EMPIRE CONTRIBUTORS

FROM FINTECH LEADERS

TO BANKING VISIONARIES

TO VENTURE FORTUNE TELLERS

A community of experts providing unique perspectives and insights on the latest in FinTech.

STEPHANY KIRKPATRICK

Founder & CEO

Stephany Kirkpatrick

#Payments #APIs #BaaS #Fraud

Stephany Kirkpatrick is a digital executive and seasoned entrepreneur with over 15 years experience in companies across a variety of industries, from startups to Fortune 100 corporations. Stephany founded Orum in 2019 on the belief that consumers should have immediate access to their money. Stephany is a Certified Financial Planner™ who’s spent the last decade building technology to optimize financial outcomes for Americans — first at LearnVest where she helped design its financial planning software and now at Orum.

Stephany leads with strong core values and believes in diversity of thought and people. She is a mother of two young girls and actively participates in building a future that empowers women through her mentorship work.

Pressing Fast-Forward on Financial Access

Stephany Kirkpatrick, Founder & CEO of Orum, reflects on the challenges of “time to money” while growing up in the family business..

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Generative AI: The Answer for Financial Inclusivity?

Stephany Kirkpatrick, Founder & CEO of Orum, asks what AI advancements look like in a financial system that’s been historically slow to adapt?

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TRISHA KOTHARI

Co-founder & CEO

Trisha Kothari

#AML #APIs #BaaS #Fraud

Trisha Kothari is the Co-founder and CEO of Unit21, a platform for risk and compliance operations teams in fintechs to fight fraud and money laundering. Unit21 works with companies like Mercury, Chime, Intuit, Gusto, Binance, and is backed by Tiger Global, Gradient Ventures, and South Park Commons. Trisha previously worked at Affirm, where she led product for the risk and identity teams.

Fraud is Not the F-Word

Trisha Kothari, Co-founder & CEO of Unit21, unpacks how fraud prevention is not just a matter of competitive advantage, but a collective responsibility.

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RON J. WILLIAMS

Partner

Ron J. Williams

#Venture #Studio #Banking #Innovation

Ron J Williams is a Partner at Co-Created, a leading venture development firm. He is a venture builder and corporate innovation leader. He helps organizations be bolder and better by identifying, building and scaling impactful ventures.

Previously Ron led strategy for D10X, the venture incubation program for Citibank’s Consumer business where he was responsible for reinventing its innovation operating model. Named by Fast Company as one of its 100 Most Creative People in Business, Ron is passionate about applying venture building to help “real people make real progress”.

A proud Dad and native of Brooklyn, New York, Ron wants to see more “good growth” engines in the world: big businesses that inherently create more equity and sustainability at scale while being unapologetically commercial.

The Next Big Thing is Actually, Small

Ron J. Williams, Partner at Co-Created, thinks could be the next frontier of financial innovation could be banking on small.

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Beyond Primary: Relationship Banking’s Big Problem

Ron J. Williams, Partner at Co-Created, discusses the current state of banking, and what this means for consumers and financial institutions moving forward.

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SASHA ORLOFF

Co-founder & CEO

Sasha Orloff

#Accounting #APIs #Automation #AI

Sasha Orloff is the Co-founder and CEO of Puzzle, the first autonomous accounting software designed specifically for startups. With over 20 years of experience, Sasha has a strong background in fintech, having built multiple successful startups including LendUp, the pioneering mobile lender in the US, and Mission Lane, a venture-backed credit card company.

He has also served as a board member at Revolut, the largest global fintech startup. Sasha’s career spans various roles in Citigroup, The World Bank, Grameen, and several venture-backed startups. Currently residing in San Francisco, he is happily married with two children. Sasha’s expertise lies in leveraging predictive analytics and data to drive positive transformations for companies and communities alike.

Who Will Win the AI Race?

Sasha Orloff, Co-Founder & CEO of Puzzle, explores AI’s influence and who’s primed to succeed when navigating the landscape.

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Transforming Accounting from Compliance to a Competitive Advantage

Sasha Orloff, Founder & CEO of Puzzle, shares thoughts on how FinTechs can transform financial data into a competitive advantage.

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Sunil Singh

Co-founder & CEO

Sunil Singh

#Lending #Payments #EmbeddedFinance

Sunil Singh is the CEO of Tallied, an innovative operating system for modern credit cards that’s revolutionizing the $4T credit card industry. With a background in engineering, he’s renowned for his strategic and entrepreneurial leadership, driving product strategy and revenue scaling. He’s excelled in various roles, from startups to major corporations like Account Now and Karmic Labs. He also played a pivotal role in Blackhawk’s financial services unit and significantly contributed to Marqeta’s impressive revenue growth and IPO preparation.

