Startups with Fintech Sandbox with Kelly Fryer's Innovation.
Kelly Fryer presenting on how Startups with Fintech Sandbox achieve success.

Supporting Startups and Fintech Entrepreneurs with Fintech Sandbox’s Kelly Fryer

Episode Overview

Episode Topic:

Welcome to an insightful episode of PayPod. We engage in a dynamic conversation with Kelly Fryer, CEO of Fintech Sandbox. The focus is on how Fintech Sandbox helps startups break through barriers by providing free access to crucial data and resources. Kelly shares the organization’s mission to advance financial innovation and support early-stage fintech entrepreneurs. Through the Data Access Residency program, Startups with Fintech Sandbox gain access to premium data sets from top providers, allowing them to build and refine their products without the prohibitive costs typically associated with such resources. This episode provides a comprehensive look at how Fintech Sandbox operates and the impact it has on the Fintech startup ecosystem.

Lessons You’ll Learn:

Listeners will gain valuable insights into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by fintech startups. Kelly Fryer delves into the importance of accessibility to data and how Fintech Sandbox facilitates this for early-stage companies. She discusses the critical role of community and mentorship in fostering innovation and success among fintech entrepreneurs. Additionally, the episode highlights the significance of timing and resilience in the startup journey, offering practical advice on navigating the highs and lows that come with entrepreneurial endeavors. Kelly’s experience and perspective provide actionable lessons for anyone looking to succeed in the fintech space.

About Our Guest:

Kelly Fryer, the CEO of Fintech Sandbox, is a passionate advocate for fintech innovation and entrepreneurship. With a background that includes significant time at Techstars as a Pre-seed investor, Kelly brings a wealth of experience in supporting startups. Her role at Fintech Sandbox involves leading initiatives that lower barriers for early-stage fintech companies by providing free access to essential data and fostering a supportive community. Kelly’s journey from her academic pursuits at Indiana University to her impactful work with startups exemplifies her dedication to helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Her leadership at Fintech Sandbox continues to drive forward financial innovation and support the success of numerous fintech startups.

Topics Covered:

The episode covers a range of topics crucial to understanding the fintech startup landscape. Key discussions include the founding mission of Fintech Sandbox, the specifics of the Data Access Residency program, and how Startups with Fintech Sandbox benefit from this initiative. Kelly Fryer also explores the challenges of obtaining and utilizing financial data for product development, the importance of community and mentorship, and the evolving nature of data pricing models. Additionally, listeners will hear about the personal experiences of Fintech Sandbox’s founders, the strategic partnerships with data providers, and the global reach of the organization. These topics provide a thorough understanding of how Fintech Sandbox supports the growth and success of Fintech Startups.

Our Guest: Kelly Fryer – Visionary for Empowering Startups with Fintech Sandbox.

Kelly Fryer is the dynamic Executive Director and CEO of Fintech Sandbox, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering innovation within the financial technology sector. Since joining Fintech Sandbox in September 2020, Kelly has overseen a portfolio of over 330 fintech startups globally, facilitating their access to critical data and resources necessary for growth. Her role encompasses overall company strategy, program operations, and relationship management, ensuring that the organization remains at the forefront of supporting early-stage fintech companies​​​​.

Before her tenure at Fintech Sandbox, Kelly Fryer amassed extensive experience in the financial services and tech industries. She served as Program Director at Techstars, where she was instrumental in sourcing and evaluating pre-seed and seed-stage startups for the fintech accelerator program. Additionally, Kelly’s career includes significant roles at Bloomberg LP in the global data department, Direct Supply, and Fifth Third Bank, where she honed her skills in finance, innovation, and strategic development. This diverse background has equipped her with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the fintech landscape​​.

Kelly holds an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her educational journey reflects her longstanding commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. Kelly’s leadership at Fintech Sandbox is characterized by a focus on sustainable and inclusive finance, striving to lower barriers for startups and drive forward financial innovation. Her dedication to helping founders and entrepreneurs achieve their dreams is evident in her strategic initiatives and the supportive community she cultivates within Fintech Sandbox​​​​.

