GE 193: How TEDTalk Speaker Shivani Siroya Built Financial App Tala That Has Dispersed $50M+ in Emerging Markets to 1M+ Global Customers (podcast)

Shivani Siroya

Hey everyone, in today’s episode, I share the mic with Shivani Siroya, CEO and founder of Tala, a mobile app that is revolutionizing the way that people access financial services. Shivani is also a TED speaker where she’s discussed the smart loans that people can take without having any credit history.

Listen as Shivani walks us through how Tala analyzes desirable customers from the info on their mobile device in less than 2 minutes, why they’ve dispersed funds to 1 million global customers but not in the U.S., and the pros and cons of building an internationally remote team.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How TEDTalk Speaker Shivani Siroya Built Financial App Tala That Has Dispersed $50M+ in Emerging Markets to 1M+ Global Customers TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:38 – Review and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast
  • 00:57 – Eric welcomes Shivani Siroya
  • 01:26 – Tala is a data science, mobile technology company that changes the way people access financial services
  • 01:42 – Tala has developed an android app that gives anyone in the world access to capital and getting their credit scored using data on their mobile
  • 01:58 – Shivani explains how the Tala App works
  • 02:47 – The entire process for 85% of customers takes under 2 minutes
  • 03:06 – The type of data Tala receives is loan information, the amount of money the person is making everyday, etc
  • 03:38 – The Tala app allows them to know the debt-income ratio
  • 04:10 – Tala has set-up thresholds for each feature of your phone
  • 05:17 – Shivani shares the important numbers around Tala
    • 05:22 – It’s not just focused on the credit aspect
    • 05:30 – Tala looks at the number of people who access the product
    • 05:45 – Access of finance
    • 05:50 – They’ve dispersed more than $50M in emerging markets
    • 06:14 – Tala has their own R&D
    • 06:26 – They are owning the risks until their algorithms are set up
    • 06:38 – The technical team is mostly based in the US
  • 07:14 – Acquiring the first 1,000 customers
    • 07:20 – Shivani wanted to design a company that meets the customers where they are
    • 07:33 – They also made sure they did something that is scalable
    • 08:04 – They realized they can do these things by using digital channels
  • 09:27 – There are 70M US residents who are underserved in financial services
  • 09:56 – Tala is talking to a few partners in the US to get through some regulations and licensing
  • 10:29 – Around the world, Tala has 1M individual customers
  • 10:50 – Building an international team comes down to values and culture
    • 10:58 – You need to make sure the person who will run your remote team is ingrained to your head team
    • 11:34 – Members must be aware of problems they try to solve for the system and customer
    • 11:39 – It’s ideal to get people who have worked remotely before
    • 11:54 – There’s no replacement for in-person camaraderie so someone from their Santa Monica office goes to their remote offices at least once every other month
  • 13:01 – Finding good people also comes from word of mouth
  • 13:31 – Define the characteristics and skillsets so you can find those people
  • 13:59 – Shivani connected with Rose, one of Tala’s employees, a year before
  • 14:34 – What’s one big struggle you faced while growing Tala? – What Shivani didn’t realize was that they were acquiring the customer and they didn’t have to forward the data to the financial institution
  • 16:25 – How do you go about learning in general? – “We really like to think outside of finance”
  • 18:11 – TED Fellows are people who are working on enterprises that have an impact around the world
  • 19:10 – Shivani had a few friends who’ve been TED fellows in the past who encouraged her to apply
  • 20:02 – TEDTalk did a lot for Tala; she’s received emails, requests for partnerships and recruiting
  • 21:07 – The TEDTalk has helped bring awareness to the issue that 7B people around the world do not have a credit score
  • 21:23 – What’s one big change you’ve made in the last year that has impacted you or your business in a big way? – “One is just remembering your commitment to the problem that you’re solving…and being unemotional about the journey”
  • 22:38 – Setting the precedent for the fact that leaders are setting the company’s vision helps in being unemotional
  • 24:03 – A “people ops team” in Tala creates fun activities and sets the routines for the team
  • 24:55 – What’s one new tool that you’ve added in the last year that’s added a lot of value? – “It’s not necessarily a tool, but I started to have a morning and evening routine”
  • 26:02 – What’s one must-read book do you recommend?The Undoing Project – “it’s basically, again, about framework for decisions”
  • 26:25 – What’s one publication, blog, or podcast do you tune in everyday? – “I started listening to something called, the Good Life Project”
  • 26:47 – Connect with Shivani on Tala or on Twitter

3 Key Points:

  1. As a company, it’s important to lay out the problems of customers and work to solve them.
  2. Hiring remote employees require a specific set of skills and experience—do your due diligence as you choose these team members.
  3. Creating access to a service that is widely lost to a vast majority of the world is one worth pursuing.

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