Sunil Singh holds an Electronics & Telecommunications Engineering degree from Jadavpur University (India) and an MBA from Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s also dedicated over two decades to community service as a meditation and breathwork instructor.

What’s Missing from the Embedded Conversation

Sunil Singh, Co-founder and CEO of Tallied, dives deeper into what’s missing when talking about embedded finance.

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SOUPS RANJAN

Co-founder & CEO

Soups Ranjan

#Web3 #APIs #BaaS #Fraud

Soups Ranjan is the Co-founder and CEO of Sardine, a behavior-based platform for fraud prevention, regulatory compliance, and instant payments.

Soups started Sardine with a team of experts who previously tackled fraud at companies like Revolut, PayPal, and Uber. Today, more than 250 global enterprises use Sardine to fight fraud on their platforms.

Before starting Sardine, Soups was the Head of Financial Crime for Revolut and the Head of Risk at Coinbase. He also held roles in cyber security and AI at multiple Silicon Valley companies, over the last 15 years.

Giving Fraudsters a Run for their Money

Soups Ranjan, Co-founder & CEO of Sardine, suggests updating the playbook when it comes to fraud.

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SAM HODGES

Co-founder & CEO

Sam Hodges

#Insurance #SMB

Sam Hodges is Co-founder & CEO of Vouch, the leading business insurance provider for technology companies. He is a seasoned entrepreneur, having previously led Funding Circle’s U.S. division, which went public in 2018.

Sam is based in San Francisco and is an active startup investor.

How to Stop Your Partner from Killing Your Startup

Sam Hodges, Co-founder and CEO of Vouch, breaks down startup relationship dynamics, firsthand.

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Riding the Waves of Crisis: From SVB to Vesttoo and Beyond

Sam Hodges, Co-founder and CEO of Vouch, shares his insights surrounding the latest waves shaking up the FinTech and Insurtech spaces.

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Saira Rahman

VP, New Investor Initiatives

Saira Rahman

#Banking #Partnerships #PropTech #Investing

Saira Rahman is currently the VP of New Investor Initiatives at Fundrise, where she is building new fintech products for the alts platform. Prior to this, she was the VP of Finance at HMBradley, a consumer neobank. Saira was also the co-host of the viral podcast Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, where she spent time discussing the nuance behind financial literacy.
 
Before entering the world of fintech, Saira spent 11 years working in derivatives sales and trading. In her spare time, Saira loves to spend time with her family, and make art.

The Pursuit of Becoming ‘Top of Wallet’

Saira Rahman, VP of New Investor Initiatives at Fundrise, answers the question to, “What does the path to ‘top of wallet look like?”

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Chris Dean

Co-founder & CEO

Chris Dean

#Banking #Payments #APIs #BaaS

Chris Dean is the CEO and Co-Founder of Treasury Prime, an embedded banking software platform that connects companies to the largest network of banks and product partners so that they can launch new financial products in weeks. Prior to launching Treasury Prime, he served as CTO of “API first” company Standard Treasury. When the startup was acquired by Silicon Valley Bank, he took on the role of CTO of API banking for SVB. 

Earlier in his career, Chris founded or co-founded software companies including Merced Systems (enterprise software), Kyluka (a consulting firm), and Benefitter (ACA-based health plan.) Chris started his career as technical staff in the Machine Learning Systems Group of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A Roadmap for Speed and Safety within FinTech

Chris Dean, Co-founder and CEO of Treasury Prime, paves a roadmap for FinTech when it comes to scaling quickly and safely.

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Amy Nauiokas​

Founder & CEO

Amy Nauiokas

#Venture #Trends #Innovation #Seed

Amy Nauiokas is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Anthemis Group. Anthemis was the first investment platform focused on the digital transformation of financial services, and today it is among the most active in the industry.

Amy and Anthemis focus on businesses and founders contributing to a more resilient, just, and equitable financial system. Current investments include Betterment, eToro, and Tide, and exits include Currencycloud, Climate Corporation, Power, and Zoopla.

ESG: Unmasking the Illusion of Caring

Amy Nauiokas, Founder and CEO of Anthemis, suggests a call for genuine action amidst the noise of self-interest.

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Striking a Balance in Venture Capital

Amy Nauiokas, Founder and CEO of Anthemis, explains why the future of venture capital is one that needs to be hybrid.