Episode Transcript

Kelly Fryer: I might steal that. I like that.

Kevin Rosenquist: You can use that again. I have a three-year-old. We watch a lot of Disney in this house.

Kelly Fryer: That’s perfect.

Kevin Rosenquist: What drives you and everyone at Fintech Sandbox to want to help these startups be successful?

Kelly Fryer: Honestly, helping startups be successful is at the core of the Fintech Sandbox and why we were originally founded back in 2014. It was to advance financial innovation. It was to reduce barriers for early-stage fintech entrepreneurs who are just trying to start their products. So it truly is being a helper and connector to all that motivates, honestly, the entire Fintech Sandbox team and what we do with our data access residency.

Kevin Rosenquist: Hey, welcome to PayPod, where we bring you conversations with the trailblazers shaping the future of payments and fintech. My name is Kevin Rosenquist. Thanks for listening. Throughout her career, Kelly Fryer has been passionate about helping founders and entrepreneurs bring their startup dreams to life. She spent time at Techstars, and now she’s CEO of Fintech Sandbox, whose mission is to advance financial innovation and lower barriers for early-stage startups by providing free access to data, educational resources, and a community of like-minded people. We discuss how Fintech Sandbox helps startups break through, and Kelly also gives some tips on how new entrepreneurs can be successful. Joining me now, Kelly Fryer. So when I think of a sandbox, I picture my three-year-old son throwing sand all over the place, getting it in his hair, his pockets, and his socks. Just pure chaos. Fintech Sandbox is the opposite of that. You’re helping fintech startups break out of the chaos by giving them access to data and resources that would otherwise be difficult, or at least expensive to obtain. You’re like a fairy god sandbox.

Kelly Fryer: I might steal that. I like that I could use that.

Kevin Rosenquist: Again, I have a three-year-old. We watch a lot of Disney in this house.

Kelly Fryer: That’s perfect.

Kevin Rosenquist: What drives you and everyone at Fintech Sandbox to want to help these startups be successful?

Kelly Fryer: Honestly, helping startups be successful is at the core of Fintech Sandbox and why we were originally founded back in 2014. It was to advance financial innovation. It was to reduce barriers for early-stage fintech entrepreneurs who are just trying to start their products. So it truly is being a helper and connector to all that motivates, honestly, the entire Fintech Sandbox team and what we do with our data access residency.

Kevin Rosenquist: I know you weren’t there at the very beginning, but what were people seeing that made them go, oh, we need we need something like this?

Kelly Fryer: Honestly, it was a lot of personal experiences from our founders Sarah Biller, David Jagan, and others on the founding team who either as investors or as entrepreneurs themselves, were experiencing the struggle. It was just to get, one, access to financial data sets in order to build their products. So, for example, Sarah Biller back in the day tried to start a capital markets-focused product, but couldn’t get Bloomberg to give her the data because she was just a small entrepreneur, a small startup, and they didn’t care about giving small companies access to the data. So that was one Then two, for those who were willing to do it, the data sets easily and still do today cost $200,000 a year which if you’re a fintech entrepreneur, just trying to string pennies together and bootstrap, that’s easily going to make you go out of business before you even get your first drop of revenue. So it was those kinds of personal experiences in mind that made them decide to start the data access residency, which gives free access to data for up to six months to our vetted startups, we have about 40 different data providers that we work with across like Equifax and Morningstar and FactSet and Dow Jones and Plaid and Yodlee and others who are giving their premium data sets for free to our startups.

Kevin Rosenquist: Why is the data so expensive?

Kelly Fryer: Good question.

Kevin Rosenquist: $200,000? I mean,

Kelly Fryer: I’m sure there are a lot of capitalist things that I’m sure you can dive into but also think about the majority of these data providers, their main clients are hedge funds and big institutions who have that kind of money to pay, to pay those dollars for the data sets or they have a different business model where maybe they’re paying by having multiple people access through the same license and things like that. So for a big institution, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Again, if you’re an early-stage entrepreneur, that is a very big deal.

