What does it take to succeed in fintech? One person who certainly knows the answer is Bill Sarris.
Bill Sarris has been an expert in fintech and investment technology for many years. Some of his application deliveries in major enterprise software include big clients such as Microsoft, Intuit, Stanford, and more. His Fintech projects include Quickbooks, Digital Insight’s Promotion Suite, and Business Banking.
He has won the Forrester Groundswell Award and the Monarch Innovation Award for Banking.
He’s watched the investment world change over time, noticing early on that everyday people are taking up investing. With an increasing number of these Main Street investors joining Wall Street, he decided there was a need for a more democratized system.
In response, Sarris cofounded and invented Linqto, a private investment app that helps users identify worthwhile purchases and make investments in “unicorn” startups. Here are his three best tips for fintech entrepreneurs.
Never Stop Innovating
Sarris’s signature goal with Linqto is to make investing simple, especially for private companies that are pre-IPO. Before he came along, only the very wealthy and hyper-connected could invest in these areas. Sarris cofounded and developed Linqto in response to this exclusivity.
Innovation is driven by need. The key to staying competitive as an entrepreneur is to understand the changing needs of society. Investing looked significantly different 10 years ago, but as technology developed and everyday people took a greater interest in money, new needs arose. These needs drive creativity, ideas, and innovation, and entrepreneurs must constantly ask themselves, “How can I create a solution to this problem?”
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The idea driving Sarris’s development of Linqto is straightforward: he wants “to make it easy for average investors to participate in the private equities market.”
The goal is to put the average investor on the same level as Wall Street gurus who have been in the business for a long time, creating a fair, equal-investing platform.
This is an essential aspect of entrepreneurship in 2021: accessibility. The success of your business can be measured by how many people are served by the product. Entrepreneurs should factor in affordability when innovating, which will further expand the reach of their company.
Accessibility and affordability are the foundational principles that support Linqto’s goal of democratizing Secondary Markets.
Challenge Old-Fashioned Ideals
Sarris observed the intense gatekeeping of investing. Only accredited investors can participate in private registrations. Fifty million meet the threshold to be accredited, but fewer than 1 million are invested.
The people who invest tend to be among the most wealthy with direct connections to the private investing space. This prevents many traditional investors from taking part, even though they meet the requirements.
Sarris describes the process as “antiquated systems, norms and processes” that make it difficult for even accredited investors. But disruption via technology has changed the market, and Linqto is helping to put the investing power back into the hands of the people.
In 2021 so far, Linqto has enabled 40 investments in 10 companies, with four announcing exits. Coinbase was one of them, with some members purchasing shares for $32.
The most important part of the outcome? “These are average investors who were able to participate in the upside of an exit for the first time.”
Innovation and entrepreneurship are all about challenging long-standing truths and finding better solutions. Entrepreneurship can promote a more democratic society, and make opportunities available to a wider set of people. That’s certainly the case with Linqto. Sarris said he believes the future of investment is simplified private market transactions, and he’s helping make that a reality.
What’s the future of your industry?