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Shamir Karkal

Co-founder & CSO

Shamir Karkal

#Payments #APIs #BaaS #Fraud

A true FinTech pioneer, Shamir Karkal played a crucial part in building the infrastructure that would pave the way for online banking. He started out as a programmer and systems engineer before joining management consultancy McKinsey & Company. In 2009, he co-founded Simple, the first bank of its kind in the United States, and later headed the Open Platform at BBVA. Shamir was drawn to serve smaller companies, co-founding Sila in 2018 with the goal of empowering financial innovations.

Shamir studied physics and computer science at Bangalore University and is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. He lives with his family in Portland, Oregon. Shamir is a frequent speaker at conferences, on industry podcasts, and quoted as an industry expert and thought leader in the media.

Instant is Coming, but with a Catch

Shamir Karkal, Co-founder and CSO of Sila, dives deep into the real divide between FedNow and Real-Time Payments.

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Craig J. Lewis

Founder & CEO

Craig J. Lewis

#GigEconomy #APIs #Payments #Accounting

Craig J. Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Gig Wage, a venture capital backed SaaS company that’s raised $16 million to-date to meet the demands of the future workforce-GigForce Management powered by modern payment tools. Craig found inspiration for innovating in the space during his time at ADP and prides himself on leading a fully distributed, remote team that is focused on building a high growth, capital efficient company. Gig Wage investors include Steve Case (Founder of AOL) and his Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Venture Fund, Foundry, Green Dot Corp. (NYSE: GDOT), and more.

In an industry where forward thinking is a rarity, Craig’s bold vision for innovation and audacious work ethic has pushed an antiquated industry to modernize and take better care of the independent workers that fuel their growth

Trust: The Currency of the Gig Economy

Craig J. Lewis, Founder & CEO of Gig Wage, dives into how individuals are valuing flexibility over stability during this economic shift.

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Alice Nawfal

Co-founder & COO

Alice Nawfal

#Crypto #Compliance

Alice is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Notabene, a full-service software platform that helps virtual asset service providers (VASPs) turn regulatory compliance into a competitive advantage.

Alice was previously COO at uPort, the Identity platform from ConsenSys built on Ethereum. Prior to blockchain, Nawfal worked as a Management Consultant at Bain & Co. She holds a public policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an MBA from the Wharton School. Nawfal brings a combination of business strategy & operations, analytics, and policy experience to Notabene.

Beyond the Bear Market: Maintaining Momentum Against Challenges

Alice Nawfal, Co-founder and COO of Notabene, shares her experience and motivations for moving forward in challenging environments.

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LAURA KORNHAUSER

Co-founder & CEO

Laura Kornhauser

#MachineLearning #Risk #Compliance

Laura Kornhauser is the Co-founder and CEO of Stratyfy, an AI and machine learning (ML) Fintech helping financial institutions improve the quality of their decisions to drive more profitable and equitable business outcomes. With over two decades as a financial services leader, she has worked with FIs, technology providers, and regulators to advocate for the use of transparent, responsible AI/ML in the financial sector.

A frequent speaker on practical methods for addressing bias, Laura is a founding member of MoreThanFair, a researcher in the groundbreaking study on fairness in ML with Stanford University and FinRegLab, and an expert contributor for MIT’s AI Policy Forum. She has a BSE in Operations Research and Financial Engineering from Princeton University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Breaking the Cycle of Data Bias

Laura Kornhauser, Co-founder and CEO of Stratyfy explains how we can leverage technology to uncover, understand, and undo bias for a more equitable future.

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Carmelle Cadet

Founder & CEO

Carmelle Cadet

#Blockchain #CentralBanking #Web3

Carmelle M. Cadet is the Founder and CEO of EMTECH, a technology company working with central banks around the
world to make their financial infrastructures inclusive and resilient by design. A thought leader and public speaker in fintech and regulatory innovation, Carmelle also advises other women, minority fintech entrepreneurs. 

In her previous life, Carmelle was the Deputy CFO for IBM Blockchain where she spearheaded the global product commercialization and financial management strategy. With clients like Walmart, JPM Chase, Softbank, Carmelle oversaw the launch of several groundbreaking
technologies that drove better food safety, strong cybersecurity and supply chain digitization.

Carmelle earned her Executive M.B.A. from the New York University Stern School of Business with specializations in Leadership and Global Business, and her B.A. from Florida Atlantic University. She is originally from Haiti, but now lives in NYC with her husband and son.

Navigating the Solo-Founder Storm

Carmelle Cadet, Founder & CEO of EMTECH, gets personal when detailing her journey toward building for resilience.

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