Kevin Rosenquist: I would imagine, for any startup, that would be a heart attack kind of situation seeing 200 grand.

Kelly Fryer: Absolutely. Generalization, they’re not all that way. I think, especially, more recently as we’re seeing more API-driven data providers who do a little bit more of like a package model, you get X number of credits or X number of data pools versus kind of the, the bigger, more expensive license. So we are seeing more friendly data pricing and more friendly data transmission models and things like that. but still, overall, it’s still incredibly expensive.

Kevin Rosenquist: Then, of course, you work with the providers and you’re able to provide data for free or that low cost to the people in Fintech Sandbox. What motivates the data providers to work with you?

Kelly Fryer: That’s always one of our biggest questions. It’s kind of like, obviously, for the startups, they get it. They know why we’re here and why they’d work with us as a data provider. I’d say a few different things. One, they get to see innovative use cases for their data sets. So again, you’re having new technologies, new startups that are using their data sets and oftentimes in ways that the hedge funds aren’t thinking of, or the institutional and corporate companies aren’t thinking of. So they get to see that kind of new use case and repackage it to those bigger audiences to early biz dev relationships. If you obviously can get somebody hooked on your data early, maybe there’s more potential for them to become a commercial customer afterward. We as Fintech Sandbox do not guarantee that by any means. But there’s that hope of building early relationships. Then three is a kind of M&A and investment pipeline. We’ve had a few companies such as S&P Global buy Kensho, which was one of our early Fintech Sandbox companies. So we do see some kind of M&A and investment activities as well.

Kevin Rosenquist: Then aside from data, you guys also provide a community to help so that people can kind of help each other, too, through these startups and stuff. I would imagine it as getting something off the ground.

Kelly Fryer: Absolutely. So in addition to the pure data sets, we also offer a community, our program, and our data access residency. It’s virtual. It’s global. We run on a rolling basis. So we’re kind of always accepting new startups from around the world. So we have a great group of startups. We’ve worked with 350 startups over the last ten years. So with that, we have a lot of founders who have gone to their next company or go to other roles across financial services and fintech, too who are part of this virtual global community that we have. We host a number of events throughout the year with Demo Day and Boston Fintech. We have kind of been our marquee ones, but we also have a number of workshops, networking events, and things like that throughout the year to give our founders a chance to connect with one another, to connect with our data providers, connect with our corporate partners, and just surround themselves with folks who are across the fintech and financial services community and investor community who can help and support them as they grow.

Kevin Rosenquist: I know you’re Massachusetts-based, but do you work with companies all over the country, and all over the globe, or do you focus mostly on Massachusetts?

Kelly Fryer: Yes. We work with companies all over the world. So Fintech Sandbox itself is headquartered in Boston. We have deep roots and a strong community in the Boston and Massachusetts ecosystem. It is kind of sprinkled around the East Coast of the US. We have a couple in Boston. we have myself and our partnerships director who are in New York and New Jersey. We have another in Philadelphia. but we work with startups all over the world. About 25% of our portfolio right now is outside of the US. we’re continuing to grow that wall. So making sure that we don’t lose sight of our roots in the communities that have helped build us up over the years.

Kevin Rosenquist: That’s cool.

Kelly Fryer: It’s fun.

Kevin Rosenquist: You got your MBA at Indiana.

Kelly Fryer: I did.

Kevin Rosenquist: It’s one of my all-time favorite campuses. It’s beautiful there.

Kelly Fryer: Yes, it’s lovely. It’s interesting. I did my undergrad um in Wilmington, North Carolina, which is a wonderful town and campus, but also very much just kind of like a small beach town versus going to IU was much more of that true, oh, this is a college town.

Kevin Rosenquist:  Not a whole lot going on.

Kelly Fryer: No, no, no. There’s not. So it was fun to have that for my MBA experience. I grew up in Cincinnati. So it was also nice to go back to the Midwest after being on the East Coast for a while. So it was nice to go back there, too.

