How did you gravitate towards fintech in the first place?
MARK - I started as an undergrad in the heart of the recession. My mother is an immigrant and my father was stuck in an extremely cyclical business, so the downturn hit my family hard. Luckily, I was able to help over the years by working various jobs while in school. I decided to use a portion of my student loans to help them, knowing I was about to receive a signing bonus prior to starting my full-time job. However, I miscalculated the taxes on that bonus and found myself without enough capital to bridge between graduation and my first paycheck three months later. As I stood in line at a payday loan provider in Berkeley, reviewing the 40-60% APR on the 4-week loan I was about to withdraw, I knew there had to be a better way to serve this market.
This led me to believe there was massive opportunity to revamp credit underwriting, earned wage access, and lending, to name a few areas. One of my goals in moving to VC is to facilitate the growth and success of these upstart businesses, so a kid in my situation five years from now doesn’t have to deal with similar pain points.
What themes within fintech do you find the most compelling?
MARK - With so many areas ripe for technological innovation, my answer is usually a moving target. That said, I do find increasing automation, transparency, and efficiency within back office functions (e.g., treasury, accounts payable, accounting, etc), earned wage access enablement, neobank proliferation, disrupting the traditional credit underwriting model, increasing sensitivity around payments costs to ISVs, SMBs as a technologically underserved category, and burgeoning innovation in emerging markets intriguing.
Five things you couldn’t live without?
- Early morning runs
- Packers football, Angels baseball, Lakers basketball
- Star Wars midnight premieres - Have been to Episode II, III, VII, VIII, Rogue One, and Solo (and yes, if you’re doing the math, I was 12 the first time and 28 at the most recent)
- Wheel of Time
Mark's investments focus on fintech, real estate, and enterprise SaaS. His interests lie chiefly with businesses that increase back office and working capital efficiency, ease data and customer compliance for global scale, and enable earned wage access.
Mark helped build and lead business strategy and finance at Stripe, driving key initiatives for sales operations, global growth, and fundraising. He helped the company assess international product market fit, grow from 290 to 1,700 people, and move upmarket into late-stage and enterprise. Before that, Mark was an investor at GI Partners, focusing on vertical SaaS and insurance marketplaces, including the acquisition of MRI Software. He was also an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, and served as a board member of the Stonestown YMCA for three years.
Mark graduated from UC Berkeley with B.S. in business administration. He's a certified sommelier and part owner of the Brew Coop self-pour taproom.