Financial Services Innovator of the Year Finalist
Joe Falit, Co-founder & CEO, Yombu Inc.
In your opinion, what makes a company innovative?
The most innovative companies look at the world differently and dream up new ways of solving familiar problems. Think Google, Amazon, Tesla, Uber, and Venmo. If you dream up an idea and someone responds, “Brilliant concept, but that’s too hard,” you’re probably onto something innovative. And to me, innovation is more than just about having a great idea. It’s about continuously working to improve that idea and organizing an all-star team to execute on the concept over extended periods of time. Innovation rarely happens in vacuum – it requires great teams all moving in sync toward a shared vision.
What makes your company innovative?
Yombu is pioneering new approaches to authentication, payments, and rewards. With Yombu, a customer at a brick-and-mortar merchant (e.g., coffee shop) could pay and automatically receive rewards with the touch of a fingerprint – no cash, cards, or wallet required. For merchants, this offers repeat customer visits (via rewards incentives), marketing analytics, and a faster-moving line. For customers, Yombu offers speed, convenience, and the security of biometric payments. Yombu is one of only a handful of companies across the world working to apply the security and convenience of biometrics to the brick-and-mortar payments and rewards space.
What or who are some innovative companies or people that inspire you and your team?
Dave Link, CEO of ScienceLogic (Reston, VA based), is a mentor to our company and an all-around great individual. He took his company from a local startup to a global-award winning company in record time and without doing any outbound fundraising. He is generous with his time (having agreed to meet me years ago after reaching out on LinkedIn), incredibly intelligent, authentic, and calm-tempered. He is someone that our team looks to for inspiration and guidance.
What are some publications, print or digital, you read daily or have read that help you stay on top of your game?
I receive a lot of my news and information by scrolling through my LinkedIn feed. Given that I am connected to many folks in the payments, biometrics, and entrepreneurial space, they share some great material relevant to Yombu. Also, I love reading The Economist magazine – it has some great coverage of global news, business, and finance.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming leaders striving to be innovative in today’s business environment?
I’ll try to stick to more practical advice, and to that end, here are the top 3 things I would recommend:
1) Test any new idea to ensure that there is a market for it – run surveys, conduct interviews, and in the end, there is no replacing a market test or pilot. There is a saying that you never really start learning until you get to market.
2) Commit to change. Don’t waver on your vision (which for us was the ability for someone to “pay naked”), but evolve your implementation model as you gather more data.
3) Avoid whiplash. Take half of the advice you’re given and throw it out. Take the other half and stir it in a pot with your knowledge and other good advice; then take a step back and decide for yourself. No one will understand your idea or business better than you.