Carolina Nucamendi from Elemnt Financial [Financial Independence Forum, EP.004]

My guest this week is Carolina Nucamendi who is starting a fintech company.  She started her first career by moving to Los Angeles after college and began a career in entertainment, a few failures and the need of a reset led her o business school, got MBA at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina and moved back to Los Angeles to begin a career in the intersection of Technology and Entertainment at Sony Pictures.  Sony gave her a stepping stone to City National Bank, a bank based out of Los Angeles, CA focused on high net worth clients and it was then that I started this journey. Her experience in Wealth Management propelled her to want to start her own tool to help people to holistically manage their finances to connect the various financial decisions we make and that’s how Elemnt Financial (3rd E is omitted) was born. She’s currently part of an incubator program, Startup Launch and the LA Chamber of Commerce.

Podcast Transcript

Eugene / Host: (00:05)
Hello and welcome everyone. I’m Eugene Ting and this is the Financial Independence Forum. This show is an open ended exploration of stories, methods, and mindsets. How to better invest your time best in yourself and invest your money. You can learn more and please contribute your voice iand story at Hi, my guest this week is

Eugene / Host: (00:33)
Carolina Nucamendi, who is starting a FinTech company, but her journey started in her first career when she moved to LA after college it to begin a career in entertainment and a few failures and a need to reset. Led her to business school, got her MBA at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Then she moved back to LA to begin a career at the intersection of technology, entertainment, Sony pictures. Sony gave her a stepping stone to city national bank, which is a bank based out of LA, California, focused on high net worth clients in the wealth management industry and it was then that she started to holistically think about her journey. Her experience in wealth management propelled her to want to start her own tool to help people manage their finances, to connect the various financial decisions we make. And that’s how Elemnt Financial, which is their current startup was born.

Eugene / Host: (01:20)
She’s currently part of an incubator program, Startup Launch and the LA chamber of commerce, welcome Carolina Nucamendi to the Financial Independence Forum Podcast. Thanks for joining this week. So you know, and even in the preamble as we were talking about and in the intro it sounded like you had a lot of different career paths and different, different things that led you to helping people with their personal finances. Maybe you could go back a little bit before we had to talk about Elemnt Financial, about your interest in your career, entertainment, you know, take us back a little bit about, about when you, when you started on that.

Carolina: (01:55)
I’m actually originally from the South of Mexico and I went to college in Mexico city and at the time I actually graduated college around the time of the financial crisis, which is if someone else graduated around that time. It was actually really hard to learn them full time.

Eugene / Host: (02:12)
Yeah, I did. I did. I did too. So I

Carolina: (02:14)
Cause I feel like really entry level job. So it was, it was everyone was graduated without them. And I graduated with an internship, which is actually what most of us that we’re finding at the time. And that internship was in LA. I started, I moved here in 2011 to work for a fashion PR company, small company here in LA. And I intern for them for a logo and then I ended up finding an internship and that internship became a full time job and it was all within the entertainment industry at the beginning. As I mentioned, it was first in fashion and then I was working for, I’d tell him manager here in LA as an assistant to to him, I would say I was working in that area, in those areas for around three years. And at that time they sponsor my visa to stay with them for like an H one B is what they call it.

Carolina: (03:10)
And the government denied because they are saying it doesn’t actually require a highly specialized body of knowledge. So I went back to Mexico city and I was with another PR company at the time called Adelman and they were handling the Starbucks account from Mexico city and they were doing PR for the rest of Latin America. So I was with them for a loan or a year. And at that point I was already thinking about business school. I knew that I wanted to reset to a certain extent. I didn’t want to keep doing public relations if I didn’t feel as that challenging was a very fun job. But lots of thing that I saw myself doing in the longterm. And that’s how I ended up applying to different schools. I ended up deciding to go to UNC in chapel Hill, North Carolina Nucamendi. And I did the MBA program there at the time.

Carolina: (04:01)
I still wanted to go back [inaudible] but maybe a different aspect of it. And I started looking into [inaudible] some of them more business areas of what the studios were doing at the time. It was all very, and still is very focused on technology and how they could compete with this monster that was Netflix that was eating our bowl, their profits and Sony pictures had a division that the digital division had a stream popper called crackle, which basically what they did was distributing some of the Sony content and licensing some other content from other studios and having some originals and putting them on a streaming platform that was basically free. But it would play advertisements. And I think that platform still exists, but it was recently sold to, to another companies. I don’t think, I think Sony owns a very small piece of it now.

