A Slice on Ken Mooso, Co-Founder and CEO of PersonaFi
Prior to co-founding PersonaFi, Ken Mooso was working in the banking and finance industry. Mooso attended a local community college but didn’t finish his degree. Instead, he started his career first as a bank teller, but climbed the corporate ladder to a business expert and ultimately found his passion, when he started a new position in wealth management. The position was with Merrill Lynch, more specifically, Merrill Edge, its digital advisor platform. Eliminating the need for face-to-face interaction, Mooso was able to call up his own customers, review their portfolios, manage assets, etc. He was on a tier-one team for about 5 years managing clients with anywhere from $100k-$100 million dollars.
Over time Mooso became discouraged with the industry, especially after regulations increased due to the new “fiduciary standard”. Mooso didn’t feel the younger investor was prioritized with the new standard as he saw portfolios become “cookie-cutter”.
“You saw all the wealth managers moving to this, where everyone’s doing the same exact thing. And to me, I just didn’t feel like that’s something I wanted to do. I don’t want to do the same thing. I want to do something on my own, something that’s unique. I felt I could try to find out if there’s an easier way for people to invest. So I left my firm and I started PersonaFi.” PersonaFi aims to reinvent the way financial advice is given, through helpful tools, and by treating each user as a separate entity rather than grouping them together.
Mooso after leaving his corporate job was slightly nervous but felt ready. He was tired of the corporate environment, the mundane 9-5, the lack of original thought. Mooso described himself as cerebral and “not a good worker” because he didn’t gel well within such a structured and hierarchical system. At the height of his success, Mooso was being managed by “people that made less money and knew less”. Able to weather storms for a few years from his personal savings account, he took the leap and didn’t look back.
Vaguely familiar with the VC landscape, Mooso was better equipped than other first-time founders but was still blown away by the extreme level of difficulty within a startup ecosystem. “I was definitely shocked at the different types of jargon that they use. It’s more lingo, not jargon, they may think it’s industry. But definitely not terminology that was used at my previous office.”
A big learning for Mooso was in the fundraising space, he shared how he was surprised by the amount of emphasis angels and VCs place on a founder’s “story”. As a past financial adviser, and all-around “numbers guy” Mooso had to learn the importance and impact founders’ stories make upon an investor. “If you deal with an investor that’s asking for fundamentals, that’s usually a red flag, because, at this point, there are no fundamentals, so focus on the story. That has to do with the emotion of your user, people are very, emotionally driven. And if they’re emotionally driven, they’re willing to talk about your product, they’re willing to use your product, they’re willing to pay for it. Emotions move people.“
On the topic of people…Mooso didn’t found PersonaFi alone, he had the help of his co-founders. He learned that locating those co-founders and talent can be difficult. He shared that just as you (founders) believe in your idea, it’s essential your future teammates also share the vision.
“Just like industries, they don’t want to jump on something that’s just off an idea, they want to jump on a rocket ship that looks like it’s about to take off”. Though solid co-founders and colleagues are essential, Mooso mentioned another key person that’s had a hand in his success, his wife. “Make sure you have a good support system. I’m blessed that I have a very supportive wife. Have that support system, because there will be times where it’s a question of, ‘Can I do this?’ It’s very difficult. Just making sure you have that support system of people that believe in you, even if you don’t… I think that’s the most important thing.”
Ken Mooso got his start in finance early working at Wells Fargo and climbed the corporate ladder until he found his passion in wealth management. He harnessed this passion into PersonaFi, with a mission to help users invest wisely. Connect with Ken on LinkedIn.