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NativeAdVantage 10-Q2BA:

(10 Questions 2B Answered)

What do you do best?
What makes you the best?
Biggest success?
What are your aspirations?
Most challenging moment?
Favorite Motto?
Favorite People?
Favorite Places?
Favorite Products?
Current Passions?


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Andy Weir: Author of "The Martian"

John Philipson: VP, Six Senses Resorts

Tom Sito: Chair of Animation, USC Film School

Elizabeth Wynn: Broker, Sotheby's RE

Leonard Greenhalgh: Professor, Tuck-Darmouth)

Ryan Blair: NY Times Best Selling Author/Entrepreneur

 

Featured NativeAdVice:

Shai Reshef: Founder of University of the People

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Susan Hatje: GM of Mandarin Oriental, NY

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Hilary Laney: President of Tri-Digital

Greg Marsh: Co-Founder of onefinestay

Omar Qari: Co-Founder of Abacus

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Stacy Rauen: E-I-C of Hospitality Design Mag

Jon Gray: CRO of HomeAway

Joe Speiser: Co-Founder of LittleThings.com

Ben McKean: Co-Founder of HungryRoot

John Boiler: Founder/CEO of 72andSunny

Wayne Pacelle: CEO of The Humane Society of the US

Tom Guay: GM at The Sagamore Resort

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Founder of The Clean Program

Rob Flaherty: CEO of Ketchum

Neil Thanedar: Founder/CEO of LabDoor

Andy Grinsfelder: VP of Sales/Marketing, Delaware North Resorts

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: VP/Publisher of Women's Health

Avi Steinlauf: CEO of Edmunds.com

Kathy Bloomgarden: CEO of Ruder Finn

Gabriel Flateman: Co-Founder/CTO of Casper

Mark Bartels: CEO of StumbleUpon

Bill Hagelstein: President/CEO of RPA

Adam Singolda: Founder/CEO of Taboola

Jonathan Plutzik: Proprietor of The Betsy-South Beach

Jessica Scorpio: Founder/VP of Marketing at GetAround

Ralph McRae: CEO of Leading Brands

Warren Berger: Bestselling Author

Liz Kaplow: Founder/CEO of Kaplow Communications

Dave Girouard: Founder/CEO of UpStart

Dave Asprey: Founder of BullectProof Executive

Douglas C. Smith: President of EDSA

Val Difebo: CEO of Deutsch NY

Guido Polito: CEO of Baglioni Hotels

Doyle Graham, Jr.: CEO of Valencia Group

Oscar Farinetti: Founder of Eataly

Angelo Sotira: CEO of DeviantART

Ali Khwaja: CFO of Safecharge

Zach Erdem: Proprietor of 75 Main

Jim Beley: GM of The Umstead Hotel

Alexis Gelburd-Kimler: Proprietor of West Bridge

Elie Georges: Proprietor of Hotel San Regis

Kalen Caughey: Founder o VOKE Tab

Michael Friedenberg: CEO of IDG

Donna Karan: Founder of DKNY

Edward Nardoza: Editor-in-Chief of WWD

Scott Dadich: Editor-in-Chief of Wired

Rhona Murphy: Former CEO of The Daily Beast

David J. Pecker: CEO of American Media

Lilian Roten: VP of Swissotel Hotels

Kenny Dichter: Founder/CEO of Wheels Up

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Paul James: Global Brand Leader of The Luxury Collection

Dr. James Wagner: President of Emory University

Amy Thompson: President of ATM Artists & Management

Neil Gillis: President of Round Hill Music

Brett Matteson: President of Columbia Hospitality

Jonathan Reckford: CEO of Habitat For Humanity

Phil Harrison: President/CEO of Perkins+Will

Chef Bill Telepan

Tony Horton: Founder of P90X

Beth Weissenberger: Co-Founder of The Handel Group

Michael Fertik: Founder/CEO of Reputation.com

Dana Cowin: Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine

Bob Proctor: Chairman of Proctor/Gallagher Institute

Dennis Turcinovic: Owner of Delmonicos

Vittorio Assaf: Co-Founder of Serafina Restaurant Group

Shafqat Islam: Co-Founder of Newscred

Matt Williams: CEO of The Martin Agency

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Ronen Nissenbaum: Managing Director of Waldorf Astoria NY

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Peter Shaindlin: COO of Halekulani Corp.