Carolina: (04:59)
But that’s sorta how it started in car management. When I ended up at Sony pictures and I was working on the streaming platform. And then as you said, it was sort of a stepping stone for me to go into a different path. But one of the managers I was working with at the time ended up at city national bank. And when he had an opportunity kind of called me up and said we’d be interested in this. Ah, I explored it a little bit more and I definitely felt at the time that entertainment was a very volatile environment and I definitely felt like I needed more stability in my career. And then my life in general, I, that’s when I started thinking maybe this is a good path. And banking is, is an industry that hasn’t fully been this rub that I would say but it’s definitely on its way to disruption. But then in that, in that sense, there’s a lot of opportunity for, for growth and for different solutions and for two different types of ways of you’re looking at the problems that people have with finances in general. And that’s how my bathroom, but I’m getting it where I’m at right now.

Eugene / Host: (06:04)
Cool. That’s, that’s very succinct. I mean there’s a lot of, you know what I would call like twists and turns in different areas, but I think the areas that, right, like in everyone’s case, including my own in hearing from our other guests as well, but also from other posts of people who are interested in, you know, financial independence itself is, is a goal and aspiration. But I think everyone comes at it from different ways in the blogs and different families and different individuals who who do that career is one way to, to set that up. People, you know, have side hustles are entrepreneurs, are investors on the private investors on the side. But in terms of careers, it’s definitely a huge part of how people make most of their money, especially at the very beginning, unless they came to it from inheritance. Right?

Carolina: (06:50)
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s, I think everyone is scared a matter of navigating where the opportunities are in. So what live event ends up throwing at you and just making them the best of those situations. And making that decision.

Eugene / Host: (07:04)
Yeah. And I think it sounds like one of the things that I picked up on when you were talking about it as you, you mentioned, you know, you were in PR for a little bit. Maybe the visa kinda ran out for you. So you went back to Mexico, but you, you said something in there that I, I think a lot of our other guests talk about is sort of knowing yourself a little bit because you knew even though PO PR was fun for you, public relations was a fun thing for you, that you didn’t feel like it was something that you, you wanted to do longterm. And that’s where you sort of pivoted to applying to business school and you know, thinking about that, maybe you could describe a little bit more about, was it something that you’ve always been more, you know, you’ve always been quite self-aware about things that you liked or didn’t like? Because I think that’s the core of something that would resonate with you and that you would do well. Right?

Carolina: (07:52)
Yeah, I think that that’s, that’s a different, tougher one. I think both for me, and I always talk about it as like I think when you’re 18 years old and she used to go to college, like you out of vision of what you want to do, but sometimes it’s not, I don’t want to say it’s not realistic, but sometimes it’s not really completely thought through as to what that means in the longterm. So I went to college and I studied marketing and public relations. I paid something I kind of stumbled upon. I was interested in doing something cool within that industry and it seemed like PR was, it’s a lot of going into events, meaning people putting events together. It’s a very fun kind of experience and I don’t think I realized it wasn’t like a thought I wanted to or a pod that was like a longterm thing for me until I sort of had this moment when the whole thing happened with my BS.

Carolina: (08:48)
I was like, Oh, this is a moment where I can, I can this sigh, like what do I want to do? And it’s sort of like a blank canvas at this point. What did I make one that we, I want it to be a continuation of what I’ve been doing or do I want to pivot into something else that’s maybe a little bit more challenging, that’s a little bit different and maybe I’m not super comfortable with it, but there’s a lot of learning. So I want to say that was like a very, it was a pretty important moment in my life because I, it was sort of like this scenario where I had like basically a choice to do anything cause I, my career at that point it was like, okay, I can’t stay in LA. I could stay, try the PR here in Mexico or I can try with something else. And that was sort of the point for me around like where I was like, maybe this is just not the thing for me. And as fun as I think it is, it’s, it’s actually not something I’m dying to keep doing. So why not try something else.

