Fintech Founder Q&A: Dave.com

Financial Solutions Lab

Everyone should have a friend they can turn to when they need someone to spot them a little cash. At least Jason Wilk thinks so, which is why he and his cofounders John Wolanin and Paras Chitrakar teamed up to build their fintech startup, Dave. Wilk is no stranger to the startup world, and Dave, a name chosen to represent that friend you can always turn to for help, is his fourth tech startup. The Dave app connects to users’ bank accounts to alert them of future potential overdrafts and offers them a 0% advance to help them avoid the overdraft. CFSI sat down with Wilk to talk about how Dave came about and what he’s learned along the way.  

Where did the idea for your company originate?

This has been an idea of mine for more than 12 years. In college I used to constantly overdraft my checking account. After talking to potential users, my co-founders and I found banks aren’t helping people manage their upcoming expenses. In fact, banks charge customers crazy fees when they need to overextend their account for a few days while they wait for their paycheck to come in. This leads to expensive overdraft fees and an overall bad customer experience. Our ultimate goal is to build the next great bank, but today our main goal is to help people by building products their current bank won’t. We’re great product people and we’ve proven that with multiple previous ventures. We’re thrilled to be taking on this new challenging space, approaching it as less of a finance tech company and more as a consumer product.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting your company?

Understanding how to navigate the financial industry from a legal, regulatory, payments, and underwriting perspective has required a steep learning curve. The list of what you need to know getting into fintech is extensive. My co-founders and I had to work extremely hard to get up to speed.

What new innovation in fintech are you most excited about?

Outside of Dave.com, we’re excited to see what’s happening with data aggregators, real-time payment processors, and next-generation credit bureaus.

What’s one thing you wish you’d known back when you started Dave.com?

I wish we had known about the Center for Financial Services Innovation earlier on. CFSI would have helped us get to market faster and we could have really benefited early on from their knowledge of the financial services space.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever gotten?

Mark Cuban, a Dave.com investor, always says: “Work like there’s someone trying to take it away from you 24 hours a day.” This advice has really stuck with me. Additionally, what Paul Graham advises: “Be relentlessly resourceful,” has been tremendously useful advice in my career. You have to be all in with startups and do whatever it takes to make it work.

 

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