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FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12): Road to Fintech IPO: Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa

NCFA Canada | Oct 13, 2018

FF Ep 13 Ali Pourdad 1000 - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa

Ep13-Oct 13:  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First

About this episode:   On this episode, NCFA show host Manseeb Khan sits down with Ali Pourdad the CEO of Progressa who recently closed out an $84 million dollar round. They talk about P2P loans, loan services operating within the blockchain and why being people first business matters. Enjoy! (see Transcript)

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest:  ALI POURDAD, Co-founder and CEO, Progressa (LinkedIn)

ProgressaLogo0516800 - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa

Bio:  Ali Pourdad has been CEO of Progressa since its inception in 2013. Under his leadership the Company has raised over $40 million of investor capital and invested over $2.0 million dollars in its proprietary "Powered by Progressa" decision engine for Canadian Enterprise partners looking to enhance collections strategy in a positive way. The company has grown to over 110 employees in Vancouver and Toronto. Ali has decisively positioned Progressa for its next generation of growth by recently executing on several initiatives, including creating one of Canada's most popular Exempt Market Bond Offerings and securing an $11.4 million Series A financing .

Prior to co-founding Progressa, Ali worked in both corporate restructuring and audit & assurance, with the bulk of his professional career at PwC, where he managed top-tier engagements of financial firms. Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Ali holds a Canadian Chartered Accountant degree and a BBA in Finance from Simon Fraser University. He began his professional career at a young age, co-founding a leading IT services firm with locations in Edmonton, AB and Vancouver, BC in 1998. Ali is also a regular contributor to Business in Vancouver's weekly radio technology panel and was named to BIV's Top 40 under 40 in 2017.

 

FF Ep 13 Ali Pourdad interview banner800 - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa

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Transcription of Interview

Manseeb Khan:  Hey Everybody Manseeb Khan here. And you are tuning in to another episode Fintech Friday. Today I have the amazing the incredibly talented Ali Pourdad CEO Progresa. Ali thank you so much for sitting down with me today.

Ali Pourdad: Thanks for having me.

Manseeb Khan:   Yeah so Ali could you just give the audience a little bit about who you are and essentially who and what Progresa is.

Ali Pourdad: Sure. I'm happy to. I think for those who are not aware of myself or Progressa I have a background as an entrepreneur. I've been there for about 20 years. This is my second business I had to get out of high school. Pre Dot-com which shows was my age. This is my second life. We started Progresa back in 2013 in Vancouver . Me and my co-founder originally started off as a straight consumer finance lending business. And sort of quietly behind the scenes we were building software. And today. I would say we're sort of a full-blown financial technology company and we have a lending business. That drives a significant amount of revenue but we also. A multitude of software offerings for our major Canadian enterprises. We solve problems for Canadian business.

Manseeb Khan:  Yeah that's incredible. So, this might be a silly question, but I guess we'll make you a little bit more different than Money Mart and any of the other loan services out there.

Ali Pourdad: Sure. Yeah but you don't see companies like money mart or other loan services, companies as a competitor because. We don't we don't go direct to consumer like they do. So. A company like many of markets has branches, HYG online but there are really seeking consumers and going directly at consumers for lending products and offering them. Credit where they actually paying cash in their pocket and not necessarily helping them  helping them. Progressa fundamentally different. All of our customer acquisition comes from other businesses. And we're typically solving problems for those businesses and probably problem for those consumers. And what I mean by that is our software is setting up and offering a number of services. But the main purpose of at least  two thirds of our software solution. Revolves around enterprise collections and try to have a healthier and more of a holistic approach to the recover money as a Canadian enterprise so. That would be an example of you know a young lady or a young gentleman who's going through a tough time in the past that. They owe. You know Roger or TELUS money. Progresa is the company that will come in and help facilitate that recovery for those enterprises. Help them recover money but also offer a better experience. To that young lady or that young gentleman who might be going through that tough time or stressful time. Ultimately. What that means is that larger TELUS, Bell, and other enterprises that use Progresa. Will have better net promoter score. Better. Which is better customer satisfaction. And ultimately manager their risk better for them. There's been real demand for differences between that and traditional lenders. All of our loans for example the customers will actually not seeing money, we're helping pay their debts and pay down the debt. And leaving them into better financial life.

Manseeb Khan: You guys also do. I mean I've from looking from your website and from some of your past blog posts you just do go a little bit more deeper than credit scores. You start building I guess a customer persona. And just like a characteristic of like who this  person is their past history someone is not in and of itself is pretty incredible because now the loan is a lot more  personalized, it's a lot more individualized`.

