CEOs are constantly faced with a myriad of challenges and an avalanche of tasks on a daily basis. From delegating work to the right team members, and mentoring employees, to prioritizing tasks, it takes skill, precision, and confidence to run a company and be the captain of the ship.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by Yuval Samet, CEO at RiseUp – an Israel-based company that helps users manage their personal finances. Their unique method combines a smart digital platform, human support and a strong community to help customers change their story about money.
Today, Yuval talks about how he played in the “NBA Of FinTech,” how he manages his work and life as a CEO, and the financial revolution of RiseUp.
Omri: Tell us something about your backstory, because you have a really interesting one.
Yuval: I grew up with a common, 80s childhood in Israel when the nation was struggling with inflation maybe like today. Financial hardship was quite common, and definitely at home, we felt it as well. I am one of 3 brothers with amazing parents who invested everything they had and did not have in order to make sure that our future was not dictated by the neighborhood we were born in. We really became the masters of our own trajectory. Through my parents, we really learned that everything is possible when we work hard, and creativity is an important tool to achieve what you aspire to achieve. Then, I served in the Israeli military and became the technologist that I am. In 2010, I started a company called OnRise. It did not exist for a while because Klarna came in and acquired Analyzd, I became the head of product. Back in the day, we battled with risk issues, and later on, I built a product management team where I felt I had the opportunity to play in the NBA of financial services.
Throughout the years, I became really enthusiastic about social impact and building businesses that are very profitable and purposeful. So in 2016, my wife, kids, and I came back to Israel where it became clear to me that I wanted to build a company inspired by Muhammad Yunus on how to build a world without poverty. We wanted to help people how to answer financial questions in a very scalable way, and it was basically the seed that has become RiseUp over the years.
Omri: What did Klarna do for you personally and professionally to become the NBA of FinTech?
Yuval: I learned that user experience is the most important thing when it comes to money, then risk management, then compliance. It doesn’t mean that Klarna doesn’t care about compliance, it just means that they would do everything to make a customer’s experience smooth and frictionless. When you compare it to companies like PayPal back in the day, they were all about risk management first, then compliance, then user experience. And this is a very deep lesson I learned: never compromise on the user experience because it makes a difference between creating a product and making ends meet in a delightful way to making people work extremely hard. Another important thing I learned is how important investor relationships are, and how to manage them.
Omri: How do you measure goals as a CEO in RiseUp?
Yuval: It really connects to my own culture. It always feels like there’s a bigger goal you want to achieve. I think you need to be able to stop sometimes and say “hey, what we just did is magnificent.” I need it. People around us need it. I take a moment and admit to myself that we actually achieved something great, and it is one small step on the road to achieving our bigger vision, which is making it easy to achieve for anyone to enjoy financial well-being. And this fantastic vision of ours is built on thousands of small changes. And if you start enjoying the small steps along the road, it will be meaningful for the company. In order to be resilient, you need to be happy – not complacent, but happy with achievements.
Omri: What are your tactics in managing day-to-day tasks as a CEO?
Yuval: It’s always a work in progress. If you want your company to grow 10x, you need to grow 20x. I’m a super focused guy and I’m on top of my calendar, so I manage my calendar in a way that’s really prioritized – sometimes it’s back to back and there’s not enough space, but I control my destiny through my calendar for sure. In order to set your priorities and invest your time in the most important things, you need to understand your role in the company. As a CEO, it is important to understand who can be held accountable other than me for the most important things – usually, the things that you want people to be accountable for are the things you can mentor them on, and those are the things you’re best at, which makes it even harder to let go. So you always need to work on building a team where you can route things in order to not take everything on your shoulders.
Omri: Do you have any specific apps that help you manage your day-to-day tasks?
Yuval: I use Asana for the tasks. I have my own personal board which I groom quite often. I use a Schedule and block time for specific tasks for you to know what are your best moments of the day. So for instance, if I need to build an important presentation or speech, I do it very early in the morning, like 4 AM is my best hour, so I plan towards that. I groom my task list quite a few times a day in order to make sure that I’m always on top of the most important things. Between Slack, WhatsApp, and email, I try to convert messages into tasks. I can say that one thing we do very well in RiseUp is to identify which content goes best to which channel, and we use Workplace very intensively for that. Whenever we need to do tasks instantly, we do it via Slack. So I try to be very organized in my communication.