Eugene / Host: (09:39)
The other thing that you mentioned too was there’s these different twists and turns in people’s career and in life is to sometimes know when that opportunity is there. I think you mentioned something about kind of making, making use of the things that are darn in front of you, like you know, through all these different areas that you dabbled in. How did you navigate some of those and know when it was really an opportunity to take up or when it was an opportunity that you know

Carolina: (10:06)
Well then it will probably the just a matter of how you, I definitely feel like I had sort of a little bit of a roadmap, but I was very flexible as to what that was supposed to be. Even when I was in business. Go in, anyone who’s been to business school. Once you’re there, it’s, it almost seems like you have every option in the world that you can do whatever you want. Even to go solar. You can go into banking, you can go into technology, you can go. It’s such a huge reset to your career that it almost seems like you can go on and do anything. I did have the role of, I knew that I wanted to do, I wanted to be back in LA and I wanted to do something that will continue to be relevant in Dallas, really around technology and for entertainment at the time.

Carolina: (10:52)
That meant going into what the string thought forms were doing and I sort of navigated, I still, okay, I kind of want to do something around entertainment and technology. So what does that mean? And I just started exploring different paths. I started talking to different people, applying to different jobs. I ended up getting an internship at Sony pictures and that’s how I ended up getting my full time job. So it was really a matter of just kinda having a very broad sort of target and being flexible around what that means and where that takes you. And I think that’s when you’re able to explore more opportunities. When banking came up and moving into to do the national came up, it was not something that I say yes to right away. I definitely did. Can I doubt it because it’s not an undersea that I know it seems at the time a little bit of a boring industry to me.

Carolina: (11:42)
I definitely took my time to understand what can I take from that and what does that mean for me? Is it able to give me some experience that if I wanted to pick on something else I’ll be able to. But I said also Pat that I see something growing and emerging within it and I definitely saw, I knew that FinTech was sort of a hot thing at the moment and I knew that if violence they would to gather some experiences, I could probably pivot into something else that I would be interested in even if international wasn’t a longterm thing. So I think it kind of both that got to having, having a goal but being very flexible as to what’s going to take you there and inflexible what you’re able to experiment with on your way there.

Eugene / Host: (12:21)
Yeah, I love, I like that answer. I’m a big fan of Steve jobs. I go back and listen to some of the interviews he’s done and things like that. But I think one of the things that has stuck in my mind, and I’m probably butchering is his quote, but I think he’s, he’s always said that in the, in the context of career in life, it’s probably difficult to connect the dots looking forward. But it’s always interesting to connect the dots and you definitely can connect the dots when you look backwards. And so I, I’d recognize it in my own life and you know, and I think sometimes it kind of reveals itself, you know, especially as it comes to the one you, the leap that you mentioned from from going from PR to, to going to business school and then coming from Sony to, to this wealth management company out of LA called city national bank. Yeah. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about why did you make the jump into city national, what was it that, that was interesting to you there? And once you were there, you had a deeper knowledge about the wealth management industry and that sort of led you to the entrepreneurial side too. But you know, what was the wealth management side that you thought was interesting?

Carolina: (13:32)
It started sitting national within their marketing technology group, which at the time man, they were doing a lot of server implementations with different vendors to try to optimize some of their marketing efforts. So making things a little bit more automated. But as I was saying at the time I was also doing a lot of research around what other banks were doing and no, just to run what other banks were doing, but around what all does emerging companies were doing. So when you talk about simple bank or acorns or chime and Pharaoh and all this banks that keep popping up dad. So when I started really understanding where the [inaudible] system was kind of drawing Lords and how it was changing and how, and I wouldn’t say that banking has hit a point where a lot of change has been made. I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet. But I definitely feel like banking is at a point where they can get in prison with findings and what might friend or all of those, all those aspects of personal finance. I think they’re a little bit of an inflection point where, where things are about to turn and a lot of companies have started popping up and coming up with new solutions. But I wouldn’t say that it’s, we’ll come for an achievement where it was such a disruptive industry. I don’t feel like banking is disrupted at the time, at this time.

Eugene / Host: (14:53)
We’ll get there within the next few years. But I don’t think it’s there yet. Yeah, no, that’s an interesting perspective cause I think it maybe before we go to elements financial your, your startup that you’re incubating and working on, I think what you’re kind of describing is that some of the other third party technology companies that you’re working with, your getting to see sort of things that are changing in the banking landscape, but that hasn’t really met that threshold yet where there’s true destruction. Right. Yeah.