Ali Pourdad: Yeah exactly and that's a very good point. I mean we do have a proprietary technology that we built over the years. Technology is quite different than what's out in the market today, what's out in the market today is, you put it very well it's not personal. It's very generic and it's very archaic. And so, it leaves a lot of the population in a position where. They can't be helped even though they might be financially responsible or living within their budget. You are doing all the right thing but. On paper it doesn't reflect that. That's where Progressa shines that. That's why we've been successful even quietly growing behind the scenes because. We'd be making major investment. And that technology that allows us to evaluate these consumers just fundamentally differently and give them credit for things that might you might not necessarily see as a traditional lender.

Manseeb Khan: So, you recently raised the 84 million dollars round which is absolutely incredible. Previously you raised a 10-million-dollar round. You took a much more alternative approach compared to the other startups out there. There were a lot more loud a lot more bullish. In a sense they have the mentality of You don't need banks, we don't need do we need the old world because we're building the new one right. We don't need your guys help you guys look much more silent a lot more tactical route of quietly building partnerships with banks and credit card companies. Could you talk a little bit more of that approach and what that approach looks like and what would your advice look like to other startups on collaborating with banks and other institutions.

Ali Pourdad: Happy to answer that question. I would say there was always a very well thought out plan in the early days when we first launched there was a lot of fintech’s out there that. We’re making quite a bit of noise in the marketplace. A lot of that noise revolved around either taking down the bank or replacing the need for banks etc., etc. . And you know in the Canadian marketplace we have an affiliation with the bank that's going to be quite hard to displace. And we saw that in the early days. So, you know what we decided to do is just invest in. Trying to tackle bank problems. What are the things that the banks are trying to tackle and how can we? Help them be more successful. That was a fundamental decision we made early on. We did it quietly and without making noise because. Frankly we weren't ready to scale the business and have been a business that had both. Technology and lending. You're not going to scale until you have scalable technology and you can't have scalable technology until you have a track record behind with. Very chicken and egg. You have the built of a little bit slow and steady or you risk blowing up your company. And that's what we did. And we now reach the point this where we that we have a very strong foundation as you mentioned. We raised a big round that round the reflection of. The sort of the order that we chose to tackle problems. And investors saw that they saw that we hadn't blown up our business and that. We're you know conscience of investors capital. And they doubled down and supported that next stage. You know my advice entrepreneurs considering building disruptive technology you really need to evaluate what your road map looks, what's you path revenue. Or if you have a better revenue try to disrupt banks or try to work with banks. Sometimes both can be achieved at the same time and. That's the route the Progressa chose.

Manseeb Khan: Some of the investors mentioned that you've actually from day one you started operating the business as it was a public company. You know you talked about how you guys built the very strong foundation. Could you just give us a little bit more detail of what that foundation looks like and how you pretty much just muted out everybody else and just put your head down and just build Progressa.

Ali Pourdad:  Sure. Yeah, I mean I know my background in between my first business and Progressa sort of pivoted professional services I became a chartered accountant I worked at PWC for a number of years. Really built up my professional skill set so that. I knew that one day I go back entrepreneurship and I really wanted to have a good tool kit. To build a business in a proper way. You can help businesses any number of ways a lot of entrepreneurs get lucky, some of them blow up their businesses. I knew that this type of business was going to be successful I need to build the skill set. So, with a professional a background I very quickly started to build the team and the right spot. And we focus on things that we knew were going to be needed to rebuild capital. Making sure we have proper financial reporting, making sure we have things like insurance, making sure you know we have good controls, getting audited financial statements and so on and so forth. And we made all of those investments right off the bat. To raise money in the Canadian marketplace. Well there's a lot of heavy regulation. You know the government securities regulations in each of the provinces. Is there to protect investors and rightfully so as a company that you know had a strong report below like we do. We had to have all of these checks and balances in place . In order to be able to successfully raise money. Today, that got an easier because we're more on the radar. But as early stage startup when you're going through these things. Such as one of one of the things you might not think about that makes  will make life easier for you. Make those investments. So, you know allocate capital to proper lawyers. Allocate capital to make sure you build your finance team. Have that reporting to share holder reporting as well it's very important in the early days. To keep you're a shareholder in the loop people and keep them happy. Because you might be going back to them for more money and investors are happy to see the right track to a great growth story. But you've got to deliver what you say.

Manseeb Khan: So, I guess sticking with the same chicken and egg analogy that you previously mentioned you want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you start bringing on investors and everybody right.

