Getting to know you: Shachar Bialick

What do you currently do?

Two years ago I founded my fifth startup – Curve. At Curve we’ve set out on a mission to simplify peoples financial lives – to transform their relationship with their money. We’ve begun by tackling payments – simplifying and consolidating your spend; with a card that is as smart as your phone. Curve connects up your existing bank cards into one card – giving you full visibility over your entire spend on mobile with instant notifications. See every purchase from all accounts in one easy screen in real-time. Search and label transactions, pay zero fees and access super low currency rates when you travel – plus stay secure by instantly locking a misplaced Curve card via the app. Curve saves you time, money and brings you extra value – conveniently connecting you to the future. And this is just the beginning of our mission. We believe that the future of banking (and therefore the future of an individuals financial world) is not a better bank, as much as it wasn’t a better horse. It’s something different. We believe that in the future, each of us will have one app on our smartphones that will act as a single access point to multiple financial products – tailored and customized to best service your unique financial world. This put YOU – the individual in charge – rather than a bank or another service provider. That’s what we’re setting out to build at Curve – a platform to your everything money.

What defines your ways of doing business?

This is a great and timely question – we’ve spent a lot of time lately discussing it within the Curve team as we define our company’s values.  Business happens between people, be it your team members, your business partners or your customers. Working with people is challenging – everyone is different and sees the world through their own lens.  Different cultures, different languages, different biases.  Therefore it’s important to have some ground rules that will help you choose the right people to work with, and reach the decisions that are right for you, quickly.  To list a few- reciprocity; aligning expectations; honesty; humour.  Basically, the very basis of every healthy society.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

The idea – or more specifically – the mission, is in fact an old idea that I wrote about over 7 years ago. I couldn’t understand why everyone I spoke to felt strange about their relationship with their money. There were different reasons – but nearly everyone I talked to felt like they didn’t own the relationship with their financial world, and felt that they were being ripped off in one way or another. I wanted to try and solve this. Although I didn’t know the exact best way to start the journey from a product perspective, I always believed that singularity is the end game, and that the end game would be a single technological platform.

Some might argue that a platform that connects you to everything money already exists.  Our banks provide us with accessibility to a host of financial products and services. However, this ‘banking platform’ is taking advantage of its customers by providing limited offers, and they are not efficient with their data – meaning they don’t really know the customer as well as they should – which has a negative knock on effect for the end customer.  A digital agnostic platform that connects you with various financial providers, and helps choose the right service provider to the right customer at the right time, is what we believe to be the end game.  It’s efficient, it’s simple, and it adds great value to both parties; the user and the service provider.

Who do you admire?

I admire many people in my life and it’s usually specific traits which I find particularly admirable. I admire Steve Job’s intuition and ability to both imagine and create the future; Bill Murrays’ crazy humour and approach to life; Randy Pausch’s ability to distill the meaning of life in 45 minutes; and Morgan Freeman’s ability to film 5 movies at the same time at his age. I also believe that there is something to admire in each and every one of us, and although it’s always easier to find the negative things in a person, each person has a unique talent which one can admire.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?

I’m sure everyone has regrets in life, and reflects on how they could have done things differently. However, I’m a great believer that ‘Things happen as they should happen, and they could have not happen any other way’.  We choose our paths, through our behaviour, character, talents and friends.  To do things differently would mean that I would have to change one of these core elements, and I’m not sure whether I’d either want to or have been able to. There are certainly more things I would’ve liked to have accomplished by now.  But as we can’t go back in time (yet)!, it just means we have much more to do in the remaining years – and this helps drive me forward!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Having your own business is remarkable. It gives you the freedom, and security to decide your own fate. This does come with a price. You can’t shut up the business at 6pm until the morning.  As a business owner you wake up and go to sleep with the business in mind.  It’s challenging, and demanding both for yourself and for your partner.  So my first piece of advice is – are you sure you really want it?  The road will be full of brick-walls, and only those who persevere will break them.  Second piece of advice – believe in yourself.  Everything is possible, it just that no one proved it yet. This is the approach you should have in life – optimistic in nature, yet aware of the risks – handling them with care; be a yes (wo)man.  Although it sounds obvious, I find time and time again that many people immediately default to the ‘why not’, or ‘it might be difficult/impossible’. That approach isn’t helpful, and is also untrue – look around you – how many things you can see that were thought to be impossible not so long ago? Is that air you’re breathing?!

Instead, breakdown the problem, why might it be difficult to achieve, and overcome each challenge until you solve the problem.