Carolina: (15:23)
I, and I just thinking is when you think about even how you handle your plans, it’s not that common that people change. It’s a relationship that they spent a lot of time sort of developing from maybe the first day County had when you went to college too. Well you have now it’s not, I wouldn’t say churn within banks is actually that high. And I think I’ve read some research that says it’s actually not that high. And there’s the reasons for that. Number one, it’s such a pain to actually switch banks. So while the fintechs are getting some for the whole, it’s not that there’s this way within texts like sort of disrupting chase and Wells Fargo and Citibank, like the big banks remain that the things and remain the top of what this industry is. But I definitely did think that they’re realizing that the technology, maybe not the technology, but that they have put the user experience that they have within their mobile banking is it’s sort of very outdated and in what the fintechs are doing is very interesting and they’re thinking about money in a way that I don’t think the big banks have thought about at this point.

Carolina: (16:27)
That it’s something that, that just requires so much attention and requires so much thing and it’s a source of worry for a lot of people. So I’ve met with this, fintechs are doing, are being able to look at the pain points, identify the pain points, and really come up with some solutions around that. But again, I don’t think we’re at a point where the bags are being truly disruptive.

Eugene / Host: (16:49)
You also mentioned a little bit about how, and you mentioned a few fintechs in there like chime and other kind of neobanks kind of popping out of the woodwork. Where are those some that you, you know, work with directly in your current position now? Or that it’s a product that you use personally and is it thinking, yeah. Is it like in terms of the, the wealth management space, because certainly from the retail side, you know, regular mobile banking, I think, you know, I’ve seen myself in to some of the work that I’ve done too is that there’s been a lot of money certainly and more focus into improving some of the user experience and the journeys that people are on that are existing and new customers that they want to bring on for, for the banks, including the big banks. How in your perspective, has that changed the wealth management side too? Like, do you see,

Carolina: (17:38)
Yes. First of all, I actually, I don’t work directly with any of this companies. I do, I bank with simple. I do use a lot of these ads like I pay with, I have a savings checking out. So CLI I use acorns. So I, Oh, Z I am an early adopter and so that we, in that sense that I have, I am personally using those apps and I’m banking with this bank. But I think to your question about how does that affect their like well management and personal finances, I feel it’s affecting is, and I think we were saying those are things I think it’s affecting people’s ability to understand their pain points and sort of put them in a mindset where they’re more aware of the money and they’re more and more aware of where their problems lie and more aware of maybe next steps that they need to take.

Carolina: (18:26)
And I think that’s a very good start. That’s where this FinTech solutions are sort of labeled to hit a big part of the problem, which number one is always going to be awareness. So being aware of how you’re spending your money and how much you’re saving and how much that you’re going into and how much say your being able to track, they’re moving the needle in the sense that there’s more awareness of consumers in, there’s always a lot of awareness of the banking fees that there’s been banks charging and how sometimes it’s banking products out there are not really helping some customers and they’re sort of putting more pressure on customers. When you talk about overdraft fees and all the other banking fees, like I think people are becoming more aware of maybe my bank is actually too expensive for what I need from them or for what I’m getting from them. And that’s when I think millennial specifically there, they will start looking for solutions that, that they actually see value in and anything. A lot of people actually see value from this big banks. I think there’s a lot of frustration with banks as they are right now. And just from a generational standpoint, people like you and I that started our careers and the financial crisis, I think there’s a lot of distrust in these big institutions as well. And I think that’s, that’s a big opportunity for the fintechs.

Eugene / Host: (19:43)
It sounded like you saw some gaps in your own personal experience, but also seeing that from the purview of working for a financial institution as well. And maybe talk a little bit about, you know, what was the Genesis of element financial? Was it something born out of one of those gaps that you saw and you know, describe to audience a little bit about, you know, what was the gap that you saw that you, you feel like element financial?

Carolina: (20:08)
I think for me a little bit of a catalyst was when I graduated from business school and my, my finances really got a lot more complicated. I had students that for the very first time, which I didn’t have before. I came out of business school credit card too. I did not have an emergency fund. I didn’t have, I had so much confusion about my finances and I was always running out of money and out and I knew that I was making enough money that that shouldn’t be the case. And that’s when I started looking into these FinTech solutions. That’s when I switched from chase to simple. And that, that’s switch really made me realize, okay, I’m actually not tracking things that well. And, and I actually, at that point I started really trying my finances. I started, I came up with an Excel sheet, which essentially, and it’s what I use now, it’s essentially a breakdown from every single one of my paychecks.