Ali Pourdad: Yes exactly. I mean we would I mean nowhere we're 6 years in, and we bootstrapped for the first couple years we've totally bootstrapped the business. I don't remember having a management team up until two and a half years into the company. So, we were probably. 20, 26 people before I hired my first other senior manager. You know Ali was HR, He was the CFO. He was legal. I did. I'd basically over just over 20. Individuals in the organization. And tell that point you know as an entrepreneur when you reach that point and your business is run rate is reaching a point where you. De-risk the investment. To the point, we have reached that. You know we've got to the point where the business has started to prove it or start to prove that. Even if we do start to make the right investments and people and scalable technology that we could build something big. Once we had the core competency of the central bank when we take. Both decisions. You know I would be going any other way. in any  entrepreneur that's looking to start a business today. Simply understand you're core competency first. Do that. Make the investment and understanding that before you build. Anything scalable on top of that. You want to make sure that you're building on the right foundation because you'll still move faster you pay your investors a lot of money

Manseeb Khan: You guys are also gearing up to go public by the end of 2019. So. Again just talking about the huge round that you just raised. What got investors excited? Was that a marketing experiment?

Ali Pourdad: To give credit to the investment bankers that were involved in our fund raise they did a good job positioning Progressa of the Canadian marketplace. Listen we may go public, we haven't officially announced anything, but the reality is that a lot of the market driven. we're executing on growth right now. The business is reaching record run rate on revenue and the bottom line and it sets us up to go public nicely. That's what our Board decides to do and our shareholders support. We do have a number a lot of shareholders. They were already about 200 shareholders are Progressa today. So, you know as a small business with 200 shareholders everybody has to be on. The same page about a decision like that. There's lots of avenues for late stage private companies to. Create liquidity for investors if that's their plan. My personal plan is to continue to execute on our strategic plan that our board has signed off on. It's ambitious and it grows this business into a very credible player in Canada. One thing that you mentioned earlier that all sort of reiterated that we had. Very much flown under the radar for 3, 4, 5 years and now we're trying to get on my radar. Where you can fully expect that. So, we're going to be. Doubling down quite hard on that side of things and therefore you know we're going to be more on the radar than ever before. And that's very much a function of launching our technology offering publicly. And you know all of our technology offerings that we made all these investments in. Have supported a growing lending business. But today they're ready to support. Other companies and support them and help them achieve their business objectives. And  you can expect to be hearing a lot more about Progressa as we roll up those products in the coming weeks.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I'm super excited just to see like what's going to be like the changes that may or may not happen now that you guys are going to be a little bit more on everybody's radar. So how are you going to keep the team and Progressa motivated healthy and productive and how do you see I guess the environment changing I mean I a rumor going public?

Ali Pourdad: Yeah, I mean there's different challenges for us as a Toronto and Vancouver company as they try to make. There are two very different cultures. I think.,  The first point is that you have to put the people first if you want to grow your team in a healthy and productive way. you make investments and bringing the right leaders in the work of younger teams that motivate them. But you also have to keep an eye on market trend is that you know you're out there especially in a large organization like we are. They're always talking they always have their eyes and ears on their friends that other organizations to stay competitive truly competitive you need to have a proactive strategy with your employees and not reactive. You know as it relates to Progressa today we really doubled down on people we've made serious investments in our senior H.R. people. We just went on Merit Finley the senior executive from over venture just literally started and this last week, really big win for a company like Progressa because you can't navigate this late stage try this. Potentially IPO scenario without a person like that. The IPO that just leads to bigger and better things. I mean I would expect our team to increase in size modestly. But I our H.R function that really where I would be focused. If you were to IPO, you suddenly now have different challenges and risks. And you need to keep people first That have a people first philosophy. As long as that  doesn't change, and you double down with  everything else. Then post IPO should look really good.

Manseeb Khan: There are a lot of startups that both have either office in Vancouver and in Toronto. I guess your best advice to them would be just double down on people focus on HR and just be there for every single individual in the company because they're the people that are going to help build your amazing building and your business right.

Ali Pourdad: Absolutely. I mean are companies are complex, as an entrepreneur you may not see that on day one. You may be just doing everything and happy to do it and that sort of learning things on the fly. But as you build out teams and build out processes start making investments and technology becomes very. Sort of evidence to how complex it is. And., I think. You know my advice obviously try to simplify it as much as you can and keep things simple for yourself and for your senior leaders that you bring on. Businesses are inherently complex and if you don't keep people first they get  burnt out They don't grow. They get frustrated. You really have a people first mindset to drive that. We haven't always had it right. Progressa it's not something you get right. Right away, you sometimes make mistakes you hire the wrong people and you just need to iterate just like iterate technology iterate on your team and get it to a place where it becomes scalable. Because it's not just technology scalability that. Drives businesses like fintech its's people scale ability. Have the right people at the right times. And. You have to know when it's the right time for those people to move on. These companies evolve very fast. I mean you know in the early days you might double, triple, quadruple revenue year over year. If you maintain those run rates for two three four years. And haven't paid those investments in people get burnt out really fast. And so. That would be my advice.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I love that people scalability. That's incredible. So, I guess you have mentioned that a little bit early on like how much harder it is for Canadian  fintech companies to get Canadian investment money. What is your perspective on the regulating sector. So, for example consumer loans. Do you feel that the government is including regulators? And do you think they're striking the right balance between investor protection and enabling market innovation?

