What’s the inspiration behind “Jelli”?
Most people learn through experience that financial security truly impacts our emotional wellbeing and happiness. I struggled to make ends meet while I was in engineering school and raising a family. After graduation, things didn’t get much better—we lacked the money management skills and tools that could have really changed our lives. Easy-to-use, proactive tools to help consumers control their spending aren’t nearly as easy to find as they should be. I was inspired to create Jelli out of this personal experience. I wanted to provide consumers with something I’d lacked: a simple way to proactively budget their money.
How did you meet your co-founder? How do you work together?
Ben, Tom, and I all met at a fintech startup 8 years ago. Though opposites in most respects, we instantly meshed together forming a perfect team—each one of us bringing different strengths to the table. We are great co-workers and great friends, pushing and challenging each other to arrive at the best solutions and results. Because our perspectives are so different, I always feel good making a decision when both Ben and Tom feel good about it as well. Our mutual agreement is a great litmus test for business decisions.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Jelli is disrupting a large and powerful market—the banking industry. There are a lot of long entrenched practices, and a myriad of regulations. Cutting through all of that has been a challenge. I believe a truly differentiated product and powerful brand, coupled with the appropriate level of funding, is the key to breaking through that entrenchment and becoming a leader in the space.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd via Republic?
Jelli's mission is to help people better manage their money; and by extension, to make their life sweeter. Republic is the perfect platform to drive awareness of Jelli among people who are conscious about improving their personal finances. Jelli will resonate with Republic investors, from both a user standpoint and an investor standpoint.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
I've learned to have a quiet confidence in myself. You are challenged on all fronts when founding a startup: Will consumers want what you're offering? How do you survive against the entrenched establishment? How do you raise money? How do you keep your team united through the long droughts of progress? How do you provide for your family in the meantime?
You are forced to face the hard reality of your path, and to look inward to see if you really believe in it.
This is not your first time founding a company—what do you think is the most important skill founders need to succeed?
It’s all about persistence. Great ideas can sometimes take years to bring to fruition. Opposition is around every corner, even with some aspects of business that may seem trivial. Just be patient and work the problem at hand, and you will come out on top.
As a boy, I raised blue spruce pine trees to earn money. I was always amazed at how long they took to grow—but once grown, they were beautiful and majestic. Time and effort brings results.
What’s your team culture like?
Jelli’s culture mirrors who we are as founders. It reflects our own personal ideals of inclusion, empowerment, teamwork, and equality. We don’t subscribe to hierarchies, classes, or elitism. Real leaders inspire people to follow them through their actions and character, not dictates and fear.
What is your superpower?
I love people and love working together with them to build something. I can quickly assess people’s skills, and empower them to use those skills to contribute to the objective. I can unite teams, resolve discord, and inspire hope to keep everyone moving forward. I believe.
What’s your kryptonite?
In my efforts to see the good in people, I can sometimes miss the bad in people. The wrong team members or the wrong partners can defeat the efforts of everyone else on the team. Seeing the bad in someone or something is just as important as seeing the good, so you can deal with it appropriately.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I make a banana mango kefir smoothie every morning and wake up the whole house with a loud blender.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love the outdoors, camping, hiking, boating and canyoneering. With my sons, I’ve explored a number of the red rock canyons of southern Utah. One of the best was hiking and swimming the narrow Neon Canyon in Escalante, where our journey ended with an 80 ft. rappel through the ceiling of the Golden Cathedral into a pool of water.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
I would tell myself that it’s going to take much longer than I think. Set a sustainable pace and figure out how to best enjoy the ride!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Family is the most important, and focusing on a happy and healthy relationship with my wife and children would help to bring me the greatest joy and satisfaction in life—as well as provide me the foundation upon which I could accomplish my dreams.