Failed Fintech Venture-23 Years Old

Hi all,

I am in a precarious position and I feel like this is the only site where people truly understand my struggle.

I am a 23 year old graduate of a non-target (top 30 according to US News and World Report). This May will mark my second year since graduation.

As the title states, I have just parted ways with a failed Fintech venture that I had started with 2 other individuals who have far more experience than I. My background also includes PWM (internship), VC (internship), and RE Brokerage. I am not a perfect person as I have turned down FT offerings due to indecisiveness while I was still in college.

I have received over 60 "impressive resume but... we moved on with another candidate" emails and I am finally admitting to how lost I truly feel. My experience screams a transition to PE/VC but keep getting overlooked by my peers who went the traditional 2yr bootcamp route. If I can just get in the door, I know I will exceed all expectations.

What do you all think?

Comments (7)

Feb 1, 2019

How does your experience scream a transition to PE/VC? What was your role within this fintech startup? How much funding did it get?

The startup --> PE/VC route is typically achievable by those who were executives/co-founders in startups who got funded, made some noise, and have some form of an exit. Otherwise, you're applying for the same role as those bankers who have the benefit of HHs reaching out to them "on-cycle".

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Feb 1, 2019

I was 1 of 3 Co-Founders. Without disclosing too much information, we were valued at $13.3m by a Canadian investor. Obviously this was not taken because the same founder who personally knew this investor believed we would be worth far more contingent on us securing a partnership with a certain individual (think Beats by Dre). We did not secure this partnership and a bridge was burned.

Feb 1, 2019

What were your day to day tasks though? Cash management? Operations? Coding/product?

My personal take is that this is good experience that could land you in MM/boutique buy side with copious amounts of networking. Other routes are to try the startup thing again, or get a lesser job than VC/PE for a couple years and do a top 15 MBA.

Feb 1, 2019

Day2Day included: Working on the SEC Application, software development (API mostly), developing revenue generating streams (fee structuring), investment pitches/materials, financials (pro forma etc).

Thank you for the insight!

Feb 1, 2019

Realistically that's not a huge valuation, and considering valuation is usually at a premium (at least in my sector), $13.3 is impressive but by no means groundbreaking. You mentioned PE/VC. Lets look at the backgrounds of people who work in tech coverage in those industries.

PE--usually really good analysts who did IB for like 2 years at a top bank. Simple enough. Also MBB consultants make this move.

VC--this one's a little tricky. On the surface, you had a mildly successful (then not) startup. I would say a lot if not most serious VC guys have industry/startup experience. However, they usually crushed it and took companies public often more than once. Other VC guys usually had high up roles in super innovative/massive/successful companies in their sector or led development teams that created new business for their employer. 2 years at a startup that went under just doesn't get me there.

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Most Helpful
Feb 1, 2019

Don't feel bad about the failed venture or let it get you down. It's very hard to make a venture work and all professional venture investors + high level entrepreneurs know this. You won't really be judged for failing provided you didn't do anything overtly dishonest.

Being valued at ~$10M or so doesn't really mean much unfortunately. The metric any VC considering working with you will look at cash raised and how effectively you put it to work.

Most PE funds will be too structured for you to really get into unless they are very small shops that are operationally intense. If you're in Canada (based on your post) then I'd recommend applying to work with the guys at CSC Generation as I believe they have a Toronto office now.

There are loads of smaller VC and super angel/family offices you can look into working with. Pay won't be great but it's something you'd be able to transition out of or use for funding your next venture.

I think what @LeonTree said is your safest bet. I would distill your core competencies into a marketable value-add for anyone that hires you and then bark up that tree.

Good luck, and again, don't let the failed venture thing bug you too much.


Realized maybe throwing in the example of one of our CMOs is a good idea. He was in the military, went on to work at a large company, then started his own company which failed, but he learned a TON and has full circle experience which made hiring him a no-brainer. He was handling marketing @ his startup so bringing him on as CMO made a ton of sense of us. As a small private equity group, we NEED people with full circle experience because we can't really afford a massive team yet so it's great having people who have experience in all facets of running a business and not just one deep specialization.

Hope that helps!

Feb 1, 2019