Kevin Rosenquist: I grew up in the Midwest, and my buddies and I used to try to do, like a college football trip every year. So one year we went to Indiana and spent the weekend there. They’re not a very good team, but it was a fun place. It was just beautiful. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the campus was, even compared to other Big Ten universities.

Kelly Fryer: No, it’s gorgeous and huge. Honestly, I feel like even though I was there for two years, I still never saw the entirety of the campus. but I loved my experience there. It was fun.

Kevin Rosenquist: So you focused a lot on your MBA? It would seem from what I read on entrepreneurship innovation, you spent a few years at Techstars as a Pre-seed investor, and now you’re the CEO at Fintech Sandbox. Seems like a logical trajectory, from Indiana to Fintech Sandbox. Was working with startups and helping them get off the ground and grow always something you wanted to be a part of? Was that always been a passion?

Kelly Fryer: Yes, it very much has been. I laugh at career trajectory because I talk to a lot of folks coming out of school or interns in college who are like, oh, how did you get your career? Honestly, it kind of happens by accident. Then it just kind of keeps happening by accident. Those are but I always wanted to. So in undergrad, I started out as an entrepreneurship major and, like, wanted to work in startups in some capacity. Then the financial crisis hit, and I thought it would be good to be employable. So I decided to switch to accounting. Then I felt like from there the rest of my career was a little bit of like trying to get back to maybe what I was trying to do originally. So I spent a lot of time out of undergrad at Bloomberg, doing a lot of tech projects which led me into kind of that fintech early days of AI and NLP and things like that. Then when I decided to go back and get my MBA, it was always with the sole focus of I want to come out of it working hands-on with startups in some capacity. I just wasn’t sure. Was that going to be a venture? Was that going to be corporate innovation? Was that going to be something else related to startups in some capacity? I met the Techstars team. They just so happened to be looking for someone for their fintech program. So in some ways, the stars just sort of aligned in terms of timing, and was able to leave IU with a focus on early-stage fintech and startups and kind of went on from there.

Kevin Rosenquist: Timing is everything, it seems.

Kevin Rosenquist: Honestly, as I like to mentor people or talk to folks about their careers, timing is everything, also, completely out of your control.

Kevin Rosenquist: That’s true.

Kelly Fryer: Even when I came over to Fintech Sandbox, I was at Techstars, and my managing director was leaving. I was starting to look around and think about what was next for my career. I met Sarah Biller and Jean Donnelly, who were my predecessors as mentors at Techstars. They were mentoring in our program, so kind of got to know them over the last couple of years. They asked, hey, do you want to come over and work with Fintech Sandbox and, help this kind of next era of the company? So again, timing is just a funny thing. Easy in hindsight. But you can’t plan it, unfortunately.

Kevin Rosenquist: That’s true. What is it about working with startups that just make it seem to get you fired up? What do you like so much about it?

Kelly Fryer: I think it kind of goes back to your original question of, like, why is Fintech Sandbox so excited about helping startups succeed? I think it’s the same concept. I love helping other people reach success, and find their happiness, whatever that is. I think in startups and in entrepreneurship, it’s making somebody’s dream kind of come to life. I find that process and that journey to be so interesting, and so rewarding. There are so many lows, but there are a lot of highs too. Seeing how people handle that and helping them to handle that I just think it’s a great great experience, great thing to be a part of.

Kevin Rosenquist: You mentioned the lows and there I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs here. I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs from AI companies. Everybody is just like, it’s hard, and managing the lows can always kind of become the separation between who can handle it, and who can come out the other side. How do you handle that when someone comes to you and I don’t know, they’re at a low point?

Kelly Fryer: I think it’s so challenging and it’s different in every situation. Sometimes it is a reminder of my perspective. I’ve sat with founders where their highs and their lows come on the same day.

Kevin Rosenquist: Same conversation.