Ali Pourdad: Yeah, I mean I think certainly some regulation is needed across the board. Otherwise you know you get your in situations a country that things don't make macro sense anymore. The best example would be in 2008 there's no lack of regulation that caused banks in the US  to have aggressive underwriting practices and that turns into major problems. So, you don't want that. Sort of worst-case scenario. In Canada. You know people I think people would be quite surprised to understand there is a fair amount of regulation out there in consumer loans. We know we have a very heavily regulated mortgage-based payday loan base. And even other types of lending were very heavily regulated. You know in my view household debt to income ratios are quite concerning in Canada. That is, you know that could easily be correlated. Other things that may not be a regulation issue simply could be. You know high real estate prices the low interest rate. Those are very hard things the regulators control. So, balance is tough  question the answer from an investor standpoint I do believe provincial governments have worked hard to find that right balance investor protection and enabling innovation. You know a major issue that we continue to have in Canada though. Is that these provinces that security regulators aren't harmonized yet and that may. Make things complicated for starts to navigate and innovate quickly.

Manseeb Khan:  Touching back on what you said you guys have invested in a lot of the technologies right? Do you see the future with digital banking by offering a full range of services. And if so I guess what technologies you are most excited about and that you think is going to have the most impact.

Ali Pourdad: Yeah, I mean I think we're already a lot of the way there in Canada. I think our  major banks have fairly strong digital banking offerings themselves. And so, you know there's lots there's a there's a lot of room for disruption, but I think the single probably the single most important legislation required to. Fully complete digital banking roadmap for all Canadians and probably the one I'm most excited about. Is the open banking concept? And that's something that governments started to get wind down in the year they. Have already started to empower consumers with data. Once the banking data is back in the control of the consumers and not the bank. Then you really will have a truly digital banking environment with a full range of services. And you know the ability to unlock full potential. And until then you know you know I think Canadian fintech’s will continue to innovate. You know again Progressa we play behind the scenes we try to play it with. Predicates. Where that. Adds value to a bank and credit cards and so on. Solve problems. You know. What that could lead to it. The regulators don't offer it if they don't move quick enough on open banking, then the banks could just snap up fintech’s one at a time as they see fit. I think. You know you. Have. Different data that are still around after five six seven years. They are well positioned to. Sit down with parents who are having those conversations hoping they can change the environment in Canada significantly. As it relates to digital banking operate because it could really make life good for Canadian's for Canadians and either the playing field for a lot of consumers out there without traditional access to credit Or Just traditional banking products simply because their data is in the control of the banks. Is not doing anything with that.

Manseeb Khan: So essentially the old gatekeepers of helping Canadians in the past are going to be greatly diminished just making it ,like you mentioned a couple times or just making lives of Canadians that much more easy.

Ali Pourdad: That's the idea. I mean banks I think banks do a  great job I've got. I'm not in the camp that banks need to go down or fold or be this be disruptive. Certainly, there's a lot of services and banks that are frustrating to the consumer to deal with. At the end of the day they happy they think large investment digital banking offerings. The issue is less to do with those offerings and more to do with. Empowering the consumer. As a consumer of a bank. You sometimes feel handcuffed. And. I you know I think fundamentally that a lot of upside here for Canadians. If the government does step in and offer you know to open up the data again it's kimono and give power back to the consumer. It just opens up a wide range of opportunity to offer service that. Really. You know make life good for that consumer I mean best examples are the social media companies in the U.S. that. Are able to take data and improve. And again, depends on who you ask. But if you ask me and you've offered your consent really improve life for you and they think very sort of seamless day to day. There's no reason they can't be in that situation in Canada with banking data and make a well thought out plan.

Manseeb Khan: So, speaking of peer to peer you're seeing a lot of people starting to shift into getting into crypto and very much getting into blockchain and how do you see loan services like yourself getting into blockchain and how do you see loan services in the blockchain and different from existing services that we have today. And what I'm asking is What do you need to see be a KYC, be it regulatory to make an actual shift to be 50/50 blockchain or if not just go all in on blockchain.