August Cardona: Founder/CEO of Epicurean Group

Nick Kenner: Co-Founder of Just Salad

Thursday
Oct052017

Kasey Kaplan: Co-founder & President, Urban FT

My NativeAdVice:

Bio:

Kasey Kaplan is a life long entrepreneur with a proven track record of success across multiple industries. He is the Co-founder and President of Urban FT, Inc., which is a leading and one of the fastest growing providers of Digital Banking solutions to over 80 Regional and Community Banks and Credit Unions in the U.S., including many international brands. Kasey is a FinTech expert, but got his start while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics & Management and Communications, where he mastered the skills of digital marketing strategy and worked to grow SMEs. The skill set would earn him a full-ride scholarship to graduate school where he earned a Masters degree focused on Instructional Design and Technology. Upon graduation, Kasey was tapped to join several start-ups where he lead marketing, product, and innovation. He has successfully held the role of CMO, COO, and CPO, as well as lead M&A efforts which resulted in several deals in the FinTech space. Kasey is a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council, an invitation-only association acknowledged as the world’s most exclusive group of entrepreneurs under 40 years old. In 2017 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater recognizing his business success.

How did you get into the industry?

As many entrepreneurs’ stories go, I found the fintech industry by accident. I found a problem I wanted to solve when I was making a purchase at a store. At the time geolocation based check-in apps like Foursquare were popular. I regularly used them, but didn’t like the friction associated with pulling out my phone, searching for a venue, and then checking in I wanted to create a platform that would automate the check-in process at a venue when I swiped my card and made a purchase.

Growing up, I was one of those kids who asked a lot of questions. I liked to understand how things work, and as I got older I began to learn about emerging technology solutions, trends and their application to respective industries.  I’ve generally found that once you understand the interworking’s of something, you can see opportunities that others don’t. And, the more I learned, the more I realized I could apply these new technology solutions to traditional products currently in the market.

As it turned out, my check-in idea was pretty complicated because of how the payments flow works, but as I looked into it, I became fascinated by the banking and payments industry because of the potential for much-needed innovation.

Soon after this revelation, by chance I met my co-founders and we started Urban FT, which set out to be a world-class provider of digital banking solutions. After 5+ years we’re making good progress.

Any emerging industry trends?

Right now is a very exciting time in the financial technology (fintech) space. Financial Institutions and industry players are starting to adopt a digital-first approaches. The general industry is starting to move towards API-driven solutions. New and improved standards for data are starting to be adopted and implemented. Payments, especially in the United States, are starting to move to same day and in some cases in real time.

An emerging technology that will be widely adopted in the next 2-7 years is blockchain technology. One of the main draws will be the reduction of costs and time it will take to access and pass data. Another benefit blockchain technology will also provide is more automation in processes. It’s still early days and more technology needs to be developed for blockchain to be adequately supported, which is why the type(s) of blockchain(s) that will ultimately be adopted, whether public, private or hybrid, still remain to be determined, but I’m confident the technology will be embraced.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

One principle I’ve always strongly supported is meaningful reductions in the friction associated with completing tasks. If you can find a way to make something easier, faster and better for consumers, you have the basis for a winning solution.

For financial institutions, this is both the opportunity and the challenge. When it comes to banking and payments, there are a lot of legacy players that have limited abilities. Over time, legacy infrastructure will be updated, but because of the huge costs and complexities of doing so, this doesn’t occur very frequently. They need an easy, fast, affordable solution (a mythical trifecta to most) to integrate with their systems to provide meaningful solutions and reduces friction for the end consumer.

To cut costs and complexity and deliver time, money and manpower savings, we figured out how to leverage what our clients already have in place and layer our solution on top. We don’t compete with financial institutions’ technology teams, we complement them. In the end, we provide the trifecta of a meaningful solution that’s easy to implement and reduces the cost and time to accomplish tasks.

This generates a win-win for all involved. Our clients’ customers are more engaged and loyal because they are using solutions that meet, if not exceed, their expectations, generating more usage (and fee income) for our clients. And, our clients save time and money.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

The inspiration for our business came from two realizations. First, that small and medium size financial institutions are at a huge competitive disadvantage in a marketplace that includes banking behemoths with nearly unlimited resources people, technology and financial resources. If the playing field couldn’t be leveled, the number of smaller banks would continue to decline--not a desirable outcome for consumers or the economy. And, second, based on my love for social media and all things digital, that consumers need a better, more engaging, way to bank. This led to the vision of creating technology to liberate the small and medium size bank underdogs and keep them competitive by offering a best-in-class solution at a price they can afford.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

