even exist and Snapchat eight months ago wasn’t even in my world but now it’s a big part of my day-to-day, so for me to say what I’m going to do in 2019 is kind of ludicrous because who KNOWS what 2019 is going to be. I mean, are podcasts going to be around?
Is it going to be like a hologram of back in the Star Wars days? Like, who knows? That’s why one step at a time and then just continue to react as you go forward.
Brandon Krieg: That’s right and evolving, right? Every entrepreneur should be evolving with their customers. If you have a really good feedback loop open with your customers and you’re listening, you will be able to evolve the right way – evolve to what your customers want. So, I think it’s like – you know, a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong where they say I know what I’m going to do for the next year. I know EXACTLY what that is. Great, but that means you’re not listening to your customers.
So, I think that feedback loop helps evolve again back to what you just said, that the goals and the steps that you take can be – your customers will help guide you there if you listen to them and you open up that feedback loop. That’s the most important advice I could ever give to anyone getting into an entrepreneurial startup or thinking about doing something. Get that data, open up that feedback loop, and then go through the steps based on that is the smartest thing you can do.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, that value bomb that Brandon just dropped is NOTHING compared to what he’s going to be dropping in the lightning rounds after we thank our sponsors. Brandon, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Brandon Krieg: I’m ready.
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Brandon Krieg: When I first worked in an entrepreneurial startup in my first company I was part of, I was too young to even know I was doing it. So, you know, it just got thrown into as my first job and off I went. You know, I took a company – we started off with just a few people, built it up, we went through Venture Capital and the company was acquired. Then I stayed at the acquiring company. What held me back when I was older when I started Stash was really fear of failing to be honest with you.
When my wife was telling me, “I’ve heard enough about this – go do it, go do it.” For me to walk into my boss’s office and I worked for a large global bank, and quit my job, which was a good job, was really hard. So, fear of failing and risk was definitely something that held me back but, you know, I worked it out and I eventually went in, resigned, and did it.
Interviewer: What is the best advice you have EVER received?
Brandon Krieg: Shut up and listen. I want you to say that because it’s the advice I’ve gotten from a lot of my good friends. Just listen more, talk less, and just let the data guide you. That’s the top advice I have ever received.
Interviewer: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Brandon Krieg: I take a little time every day for me. I think one thing I have learned in these startups is that if you are constantly just working all the time, 24 hours a day, you need a little time. So, I make sure I take just a little bit of time every day. Well, now I have kids so I spend a little bit of time without my phone every day with my kids and if my kids aren’t around I take time just for me without my phone and it’s really important. It’s hard to do I have to say but I do it.
Interviewer: Can you share an internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation?
Brandon Krieg: Slack all day long. Slack is my favorite tool. Slack for me really helps me kind of hone in on what I want to say in as few words as possible. It’s helped me communicate more effectively with my coworkers. It’s a great tool. I love it.
Interviewer: If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Brandon Krieg: Green Startup. It’d be Green Startup. Green Startup really helps – will help an entrepreneur hone in on what that problem is and how to find the solution to the problem but it gives you a really good framework and a guide, almost like a template, to get there. It helps you iterate and iterate and iterate how you’re trying to find it. I love Green Startup. A friend of mine introduced me to it and it was the guiding principle as to how we built Stash.
Interviewer: Let’s end today on Fire with a parting piece of guidance the best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Brandon Krieg: To connect with me? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a LinkedIn addict. I love LinkedIn, so you could always send me a message on LinkedIn. Then if you want to try Stash, I would love to give every one of you listeners $5.00 to start investing.
Brandon Krieg: So, if you open up an account, once the account is open, if you go into the app you can just type fire as a code and it will put your first $5.00 into your account free. I would love to talk to any of you listeners over LinkedIn if anyone wants to hit me up. I love to share guidance and listen to stories. It’s exciting.
Interviewer: That is incredibly generous of you and what is that parting piece of guidance?
Brandon Krieg: Let the data guide you in your decisions when you take that step to start a company. You know, try to understand that even if you’re an expert in everything under the sun, you may not always understand exactly what your customers want. I think the most important thing is try to move your ego aside, listen to your customers, and iterate off of the feedback you get. It’s a pretty good recipe for success if you ask me.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you have been hanging out with BK and JLD today so keep up the heat and head over the EOFire.com. Just type Brandon in the search bar. His Show Notes page is going to pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Time stamps, links, galore and, of course, email Brandon with a question – email@example.com. Say hi, say thank you, email people, Fire Nation. I give you their email address because that’s your opportunity to say hi and to get some questions answered. You can hit him up on LinkedIn. He loves it and last call to action – if you don’t do this, you don’t love entrepreneurship. You are not a hustler. You’re not a grinder because when someone hears $5.00 you TAKE that, Fire Nation. I take that, Fire Nation, and I made seven figures last year. Stashinvest.com – sign up for an account; enter the code “Fire”. Once you’ve done that, your first $5.00, poof, in your account. Just add another $5.00 and you’ve got $10.00 now. You don’t understand the power of investing until you do. Start investing today, Fire Nation. You’re 65, 85, 105-year old self will thank you, thank you, thank you, and Brandon, thank YOU for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Brandon Krieg: Thank you so much. It was great. I appreciate it.
Interviewer: Okay, Fire Nation, I hope you enjoyed your chat with Brandon today and you’re ready to create your dreamlife one step at a time, aren’t you? Well, my book, How to Finally Win will be your guide. Visit howtofinallywin.com and I’ll catch you there or I’ll catch you on the flipside.
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