Thejo Kote is the co-founder and CEO of Airbase, the leading spend management platform for small and midsize companies. Founded in 2017, Airbase raised over $30m from Bain Capital Ventures and First Round Capital. His first company, Automatic, was acquired by Sirius XM for over $100m.
Airbase – Spend management done right. Three products. One platform.
3 Value Bombs
1) Identify problems that you are passionate about working on even if nobody is paying you. It makes it a lot easier.
2) Be in a position where you are objectively building a good business – where you don’t need anybody else to fund you.
3) Sometimes you just have to observe. Keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities and pain points as they come.
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Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: Spend Management and the Wave of Change in Fintech.
[1:17] – Thejo shares something that he believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- Most people associate success with money. Be focused on doing things you’re passionate about, and money is going to take care of itself.
[2:34] – Thejo’s backstory.
- He spent most of his life in India before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area to go to grad school and pursue being an entrepreneur.
- He believed in the impact of technology on the world. He thought he should be in a place where the ecosystem would give him the best shot at succeeding.
[5:42] – Talk about the idea of Airbase and the actual creation of that idea.
- Experience matters. Ideas won’t come just by sitting in the room. You have to go out and do things.
- Most businesses are created by people in their early 30s and 40s.
- Airbase is meant to help small and mid market businesses manage their money.
- Thejo learned about financial accounting as a CEO
- Sometimes you just have to observe. Keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities and pain points as they come.
[9:32] – Figuring out the product market fit and creating the formula.
- The tendency of a product person engineer is to come up with an idea and then jump to start building it. That is almost always a bad idea.
- Have a lot of conversations with the potential customer to understand the pain points as deeply as possible.
- It is very expensive to commit to things. You spend time, energy, and money.
[16:17] – The business challenges that Thejo had early on, and how he tackled them.
- Control your own destiny. When you don’t control your own destiny, then you’re always going to be in a difficult spot.
- Be in a position where you are objectively building a good business – where you don’t need anybody else to fund you
[19:20] – The definition of spend management and why companies need it.
- It is a challenge to manage how you spend money. It’s a pain if you’re dealing with around 6 systems when money is being spent.
- Airbase brings all systems and processes into one user experience and platform.
[21:57] – The future of FinTech.
- FinTech has become a buzz word where people miss the substance of it
- It made sense to embed payment and FinTech elements into the business.
- Infrastructure is getting a lot better. It’s so much easier to plug into the banking ecosystem and money movement systems.
[25:18] – Thejo’s key takeaway and call to action for Fire Nation!
- Airbase – Spend management done right. Three products. One platform.
- Identify problems that you are passionate about working on even if nobody is paying you. it makes it a lot easier.
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