Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because it’s critically important for both personal and professional growth.
Travis Holoway is the co-founder and CEO of SoLo Funds, a mobile lending exchange that connects lenders and borrowers for the purpose of providing more affordable access to loans under $1,000. SoLo was created to disintermediate the predatory payday lending system. Today, SoLo is one of the fastest growing fintech companies in the country.
Prior to founding his company, Travis built his career in the financial services industry as a financial advisor. It was then that he discovered a major disconnect between the wealthy clients he met with daily in comparison to the 78 percent of Americans that live paycheck to paycheck. He felt that there were many pain points being experienced by individuals in the middle and lower ends of the financial spectrum that were being ignored and desperately needed to be addressed. Travis has been quoted in various publications and websites, including Forbes, Black Enterprise, PYMNTS and the LA Business Journal. He resides in Los Angeles, CA. In his free time, you can find him at brunch, sneaker shopping, or listening to podcasts about business and popular culture.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Honestly, I had too many friends and family asking me for money. While researching places to send them to rather than continuing to personally fund the loans, I realized that there was a severe lack of resources for small dollar loans and the few options that did exist charged predatory interest rates in excess of 500 percent. I believe that there is power in financial collaboration and that there should be a clearly defined path to upward financial mobility. SoLo brings that vision to life.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up early, usually around 5:30 a.m. I’ve identified that I do my best work in the morning. I try to knock out my most important and pressing tasks before I even get to the office where distractions await. Once I’m in the office around 9:30 a.m., I’m usually knocking out in-person and phone meetings until about 5 p.m. After that it’s back to working on the things I can’t tend to during the middle of the day during meetings. One of the best investments I’ve made is hiring an assistant to handle everything on the backend. At about 7 p.m., it’s time for dinner and streaming … death to overpriced cable television!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Hyperfocus … remove every possible distraction from your life and execute.
What’s one trend that excites you?
People are waking up and speaking out against injustice and wrongdoings. People are mobilizing and collaborating. This is creating a culture of more transparency across multiple verticals. No longer are the masses silent, it’s exciting and it’s empowering.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I spend time seeking out and asking for advice from people who have been successful in my industry. I will ask for introductions and even cold email people that I admire and respect. I’m particularly interested in the things that didn’t work well and mistakes they made. If I can learn from someone else’s mistakes before I personally make them, it’s a major win.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be more curious and take more risks. Growth occurs during times of discomfort and comfortability breeds complacency.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Tupac Shakur is a way overrated rapper.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read. You can never read too much. You should be a master of your craft and be constantly learning. Read books about your industry so that you can become an expert at what you do. Reading also encourages additional creative thought. I think it’s critically important to growth.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I remove any person or thing from my life that is not aligned with pushing my vision forward.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As an entrepreneur, failures are endless so I don’t spend much time thinking about them. One weakness that I have is that I often see people for who they can become versus who they are today. While this trait may be considered noble, it can hinder the progress of a business. Certain talent and skill sets are needed immediately, not later. Don’t stunt your company’s growth trying to extract potential out of weak talent.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there should be a way for people who move to new cities to connect with local liaisons to help them adapt to their new home. This liaison should be a local person who is very familiar with the city and can show people where to shop for groceries, get their clothes dry cleaned, offer restaurant suggestions, nightlife, etc. It creates a revenue stream for normal everyday people and allows transplants to be acclimated warmly and authentically.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A Headspace membership! Being a startup founder is stressful and it’s easy to get lost on the emotional rollercoaster of constant highs and lows. Headspace allows me to decompress and level myself so that I can have more mental clarity to power through my day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Asana. I’ve always made lists and historically, I kept a daily list of to-do’s in a notebook using one page per day. As the day progressed, I’d add a checkmark next to each completed task. Asana gives me the ability to create tasks and have tasks assigned to me by my team. What I care about most is the gratification of being able to check an item as completed, something about that feels really good to me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Unbanking of America” by Lisa Servon. This book clearly illustrates how disconnected the banking industry is to many Americans. It also explains how scarce resources are for the underbanked population and the thought process behind why this demographic makes certain financial decisions that more financially savvy individuals simply can’t understand.
What is your favorite quote?
“All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.” – Scott Alexander
- Many of the most successful companies are created because of personal pain points. Pay attention to the things that frustrate you the most, because there may be an untapped opportunity.
- Identify the time of day when you are most productive and prioritize your most important tasks to be completed during that time.
- You have more control over your environment than you may think. Eliminate any distractions that derail forward progression from your life
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because it’s critically important for both personal and professional growth.
- Read “The Unbanking of America” by Lisa Servon to get a glimpse of what life is like for people living paycheck to paycheck.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.