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Diana Paredes - Fintech startup founder

The journey from banking to founding Suade, a fintech start-up

Having your own business is not for everyone. But it definitely was for me.

I left banking a few months ago and have not looked back since. I took my job in banking and decided to automate it. Suade, a fintech start-up, is a platform of software services designed to prevent the next financial crisis. I know it is bold but banks are spending an intolerable amount of resources to comply with prudential regulation that adds nothing to their bottom line. Something bold needs to happen.

At Suade we believe that regulatory code should be produced once, well and for all banks. We are a solution from bankers to bankers designed to be the first independent technology platform aligned with the spirit of regulation. We are trying to do something good.

I studied Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College. I did a few summer internships in different sectors while at university but nothing quite felt the way I did when I first stepped on a trading floor, working at Merrill Lynch and then at Barclays. The buzz was unprecedented. I wanted to be there. For me, banking was pretty much veni vidi vici [I came, I saw, I conquered]. I left very satisfied with my time there. Overall I had great mentors and support, which helped to get through a lot of the madness happening in the actual industry.

Like having a baby, there is no right time to start a business. You can plan and plan but unless you just jump ship you will end up procrastinating and rotting in a job you do not love. That does not mean it should be an impulsive decision. After all, running your own business is about well thought out, laser sharp focus and execution. You can try to reduce the risk by expanding your network and putting some money aside before you leave your stable job. You can start working on the side of your desk on an idea that could be enough to give you the confidence that it is time to leave.

But then you need to also be honest with yourself about how efficient you are being working on a start-up on the side of your job. By the time I left I had made a list of pros and cons of striking out on my own. The only con in my list said: is this the right time? I knew I would never have an answer to that, so I took the plunge.

Running my own company is the best job I have ever had, hands down! There is nothing like it. You need to be strong mentally but that is part of the challenge, which is how you become a good CEO, nourishing mental peace and strength because you deal with so much uncertainty. The fact that everyday I prove to myself how capable I am, even in things I have no experience in is part of the journey. There are challenges that simply need to be embraced because I know how lucky I am to be on this journey. I find it very hard to find things I don’t like about it because I feel so lucky that I can even try this out!

So if you are sitting at your desk in an old school, good corporate job that is killing you inside, look around and try to find what bits of your job or inefficiencies you could automate or make better if you had iPhone-like technology at work. There are plenty of tech people who will come in the journey with you if you are not a tech wizard yourself. This is because you have domain knowledge; you are the key to a market they would not have access to otherwise.

People who are made to be entrepreneurs are people for whom the opportunity cost is really in not trying. If you start feeling like that, forget about failing as a start-up, this is really about not failing yourself. And maybe you fail, maybe you go back to a corporate job that now you will appreciate, maybe the best that comes out of this experience is you knowing yourself better and that start-ups are not for you. But at least then you will be able to hear that voice inside you saying: “at least I tried.”

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