Ali Pourdad: Yeah. So, I think the answer to that question is simply to look at where the regulations are heaviest and where. Block Chain can solve those problems. And in lending you know I think those questions are still being asked. There not fully fleshed out but certainly where you have heavy KYC the mortgage space and other types of lending in Canada. Yes, the blockchain can solve a significant problem as it relates to onboarding customers and making sure that there's a paper trail for everything. And so, from that perspective the block chain has some real application. Things more seamless for consumers. I think. You know the parts crypto is concerned there is a lot of the young population out there that. Has been investing in cryptocurrency. And the average age of a crypto user is quite young. And they're building up cryptocurrency wallet. With real financial holdings there so. That money is available.  but not in their Canadian or Canadian bank account it's not available under U.S. bank account. It's available in their crypto account. And so. Naturally. You know there's going to be. Sources and uses for the money and the lending is one option for the cryptocurrency you're going to start to see platforms. That offer peer to peer lending options for the crypto currencies. Simply because people are going to be sitting on those currencies and are going to want to get that money to work and try to generate a return just like any. You know company or other peer to peer platforms the in  U.S.  for example, trying to achieve. Definitely we're going to see shifts into crypto I don't think it's to take over the world as far as lending is concerned, I think lending is just A function of whatever currency is sitting on out there whether it's crypto or fiat. But certainly, the block chain going back to that will make life good. And I think that the companies right now that are Again asking the question when. Where are the problems? Where the pain points? And how can I use blockchain to make things better? At Progressa that  We're certainly exploring a lot of those things but not haven’t decided to use the blockchain yet.

Manseeb Khan: So, you did mention peer to peer loans right. So, do you see peer to peer loans disrupting your business given that it would make it a lot more easier for just Canadians and if not under serviced  Canadians to get loans or just to make sure they can pay the Rogers bill or the phone bill or what have you.

Ali Pourdad:  I don't necessarily see that I think offering credit is a core competency that you have to learn over time. It was something that is easy to reproduce. We have learned by mistake. The have to have money loose. Because you definitely will lose money in the beginning and it takes time to. Again, understand that core competencies that you can start to scale it and make money in greater amounts you know is it possibly disrupt able ? absolutely there is possible disruption there in the future. I think in Canada probably a lower chance of that happening. Peer to peer lending in Canada first of all is being banned by securities regulators for quite some time. In the U.S. certainly you see peer to peer lending is much more prevalent. And you're already seeing a block chain-based companies tackle peer to peer lending. But there is just a drop in the bucket and the reality is the block chain is at this point heavily correlated with crypto currencies. And are like crypto currencies and so that's the main driver. You know if somebody borrowing and they don't need crypto currency then there's really no use of the platform. So. As far as I understand there's we're still talking about tens of millions of crypto currency users across the world not hundreds of millions or 200 you know are billions yet. And so, it's still a quite a small market. Relative  to the overall market and something that. Companies just to keep their eye on and evaluate as they grow and look at market opportunities and pounce on it if you think there's something there to. To grow into.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no absolutely. Like we said before the average crypto very young so it's tens of millions 100 to hundreds. So, it's not a very young, very infancy stage for companies to pounce on it right. So, I guess one of the things that is out there that's very prevalent in the business media would be alongside of crypto and blockchain would be AI right. AI is definitely going to be disrupting the banking industry for sure in the past couple episodes. It was also mentioned that AI is also going to be very disruptive for the insurance business. How do you see AI either disrupting or helping the loan services and Do you see as an opportunity or do you see it as a threat?

Ali Pourdad: Oh, I mean perhaps this is an opportunity for sure want to be very people are asking this question because I don't know that I would recommend. You know getting into lending if you have an AI that's not the reason to get into lending and I don't think you can use AI effectively right off the bat anyway. I think you have to grow into AI. AI is by its inherently is reliant on big data. You're not just sitting on that data when you launch a business. You have to build the data over time, you need to make sure it's a scaleable data. It's being housed properly that a lot of an investment you have to make it into a  data infrastructure. To leverage AI effectively. So, from our perspective I mean we definitely see it as an opportunity because we've made those investments. Heavy investments in technology and our data infrastructure. I mean we have a  full data team in Vancouver. That to use AI effectively to have automated credit models and use sort of machine learning to automate the recalibration process that we that we currently have humans doing you know. And so that that's all upside for business that make those investments. But it's not something that I don't think  it's not practical for a number of years. You have to you can't just acquire the data, you have learned by mistakes. And build up to date on an appropriate way so that when you're ready to build scalable technology you know they you add AI to the list.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. So, all of that is just testing and learning right? Where do you see yourself in Progressa the next three to five years? I mean given that we talked about block chain and crypto and AI?