Kelly Fryer: Exactly. So it’s sometimes it’s also reminding them like, yeah, it’s low right now, but don’t worry, another wind around the corner or this is just a bump on the road and we’re going to get past this. If you think about the bigger picture of the company, of your life, that’s your company, you also have your family, your friends, and other things going on. It’s not the entire world. but I do think that becoming CEO at Fintech Sandbox has brought me a new perspective that I didn’t have maybe when I was at Techstars because you also feel that similar thing that a startup, an entrepreneur feels we Fintech Sandbox is a small but very mighty company. So I think it helped me to see things even more from our entrepreneurs’ perspective than I had before, which was also beneficial.

Kevin Rosenquist: Techstars is focused on mentorships and investment in startups, whereas Fintech Sandbox is more about providing the data resources and then building the community. Do I have that right?

Kelly Fryer: Yes, that’s exactly right. So Techstars, if you think of any other traditional kind of accelerator program, one of the biggest differences is the investment aspect. So there in Techstars, an accelerator is making an investment in the startup. They’re getting X percentage of the company and return. It’s also I think of it as like a three-month boot camp. You’re usually going to that location or you’re in some kind of intensive curriculum workshop environment with a lot of mentorship kind of sprinkled in as well for, say, 90 days as opposed to Fintech Sandbox. We’re not an accelerator. We truly are a data access residency. So completely free to startups with no fees, no equity, or anything like that. we don’t have that intensive kind of three months of curriculum. We do offer workshops, webinars, and networking events in that community throughout the year. But it’s not that you have to spend and focus several months of your life on building the curriculum or participating in these kinds of dedicated workshops while you’re also running your company. We kind of let it roll and you access the data you need as your company needs it. Enjoy these other communities and benefits along the way, too.

Kevin Rosenquist: What’s the difference have you found one approach is better from Techstars to Fintech Sandbox, or does it depend on the company or are they both good?

Kelly Fryer: Good question. Honestly, I think they’re both good. A great example is, in Fintech Sandbox, we have a lot of accelerator partners that we work with, Techstars being one of them, Masschallenge Village, and Capital Cafe, those who are built to help the companies find that mentorship to do that intensive three months of deep diving into their company where we can kind of cross refer companies back and forth. So I never think of it as an either or. It’s just kind of “What resources do you as an early-stage founder need? Do you need data to test or build up your product or to launch your next feature?” Great. Then Fintech Sandboxes data access residency is something that you should consider applying to and being a part of. Are you struggling to find the right mentors in your industry or get connected to investors? Okay, great. Then an accelerator might be the right fit for you. Are you looking for more customer engagement or to find kind of early partnerships then someone like New York Fintech Innovation Lab or a Masschallenge might be more up your alley where they do a lot more of that corporate partner focus. So I think each program is kind of unique and for different stages of a company’s journey but doesn’t have to be one or the other. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs and startups go through one, go through none, go through a series of several.

Kevin Rosenquist: To find the right one for them.

Kelly Fryer: Exactly. Again, as we’ve talked about before, it’s a roller coaster. It’s a journey. So you need it and you might need one program in year one and then you’re good and then you need another program or other type types of support and say year three and four.

Kevin Rosenquist: Yes, that makes sense. Different different programs for different stages.

Kelly Fryer: Yes, exactly.

Kevin Rosenquist: I have to imagine it’s incredibly rewarding to help people achieve success with their startup dreams. Is there any particular story you’re most proud of? Something that sticks out to you?

Kelly Fryer: Oh, gosh.

Kevin Rosenquist: Putting you on the spot.

Kelly Fryer: I don’t know if I have necessarily a specific story in mind that instantly versus it’s always good to get a phone call or an email that says, thank you so much for introducing us to that corporate partner or that investor. They just wrote us a check. We just signed our first deal, that sort of thing. For example, a few weeks ago, we also just hosted our 10th demo day. So we showcased 12 startups through that. So getting some emails back now from startups who were excited that they got to meet with an investor that was on their target list or things like that. So again, helping the startups to reach their next milestone, whatever that might be, it’s different for all of them, can be exciting to watch happen.

