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Office Hours: I was employee no. 15 at Plaid and am currently an angel investor, a startup advisor, and the CEO and co-founder of Creative Juice. I’m Sima Gandhi. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

My name is Sima Gandhi and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Creative Juice where we’re simplifying banking and financing for creators.

Before founding Creative Juice, I joined Plaid as employee no. 15, scaling the company from ~40M to 5B+ and over 500 people.

In addition to leading the team at Creative Juice, I now advise and invest in awesome companies and founders including Finch, Mati, Rupa, Moov, Kalshi, Unit, and Stytch among others. I also love spending time with my 4-year old kiddo, hiking, reading, and breaking bread with friends / family. Other things I like to do include board games, jigsaw puzzles, and needlepoint.

Ask me anything about fintech, the creator economy, emerging technologies in heavily regulated spaces, running product, strategy, and partnerships across companies of various sizes (from startup to large corporate), career goals, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @simagoo!Elphas – please ask @simagoo your questions before Friday, May 27th. @simagoo may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi, @simagoo I am looking for resources and/or support for gaining an investor. I'm the founder of a startup called Find Calm Here LLC and am working on scaling. What do you recommend for a beginner looking to find out how to obtain and/or seek investors?
Hi there! I also have the same question Sima! I’m Lincoya Lindsey, the owner of Good Karma Wellnes, LLC and I’d like to partner with an investor and/or discuss B2B partnerships.
Raising money is not easy. All you need is one yes, so don't be daunted! Talk to a ton of people, and start with people that believe in YOU and know YOU. At pre-seed, the investment is really into the founder and marginally into the idea.
You can also check out all raise - they're an awesome organization https://www.allraise.org/founder
Thank you for providing this guidance. I truly appreciate you. Take care!
Hi Sima, thanks for dedicating time to an AMA!As an angel investor, what are the top questions you ask companies you are considering investing in? Do you have any sort of "rubric" you follow when considering angel investments?Thanks!
I look at two things: 1/ The founder, and 2/ the product. For the founder, I like to understand their motivations for why they're building a company. It requires a ton of mental fortitude, and so there needs to be a passion -- whether for the space, product, people, etc. that drives them. Also, I like to work with founders who share similar values to me. On the product side, so much can change, so it's less about believing in the initial idea per se and more about how the founder is thinking about the product and the opportunity.
I am working on a personal finance startup. When you integrate with Plaid for connecting accounts, do you think a lot of exra work to categorize expenses/ or accounts? I am wondering how much comes with Plaid and how much custom work has to be done, since account/ expenses categorization is crucial.
Since you're in early days, I'd approach the product w/an MVP mindset. Plaid categorization is pretty good out of the gate and will be a great way to get you going and proving out the model. Good luck!
Hi @simagoo, thank you for taking out the time to share your experience! 1. How do you think the economic downturn affect the FinTech space? 2. At one end, we are seeing major crashes in some cryptocurrencies. And at the other end, the VC investment has increased in crypto significantly. What do you think is driving the influx of capital into crypto? 3. What made you start the company Creative Juice in Jan 2021, and not earlier or later?
Thx for the questions. No one really knows for sure, but it seems we're heading into a recession which means a downturn in consumer spending...which has implications on reductions in company spend. Those reductions affect multiple industries from travel to entertainment to advertising, etc. And yes, even fintech. Less transactions means less payment volume which means less revenue for fintechs. And consumer pressure on finances means higher defaults for lending. This all puts pressure on fintech.I think of crypto as a philosophy as well as a tech. IMO crypto represents decentralization and the promise of a better way of doing things without intermediaries, so it's as much an investment into that philosophy as it is into the tech. And when there's a new path forward, there's great investment opportunities. It was less about the date than it was about when I met my co-founder and we decided on the idea. That just happened to be when we met and I decided that I loved this space and the opportunity it presented!
Hi Sima, thank you so much for this opportunity! Its really cool to hear as I know of an alum at my school who currently works at Plaid in business development and they only had positive things to say about the company. (They were an ex-investment banker) I was wondering if I could ask a few questions? Im based in Toronto Canada and I finished my 2nd year in computer science and plan to do a 5 year dual degree program at western university in computer science and business. -I was wondering if there were any key trends/changes in the fintech space/things you found surprising after working for Plaid? -What are some key lessons you learned while working at plaid? Challenges? And / thus far in your career? -Are there any philosophies/principles that you live by, and when making key decisions in your life / in work etc.,? -I was wondering if you could speak about what it was like to be one of the first 15 employees of a startup with such high growth? I was wondering how you knew plaid was the company that you wanted to work at after working at American Express? -What would your advice be to people who are about to enter the workforce, and who are