Ali Pourdad: Three to five-year progress as generating, I mean you can see us like a traditional online lending business. But over three to five years Progress is going to generate the majority of its revenue from that technologies. And a minority of its revenues is from the lending business. I mean we made a  significant investment in software. That are driving great growth in  our lending business today. But over the next three to five years you know I fully expect that we'll be able to service our much larger enterprise partners in more meaningful ways as a software provider and much more so than a lender. For me personally you know I'm having fun. We've made significant investments in building out a great team. And I want to see this team be successful. I work closely with our board and I'll continue to run Progressa as long as they have me with the job. At the same time, you know Progressa has set me up for many great opportunities personally well had to get involved with many younger entrepreneurs as I can. And guide them and share my voice. I had the privilege of contributing weekly for a couple years on the Business in Vancouver the technology panel and continue to do that and have fun. You know I'm in a mode personally where Progressa even though we've been flying under the radar behind the scenes. Progressa has set me up to contribute back how meaningfully and guide younger entrepreneurs and try to get involved with younger businesses that have disruptive technologies. But I think that's what I see for Her my future.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah that's incredible it's actually very humbling to hear that like even though you are I guess relatively compared to traditional businesses you guys are a very young company, but you already have the mindset of Yeah, I know I'm still a startup and I'm still building a great business, but I still want to give back to young entrepreneurs. someone to guide them like hey that mistake I made over there yeah don't do that to just do this instead this was going to make your life so much easier. That's absolutely incredible. So as an aspiring young entrepreneur myself I wholeheartedly thank you and amazing entrepreneurs like you for helping and just guiding us and giving back.

Ali Pourdad: Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate it and thanks for having me on the show.

Manseeb Khan: Absolutely. So, what will be the best way for young entrepreneurs out there to contact you. Could we snapchat you. Do you up on Twitter. What we the best way to contact you?

Ali Pourdad: Yeah for sure. I'm on Twitter as my handle is  Ali Pourdad. It's my first name and my last name. You can find me on progressa dot com as well. I will have a bio on there with my name, so you'll find me on Twitter, you'll find me on Instagram. And happy to chat with young entrepreneurs. I mean we certainly have a handful of Progressa. But again, I'm also on LinkedIn. Always a good way to find me in on LinkedIn. Happy to chat with young entrepreneurs  and add I value where I can.

Manseeb Khan: Awesome. Ali thank you so much for sitting down with me today and I can't wait to have you on the show again hopefully post IPO.

Ali Pourdad: I'd love to be back thanked you !

 

 

 

 

End of Podcast

 