Kevin Rosenquist: I’ll bet, I’ll bet. A lot of our listeners are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs. So I’d be doing this show an injustice if I didn’t pick your brain a little bit about starting your own company.

Kelly Fryer: Let’s go for it.

Kevin Rosenquist: I’ve talked to serial founders, and I’ve talked to accidental entrepreneurs. I had one guy describe himself as a reluctant entrepreneur.

Kelly Fryer: Yes, I hear that one a lot.

Kevin Rosenquist: It’s a challenge. It’s a huge challenge. What are 1 or 2 areas you find new founders are just ill-prepared for in the early stages, and you would love to say, hey, this is something to be prepared for as you come out the gate?

Kelly Fryer: That’s a good one. One for which, in my head, I’m like, Kelly, this is so basic, but I also see it as a recurring issue is just the simplicity of talking about your company. You would truly be so surprised at how many new founders can’t talk about the history of their company or tell you what the problem is, or the solution they’re building, or they are dropping tons of acronyms and lingo that maybe the other people on the call don’t understand. Again, they’re so deep in the weeds of it that they forget, oh yeah, not everybody is deep in real estate financing right now or credit underwriting or whatever it might be, and aren’t going to understand this as clearly as they are. So that’s like one basic thing is just like being able to tell a very simple story about your company and what it does, where I can walk away from the conversation being like, oh yes, that company does X, Y, and Z, I get it. The other thing I think the companies are ill-prepared for or underestimate is how challenging the enterprise readiness process is. Then we meet a lot of companies who are so excited, I want to partner with a big tier one bank or this big brand name technology company, financial institution, whatever it might be.

Kelly Fryer: They aren’t thinking about the legal and compliance paperwork and requirements and hoops that they have to jump through just to be an approved vendor or an approved partner for Bank of America or whoever it might be. This is why sometimes if it makes sense, I even recommend for early-stage companies to their first few partners start with a community bank. Start with somebody who’s smaller, where there’s less red tape, it’s easier to get to a yes, they’re more understanding or flexible on some of their like processes. But yeah, there’s a lot of legal and compliance things that financial services, a highly regulated industry, as we all know. So being prepared for what that can entail, there are a lot of great law firms out there that offer, prep and support for free or discounted for startups. So I recommend that you chat with them to make sure that you’re ready for, what you’re in for, with coming to your first customer.

Kevin Rosenquist: I was going to mention the regulation. Is it more difficult in that scenario because of being involved with fintech, because of the heavily regulated nature of what they do?

Kelly Fryer: Yes, absolutely. It is.

Kelly Fryer: I think, you know financial services, like life science and biotech have even more so than what we have. But the big thing is, especially, as you get into privacy, personal data, all of that security. If a big bank is integrating with a fintech and you’re asking for the bank information or anything like that, or a consumer’s any kind of personal account information like a security risk, all of that fraud, all of those things become big question marks, KYC, who you’re doing business with on the other end of the transaction, becomes way more complicated than you would have to deal with if you were, say, just like a consumer product or in some other industries.

Kevin Rosenquist: I feel like some people I meet are just born to be an entrepreneur whether it’s someone I meet in person or someone on the show. Then there are other people that I’ve met before that no one on this show, I haven’t interviewed any of these people. But I have met some people before where I’m like, whoa, you’re kind of in over your head. Do you think there are specific traits in a person that will make them successful or do you think anyone’s capable of entrepreneurship if they have the right mindset?

Kelly Fryer: I think you’re right. I think there are some personalities who are just naturally more predisposed to be successful entrepreneurs than others. A lot of people who, again, I think you have great ideas, but you’re thinking about this way too academic and not commercial enough or I think you’d be wonderful, but this is a coming up with big ideas. But I don’t think you’re the one to sell this to people. I think, fundamentally, resourcefulness, tenacity, those kinds of foundational characteristics as we were talking about before, the highs and lows of who can handle all of the nos that come when you’re in the middle of a fundraiser who can handle continuing to follow up or continue to push on when your technology is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing and you need to sort it out.

