Give free advice and share experiences with young folks who are trying to figure it out on their own. Mentorship played an enormous role in my successes, and I try to share the learnings I’ve had with others. For free and without expectation.

 

Adam Jiwan is a fin-tech entrepreneur with more than 15 years of transcontinental experience founding, investing in, and growing companies in the industry.

Adam currently serves as co-founder and CEO of Spring Labs, a team of entrepreneurs, innovators, and technologists working to stabilize society’s credit and identity problems with blockchain technology. Before founding Spring Labs with his partners John and Anna, Adam was a seed investor and founding board member of Avant.

Adam is currently also a Managing Partner of Ridge Road Capital Partners and Orient Point Capital, holding companies with interests in financial services, real estate services, AI, gaming and vertical software.

Adam is Co-Founder and Chairman of Future Finance, one of Europe’s leading student finance companies, and has served as a director and advisor to other innovative financial services companies including Arkera AI, Brazilian Finance & Real Estate Partcipacoes, GP Investimentos, NewPoint Re, and Rodina.

Adam Jiwan is the Co-Chairman of TrialWorks, a leading litigation software company in the US.

Previously, Adam served as the CEO of UK/Asia for TPG-Axon and has held roles at Soros Fund Management, The Blackstone Group, and Goldman Sachs. Adam is a graduate of Harvard College.

Where did the idea for Spring Labs come from?

As a team who had built fintech and specialty finance companies before establishing Spring Labs, we were acutely aware of the pain points associated with identity and security – as well as the broader issues corresponding to the give-to-get model employed by the credit bureaus.

We also understood that the existing credit and identity ecosystem could use a major facelift, but it took a handful of direct personal experiences with our credit bureaus for me to grasp just how crazy and inefficient the existing system can be. These experiences included discovering that a mortgage I had taken out and repaid early was never even reported into the credit bureau system; that bank errors could trigger vast changes in credit scores; that my asset side of the balance sheet and net worth were never reflected in any way in my score; and that challenging a credit score is perhaps one of the worst consumer experiences one can have. The system is not built for the modern economy, and yet our credit identities or scores are necessary to function.

In many ways, the Equifax hack from last summer sealed the deal.

Meanwhile, we had a growing interest in blockchain, and we believed that revamping the credit and identity ecosystem was a very natural use case. We decided to develop our open attestation protocol to solve the problems we understood very well.

In many ways, building this business feels like a “must do” endeavor. It’s the culmination of a lot of experiences backed by a strong desire/passion to drive big change.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’ve always been a morning person for as long as I can remember, so I begin my day between 5 and 6 am pretty much every day.
A few years ago I began practicing Transcendental Meditation techniques that now take up the first 20 minutes when I climb out of bed. That is immediately followed by 30-60 minutes of sweating (I’m particularly fond of my Peloton at home during the winter months and ashtanga yoga).

At that point in the morning, I usually delve into my work for the day. From that moment in the morning until dinner time arrives, my days might best be described as non-stop marathons combining calls, meetings and strategy sessions.
My evenings are generally kept unstructured for dinners with family, friends, and colleagues.

For productivity purposes, I always:
* Start early
* Exercise and meditate to prepare for the day
* Create a clear focus to pinpoint the 1 or 2 most important tasks for the day ahead.
* Delegate authority where and whenever I can

How do you bring ideas to life?

Bringing ideas to life at Spring Labs, and in all of my businesses, usually involves a lot of spaghetti throwing. Free form and out of the box thinking has resulted in some of our best strategies, partnerships, and opportunities. The creative process is what energizes me most about being an entrepreneur.

I tend to stay focused on ideas that will most readily turn into durable business models that will or have significant potential to scale. Product-market fit is critical.

Partnering with and creating a team comprised of the best people who have the best temperament, the most skill, and overall trustworthiness is essential.

Preparing yourself mentally for an overwhelming amount of No is required – rejection is part of the game. Run hard / Always Persist.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m very excited to see our country’s formal education system evolve.

The cost of higher education has become prohibitive and the return on this education is questionable for many pursuits or institutions.