Carolina: (21:02)
How is my money moving? When I get that paycheck, what ends up where my expenses and my savings towards my dad basically, how does that paycheck move all of my other accounts. And is it maybe since as a negative move or some, hopefully most of the time a positive, but that’s sort of where I started seeing the, yeah, like there’s actually no, because there’s this ecosystem that we’re living in right now with all the fintechs popping up, it’s really becoming that much more fragmented, but it was fragmented in the first place. I want to say, at least when you think about it, and most of the people I talked to, you have your checking account with one bank. You have maybe a credit card with another bank, you have your student loan with another bank. Your 401k, which is our retirement fund. It’s usually with whoever your employer has it with, which is going to be another bank.

Carolina: (21:49)
Really, our financial ecosystem is really this first around a lot of financial institutions and it’s really hard to keep track of how are things moving and I think it’s going where I want them to be and am I going to reach the goals that I want by the time I went through to them. And that’s sort of this hole that I saw probably you come up with a system that not only helps you put all this information together but actually connect the dots on how your everyday decisions are affecting your ability to build wealth or to pay down debt or it’s actually not helping you at all. And it’s making you go into that. So how, how can you connect those dots and start projecting what this looks like by the end of the year in the next six months or maybe in the next couple of years. And that’s what element is essentially looking to, to solve for, to be sort of about that source of truth of how your everyday decisions are actually affecting you from a holistic perspective. Not just that your checking account is lower than you want it to be, but how does that affect them the rest of your financial life?

Eugene / Host: (23:00)
Thanks for describing that a bit more. It sounded like, you know, like a lot of great entrepreneurs and a lot of great applications, digital applications, it comes from a personal issue or a personal problem that you’re trying to fix for yourself and then it kinda, you see that in others and it it that, that’s a great story for myself. I and others that I talked to people in the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) space, some of us use personal capital. I don’t know if you know that product you know for personal planning as well, but also pass it planning to and then others that kinda use mint sorta from expenses and account aggregation type of side of things. Maybe you could contrast that cause I think from our audience, I think it’d be between those two products, I think they have a good handle of, or have a good picture even though they might not use themselves. So a lot of them use it. Maybe you could contrast that to how you know, how you think those products. And then how element financial kind of is a, is an evolution of that or enhances some of those capabilities.

Carolina: (24:01)
There’s some research out there that actually has able to identify that people that use budgeting apps are actually no being that much better at actually handling the money. So if you’ve been using it to a use case here in the U S is a user that is constantly over drafting their account, how much more unlikely are they do overdraft it, they use a budgeting app and the answers really not that much. So what happens with men, to me, I think it’s at the time it was a very good solution and it was something that we’d been having in the market. It falls short and in some ways you’re able to, I think you’re able to see your spending in a way that, that it almost seems like you’re only looking at today and you’re only looking at it, how are you spending your money well or not, when in reality you should be making those, you should be realizing that it’s not a good financial decision before you actually make the decision.

Carolina: (24:59)
No, by the point that you already spent more money than you should have. So I think that’s, that’s where elements sort of coming into play. Like how do we help people make their financial decisions and understand that this is going to be painful for you before you’re actually faced with that decision and is able to maybe help you make better ones. As for personal and capital, I’m actually looking at it right now. I didn’t know of this, but yeah, it’s basically projecting your portfolio value. But again, what I’m saying is we should be looking at, at our spending decisions on a day to day basis before we actually make those decisions. Not by the time we already made the mistake.

Eugene / Host: (25:37)
Yeah. So it sounds like what you’re describing too is that part of element financial would be, and you were talking about at the preamble are our preambled too is you know, thinking about it holistically, but also I think the part you were honing in on in the part that some personal interest of mine too, and I think a lot of people’s interest to dabble in the financial independence space and financial freedom, especially those that are interested in investing as well to get there is the behavioral aspects, right? The behavioral finance side too is, is how do we use the technology to help make decisions that might not just affect us today or this month for budgeting purposes, but how, how would we better understand how our decision today and using something to purchase, make a purchase decision today that would affect our finances in the future.

Carolina: (26:29)
Exactly. And because I really do think that we were talking about the zoo for a local financial institutions that we make from the way that I see it. [inaudible] They’re very emotional in nature. And I think it’s a way to sort of take out some of the emotional of that and make it more pragmatic. To a certain extent.

