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Neel is the CTO and cofounder of Quo Finance. After previously working at Facebook and N26 (Europe’s largest mobile bank), he joined Tucker more than a year ago to start Quo while they were still at Stanford. At school, he completed his Bachelor’s in Mathematical and Computational Science and his Master’s in Computer Science in 4 years where he focused on Artificial Intelligence and Decision Theory. He was also a peer advisor for his undergraduate department and president of an initiative that aimed to democratize access to competitive debate. Coming from Houston, Neel is a huge Rockets and James Harden fan.
Frederick Daso: When did you first gain interest in being a founder?
Neel Yerneni: I took a long time to conceptualize the idea of a founder — at least in the ways it is characterized and represented in the Valley. For a long time, it just felt like I was following leads on what I was interested in doing and ultimately landed on something that I felt most energetic about. I never really subscribed or listened to the “startup culture”. People often talk about Stanford as being the cradle of entrepreneurship, but it’s pretty overstated — the average tech grad ends up working at a relatively large company. There are startup communities/groups that foster those interests, but I was never a part of them in my time there. Ultimately, I met an idea and a person that I believed in more than the job offers I had on the table, and the decision was as simple as that.
Daso: What were the essential experiences that helped you be in the position you are today?
Yerneni: To this day, I value my experience in competitive debate (participating as well as teaching). It taught me decision-making and critical thinking skills very early on that laid a strong foundation for my growth up to this point.
Interning at N26 was my first significant work experience — I built out reporting and fraud detection systems there from the ground up. For one, the adventure reinforced my confidence in my technical abilities. However, the more significant takeaway was the interest I developed in Fintech…