Part of what first attracted me to Ocrolus was the opportunity to work for a company that is making financial services fairer, more accessible, and more transparent. In addition, I figured that managing partnerships for Ocrolus would give me the opportunity to utilize many of the skills I had learned as a venture capital investor at Argo and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and as an institutional investment analyst.
That was over two years ago. Today, I’m happy to report that new partnerships are helping drive growth at Ocrolus, and I’m excited to be part of a fintech infrastructure company that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and unique Human-in-the-Loop workflows to automate financial review processes.
Transitioning from venture investing to fintech
Although I was thrilled to jump into a more operational role, transitioning from an investor role into a partnership sales role initially presented a steep learning curve. Adapting my skills was more challenging than expected, making me rethink many things I thought I knew. Explaining an API, for example, was not something I could confidently do until I went through the process of explaining it to a prospect. However, I never felt alone and was provided with incredible support and mentorship along the way. The people who took a chance on hiring me were also deeply invested in my success and growth.
When I joined Ocrolus, they hadn’t developed a formal partnership function. That meant I could essentially create my role. Over the past two years, I have signed and launched strategic partners such as Blend and grown key product partners such as Plaid. I’ve helped them go to market with new products and worked to ensure that everyone generates value.
Over the past two years, I’ve also realized that developing partnerships and investing have a lot in common. It’s imperative to be looking for the most attractive new opportunity or great idea in both roles. Like venture capital investments, partnerships are two-sided. Evaluating the mutual fit of a potential partner is a similar process.
However, there are some key differences between investing and operating, namely the emphasis on individual contributions versus teamwork. Investing tends to be a solo sport. What I love most about working at an emerging fintech such as Ocrolus is that I’m part of a team that is building something for the greater good. We have a shared goal of creating something bigger than ourselves. The kind of camaraderie, friendship, and trust that emerge from working on a team like ours is unique.
Adding value for our fintech partners
One of the core reasons Ocrolus has been successful is that we help our customers develop more technologically and security-focused solutions. Our partners are at the forefront of making financial, consumer, and business data safer and more accessible, thus democratizing financial services as a whole.
Ocrolus technology gives borrowers optionality regarding how their financial data is shared. A borrower might, for example, choose to have their financial documents analyzed using our technology. Doing so expedites the ability of our partners and their customers to manage and analyze loan documents.
Best of all, we’re leveling the playing field for our fintech partners and helping them create better customer experiences. The idea is to connect the dots so that borrowers — whether individuals or small business owners — can be empowered to decide how to share their data.
If you are a loan officer or underwriter, Ocrolus enables you to evaluate more borrowers with ease by letting you look at a borrower’s financial data holistically. In contrast, the current industry norm relies on a few data points, such as a credit score. We also enable lenders to consider more accurate measures of creditworthiness, such as cash flow data, which is extraordinarily powerful. Moreover, we’re helping our partners make the lending process more accessible.
Working with Plaid
A great example of how Ocrolus collaborates with partners is our work with Plaid, the premier data network powering the digital financial ecosystem. One of the most exciting aspects of our partnership is our collaboration on Plaid Income, specifically on the document feature.
The document feature is one of three features of Plaid’s Income product, and while this was a Plaid product, the ideation process for the document feature was truly collaborative; together we were able to envision and customize this new feature from scratch.
The process began by identifying a complex, yet familiar, problem for lenders, property managers, mortgage originators, and others: to consistently qualify an individual’s income and employment. This challenge has been magnified in today’s workforce, a growing part of which is made up of non-traditional workers. From this, Plaid Income was born, as a method of verifying and validating income and employment from three critical data sources: 1) payroll data, 2) bank data, and 3) documents, such as pay stubs, W2s, bank statements, and 1099 tax forms. With Ocrolus, Plaid Income is able to offer lenders critical income and employment data that is typically locked in documents.
Better yet, by offering multiple ways to provide data, Plaid leverages Ocrolus to empower consumers to be able to share their data on their own terms. In doing so, we are building a more inclusive credit system, and changing the future of the financial industry–a mission that is deeply important to me, and to the Plaid team.
Our partnership with Plaid illustrates how Ocrolus can help creatively develop new solutions to combat deep-rooted problems within financial services. These types of partnerships also push Ocrolus to innovate and strategically work with other best-in-class technology companies to create enhanced products. Although I’m biased, I’m not the only one who believes our partnership with Plaid is fantastic: I’m proud to share that Ocrolus and Plaid won the Most Promising Partnership Award at Fintech Nexus earlier this year.
For Ocrolus, Plaid is an example of how specialized financial solutions can embed into our partners’ multi-vertical- lending platforms. We aim to be the market leader in document analysis in the financial services sector.
By partnering with the top technology companies, Ocrolus will help more and more lenders make sound underwriting decisions, root out fraud, and facilitate faster loan approvals. That means partner revenue will increase. If we do our jobs right, our direct sales will grow, too.