Eugene / Host: (26:49)
Yeah, I completely agree. I could certainly say for my own my own experience, almost every decision has an emotional aspect to it as, as it should. And sometimes emotions take the better of us and we, we make a purchase that maybe we shouldn’t. Some of them are smaller things, some of them they’re bigger things,

Carolina: (27:09)
But, and then at the end of the day, like I was saying before, it’s the mindset, right? I love this decisions and they’ll be like compounding, you end up just doing things here and there and then it ends up being, you come up with the system in your head that works. But in reality is fully emotion driven. So yeah, I think as I was saying, I think some of this and all the FinTech ecosystem is just, I think right now it’s tapping on the awareness of what your decisions are and maybe how you, we should make Thrones. But I think the next step to that is actually making it more actionable and making it more predictive and being able to, yeah, it’s a certain extent actually helped people connect the dots because since it’s so fragmented, it’s actually hard to see how things affected them.

Eugene / Host: (27:58)
Taking another perspective too, you know, you mentioned that you know, still have a full time role in, in technology at a financial services company, but that you’re starting element financial. And just so that this will be in the show notes, but just so that our, our users can, can find more about element it’s element, but the third E is dropped. So it’s element financial. The 30 is dropped. So you’ll, you’ll be able to find it. And how do you navigate that, you know, and, and also, you know, what, what was it that that besides the, the motivation behind your own personal experience of coming out, but student debt and also coming out of business school with student debt and having to navigate those finances yourself. You know, what made you want to, you know, take on something on top of that too. What was your primary motivation for that? Yeah,

Carolina: (28:49)
Honestly, and I’ve been asked this before, it’s really, I do see sort of a hole in this system and I think it’s affecting a lot of people. I believe when I looked at the research of how most millennials don’t understand their finances, how most of them over spending, most of them don’t have emergency funds. Everyone has credit card debt, everyone has student loan debt. Very few people have retirement accounts. I think at that point I realized that if I have even a small solution, I can help with a huge problem, then why not pursue it? And it was just an exciting, very exciting concept for me. And the more I work on it, it’s just the more exciting that gets him. So I would say for me has just been a source of a little bit of a passion project. It’s something that I just find so exciting to work on and it’s just, it’s just been really fun for me to be able to I think create something from literally nothing.

Carolina: (29:53)
And that that process to me has been such a creative from impresses that I’m a very creative person in nature and I think I’ve haven’t been able to have an outlet for that. Maybe not the kind of all of that I want in my full time job. So it’s, it’s, it’s able to sort of help me get some of those creative juices out. And so yeah, for me it’s just been pretty exciting the way that I’m able to handle it. Honestly. It just a lot of organization and I’m prioritizing my work. Just making sure obviously my full time job, it’s still a big priority in my life. It’s, it’s really what’s allowing me to pursue this. I don’t think I’ll be able to pursue it the way that I am without being able to not worry about paying my next rent or anything like that.

Carolina: (30:40)
You know, I’m at a point where I feel like I can juggle both of them and when ever one of them need to take Prairie, they take priority. And if I can make the other one take priority, I mean don’t take various, it’s really just a matter of understanding what you need to do at a certain time and make sure that you get done. But for me, just touching upon that, I think that when you starting at visit the first time, I actually dabble into entrepreneurship. I think when you’re doing that for the very first time, I don’t think I would recommend to anyone to sort of quit their full time job rather still conceptualizing the idea or working on the very first steps of it. Because I think that’s where a lot of starts and a lot of where ideas end up dying just because it’s not financially feasible or financially doable in the longterm. So I think unless you have a good amount of capital and a good amount of investment or savings to fall back on items, I think that’s where a lot of good ideas and up time because there’s at the end of the day a very real need to have financial stability. And so that’s where I decided that’s the path I decided to take on and it’s been working for me so far.

Eugene / Host: (31:49)
Was it from the very start that you joined the accelerator or was that somewhere along the way you, you, you sought the help of, of the accelerator? I think you said startup launching startup launch.

Carolina: (32:01)
I had the idea sort of working on the concept and it sort of started like putting together in my head and then down in paper was it can actually be and then researching sort of the market and how feasible it was and sort of the details around it. And when I had all of that, like really clear in my head, I started looking into different programs in LA right now. And I’d be a money in this sence. There’s, there’s a lot of, a lot of focus right now in the tech on the tech scene. It’s just been growing so much over the last few years and there’s a lot of venture capital here right now as well. When I talk to anyone, they’ll say the same thing that, that this is probably one of the best times to be raising capital in LA just because there’s so much money around.

