Edwina Johnson is a key community player in New York fintech. Besides her role as COO of Alloy, an identity operating system startup that Primary invested in early, she’s built up NYC Fintech Women as Expansion Co-Chair and was previously Program Director for Startupbootcamp FinTech New York, part of the award-winning Startupbootcamp global startup accelerator.
So you might not be surprised to see that her advice in the fintech space comes back to this community-building mindset, whether that’s in connecting with a team you believe in or expanding the reach of your network to keep growing.
As an early hire, what were you looking for in company plans and founders?
The number one thing is the founding team. No matter how great the product/market fit, technology etc. is, if the founding team isn't strong, the business will fail. The founding team also sets the tone and culture right from the start, so it's important that your values are aligned.
Where do you think you’ve been able to make the most impact with early-stage scaling? What do you think founders should know to help support early employees like you?
Being open to change, not getting hung up on a job description, and getting excited tackling projects that I've never experienced before. Having flexibility and initiative as an early employee is key to being successful within a scaling company. In return, founders need to over communicate. When things change fast, communication often suffers.
What’s your advice for fintech startups figuring out their ideal customer profile and/or product market fit?
Find your advocates, those customers who are going to truly partner with you providing feedback and championing you to others. If you're B2B fintech, don't waste your time early on with the goliaths of the industry, you'll make more progress with smaller, more nimble organizations that are able to take a risk on new technology. You can build on your reputation with those early customers to work with larger organizations later.
What tools, resources, and communities should NYC startups in this space know about?
NYC Fintech Women is one of the largest fintech communities in the U.S., with events open to everyone! Often your investors will have great communities that you can be part of as well. I'm hoping NYC fintech events at venues like Rise make a comeback soon too!
What trend in fintech are you most excited about right now?
It has to be embedded finance / Banking as a Service (BaaS), it's how the internet meme of everything becoming fintech really can happen...
What advice do you have for other operators in New York City fintech?
Build your network and spend time supporting others you believe in, that investment of your time will pay off later on.