currently trying to decide between working for the more traditional large tech companies vs startups? And what types of factors/decisions did you consider to be of most value to you when making the decision? - I am also interested in a career in product development / busine d development and strategy and I was wondering if you could speak to any skills, experiences/things that I can do now as a student to better position myself for careers in this space? - Do you have any advice for career planning? (and I would love to learn about your experience in product development vs business development, like how you decided to work in one vs the other, and what you like or dislike) -Any general advice for students / that you would give to your younger self? -What are your thoughts on an MBA for business development/product development? I have heard that startups value experience more than prestige although I was still considering potentially down the line. Feel free to answer any / as many of these questions as you feel comfrotable answering and thank you again for this opportunity!
Hi Sima! Any advice or opinions on raising preseed funding? Also, I just made a blog where I ask "how are you?" to women/POC and other marginalized people in tech, I would love if you would fill out the form (it's anonymous): https://tally.so/r/3XxJzL
Raise from people that believe in YOU and know YOU. At pre-seed, the investment is really into the founder and marginally into the idea.
Hi @simagoo - I love what you’ve built at Creative Juice and how you’ve scaled Plaid. A few questions for you - - How did you start as an angel investor?- What type of emerging technologies do you/have you worked with? - What do you think about community led growth strategy coming from a product led growth background?
Hey @dipishapatel! A friend actually encouraged me to make my first check, and it was a small check, but that worked out well :) It was fun getting to know the founders and being able to help them. I learn a ton from the creative energy of entrepreneurs, and the only downside is that I wish I could help them more!I'm mostly focused on healthcare and financial services tech and business models, b/c it's what i know best. I also think those two areas have so much opportunity to be better and help people live better livesI think community led growth and word of mouth is really important, and I have a ton of respect for it b/c it's hard to do. Coming from a product background, I know it's something I don't know that well, and so it's important to surround myself with people that do know it :)
Thank you for sharing @simagoo! Appreciate the information! I work in the community space so happy to connect. Feel free to do so - dipisha.carrd.co
Hi! I'm looking to fundraise for my startup Blokshares. We're looking for female investors, to bring more diversity to our cap. Would love to have a chat. This is our pitchStartup fundraising is a long and tedious process involving lots of emails, lawyers and time from both investors and vcs. Through a fundraising platform we allow startups to deploy smart contracts to onboard investors, receive wires and automatically mint blokshares (tokenized equity) and send it to their investor's wallet.We are working on our Alpha release and are looking to reach out to investors before opening our pre-seed fundraising round in the coming months. We are pioneers in bringing blockchain to the $345B venture investments market which hasn't seen innovation in a long time. This is our pitch deck => https://docsend.com/view/654ix4efyzn2it4w
Hey Sima, thank you for holding office hours! I love that your intro includes your focus as a human beyond a worker :). I'd love to hear your thoughts on the economy at large and how to assess fit at companies as an individual. How are you seeing the possibility of a market "correction" or down turn in the tech landscape? What are the indicators that you look for and what actions do you personally take on them? I'd imagine as an investor, a down turn is probably an opportunity for you. What advice do you have for folks who are looking for a good fit at a company, especially small start ups? What advice do you have for people as they look for new roles in determining the right fit for them? When it comes to start ups at the early stage, what advice do you have for people in assessing the start up's viability? Bonus bucket - what advice do you have for companies in how to create deep partnerships across different disciplines? Design, Engineering, and Product come to mind for me. Thanks again for taking the time.Katrina
Hey @kbakas! Thx for the questions. No one really knows for sure, but it seems we're heading into a recession which means a downturn in consumer spending...which has implications on reductions in company spend. Those reductions affect multiple industries from travel to entertainment to advertising, etc. Investors in down markets get the opportunity to find assets that aren't overpriced. There's less capital chasing deals now, whereas last year there was a lot of capital chasing deals so investors had to pay more. Simple supply and demand.Look for three things: 1/ work for good people, 2/ make sure you're learning and getting challenged, and 3/ have fun. Sometimes people optimize for the role title, but if you're working for people that don't share your values or you're not learning, then the title / role has limited value and you'll probably be miserable. Early stage startups are fun b/c you get a ton of opportunity and responsibility without red tape -- just make sure you're learning a lot and working for good people that share your values. And have fun, b/c life is short :) Best of luck!
Thank you for the thorough answers! Lots of good advice in here. I appreciate the nod to learning a lot and working for good people that share values. Great driving principles that lots of folks can follow. Great distillation of capital-chasing deals, too!
Hi Sima! Would you share your advice for becoming BFF an angel investor when you don’t have a start-up background? Thank you!