Carolina: (32:54)
And there’s a huge tech scene and in that sense there’s a lot of programs popping up whether they’re government funded or private private programs that are helping startups or the love their ideas going into prototypes going through the piece and then sort of start raising capital. So I started six months in looking into all the different programs out there. And this one stood out to me because number one, they didn’t take equity. And number deal, it’s, it’s coordinated by the LA chamber of commerce. So really when I think about that, they’re their number one priority. They’re actually helping businesses grow and creating an ecosystem in the city that sustainable. And to me that was just such a huge seller. So I want to say I joined though a lot, six months in and I’ve been working with them for awhile, for three, four months at this point.

Eugene / Host: (33:48)
You also mentioned a few nuggets of wisdom in there about people starting in. Entrepreneurs should, especially for a first time founder like yourself growing element of financial. Are there any other kind of things that sort of you’d like to share in terms of tips for other people who are, who might be interested, who are listening that might be interested in starting their own business or they have a core problem that they want to solve too and they they feel like, Oh this is, this is an area I want to dabble in. You know, how do you approach research? And also what do you tell our listeners what to expect in terms of putting in their work, especially as it relates to them having still a full time job.

Carolina: (34:21)
The first step should always be doing the market research, seeing what solutions are out there. Because it might be the case that your solution is actually like it’s already been covered and it’s maybe even covered by company you didn’t know about that. That already has a lot of traction and in that sense then it might be very hard for you to raise capital or move forward with it. So I would say that should always be your first point to do the right research, understand the market. So you’re able to have intelligent conversations with people about where your solution lies within the ecosystem. And once you have that, I would encourage everyone to look at her as like the one I’m look at the incurbator programs, read their focus in and when they’re government funded, most of the time, really their focus is just to help the ecosystem see that they’re in, in businesses not just grow, but also create jobs and a career hub within the city.

Carolina: (35:17)
And I think that this programs are, I think to me, they’re very helpful and they really help you navigate when you’re first time entrepreneur. It’s really hard to navigate the entire process of what it means to start a company. What I noticed for myself is that I’m really, I already know how to make a product. This is what I’ve been doing for the past years of my life. So I know how to do that. But what becomes very difficult is like how do you actually start a business? Like where do you get the money from? Like how do you validate certain ideas? And I think that’s when programs like this can really help you. They sort of kind of hold your hand through that process and it’s, it’s something, it’s very often it’s really learnings that people have just from being able to go through that process of starting a business.

Carolina: (36:06)
So one of the advisors that are more has actually gone through the spreads of starting a business is I’ll be able to guide me through it, which has been very, very helpful to me. And then the other thing that I think is important is to just be very aware of like financially, what does it mean to you and to actually do both things. At the same time, I think for most first time entrepreneurs, the reality is that your runway will be very, very short if you didn’t have a full time job. And as I was saying before, that’s when a lot of ideas die because you don’t have enough runway to actually fully developed them. So really understanding like from a personal perspective, like at what point am I ready to make the jump? And our point is that an intelligent jumps you make and that you’re not shooting yourself in the face and you’re still able to finance this from a personal perspective. So I would say those three things are have been like the most important to me in this process of being able to go through it in a way that I’m not frustrated with the process at all. It suppresses that I’m just really enjoying and it’s been very fun and exciting and I think that’s where good ideas start. When the environment itself allows you to be creative and to not worry about other things.

Eugene / Host: (37:16)
That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that. I’m sure our audience would appreciate it, especially those who are either in entrepreneurship already or are thinking about diving deeper into it and starting something, which I think certainly a lot of people in the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community in the financial independence community you want want to are interested in themselves. I’m sure like I mentioned before, we have a, we ask every guest these last three questions as we’re winding down, but before we go, but before we get there it’d be the last question is you mentioned, you know, definitely don’t, don’t quit your day job and your, your, you know, your opinion and your experience as you help finance. Certainly having the time to be able to do it and having the, the funds to afford you to be able to do it and that totally makes sense. But you also mentioned like at there there’s sort of this juncture where you know, you know for sure that it might, it might make sense to pivot over to the T to doing the entrepreneurship full time. How do you see that coming up? I assume that you’re not quite there yet, but your, you know, how, how do you see, you know, where do you see that inflection coming and, and also and also how would you know, you know, what would be the signs that you would know that that’s the right move.