It’s no longer necessarily about four years of purely rote learning but about problem-solving, collaboration, ideation, and implementation.

The democratization of education and information is inspiring as it can remove barriers to access and can drive inclusion – I think these are objectives we should all support.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I show up.

I’ve traveled to well over 100 countries and have invested in companies in more than 35 countries in every major industry group. When it comes to a new idea, a unique opportunity or a new experience, I tend to show up to explore it. You can’t capture a new opportunity if you aren’t there to run with it.

The corollary to this “habit” is that I tend to spend little time in the office – something that my partners and colleagues all undoubtedly know well. I tend to be in motion all-the-time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

When a new opportunity feels right, don’t overthink it. Just find a way to make it happen.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Most people say you need to have a plan – and perhaps this is sensible advice and advice I might share with my kids.

But in my own experience, I’ve bumped into some pretty special opportunities by showing up, being curious and then being razor focused on following up.

Several of the most compelling opportunities I’ve had have emerged in completely random ways, including things as cliche as sitting next to strangers on airplanes (which happened in January of this year and has led to one of the most compelling investments I’ve ever seen).

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Give free advice and share experiences with young folks who are trying to figure it out on their own. Mentorship played an enormous role in my successes, and I try to share the learnings I’ve had with others. For free and without expectation.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Taking the time needed to find excellent operational leaders for each of the businesses I’ve bought or started has been vital. With excellent operational management to ensure consistent execution and focus, I can take myself out of the day to day, allowing me to focus on strategy, business development and creating new opportunities as they arise.

I could never maintain the scope of interests I do or the scale of what we do without the right complementary partners.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I once made the mistake of thinking that you could contract trust or that the magnitude of an opportunity could compensate for a squeaky wheel. I now firmly believe that a contract is only as good as the two people who sign it. My best partnerships are with those where I do not feel the need to have anything written (though we do document things for prudence). I am blessed to have some amazing partners.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I travel a ton and would love to see certain processes simplified.

Governments collect massive amounts of VAT and other sales tax from visitors because the process for reclaiming VAT is incredibly cumbersome (probably by design given the disincentive to refund these taxes).

It seems to me there is significant opportunity to simplify this process in a highly profitable way: to create a process and application that doesn’t require hauling everything purchased on your person or to show up early at the airport or to wait in lines – and to do so with a single app that works everywhere; that relies on photo evidence, proof of residency and proof of purchase; and that automatically deposits your refunds in your accounts.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Skateboards for my kids. Making them happy makes me happy.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Headspace is a guided meditation and mindfulness application designed to make meditation simple. I never thought that an app could help re-set one’s mindset, but Andy is great.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Find A Way” By Diana Nyad

This is an extraordinarily powerful hero’s tale.

Diana’s autobiography shares the story of overcoming early childhood and adolescent trauma to achieve what was always considered insurmountable. At sixty-four, she achieved a feat that no man or woman had ever accomplished in the open sea.

I discovered this book through Diana’s hugely inspiring TED Talk.

Her complete story, captured in the book, captivated me as someone who is a strong believer in the power of courageous and persistent action.

If we were straying from books, I would say the HBO miniseries The Defiant Ones about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Also super inspiring stuff (and a killer soundtrack, to boot!).

What is your favorite quote?

The lamps are different; the light is the same
The commonalities of human experience are something I spend a great deal of time thinking about; Rumi nailed this one.

Key Learnings:

Three Steps to Recognizing and Making the Most of an Opportunity
1. Show Up;
2. Be Curious;
3. Follow up (with razor focus).

Throw the spaghetti. Brainstorm. Think outside of the box. Explore.
The best partnerships don’t need a contract (but always document for prudence).
Keep moving.

Connect:

www.5wpr.com
adamjiwan.com
Adam on Levo
Adam on Everything PR
Adam on Medium

The 100 Best Books For Entrepreneurs

Sign up for our emails and we'll send you a list of the 100 best books for entrepreneurs, which we compiled by analyzing over 3,000 interviews.

Powered by ConvertKit