Q&A: Leap from S&T Associate to Startup Founder

Philly'sFinest's picture
Rank: Baboon | 168


Leaving Wall St was one of the toughest decisions I've had to make. I was happy on the trading floor. I had a great seat (SP Sales) and a great mentor who always had my back. Ultimately, I just couldn't shake the itch to take a swing in startup-land. The 2 + years since have been one heck of a ride....I'm still having fun on the roller coaster.

"Startup Founder" in a vacuum doesn't mean a lot, so for transparency, I won't be trying to stay anonymous.

We raised a round to build Findigs -- if you're annoyed by having to mail a rent check every month, check us out.

Prior to this, I helped get the restaurant app Seated off the ground as a co-founder-- I'm clearly biased but if you are client-facing/entertaining....it's a no-brainer.

WSO has helped me tremendously over the years, so maybe I can be helpful to those trying to break into, or out of finance. Ask me anything.

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Comments (11)

Oct 30, 2019

Can you share how you broke into S&T? Additionally, how do you think S&T roles will evolve in the near future and what skills are required to land a seat nowadays?

Oct 30, 2019

Logged a ton of hours sending cold emails (alums, friends parents, etc) and setting up coffee/phone chats. Pure numbers game to find the people who took enough interest to support my SA application / help guide me through the interview process.

I think the number of high-upside seats in S&T will continue to decline, but if you can land one (bank and product specific) it's still a great place to be.

I'm biased but I think for both S&T, it takes sharpening your soft skills to land a seat . Having high enough EQ to know how to be curious without being overbearing, come off as well-spoken, and know when to make asks - key and comes with practice/ feedbac.

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Oct 30, 2019

Congrats on your round - could've definitely used Findigs when I used to live in NYC.

What advice would you have around timing and tactics of quitting and going full time on a startup? What stage of product and what level of traction did you have with users/investors when you put in your notice? Did you raise seed/angel before quitting or use your bonus at all for initial cash burn? Why SHOULDN'T someone quit their job to found a company?

Appreciate you sharing your wisdom here! For context, I did the 2 year stint on the IB side, a year at one of the streaming companies, and now heavily considering making the leap.

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Most Helpful
Oct 30, 2019

Appreciate it! My answers will be out of order here-

Timing-wise, it's a bit tough to opine considering the moving pieces: personal runway, need/ability to raise capital, dependencies on the idea (engineers, suppliers, etc). Findigs was at the idea stage when I left, but I had validated the market over countless conversations & was confident in my ability to raise capital. At the time, my friend convinced me that the right step was to "consult" for a few months for Seated to help get them off the ground and get some startup experience. It turned into way more than that, but that's a story for another time. Any ways you can get your hands dirty (even part time) in early-stage co's will go a long way.

In my opinion, you shouldn't if A) you aren't exceptional at taking feedback or B) lack the appetite or capability to absolutely grind. The idea and model will inevitably change, but it's the founder people buy into. That said, re the idea, I would get as many opinions as possible, especially from those in the startup ecosystem and your would-be customers. PM me if you'd like to chat.

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Nov 3, 2019

Am in S&T (physical commodities really) and been mulling over something similar.

-How many co-founders do you have? Do you think you could have made the switch with just you a technical co-founder?

-What are you using for your tradeoff math? I have a good (potentially very good) seat and it's hard to do the math in a very realistic way. If you give any sort of non-zero chance of becoming a unicorn to yourself you quickly sway to the startup path. But if you don't think you have any shot at that, do you really believe in your idea at all?

-Where did you meet your technical co-founder(s)? I'm assuming based off your background that you have someone doing the heavy lifting on programming. I have heard hackathons, meetups, angellist are all options. Anything else?
-Re: validation from conversations. Talking to broad spectrum of people, I would say 95% either say they love it or despite not being the target audience think there is definitely a market for it. Tougher is people closer to the startup ecosystem who are very cautious over whether what I am suggesting can be done. After I go over a lot of details with them they go "well, just maybe." Do you find that startup people can have tunnel vision or be overly cautious? Clearly a major issue for funding and elevator pitches unless I can put together something validated with actual users. I have found that a lot of the best trades are stuff that are not on most people's radars and I wonder how that carries over to the startup world

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Nov 4, 2019

We started Findigs just the two of us. Again, lots of considerations that are tough to drill into with context, but directionally, I wouldn't do that without really trusting that person's judgment beyond just writing the core codebase.

I'm with you... at that stage it's just insanely difficult to have any idea how to value the right-tail in tradeoff math. Before flirting with unicorn assumptions, I'd make sure the revenue model (or path to it) is clear, take a look at what ARR comparable(ish) companies had at Series A/B and work backwards from there.

Anything you can do to source from within your network -- founder breakups are way too common, so outside investors are going to want to know you guys are in it together for the long haul.

For sure... startup operators are often biased by their own experiences / challenges / knowledge focus / a lot else. When you say 'cautious over whether it can be done' is that from a legal, techincal, or practical (execution) perspective?

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Nov 4, 2019

Thanks this is great stuff. More from a practical purpose. Tech founders do not necessarily understand the market I am trying to tap into, and the revenue source I am aiming at is a long put, but not an impossible one imo.

Nov 15, 2019