Dan Schatt – Board Member and CCO of Stockpile

Persistence. You have to get very comfortable with hearing “no” and “sorry, that’s not possible.” That tends to make us more resolved to find a way to make something work. There’s always a way.

Dan Schatt is a recognized expert in payments, mobile commerce and retail financial services innovation and has been recognized as one of the top 13 “Innovators To Watch” in the payment industry by “Bank Innovations magazine. He is also the best selling author of “Virtual Banking, A Guide to Innovation and Partnering” and a frequent financial technology speaker and advisor. Dan is currently a Board Member and CCO of Stockpile, a Mayfield Fund and Sequoia-backed financial technology based in Palo Alto, California.

Dan previously served as the General Manager of Financial Innovations at PayPal. His team’s innovations included PayPal’s first partnerships and product development with virtual currency and loyalty providers, PayPal’s presence at the physical point of sale, and the Company’s first cash products for the unbanked and underbanked. His team’s work also led to hundreds of partnerships with the banking industry that have leveraged PayPal’s open payments platform. Prior to PayPal, Schatt was a senior industry analyst with Celent, and led the company’s retail payments practice. He authored several reports that have ranged from mobile commerce and banking, to payment processing trends, money transfers, digital wallets and merchant acquiring technology.

Dan has also served as the General Manager for financial technology company Yodlee where he led the group’s data business. Dan has worked as an Investment Banker at Salomon Smith Barney and held positions in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Schatt has been widely quoted in the media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. He has presented at national and international venues, including the United Nations Development Program Roundtable on Remittances and The Internet Retailer conference. Mr. Schatt received a dual MBA (Finance) and MIA (International Economic Policy) from Columbia University.

Where did the idea for Stockpile come from?

My colleague, Avi Lele wanted to give stock as Christmas gifts to his nieces one Christmas but found it was just too expensive and difficult. He gave up that holiday season but this is where the idea was born. Avi and I met a short time later while I was at PayPal and we realized that many of the problems PayPal had solved could be applied to this problem – how to make transfers of value easier, how to deal with risk and compliance and leverage existing payment and commerce capabilities to make stock a consumer product.

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

Rarely is one day typical when you are an entrepreneur at an early stage company. It generally starts with a quick check of all our acquisition and engagement metrics from the night before. Data is critical and user feedback is a blessing – it guides everything we do and helps us sets priorities that align our product strategy with what’s valuable for our customers. Conference calls start while I’m on my way to work or meetings and continue while I’m back in my car on the way home. I’ve quickly learned that to make the most of the day, I’ve got to do 3 things: 1. Work on the hardest tasks first – the ones that require the most thinking; 2. Check in with team– we need constant communication to decide what’s most important to accomplish and how we solve a new challenge and 3. Review our customer feedback – it helps ground me on what is working and what isn’t.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It starts with getting people in a room with lots of whiteboard space. Any idea I’ve had has always become significantly better after it has gone through many iterations with smart people. The idea comes to life with enough people who believe in it – usually if we’re solving something that really is impactful, it makes everyone want to jump out of bed every day to try to bring it to life.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The general movement toward platform services is very exciting – it allows companies like ours to have a global footprint very quickly and work closely with companies that are much bigger in some very productive ways. Once you create a technology that can be made available anywhere, customers no longer have to come to you – you just show up where customers are – such as the grocery store! Who would have thought it would have been possible to buy milk, eggs, bread and Apple stock all in the same place?

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

Persistence. You have to get very comfortable with hearing “no” and “sorry, that’s not possible.” That tends to make us more resolved to find a way to make something work. There’s always a way.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I worked as a guard in Juvenile Hall. I learned that no matter how bad things are at the moment, you can always get yourself on a good path with the right mindset.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Hire more slowly, fire even faster. Great quality of people are hard to come by – the wrong people can destroy the morale in your organization very quickly.

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

Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Double down on the vendors, partners and relationships that are making a huge positive impact with your company. They are invaluable. Give them more business, spend more time and energy working with them, and let them know how valuable they are to you.

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

I couldn’t shed some of my big company ways soon enough – it’s amazing how much more you can do with less, once you realize that it’s possible to take on all kinds of roles without hiring for them, until the business is big enough to justify those full time roles. That requires a certain mentality of looking for anything that needs to get done and learn how to do it, and that’s what I did.

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

I’ve always wondered why you can’t get really good tea from a vending machine. Coffee vending machines have come a long way, but not tea!

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

Our gift cards of course – where else can you buy $100 of gold so easily!

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I’m an iPhone user and soon to be Apple Watch consumer now that version 2 is out. I LOVE that everything is becoming waterproof!

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

My book – It discusses how tech companies and banks can partner to innovate!

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I’m an avid New York Times and Wall Street Journal reader, and also follow my friends on Twitter – no one person in particular!


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