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Borderless Ventures | Ethan Pierse | Oct 27, 2021 You might not yet have heard of social tokens or creator coins, but it's very possible that you heard the news of Lionel Messi changing football clubs from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain. Well, millions of dollars of his $40M signing bonus were paid in $PSG tokens issued by social token platform Socios. Those tokens allow fans to interact with the team by earning rewards, participating in select club decisions, and accessing unique merchandise and experiences. But what are social tokens ? Social tokens allow brands, whether individuals or organizations, to include their fans and community in a dedicated tokenized economy that facilitates: - Direct monetization - Community engagement and loyalty - Governance See:  67 per cent of young Brits want a socialist economic system, finds new poll Social media platforms can take 5-30% of content creators' tips and payment tools like Venmo charge 3% commission. However, creator coin platforms like Rally are able to charge 0% for direct digital payments to creators. Amazing platforms like Patreon, Substack, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch have enabled creators to build business models on top of their communities and content, but in addition to expensive commissions, ...
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Monetizing creator economy and social tokens - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
Crowdfund Insider | JD Alois | Oct 26, 2021 Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF) has topped $1 billion – five years after the securities exemption became actionable for issuers in need of growth capital. According to Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA), 1.2+ million investors have backed over 4500 companies to achieve this milestone. The third quarter of 2021 was said to be the best quarter ever with approximately $148 million committed to issuers raising capital on funding portals or regulated broker dealers. See:  Reg CF Update: Interview with Sherwood Neiss on Investment Crowdfunding This amount was 93% greater than the same quarter last year and 12.5% over Q2. The third quarter broke the record of number of offerings pegged at around 400 securities sales. Year to date as of Q3, approximately $409 million has been raised with 1,177 individual offerings. Software was the most popular industry to raise money using the exemption. The top five platforms during Q3 dominated the sector of online capital formation accounting for around 88% of investment activity. CCA noted that Reg CF activity helped to create more than 17,000 jobs during the quarter. See:  Doug Ellenoff on US Reg CF Increasing Issuer Caps to $5 million: Investment ...
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RegCF passes US1B - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
Global News | Ian Bickis | Oct 24, 2021 If you haven’t shopped for a credit card in a while, you may see some unfamiliar names in the offerings. Companies like Brim Financial, Float Inc., Caary Capital Ltd., Jeeves Inc., and Neo Financial are part of a growing crop of tech-enabled lenders that are looking to snag a share of the lucrative credit card market from the big banks. The startups have to be creative with rewards programs because they lack the scale to offer the big sign-up bonuses of the big banks, said Castaldo. See:  Any bank, merchant or Fintech on Mastercard’s vast network can soon offer crypto services On corporate cards, companies like Jeeves, Float and Caary are aiming mostly at startups and small to medium businesses, offering fast sign-up, numerous digital cards, higher credit limits and no personal guarantee, as well as easier integration into some accounting and spend management software. Jeeves directly monitors a client’s bank account and uses machine learning to assess risk, which Thazhmon said allows them to offer the higher credit limit and no personal guarantee. The new competition for the big banks comes as the market is already feeling pressure. Credit card ...
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fintech credit card offerings grow - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
CNBC | Hugh Son | Oct 26, 2021 The crypto economy is about to expand. Mastercard is preparing to announce that any of the thousands of banks and millions of merchants on its payments network can soon integrate crypto into their products, CNBC has learned. That includes bitcoin wallets, credit and debit cards that earn rewards in crypto and enable digital assets to be spent, and loyalty programs where airline or hotel points can be converted into bitcoin. To do so, the payments network is partnering with Bakkt, the crypto firm recently spun off by Intercontinental Exchange, which will be the behind-the-scenes provider of custodial services for those who sign up, executives at the two firms told CNBC. “We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing,” Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships, said in an interview. “Our partners, be they banks, fintechs or merchants, can offer their customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Baktt platform.” See:  ‘Last year we saw about a 300% increase in transactions just using cryptocurrency’: Coinpayments CEO The announcement could lead ...
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Mastercard bakkt crypto deal - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
ComplianceX | Jack Kelly | Oct 26, 2021 The Securities and Exchange Commission has won a debate among US agencies to propose legislation and oversee the $131 billion stablecoin market, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The Wall Street watchdog’s “significant authority” over tokens like tether will be spelt out in a report expected to be published this week, Bloomberg said, citing sources familiar with the matter. Agencies including the Treasury will ask Congress to pass legislation stating coins should be regulated like bank deposits, one source said. See: A Regulated Stablecoin Means Having a Regulator On the Brink Podcast: George Selgin of the Cato Institute on Stablecoins, Bitcoin and Free Banking FCA Chair Charles Randall Discusses Crypto, Stablecoins and Digital Asset Regulation More regulation coming: SEC Chairman signals stablecoins and other tokens could fall under its rules on security-based swaps The report is expected to highlight the SEC’s powers, as Chairman Gary Gensler has been pushing for oversight and the ability to pursue enforcement action. It will clarify how the Biden administration will regulate the sector, with several agencies including the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission likely to have a role. These developments suggest the government will have clear and active authority over the stablecoin ...
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US moving on stablecoin regulations - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
