Back

Office Hours: We raised $5M in seed funding to help modern couples invest and plan for their future together with Plenty. I’m Emily Luk. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Emily Luk, co-founder and CEO of Plenty a wealth platform helping modern couples invest and plan for their future together.

I previously led Finance, Strategy, and Biz Ops at Even, a mission-driven fintech seeking to empower the millions stuck living paycheque to paycheque, as we scaled from 30 to 100+ team members.

Before that, I was a founding team member of Stripe’s GTM and Finance & Strategy teams as we scaled from 300 to 1600 team members. I created our startup sales playbook, launched our global pricing function, and worked closely with our product/eng orgs for planning and forecasting. I began my career in venture, completing my CPA and CFA designations on early mornings and weekends.

I’m a friendly 2nd gen Canadian who found my way to the Bay. I come from two generations of non-tech entrepreneurs and ran my first “business” to raise money for Unicef when I was 5 (origami sells!).

During my downtime, you can typically find me experimenting while baking for loved ones, making to-do lists, or watching football.

Ask me anything about fintech, personal finance, scaling teams, startup sales, pricing, venture capital, upskilling, time management, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @emilyluk!Elphas – please ask @emilyluk your questions before Friday, June 7th. @emilyluk may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Emily,Congrats on the round! Can you please share the steps you and your team took to formulate a sales strategy? I am looking to create one for my startup that I am launching in the fall and would like to know how to also hire and compensate a sales team.Thanks in advance and thanks for your time!
@Wonderwomanspeaks - congrats! That's an exciting chapter.Before hiring out a sales team, I've though the founder-led sales to be really important to help understand the profile of person to hire. Having a number of conversations then putting data points together to determine: what were the pain points? who felt it the most? how did they make decisions? who did they need to pull in? It's hard to get these insights when there's a number of people each gathering a piece of the puzzle. For compensating a sales team, I've typically found that if you have an early sales hire, they're really helping think about product, sales, and marketing all in one. It's more common to have standard salary comp, instead of a high variable comp (which makes more sense once you have some idea of how the sales pipeline should move / sales expectations)
Super inspired by your journey Emily! 
I too super am eager to learn from you on your startup sales playbook - wondering if you can distill your “Top 5” for us? What is the core problem that modern couples face that existing financial companies are NOT solving well? What trends are you seeing in this space & with Plenty’s demographic?
Thanks Hiroko! 😊The 2 biggest differences we see for today's couples:- Accounts everywhere: it's normal for couples to have as many as 25 accounts across 10+ institutions- What's ours & what's mine: most couples keep a combination of both (and the norm used to be to fully merge everything); that mix though makes it really tricky to track & understand where money's going -> our dashboard is built around making this simple+ many financial institutions built account access with the assumption that only 1 person in a partnership needs full access; this is broken in the modern reality where both people work and increasingly both want access & visibility.For startup sales playbook, top 5:- For your 1st call: asking questions should be 75%+ of the call- It should not feel like "selling", the best sales people definitively solve customer problems - Objection handling is an art: quickly understanding the emotion beneath the objection and addressing underlying concerns in a convo is critical - Understand an org: it's not enough to just deeply know the individual you're selling to, it's important to understand who may benefit/be impacted by the decision, how reporting lines work in an org, and who has influence- Downplay the deck: it's easy to glaze over in a call where the sales rep walks through a deck for 90%. it feels like a generic presentation and often not an effective use of time. I'd instead spend most of the time asking questions then in the last 5-10 minutes, offer to speed through the deck just so they had the information & could send it over afterwards. It was far more effective
These pain points make sense & TOTALLY resonate My partner and I saved for a house & for years we didn't have a consolidated place to see how we were tracking toward our shared goal. It would have been so much easier with a shared dashboard. Identity access and visibility are also such a pain (and after working in wealth management, I understand why this can be tricky to solve for unmarried couples). Nevertheless, my partner and I "share" an account where I habitually need to send my partner the authentication code to make purchases ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ there has to be a better wayYour startup sales tips are gold, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!I'm excited to see what you build at Plenty & def signing up for the beta!
:) @HirokoCP - Happy to share that our product can solve the authentication code problem too. My husband and I have this problem for our joint Amex (I'm primary) + Chase credit card (he's primary). We just connected both accounts in Plenty and now see all our transactions there.
Welcome Emily! It's such a treat to have you here! What a fantastic and diverse background :) I have several questions and hopefully you will be able to address a few (if not all of them)- At Stripe: what was your process to develop a sales playbook? Did you ever have experience in sales or is this one of these things you picked up as you were going a and I guess what was your framework? Same thing goes for the pricing? I am assuming you did a ton of user + customer feedback for this?- What's the main challenge you see couples have when discussing finances and investing? Sounds like a super important product especially when we know that one of the main reasons people break up is due to money/finances issues.- What's something that's keeping you up at night and that this community might help you with?
Hey @iynna! - Couples: Money is now the #1 cause of divorce, above even cheating. And it's not surprising when none of us were taught how to manage money on our own, much less in partnership. The most common problem that was see are when couples avoid talking about money and one or both of them are caught off guard down the road. The three questions that we recommend couples start with are: where are we (what do we have and where is our money going? What accounts do we see as ours vs. individual? What are we working towards together? Our product is built to make all these conversations easier.- Stripe sales: We developed the sales playbook by just hundreds of conversations to see what worked & what stuck. I didn't have any experience in sales before Stripe, but Stripe emphasized a consultative way of approaching sales that really resonated for me personally. I'd start with trying to deeply understand a company and individual, and focus on questions to understand their pain points more. It wouldn't be uncommon for me to spend only 2-5 minutes talking about stripe or stripe's product on an initial call. - Stripe pricing: Deeply understanding the sales process & products helped with testing and scaling pricing. And even once we 'set' sticker pricing and discounting guidance, I stayed involved in all major pricing convos to continually tune and see what might need to evolve- Keeping me up at night: I'm an middle-of-the-night ideas person, and I really enjoy thinking about the future of the product then. I'd love to hear how more elpha members manage money with their partners, what's particularly painful in what they do today, if they have any products/features they wish existed.
