These Two Founders Say This Is The Right Time To Quit Your Job To Build A Startup
Samir Goel and Wemimo Abbey have come together to found Esusu, a financial tech platform empowering immigrant communities to save better, manage their cash flow, and build credit through a digitized rotational savings system. The two cofounders have raised $250,000, with Sinai Ventures as the lead investor. The two cofounders left prestigious jobs at LinkedIn and PricewaterhouseCoopers, respectively, to build Esusu on a full-time basis. Goel, 24, graduated from New York University in 2016. Abbey, 26, holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Minnesota, and a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU.
Frederick Daso: When is it time for an entrepreneur to leave their full-time job and pursue their startup?
Samir Goel: That’s an excellent question. I worked at LinkedIn for about three years, and for two of those years, I was also working on Esusu with Abbey. Today, there’s kind of this myth that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to drop everything, take a million risks and start working on your venture. My sort of belief around that is most people don’t have the privilege or opportunity to do that. A smarter approach is to work on what you’re building on the side and validate your idea.
Some of the challenges we faced when we first started were developing the product, attracting an initial customer base, and validating our marketing was done right. After that, the biggest challenge we faced was just hours in the day.
Wemimo Abbey: I left my job at PricewaterhouseCoopers in mergers and acquisitions. Esusu isn’t our first rodeo since we’ve done different entrepreneurial ventures before together. Esusu is unique because we have the necessary mindset, we work well together and we have a plan that to hold ourselves accountable. Now, we are just executing against the strategy.
Daso: Fantastic. How did you guys manage to fund Esusu on the side, and how does navigating that challenge impact your ability to provide financial services for immigrants using Esusu?
Abbey: Great question. We have done three things. While we were in corporate America working for over two years on this idea, we came up with a plan. How do we prepare ourselves to fund the business in its infancy when no one would take a chance on it, and then grow it to a point where people would believe in it? So, Samir and I invested a large chunk of our money to ensure this goal. The second part is setting money aside for when we do leave so the business itself doesn’t falter, and we don’t sink with it. Third, we had to get people to believe in our idea by trying to raise capital.
Goel: One of the things that we did not want was a portion of the businesses money going to sustain Abbey and I. We wanted every dollar that an investor puts in our business going towards scaling the company and making sure that we are delivering value to our customers.
Before I left LinkedIn and Abbey left PwC, we both maxed out our 401ks; we found different kinds of ways to get matching contribution perks from our companies. We made sure that we were well set up to execute against the plan and go to market successfully.
Daso: How does your meticulous experience managing your personal finances bleed into your product Esusu, and how does that benefit your customers going forward?
Goel: That’s a terrific question. We are trying to avoid building something and just wait while expecting people to come and approach. We’re looking to go directly to our customer, understand their problems and pain points, and create a product that services them. Abbey and I both come from immigrant backgrounds. Because of our personal finance experiences, we know where to look. We know what questions to ask. We know the areas that people struggle. We still listen to our customers to resolve those kinds of pain points we want to solve.
Abbey: One of the things that we try hard to do is to put ourselves in our stakeholders’ shoes. We’ve been there before, and we are empathetic towards them. Two, we try as much as possible to think about diversified product offerings that would be beneficial to our user base. When we started Esusu, our core product was just savings through pooling capital from your trusted groups of friends and family. Our customers have asked for features such as helping report rent payments to improve their credit score, or services such as a financial literacy class at a university. We tend to be more responsive to our customers dictating to us what they want.
Fundamentally, we want to create that bridge to financial access and inclusion through Esusu. That’s what we fight for every day.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.
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This work was first published on Forbes.