Meet Sanjib Kalita, CEO of Guppy, a company creating and operating a distributed ledger for consumer credit data. Sanjib is one of those people whose career has allowed him to look at the world of fintech from a holistic level. A fintech leader for over two decades, he has worked for large organizations like Google, Intel, and Citi as well as several startups with successful exits. Sanjib and I have spoken for hours about the ever-changing world of fintech and one of the topics we continue to come back to is data. Since getting into financial services, I have long said that what really differentiates banks is their data and if they were to be classified as anything, it would be as data companies. Just because they have the data though, it doesn’t mean it used anywhere close to its full capacity. There are many reasons for this but today we are going to focus on quality. Enter Sanjib and Guppy where data owners– financial institutions and consumers– become true owners by controlling and monetizing their data. Tune into our chat below.
#TechTuesday Highlight #67: Sanjib Kalita, CEO at Guppy
How/why did you get into your space?
I managed a $30 billion credit card portfolio at Citi Cards and experienced the B2B pain points in the legacy credit data ecosystem. Then when I was trying to buy my first home I experienced the B2C pain points. My credit report had 5 foreclosures even though I never bought a property before. It had 4 bad auto loans even though I never had one before. It said I was married, even though I was a bachelor. Institutions were making major decisions based on this faulty data. I realized how horrible the system was for everyone involved.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
There’s a good chance that the computer you are using has elements of technology I helped design 25 years ago when I was a chip designer at Intel. There’s a good chance that you had or have used a credit card or payment process that I helped create user experiences for when I was at Citi or Google. The first startup I worked on about 10 years ago, attempted to democratize education by bringing higher education classes to the masses. I think that captures a lot of my ethos very well. How can we bring higher quality services to more people? How can we help people think about things in a different way to improve their lives? The results aren’t always what you’d expect either. For example, in 2010, we created education apps for MIT, Cornell University, and Khan Academy. Even though the traditional institutions had significantly greater experience and name recognition, Khan Academy’s value proposition matched the consumer experience and use case much better resulting in more usage and engagement. I think it’s so exciting when a single person can change centuries of dogma with a better value proposition.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Technology has improved access to data used for credit, but the processes and systems used to manage them have not. Life-changing decisions for consumers are made on faulty data. Institutions are turning away good customers and hurting their own brands. Millions of these issues occur every year, hurting the economy in big ways, which is why there are now regulatory initiatives to protect consumer data like PSD2 and the CCPA. Proactive data control and management with new technologies can help solve problems that in line with ethical and societal standards. Usage of data is like the quantum physics of the digital age. We want to enable standards and controls to prevent someone from making an atomic bomb with your data.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2020 (as it relates to your industry)?
The most exciting tech trend for the industry is being digitally distributed. Banks, retailers, consumers, and businesses have been forced to physically separate while attempting to complete as many prior tasks as possible. These new constraints force individuals to think more creatively and organizations to experiment more. I’m excited to see the results of this and how we might end up in a better place as a result when the physical barriers fall down.
Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
This is not original, but I find Bill Gates to be very inspiring. I love how he is able to take deep dives into things and come up with new solutions that no one else has. He’s also able to create and motivate large organizations to action and results that would be unimaginable a few years earlier. He did that with Microsoft. He did that with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s doing that with the Giving Pledge. He’s been able to be successful at scale across multiple spaces. I also feel like he’s very human and that the image he presents to the public is very close to the person he actually is. I personally find it inspiring that he’s been able to apply his radical thinking to solve bigger problems for society.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into your space?
The biggest piece of advice I would give is to actually think. Thinking is very hard. It’s much easier to repeat what was done in the past. We’ve gone from the agrarian economy to the industrial economy and now to the knowledge academy. In this environment, your unique value proposition is your brain. If you don’t exercise it and learn from successes and mistakes, you can’t develop your own personal value proposition. Going back to agrarian analogies, I’d also encourage you to cherry-pick across things you enjoy and cross-fertilize thinking as much as you can. Going back to industrial analogies, I’d encourage you to get more efficient at taking the raw materials of data and trends to create finished mental products that you can offer the world.
Anything else we should know about you or you want to include?
My advice to all women, no matter what your industry or job function: Figure out your Plan B. Now is a time we must think of diversifying our careers in the same way we diversify our portfolios or our charitable giving strategies.
#businessunusual #data #consumer #fintech #Innovation #Technology #Startups
Have thoughts on this week’s trends or questions for me or Sanjib? Post your thoughts in the comment section or share them on Twitter. Please include the hashtag #techtuesday and mention me @ScarlettSieber! Until next week. 🙂