Happy to help beta test! My fiance and I just got engaged 3 months ago and are beginning to merge finances. Very interested in this space.
i love this! i hope you two connect soon!
@cassandrajaime - That would be fantastic! I'd love to hear what you two think =) If you'd like, I'm also happy to hop on an onboarding call to share the different options we've seen couples take: https://calendly.com/plentyfinancial/plenty-early-access
Hi Emily! What made you interested in founding Plenty? What were the gaps you saw in the current wealth platforms that made you realize couples' needs weren't being addressed?
Hey @elisegatsby! When my now-husband and I got engaged, we ran into the painpoint first hand. We wanted 1 place to track the accounts we shared & be able to flexibly share visibility over the accounts we each had. We also didn't want to have separate apps for investing + budgeting since the amount we can invest is directly related to the amount we don't spend. After using dozens of products, we were shocked to see that most of them were built for people to manage money only on their own. Couples nowadays often have a "what's ours" and "what's mine", and want to share visibility on some accounts while keeping others private. It's hard enough when you're managing money on your own across 5+ apps but in relationship, the explosion of apps-that-don't-talk-to-each-other make it even harder to get a simple picture of your finances.
That is awesome! I 100% understand this myself. I often check in on my retirement and investments then report back to my husband how "we" are doing. He reminds me that's actually just "me" and I remind him I can't see any of "his" stuff!
@elisegatsby 😊 We hear this all the time! I connected all my retirement accounts in Plenty and now my husband/cofounder can see it too; we marked it as a "shared" account even though it's tracked as a personal account under my name. For other couples on Plenty, some couples like to keep retirement "private". There's no right or wrong and we've definitely seen equal amounts of both.
Thank you Emily! How do you find your first 100 paying members? And how does your company scale (eg doyou scale within one region first)?
We found our first 100 paying members through a combination of community and partnerships. As we scale, the way we do the equivalent of 'regional' scaling is focusing on life milestones that couples experience / often re-evaluate finances around ie. getting married, having a child.
Hi Emily, thank you for your time! Any advice on finding cofounders as well as hiring your first few key talents? Hiring mistakes can be so costly?
Hey @lonna90! I started the company with my husband... having done that, I believe more than ever that the two most important things to look for in a cofounder are:- Similar values: what you value in life, how you treat people, what motivates you- Complimentary skillsetsFor first few key hires:- Look for a background of grit: the polished resume doesn't always mean that someone's faced adversity head on. The early days of building a startup aren't easy but it's a lot more fun when people are excited that it's a challenge + believe it's not supposed to be easy- Would you enjoy hanging out? Our personal perspective is that life is too short to work with people you don't enjoy spending time with. We don't think that everybody you enjoy spending time with is someone you should work with though. But for each member of our team, we enjoy spending time with both them + their family.
Hi, Emily,Thank you for sharing your story, it's most inspiring :)(as is your current product offer!)I am looking forward to financing a start-up myself, and the question I have for you is how did you raise your seed money. Any advice on places to look for / actions to take?
@CristinaM - thanks for the thoughtful message! For many of the investors we brought in, they were relationships that I'd been cultivating from for 2-10+ years. That helped anchor our round. Then I made a list of top experts in the space I'd love to work with (like Adam Nash, former CEO of Wealthfront or Mark Goines, cofounder of Personal Capital) and asked our investors / my network if they had a close relationship.
Hi Emily, thank you so much for joining us for Elpha Office Hours! I read your post on home ownership and how it may not be the right decision for everyone and was wondering whether, from a financial perspective, people would be better off waiting until they can put down a larger down payment to shrink the amount they they take out with the mortgage, especially when interest rates are high.
@tamiko164 - That's a great question - a few factors that are important include: how 'hot' is the local house market that you're considering? By waiting, do you expect the house price to go up or not change? If housing continues to go up, the increased house value may more than make up for higher interest now (and you can may want to plan to refinance and find a provider that allows an earlier refinance). Another factor is what your household income is compared to the mortgage: are you able to easefully pay higher interest rates? Or does that higher interest rate make the budget tighter? If so, it could be less stressful to wait. Another factor is: does the place you currently live meet your needs? I once met a couple who unexpectedly had twins, they both worked from home, and lived in a 1-bedroom apt. Their work (and ability to earn / grow their income) was suffering from trying to juggle everything and ultimately, it made sense to leave the big city and buy a more spacious 4 bedroom house. It also enabled them to do better at work and 1 of them even got a promotion.
Thanks for your time EMily! What are some interesting insights you've discovered in your work about couples and how they think about personal finance? And why did you choose this segment for your product?Bonus question: what's your favorite thing to bake?
@tajuana122 - At Plenty, we've seen that it's not easy for both partners to stay involved in finances, especially when it feels like 1 person know more. Our core belief is that you need to at least be a passenger in the car, even if you're not the driver. It's important to truly make decisions as a couple, to know where you are and where your money is. We've found it interesting that many couples take years to merge their finances (and many don't ever fully do so).My husband and I felt this painpoint ourselves, and decided to start Plenty to solve it. We personally saw how poorly other products / financial institutions supported couples and set out to change that. My favorite thing to bake is a molten chocolate lava cake souffle (fail safe recipe! https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/molten-chocolate-souffle)