During the last several years, Urban FT has grown and exceeded our revenue projections. One aspect of our continued success is our technology. Clients will be able to, with more ease, access our suite of digital banking solutions which will all be consumable via a word class API. Part of being the number one provider of digital banking services is enabling our FI partners to innovate fast and in meaningful ways. We constantly evaluating and advancing various aspects of our solution.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

One of the key initiatives we have in place is focus. We set out to be the leading provider in digital banking solutions and to achieve that we need to minimize distractions and focus on the end results. There are always opportunities out there, but that doesn’t mean you should always take an opportunity. By having clear objectives that are core to the business, the entire company is able to understand what is critical to our success and help point everyone in the correct direction.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Anyone who has started a business understands the hardships that come with it. In the media you will often hear a lot on the glorification of entrepreneurship and working for startups. The reality is, behind the scenes waits an endless number of moving pieces that need to keep functioning. Ultimately, keeping everything running will be a significant factor in the longevity of the business.

Some of the hardest things I’ve dealt with relate to funding and staffing. Raising capital can be very challenging and, regardless of the commitments you get, the deal is not done until the money is in the bank. As the business is growing but still losing money, there’s a special balance you need to find. You don’t want to burn through all your cash, but you also need to make sure you have the right people who can perform at the level you need. I think it doesn’t occur to most young people or those who have never been involved with startups that there is a chance the company can fail—because most people never hear about the failures. To an extent, that mentality is priceless as they can work hard and not get distracted by some of the optics at play. However, when bad things do happen, it’s important to be honest and transparent about the situation and what the plan is. In bad times, key people might leave, but the loyal believers who do stay are the people who will continue to drive the company forward.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I’ve always believed in studying the best practices and emerging technology of industries outside the one I’m operating in. This helps me see general trends that clients and consumers expect. One of the unique differentiators about Urban FT is how we pull features, functions and inspiration from areas not traditionally associated with banking.

As a B2B2C company, our ideal experience for both clients and their end consumers is based around a customer-first approach that reduces friction among any tasks they have. We want our clients to be able to seamlessly accomplish their goals and get the results they want without any effort. In addition to great processes and technology, we spend a lot of time developing amazing relationships by over communicating.

At the end of the day our clients get an amazing solution, at a minimal cost that drives wanted results.

How do you motivate others?

The short answer is: Know your sh*t – communicate – collaborate – and show up.

We put a culture in place that has high standards. It isn’t just about working hard, it’s being part of a team where everyone understands how his/her role impacts the company. We want people to be great in their respective skill sets and work with the rest of their team to produce the best results. By holding people accountable and giving each person respect and responsibility, employees have an increased sense of loyalty to the company. Once people know they are valued and doing something meaningful, they’ll be there for the long haul.

The other part of motivation is what I would consider story telling. People need to know the vision and direction. They need to understand the impact of their efforts. By bringing together talented and passionate people and then painting a clear vision they support, people become intrinsically motivated to achieve the results.

Finally, the little things matter. Team members appreciate when the executives are on the front lines with everyone else doing things that are not in their job descriptions. For example, in our earlier days we moved offices several times and decided to move ourselves instead of hiring a company. All our executives and entry level staff were packing, moving and unloading. As basic as this sounds, everyone knowing the whole staff is there—from bottom to the very top— to move the company forward made a big impact.

Career advice to those in your industry?

The first thing I tell anyone entering any industry is to never stop learning. Understanding how your industry works is so important. It allows you to put things together that others can’t, and understand why processes are the way they are. This can only be accomplished through effort. Read articles, blogs and books. Talk to people. Listen to podcasts. Watch presentations. It’s easy to coast and be mediocre, but to truly excel you need to have an in-depth understanding. Everyone is selling and trying to position himself, his solution or company in a way that makes it sound amazing. By actually understanding how things function, you can ask smart questions that reveal the truth.

The second is perseverance. Everyone will tell you why your solution isn’t a good fit, why it won’t work or how it isn’t what he needs. Chances are those people have already developed opinions long before they met you and are operating solely on their personal experiences and assumptions. So what can you do? Poke and prod until you find a way to prove their unspoken assumptions wrong and position you and your solution in a way that gets the results you want. Achieving success isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and the way you get there is by putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t give up and keep moving forward.

Finally, have fun. Be positive and optimistic. Enjoy the journey no matter how rough it can be. If you put yourself out there, it will be more rewarding than you expected, and in ways you never thought. Choose to be great.

https://twitter.com/Urban_FT

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