TheStreet | Rob Lenihan | Oct 25, 2021 Cryptocurrency prices were climbing Monday with the parody cryptocurrency Shiba Inu coin soaring to a record over the weekend before losing ground. Shiba Inu's recent surge appears related to unconfirmed rumors that the coin would soon be listed on the popular stock trading app Robinhood, according to Fortune.  Shiba Inu coins traded at a record $0.0000455 at 7:20am U.S. Eastern. That topped the previous record $0.0000388 from May 10, Coindesk reported, citing Messari data. It's currently trading at $0.000039. See:  SEC says GameStop’s wild stock surge was not short covering Some market observers said that the currency started falling after Tesla CEO Elon Musk, famed for rattling crypto markets worldwide, tweeted on Sunday that he does not own the cryptocurrency. "Don't bet the farm on crypto," Musk tweeted. "True value is building products & providing services to your fellow human beings, not money in any form." Regulation remains a factor in the cryptocurrency world. -- "[The] U.S. Congress predictably looking at imposing standard financial industry 'Know your Client' and Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements -- "[The] UK warning about investor protection -- [The] EU cracking down on money laundering," and, -- "China clearing the field for ...
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Shiba Inu - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
Institute for New Economic Thinking | Lynn Parramore | Oct 14, 2021 Famed short-seller is even more concerned with political fallout from Evergrande than economic/financial woes. LP: Let’s talk about Evergrande, the Shenzhen developer whose crisis has got everybody worried. How did things get so bad? JC: Last year, as the tech crackdown was gaining momentum, Xi’s administration put down a set of rules called the “three red lines.” They were sort of balance sheet financial tests. It was an attempt to deleverage the real estate developers. LP: So with Evergrande, everyone came to expect a bailout? JC: I think we’re at that crossroads. The problem is that these companies are so much bigger than they were in 2015 or 2011. Can you bail everybody out? In the case of the developers, you have an additional problem. The biggest amount of liabilities is not necessarily to banks and bondholders. It’s to apartment buyers. Here’s why: the Chinese real estate finance system is exactly the opposite of ours. In our system, when there’s a new development, you’re typically required to put 10% down to sign a contract, with the balance due on closing. See:  Opinion: Evergrande and Crypto Where is Bitcoin ...
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China Evergrande - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
Linklaters | Oct 22, 2021 OFAC recommendations for virtual currency industry participants A U.S. regulator has again reminded the virtual currency industry that it is subject to the same compliance obligations as more traditional industries. Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued specific guidance regarding the application of U.S. sanctions requirements to the virtual currency industry. OFAC views participants in the virtual currency industry as playing “an increasingly critical role in preventing sanctioned persons from exploiting virtual currencies to evade sanctions and undermine U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.” See:  CSA and IIROC Publish Guidance and Regulatory Framework for Crypto Asset Trading Platform Compliance As with any sector of the economy, virtual currency industry participants are expected to evaluate a variety of factors in assessing their unique sanctions risks and formulating a risk-based compliance strategy.  In the guidance, OFAC identifies the following key measures that virtual currency industry participants should carefully consider in implementing their risk-based compliance programs: Geolocation Tools – these tools allow companies to determine the locations of IP addresses, in particular to identify any that are in comprehensively sanctioned jurisdictions; OFAC makes clear that a failure to use ...
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Guidance - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
CIX | Oct 25, 2021   1) Presentations by the 30 award winning companies, as selected out of 492 CEOs & Founders of CIX Top 20 Early and CIX Top 10 Growth 2021 Inductees: 2) AND your chance to meet the presenting companies face to face after their presentation in the 6 ‘Meet the Presenting Companies’ sessions. 3) More presentations from founders and CEO of these promising startups a) Atlantic Canada Tech Showcase b) DMZ Women Founders Showcase c) Intuit Prosperity Accelerator.AI Showcase 4) Reverse Investors’ Pitches - Top VCs explain why you should choose them! 5) Canada Success Story Spotlights: fireside chats with founders and CEOs sharing their journey and insights. 6) CIX 2021 Innovator of the Year -Trulioo’s CEO in a fireside chat with investor TCV. 7) Ask an Expert - Your opportunity to pick the brains of serial entrepreneurs, top investors in face to face conversations. 8) The Current M&A Landscape - Hear how the pandemic is impacting current deals and how you can benefit. 9) Digital Identity and Credentials - Vaccine Passports, DeFi, age verification and passwords. How they work and the opportunities to use them to build your business. 10) Recruiting Talent in the Current Climate- hear from experts discuss the struggles ...
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CIX Digital Summit Oct 27 28 - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa
BNN Bloomberg | Kevin Orland | Oct 21, 2021 Power Corp. of Canada’s online financial-services company Wealthsimple is adding retirement portfolios that include Bitcoin and Ethereum for its group-retirement clients, another sign of the possible mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies. Employees of companies with retirement plans run by Wealthsimple Work will be able to allocate 1 per cent to 3 per cent of their holdings into exchange-traded funds made up of Bitcoin and Ethereum, Wealthsimple said Thursday. The plans will automatically rebalance to keep the crypto, stock and bond portions of their portfolios at their targeted levels. For Wealthsimple, adding cryptocurrencies to retirement plans is a way to differentiate its offerings from those of other financial-services providers and lure more companies to sign up with Wealthsimple Work. The move also is meant to encourage younger employees -- who may be enthusiastic about crypto, but less interested in saving for retirement -- to start contributing to Wealthsimple Work plans. “When you’re young, that’s the best time to start saving for retirement,” Tim Kalimov, head of Wealthsimple Work, said in an interview. “So getting those folks invested is really critical.” See:  Wealthsimple CEO Michael Katchen on his not-so-simple mission: to help people — especially ...
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TheClose Wealthsimple crypto and group retirement funds - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.13-Oct 12):  Road to Fintech IPO:  Capital Networks, Scalable Solutions, Putting People First with Ali Pourdad, Co-founder and CEO Progressa