Carolina: (38:26)
I think it becomes very clear when it happens. You start getting some traction, you start getting people interested in your product and as a result of that you’re going to see people interested in investing in that product. I would definitely say if you’re looking to raise venture capital, you need to be on that project full time because otherwise it’s really hard for someone to invest in it when you haven’t fully committed to it. But I would say before you go into that, it’s, it’s going to be clear in the fact that you have traction and it’s a clear interest from some of your customers that this is something that they’re looking for. And I think at that point, user evaluate, okay, this is, this is, this makes sense to me at this point.

Eugene / Host: (39:11)
As I mentioned, there’s three questions that we ask at the very end to all our guests. And the first one is what’s the one item or service that you’ve purchased that you feel like has the highest value or return on investment for, for you and your life?

Carolina: (39:27)
For me? Oh my God. Does it have to be like,

Eugene / Host: (39:34)
Yeah, good. It could be an item or a service or anything that, that you think you know, that that is a particular value to you or you feel like, you know, best value for money.

Carolina: (39:43)
Well abide from it. If I were to tell, I find this is honestly like banking with simple for me over the last year has had an immense value in the five that it really has helped me really take a hold of my finances in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. I think they, they do a really great job with their banking products from server, an item kind of kind of perspective. Probably my, I just bought a brand new computer not that long ago. I got a Mac book air cause I was working for a really long time with this other computer and when I started working on this project, I can’t use my work computer because otherwise they would own what I’m creating and I was working out with these really old computers I went on and got him back. Okay. It’s just helped me become so much faster at everything that I was doing. So it’s been, it’s been great.

Eugene / Host: (40:41)
That’s great. And just to be, just to, for listeners to, to be clear, this is a, you’re talking about, right? The, the the bank, yes. Simple bank. Right. Awesome. That’s great. I just share it to bid. I’m also using something, I’m in Canada, but I’m also using something similar and I started about a month ago and it really has helped me especially with those impulse buys that I, that I tend to have too. So it really has helped as well. It’s called Koho here and [inaudible].

Carolina: (41:09)
Yeah, I live in the [inaudible].

Eugene / Host: (41:12)
Did you? Okay. Did you? Yeah, it’s the only Canadian now. I mean, they’re not as far along as simple as I think simple. It’s been around a bit longer. But it, it really has helped me. So I’m glad to hear other people are taking advantage of these things too. And and the second question is, you know, what is one of the kindest thing that someone’s done for

Carolina: (41:34)
Kind of thing? [inaudible] Information? Holy odd. I would say like throughout my career I found people that have really helped me when I really needed it. And just with a Fise or I think most of the opportunities that I’ll have professionally have really come from people that people in sales that reached out to me and they were just like able to help me out, find a job or find the confidence through, you know, the well, my interviews. So I would say the kind of the tone is done. I would say the person who helped me get my latest job at city national, he really was able to help me out. He reached out to me, he told me about the position, helped me get it in. Now actually within this job I was able to get my permanent residence. So I am in the process now to cover first summer lesson in here in the U S and that has been very helpful for me. So I would say probably him, Jeff per seconds, his name.

Eugene / Host: (42:44)
Okay. That’s awesome. That’s incredible. And congratulations. And the last thing is, you know, what’s next for you? You, you talked a little bit of element, I’m financial, I’m sure it’s a little bit of that, but w you know, where can people find you or following your journey or following the things that you’re doing with element

Carolina: (43:00)
Financial? Definitely follow me on Twitter. My handle is Carolina Nucamendi and envy and I would say yeah, for me the next step right now I think for the next year or so I’ll be working on this concept, making sure that from the feedback that I’m able to gather, I’m able to make the best product that I can and make it the best solution. Like in the habit T and from there on, I’m hoping to take it on time, obviously by next year and yeah, just forefront and make it the best platform I can make it.

Eugene / Host: (43:35)
Well, Carolina Nucamendi, thank you so much. We’ll be, we’ll be watching very closely and maybe we’ll have you on board when you either raise funding or you’re on your next steps with element financial. So thank you so much for being on our program.

Carolina: (43:47)
Thank you so much for your time.

Eugene / Host: (43:52)
Please, please, please share this podcast. And if you haven’t done so already, please hit subscribe. Thank you.

Categories Business School Entrepreneurship Financial Independence Financial Planning FIRE Retire Early Startup Student Debt Venture Capital

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