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Brian Norton - An Entrepreneur in Fintech From a Harvard Degree in History

Diving into the Fintech space having studied History at Harvard, it is instantaneously clear that Brian is an Entrepreneur with adaptability at the forefront of his strengths. Speaking of his journey that has led to the creation of Future finance, Brian puts forward his plans to prepare for the next chapter of discovering the Universe.

From History to Finance

During his time at Harvard, the dot com bubble was a rip roaring success and as a student he desired to be one of the 22 year old’s with internet successes often found speaking on CNN. And so, from the dorm room D21 Brian began an online (D21.net) brochure ware company.  This online company lasted for a year after Brian graduated until he decided it was time for a "real life" job.

A Path as an Entrepreneur

Brian admits he could have never predicted that joining a previous client in California in the mortgage business would be his pathway to finance? His first interaction combining technology and finance was as he faced the task of  completing 400 proofs of claim.

Brian’s solution being the kick start approach to disrupting financial processes. "I could make a machine to do that" was his most logical understanding of how to overcome the problems he faced.

How's Your Social Media?

Often it is assumed that technology fanatics or start-up founders are very keen on the usage of Social Media. However comparing the Fintech space to other start-ups Brian outlines how he is not on Facebook and when it comes to Fintech you cannot be as open about how your business is developing. The sharing culture is somewhat different primarily because the Fintech space involves having money as the product.

Grab Your Opportunities

Reflecting on his past Brian describes how his approach to career decisions was not strategic but rather based on the opportunities. He foresaw and learned how to deal with whatever he faced as a result of making this decision. Brian's perspective to what an opportunity is balances between an economic benefit and working with great people who he learns from and enjoys working with. 

Overcoming hard challenges is what he gets a real kick out of, as it pushes him to constantly learn a combination of skills  including new coding languages.

What Success as an Entrepreneur Means to Brian

Somewhat unexpectedly Brian outlined that being an entrepreneur was to depend heavily on luck. As an entrepreneur "there are others who are just as smart if not smarter but it just doesn’t hit for them," referring to those who are less fortunate in the entrepreneurial space.

Resilience is his response to overcoming this dependency on luck, it is essential to keep putting yourself in the game and to know that there is never a grand plan but rather about being in the right place at the right time.

Future Finance

This is clear when discussing Future Finance and the difficult deep risks that were taken. It appeared as though Brian experienced feelings in an agile structure as he describes the start-up process as being put in the wilderness. 

Being given a term sheet that reignites a glimmer that then has to last as you try to figure how long you should keep going, this being the most difficult decision in the process. Brian aspires to be "one of those guys who is able to repeat this process" and to push himself to keep going.

Based on his experience to date this process also is the tried and tested experience for Brian having previously tried to set up a student loan company but failing, with the only honest answer to the success of second time round with Future finance being the timing.

The Move to Europe

Brian could not have predicted that he would have set up in Europe. However in some ways it has enabled the decision-making for Future Finance with the two Co-CEO’s with an ocean between to be easier as it is more obviously logically to establish who should make some decisions.

The current trends of student fees in Europe have made Future Finance a viable organization. The differences in culture perspectives regarding student loans is reflected by the predominant interest and American based investors.

Future Finance are the first start-up here to do student loans, choosing to provide loans to students who through their profiling mechanisms will be able to pay them back.

As an American entering the European workforce and trying to manage a team Brian has many stories of the stark differences he again has had to adapt to. "Paid sick days" a prime example of what he felt he needed to learn to "not gripe" about.

Compromising alternatives such as creating blocks of days to use for a number of things versus specifically for the doctor were his ways to overcome these differences.

Challenges as an Entrepreneur

The hardest challenges that Brian has faced as an Entrepreneur are related to his family. Assuming that when he, his wife and son, finally landed here in Ireland on a payroll system with a house and the business going well that everything would be back to their loving relationship after the difficult year.

However this took a long time to get back on track with his family. The lessons learned from how the difficulties arose has changed how Brian continues as an Entrepreneur, now being very committed to have his wife involved in the process as he admittedly "screwed it up" which was one of the "hardest things."

The Next Move

Brian’s next chapter as he takes a move away from Future Finance is as he describes to get out "into the universe to see what it has for me." He plans to travel with his family and to see what the world has to offer.  

People like to hear the framework of what you are doing which can be awkward and hard but this is what he is currently achieving with another start-up in the pipeline. There is no doubt that it will be interesting to see what the future unfolds for Brian and his next adventure. He is certainly one to watch.

*Image Startup Grind YouTube channel