Our Women in Fintech Series continues with an interview featuring Kathryn Petralia, Co-founder & President of Kabbage.
We caught up with Kathryn Petralia to discuss her journey to success as the co-founder and President of Kabbage, how alternative lending is democratizing access to financial services, and the importance of advocating for inclusion for every employee and end user.
Can you tell us how you got involved in fintech?
Kathryn Petralia: I was always interested in technology, its possibilities and impact, but I never considered it a career until much later. I was on track to earn a masters degree in English when a family friend asked me join a tech company he had invested in at the time. I ended up ditching the graduate program to take advantage of the opportunity.
From there I spent close to 15 years working in the credit, payments, and e-commerce industries, leading strategy and corporate development, as well as founding multiple companies. When my co-founder, Rob Frohwein, approached me about the idea of Kabbage, I immediately saw the potential to help small businesses gain access to capital via real-time data.
What drew you to the world of alternative lending?
Petralia: I’ve been in alternative lending since the late ’90s, and my passion for helping small businesses has always been a driving force.
I was drawn to alternative lending as it’s a very interesting area of financial services that was ripe for disruption as new technologies paved a path to give customers a better experience.
At the time, I could see that automation and access to real-time data could do away with the lengthy, manual processes which were the status quo in the industry, and democratize access to financial services.
Where did you find support as you were starting out?
Petralia: It’s important to have a strong partner and support system at home and in the office. I’ve been fortunate that my husband has been an at-home dad for our kids. And I’m an advocate of having a co-founder in business, someone that compliments one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve been lucky to have Rob a part of this journey.
Kabbage has grown into a hugely successful company. Can you share some of the challenges you have faced on your journey?
Petralia: It was very challenging to raise money when we first launched Kabbage, especially in Atlanta where the venture community was small and there was not a lot of competition at the time. This unfortunately tends to drive down company valuations. It was hard to get Silicon Valley investors behind Atlanta businesses, but we ultimately succeeded and really raised the profile of Atlanta as a fintech and startup hub.
What advice do you have for small businesses coming through the pandemic?
Petralia: While businesses were forced to adapt their processes to stay afloat during the pandemic, it’s crucial for them to continue evolving for long-term success. According to our Small Business Recovery Report, 77 percent of small businesses agreed they’re more open than ever before to replace old systems and adopt new technologies to run their company more efficiently.
Be nimble in the face of uncertain circumstances and adopt new technologies that will aid in the success of your business.
Where do you see fintech heading in the next 12 months?
Petralia: The pandemic highlighted where small businesses have cash flow gaps and operational blind spots, so fintechs should shift their focus and offer more comprehensive solutions that address these concerns. Offering a full suite of solutions and integrated platforms can provide business owners with the tools they need to solve their immediate needs while instilling more confidence in how they run their company with data.
What more do you think can be done to support women in fintech?
Petralia: There is so much more we can do to create equality in fintech. The gender disparity in fintech is due, in part, to the tendency of white-male-dominated industries to invest in other white-male-dominated businesses (which is of course true for technology companies generally). We can ensure this situation doesn’t endure by building inclusive products and encouraging leaders to make diverse hires. It’s crucial that we continue promoting policies and products that minimize biases and create a more inclusive industry.
What advice would you give to women starting their careers in the industry now?
Petralia: Women in Fintech must advocate for inclusion not just for leadership, but also for every employee and end user. But as for those women—or men, frankly— just joining the industry or pursuing their goals, I always advise to really take the time to be the smartest about your field, job, or industry. That will earn you seats at tables and trust among executive teams that will help propel you and your career.
Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels
Our Ladies in Fintech Collection continues with an interview that includes Kathryn Petralia, Co-founder & President of Kabbage.
We caught up with Kathryn Petralia to debate her journey to success because the co-founder and President of Kabbage, how various lending is democratizing entry to monetary providers, and the significance of advocating for inclusion for each worker and finish consumer.
Are you able to inform us how you bought concerned in fintech?
Kathryn Petralia: I used to be all the time all for know-how, its prospects and affect, however I by no means thought-about it a profession till a lot later. I used to be on observe to earn a masters diploma in English when a household good friend requested me be a part of a tech firm he had invested in on the time. I ended up ditching the graduate program to benefit from the chance.
From there I spent shut to fifteen years working within the credit score, funds, and e-commerce industries, main technique and company growth, in addition to founding a number of corporations. When my co-founder, Rob Frohwein, approached me concerning the thought of Kabbage, I instantly noticed the potential to assist small companies acquire entry to capital through real-time knowledge.
What drew you to the world of different lending?
Petralia: I’ve been in various lending for the reason that late ’90s, and my ardour for serving to small companies has all the time been a driving power.
I used to be drawn to various lending because it’s a really fascinating space of monetary providers that was ripe for disruption as new applied sciences paved a path to present clients a greater expertise.
On the time, I may see that automation and entry to real-time knowledge may eliminate the prolonged, handbook processes which have been the established order within the business, and democratize entry to monetary providers.
The place did you discover help as you have been beginning out?
Petralia: It’s essential to have a powerful accomplice and help system at residence and within the workplace. I’ve been lucky that my husband has been an at-home dad for our children. And I’m an advocate of getting a co-founder in enterprise, somebody that compliments each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve been fortunate to have Rob part of this journey.
Kabbage has grown right into a vastly profitable firm. Are you able to share among the challenges you might have confronted in your journey?
Petralia: It was very difficult to lift cash after we first launched Kabbage, particularly in Atlanta the place the enterprise neighborhood was small and there was not numerous competitors on the time. This sadly tends to drive down firm valuations. It was onerous to get Silicon Valley traders behind Atlanta companies, however we in the end succeeded and actually raised the profile of Atlanta as a fintech and startup hub.
What recommendation do you might have for small companies coming by means of the pandemic?
Petralia: Whereas companies have been pressured to adapt their processes to remain afloat through the pandemic, it’s essential for them to proceed evolving for long-term success. In response to our Small Enterprise Restoration Report, 77 p.c of small companies agreed they’re extra open than ever earlier than to switch previous techniques and undertake new applied sciences to run their firm extra effectively.
Be nimble within the face of unsure circumstances and undertake new applied sciences that may assist within the success of what you are promoting.
The place do you see fintech heading within the subsequent 12 months?
Petralia: The pandemic highlighted the place small companies have money movement gaps and operational blind spots, so fintechs ought to shift their focus and supply extra complete options that deal with these issues. Providing a full suite of options and built-in platforms can present enterprise homeowners with the instruments they should resolve their fast wants whereas instilling extra confidence in how they run their firm with knowledge.
What extra do you suppose will be executed to help girls in fintech?
Petralia: There may be a lot extra we will do to create equality in fintech. The gender disparity in fintech is due, partly, to the tendency of white-male-dominated industries to put money into different white-male-dominated companies (which is in fact true for know-how corporations usually). We are able to guarantee this example doesn’t endure by constructing inclusive merchandise and inspiring leaders to make various hires. It’s essential that we proceed selling insurance policies and merchandise that reduce biases and create a extra inclusive business.
What recommendation would you give to girls beginning their careers within the business now?
Petralia: Ladies in Fintech should advocate for inclusion not only for management, but in addition for each worker and finish consumer. However as for these girls—or males, frankly— simply becoming a member of the business or pursuing their targets, I all the time advise to actually take the time to be the neatest about your discipline, job, or business. That can earn you seats at tables and belief amongst government groups that may assist propel you and your profession.
Photograph by Tim Gouw from Pexels