In a recent episode of the Dealmakers’ Podcast, Tate Hackert, the visionary founder of ZayZoon, shared his remarkable journey from a small town on Vancouver Island to the helm of a groundbreaking fintech startup.
Through his candid anecdotes and insightful reflections, Tate reveals the pivotal moments that shaped his path, offering a blueprint for aspiring entrepreneurs.
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From Roots to Resilience: A Canadian Tale
Tate Hackert’s journey began in Kitchener Waterloo, but it was Vancouver Island that truly shaped his entrepreneurial spirit. Surrounded by a community of driven individuals, Tate learned the value of hard work, work ethics, and the importance of passion in carving out a unique path.
This early exposure to a close-knit, motivated community provided him with a strong foundation that would prove invaluable in his future path as an entrepreneur.
Seizing Opportunity: The Genesis of ZayZoon
At just sixteen, Tate embarked on a financial venture that would alter the trajectory of his life. Since he was working in the commercial fishing industry, he had some money which he lent out as a second mortgage. Initially, he only wanted to help someone who did not have access to a traditional loan from a bank.
But when he received a check with interest, he realized what an incredible way that was to make money. This experience sent him to Craigslist where he would meet people to understand their life story and lend them the money they needed.
Through keen lending practices, he discovered the potential of alternative financial solutions. This early experience became the basis for ZayZoon as a concept and how it could revolutionize the fintech space. It exemplifies the power of recognizing opportunities and having the courage to take decisive action.
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The Paradigm Shift: Lessons in Financial Wellness
Tate transitioned from traditional industries to the knowledge sector as he discovered the stark differences in people’s financial perspectives. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and ages gave him insights into the intricacies of their budgetary habits and priorities.
These insights became instrumental in shaping Tate’s focus on financial wellness. He developed an understanding of what people were willing to trade for money for a specific time. Down the line, he would use this understanding in his mission to empower others.
From Victoria to Hong Kong: Global Perspectives
Tate’s educational journey took an unexpected turn with a semester in Hong Kong. While others reveled in the cultural exchange, he leveraged this opportunity to dive deep into the startup ecosystem of 2013.
This was around the time when companies like Airbnb, Snapchat, and Instagram were making their presence felt. Tate was exposed to these meet-ups around Hong Kong where he ran into startup entrepreneurs and tech founders and was impressed by their thought processes.
This pivotal experience set him on the path to the world of tech entrepreneurship, broadening his horizons and exposing him to a global network of innovators. Tate would go on coffee dates and networking events with local entrepreneurs.
He even took a job with an eCommerce startup company and worked for a while during his stint in Hong Kong, his first exposure to the tech world.
From Vancouver Island to Calgary: The Power of Serendipity
A move to Calgary, inspired by personal connections, led Tate to a crucial encounter with Darcy Tuer, who would become a pivotal figure in his entrepreneurial journey.
Together with co-founder Darcy, they laid the foundation for ZayZoon, with the mission to revolutionize financial access. This serendipitous meeting underscores the importance of nurturing relationships and being open to unexpected opportunities.
Navigating Growth: The Founder’s Dilemma
As ZayZoon evolved, so did Tate’s role. The transition from hands-on founder to strategic leader was not without its challenges. He talks about the struggle to redefine his purpose within the organization and how the support of his co-founders played a pivotal role in this process.
This phase of self-discovery and adaptation highlights the critical importance of surrounding oneself with a strong, complementary team.
Raising Capital: The ZayZoon Success Story
The path to raising capital in a city dominated by traditional industries was a formidable one. Tate’s resourcefulness and relentless networking ultimately led to the successful culmination of funding rounds. To date, Tate and his cofounders have successfully raised $50M for their venture.
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Tate’s journey from high-net-worth individuals to institutional investors shows what perseverance and the ability to convey a compelling vision can achieve. He recalls how they raised their first $25M from “high net worth super angel” investors, as he terms them.
ZayZoon’s Mission: Empowering Employees, Transforming Lives
ZayZoon’s vision is clear: to save employees $10 billion. The objective here is to provide earned wage access to employees by partnering with payroll companies. Employees can use the tool to get money early.
By providing accessible financial solutions, ZayZoon empowers them to break free from the cycle of payday loans and overdraft fees. ZayZoon provides employees with a debit card, free of cost, that enables them to access funds.
Employees also have gift card solutions that they can take to 400 different retailers without incurring any fees or overheads. They can, of course, also send money to their own accounts by paying a nominal charge of $5.
Tate stresses the importance of building trust and delivering an exceptional customer experience as the keys to long-term success. This mission-driven approach guides ZayZoon’s commitment to making a tangible impact on people’s lives.
Embracing Growth: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
The evolution of a founder comes with its own set of challenges, including imposter syndrome. Tate talks about the challenges he faced in building self-confidence. He emphasizes the necessity of continuous personal growth to keep pace with the exponential growth of a startup.
Tate reveals how his education as an entrepreneur came more from his coffee sessions with people who had hands-on experience with building startups. He credits this education as teaching him far more than any business school courses.
Tate also believes in mentors, networking to learn more about finance, listening to podcasts, and taking notes. His transparency serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs facing similar hurdles.
Tate’s journey from a small town to the forefront of fintech innovation is a testament to the power of resilience, vision, and unwavering dedication. Through his story, aspiring entrepreneurs can get invaluable insights into navigating challenges and grabbing whatever opportunities come their way.
And ultimately, making a meaningful impact in the world of startups. As ZayZoon continues to revolutionize the fintech landscape, Tate’s experiences serve as guidelines and inspiration for those embarking on their own entrepreneurial journeys.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Resilience is forged in the crucible of community; embrace the lessons of hard work and passion from your roots.
- Seize unconventional opportunities – even a second mortgage at sixteen can spark a game-changing venture.
- Understanding diverse financial perspectives is the cornerstone of building solutions for true financial wellness.
- Global perspectives fuel innovation – immerse yourself in new environments and networks to broaden your horizons.
- Serendipity often paves the way; cherish unexpected encounters and the potential they hold for transformative partnerships.
- Adapting from founder to leader demands self-discovery and a strong support system; surround yourself with the right team.
- Networking prowess and a compelling vision can turn unconventional funding routes into the lifeblood of your startup’s success.