Kelly Fryer: So I think there are those kinds of personality traits that help make somebody successful as an entrepreneur. Then sometimes I think it’s also just experience and time. Have you dealt with this problem before? You’ve kind of seen the ins and outs of it and understand it and can build something to help solve it versus are you brand new to the space and you’re just kind of winging it. I think that’s also why you see a lot of multi-time founders who learn a lot on their first business, or maybe even their first couple of businesses, and then they go at it again with those learnings. It’s like experience helps you.

Kelly Fryer: Yes, that’s very true. You see, a lot of times when you’re looking at someone’s LinkedIn or something, it’s like founder, founder, founder, founder, founder, as you go up the experience. I bet that first one was rough. Then they get better as time goes on, I would think.

Kevin Rosenquist: Exactly. I think there’s two also a little bit of like and you’ll hear some entrepreneurs say this like an addictive aspect to it of, once you run your own company, I think it becomes much more challenging to then go into a corporation or not be at the helm. Again. I’ve talked to a few founders whose their business was acquired by a large institution, and they’re like, I’m getting itchy. I can’t stay here. I need to go build something. There’s a little bit too much boundaries and refinement and requirements here.

Kevin Rosenquist: Yes, it’s funny. I was just recently talking to a buddy of mine who sold a company, and he’s trying to figure out what he wants to do, and I’m like, are you going to go work for someone else? He’s like, I can’t go work for somebody else.

Kelly Fryer: Exactly.

Kevin Rosenquist: I’m like, what was the last time that you asked for vacation time? He’s like, 20 years.

Kelly Fryer: That’s a hard thing. Those are two different mindsets for sure.

Kevin Rosenquist: 100%, 100%. If someone’s listening and has an idea for a fintech startup, is the sandbox a good place to start, or do they need to be a little further along than that?

Kelly Fryer: Yes, they need to be a little bit further along than that. Our boundaries are kind of, for Fintech Sandbox, you need to have at least an MVP built. So your company should be past the idea stage. You should have something that’s kind of up and running that you’re playing around with, or maybe even is already or close to being in the market. Then on the flip side, kind of at the mature end, you already have 1 million NARR, which is usually kind of too far along for us because then our data providers realize you can start paying for the data yourself. You’re making enough money.

Kevin Rosenquist: That’s a good point.

Kelly Fryer: So those are sort of our boundaries. So with that, we tend to see primarily companies that are like bootstrap Pre-seed seed stage are our sweet spot. But we do have applicants kind of all the way up to series A depending on just how far they are in their development.

Kevin Rosenquist: Sure. The community aspect of the sandbox, how does that help, particularly, new founders? Do they get a lot out of talking to other members and, and discussing problems and stuff with other members?

Kelly Fryer: That’s always one of our number-one requests. We send out a survey to all of our startups every year. That’s always one of the top requests if founders want to meet with other founders. Similarly to what we’ve been talking about this whole time, it can be lonely. It’s being an entrepreneur or the only people who understand entrepreneurs are other entrepreneurs. So having that peer group to bounce ideas off of or hear how someone else has handled a similar situation is beneficial to them. So we do some networking events amongst our startup members just so that they can chat with one another. As I said, we host events both virtually and in person, between meetup events, kind of workshops with some of our partners as a way to bring the community together and let people network and get to know one another. But if you’re a new founder, it can be a great way to, one, meet with like-minded people who are thinking about founding, who are thinking about founding companies, or be inspired by by others who have done it. We do a lot of guest blog posts and content around the founder’s journey. So I think learning from those experiences can be helpful for those who are either new to entrepreneurship or thinking about getting into entrepreneurship.

Kevin Rosenquist: Well, Kelly Fryer, Fintech Sandbox, thanks so much for being here. I enjoyed chatting with you.

Kelly Fryer: Thank you so much for your time. It was wonderful to chat with you and thanks for your time.

Kevin Rosenquist:  Thank you.