Interview between Molly Willats, Head of Program Development for Financial Health at Fintech Cadence and Roya Kachooei, Founder and CEO at Walletifai, a current fintech in our IFH Lab 2022 Cohort.
Whether the goal is a downpayment for a house, a much needed beach vacation, or a rainy day fund that helps you sleep a little easier at night, saving your money shouldn’t feel hard or scary or out of reach. At least that’s what co-founders Roya Kachooei and Razmin Soltani believed when they set out to build Walletifai. Now, they’re on a mission to help make saving for your goals more accessible.
We sat down with Roya to learn more about how Walletifai is changing money mindsets.
Hi Roya! Tell us more about Walletifai and what inspired you to start it.
Walletifai is an app available on iOS and Android that helps Canadians and Americans to confidently and successfully save for the things they want to have, no matter how small or big.
Our mission is to improve financial well-being by making the “save-to-spend” mindset easy to develop, and by helping our customers understand how rewarding this mindset can be in the long term.
I have first hand experience of the impact on quality of life and stress from living on a very tight budget to save money in a short period of time because of either starting to save too late or not committing to my plan as I should. I looked for tools that could help, but I couldn’t find anything in Canada that went beyond a simple saving tracker. Even those were mostly offered by international companies outside Canada.
My co-founder Razmin and I decided to build a real solution, something that offers more than just a traditional saving tool. We wanted it to be an advisor in your pocket that works to help you identify things you want to buy ahead, set goals, and find faster ways to save effortlessly and that keeps users engaged in rewarding ways.
It sounds like your own lived experience is central to your “why” as a founder. Can you expand on how those life or work experiences helped prepare you to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
I became financially responsible at an earlier-than-usual age and had to always be the financial support for others. They say necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, I had to get to the core of personal finance efficiency to build a convenient life for myself and others and it was the best self-learning path that life put me into.
That personal connection must help you stay motivated when things get tough with Walletifai. What else energizes you to pursue your startup even when things aren’t going as planned?
My team, my co-founder, and the importance of the problem we are solving are the three things that always help me stay focused when things get tough. The path to an overall higher quality of life passes through financial health, and my team and I are working around the clock to deliver that.
And when things don’t go as planned, how do you put success and failure into perspective?
It takes a lot of practice to learn how to look back on failures and find the lessons that were hiding in the details. The only way through is by persisting until you work out a systematic method to recover from them and get back on track more quickly. I’d say it’s all in repetition. Keep top of mind that you grow much more from your failures than your wins.
“You grow much more from your failures than your wins” is great advice - what other advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own startup?
Interview 50 to 100 people or businesses to understand the depth of the pain point(s) before you begin to solutionize. I have seen many founders taking that crucial first step lightly only to have it not pan out as planned for them.
What is one thing you’ve learned so far or taken away since joining IFH Lab?
IFH lab was a great place to develop great connections with experts in Fintech and work with them to shape up the next steps.
What change would you like to see in your industry?
I hope to see more Canadian investors taking the lead on investing in B2C Fintech products.
Finally, are there any books you highly recommend for founders?
The first book I read about startups was The Lean Startup, an amazing read. I next went on to read several other books on the matter, but this one was by far the best. A few other good books I recommend would be
- Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, by Angela Duckworth,
- The power of Habit by Charles Duhigg,
- Smarter Faster Better: The secret of being productive in life and business by Charles Duhigg,
- Predictably Irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions by Dan Ariely.