We are excited to announce the addition of Steven McClurg to our Executive Team. Steven will be serving as Chief Operations Officer of Crowdfunder and Managing Director for the VC Index Fund. He joins Crowdfunder after spending several years in Financial Services, most recently at Guggenheim Partners where he was a Managing Director working in Portfolio Management. Steven was previously an investor and advisor to Crowdfunder before joining the team. We sat down with Steven to discuss the move from Finance to FinTech.
Why did you make the switch to FinTech?
I noticed how regulations such as Dodd-Frank and DOL were disrupting the legacy financial services industry, from capital markets to investment banking to financial advisors. These regulations supported technological disruptions such as robo-advising and equity crowdfunding.
That said, I never planned to make the switch. I thought that I would work in Finance, particularly at Guggenheim, indefinitely. I saw an opportunity as an investor in FinTech, and decided to invest personally in a few different FinTech companies that I felt had resilient and passionate entrepreneurs, solid business plans, and a strong brand. I diversified across robo-advising, peer to peer lending, and equity crowdfunding. Crowdfunder had the strongest business plan and brand, along with great founders. The founders began to call me to get advice, and eventually we decided that we would be great partners to execute on the future of Crowdfunder together.
Have you noticed any big differences in working between the two sectors?
From my experience, culturally at a startup there is more of a team mentality versus individualistic at a large financial services firm. At a small company, every employee from Office Manager to CEO is vitally important. Everyone feels they are working towards the same mission and often have some kind of skin in the game in terms of equity. I love the team energy at Crowdfunder, but do miss my great friends and ocean view office at Guggenheim!
What is the difference in your day to day?
My daily focus, identifying strong investment opportunities, remains the same. The major difference is at Crowdfunder I’m selecting companies to work with versus invest in. We invest in all private companies which requires a different kind of access and due diligence than public deals. I feel like it’s part of the job to get to know the founding teams on a personal level. At such an early stage, you’re investing in the person as much as the company. A strong founding team makes all the difference.
What do you recommend to others interested in making the move from Finance to FinTech?
If you have the opportunity, I suggest dipping your toe in as an investor first. This provides great access to the founding team as well as insight into the company culture. If you don’t have the ability to be an investor, offer your services as an advisor. FinTech companies can really benefit from the input of professionals in the Financial Services sector.
What are your top tips for those interested in becoming an angel investor?
Given the current state of the equity markets, an investor will get better relative value from private deals. Like all markets, the private deal market is cyclical in nature, but the highest returns usually come from early-stage opportunities.
That said, 50% of early stage startups fail so diversification is vitally important. That’s why we created the VC Index Fund, providing access to qualified private opportunities across various sectors.
New investors need to be prepared for a 4-7 year investment horizon. Don’t expect short term liquidity. Please don’t invest with your kid’s college fund.
Why Silicon Beach and not Silicon Valley?
Southern California has traditionally been a mecca for creativity, entrepreneurship, and disruption. In recent years, some of the best financial services and technology companies have come out of the area. Few people realize how much Finance was disrupted right here beginning in the 1980s with Mike Milken and Drexel Burhnam institutionalizing the High Yield Bond market, and with Drexel alumni starting some of the best LBO, distressed debt, High Yield shops in the country in LA. Later, Fixed Income titans Bill Gross and Scott Minerd disrupted the way Investment Grade Bond investments are managed, producing outsized returns in a difficult market.
Crowdfunder is the only major equity crowdfunding platform in the area and because of that has a unique opportunity to pull from great Financial Services talent and advisors that wouldn’t be available in Silicon Valley. We also have early access to the awesome tech companies coming out of Southern California.
Want to hear more from Steven? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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