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Pick the Right Problem to Work On

A Slice on Jim Brusstar, Co-Founder and President of Treasury Prime

When it comes to banking and finance, there hasn’t been much change in the industry through the years. On a mission to bring innovation to the finance world, Jim Brusstar created Treasury Prime, a banking service platform making it easier for fintech and banks to connect. It provides a platform similar to a marketplace where banks can offer services and fintechs building innovative apps can embed banking services into those apps. To date, Treasury Prime has raised $31.5M in funding and is in its series B.

Brusstar worked in various engineering positions before entering the financial world at Standard Treasury. It was at this job where he met his co-founder, Chris Dean. Brusstar interviewed Dean and hired him as CTO of the company in 2013 and they have been working together ever since at various companies. The co-founder relationship comes naturally to them because they’ve worked together for so long, Brusstar notes they clicked from the start and they both share a lot of the same values.

“Choose your co-founders wisely because what kills startups more than anything is when co-founders break up or have conflicts. Every startup is going to have its good and bad days so you want to make sure you’re picking the right problem to work on and that your co-founders are the right people you want to be working next to on the bad days.”

Luckily for Treasury Prime, fundraising hasn’t caused a lot of bad days in the office. Brusstar describes a few advantages they’ve had compared to other companies. Treasury Prime was a part of the Y Incubator in 2018, which ultimately gave them access to a great community and network. “Getting that level of advice and support is helpful for any company, and frankly, it makes fundraising easier because it makes your company stronger, which is appealing to investors.” It’s been helpful that Brusstar and Dean both had previous fundraising experience, so they had existing relationships with some investors local to the Bay Area. “At the end of the day, I think fundraising comes down to the fundamentals of the company. If you’re creating a good business then fundraising is going to be easier.” 

Although fundraising hasn’t been a big obstacle for Brusstar, there have undoubtedly been risks he’s had to take. Due to the nature of Treasury Prime’s work with financial institutions, it was harder for them to get started and “bootstrap” that trust. Luckily for Brusstar, he was able to work with a team at Radius Bank where Mike Butler put a lot of trust in the company when it was in its early stages. “We were able to be at the right place at the right time and demonstrate our track record between SVB [Silicon Valley Bank] and Standard Treasury that we were a good company and good people. It was a big hurdle but we were super lucky to have been able to make that relationship and get started quickly.” Building relationships inside and outside of the company are one of the most important things to startups, according to Brusstar. 

Due to the unpredictable nature of startups, Brusstar shares advice with aspiring entrepreneurs. He stresses that it’s probably going to take a lot longer than you think, and will be more difficult than you think. “Starting a business is not something that should be taken lightly. You want to make sure that you love it and that you’re working on a field or area that you’d be working on anyways because success is not assured.” Brusstar came from a problem he was already working on at a company before Treasury Prime, so it continues to motivate him on the hard days. He’s been thinking about this problem for years and to him, “cracking the code” at Treasury Prime is a special kind of feeling.

Brusstar describes himself as a “single-minded” person when it comes to his goals and motivators. He hopes to grow his team while continuing to deliver on the core mission of Treasury Prime. “What gets me out of bed every day is that we want to build this new infrastructure for the banking system that empowers developers, and I think we’ve taken the first step and seeing that it’s working.” Even with the success of Treasury Prime, Brusstar remembers the uncertainty of starting a new company in the early days, when he was just getting started as an entrepreneur. “We always tell people the most important thing is getting your stuff out there in front of the customers as quickly as you can get that feedback. That’s the classic Y Combinator advice. If there’s anyone out there building a fintech app, come talk to us. Check out our docs, our tools and we are here to help you get your stuff in front of customers. That’s our whole reason for being.” 

Founder Bio

Jim Brusstar received his B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. Prior to founding Treasury Prime, Brusstar served as Founding Engineer at Standard Treasury and Software Engineer at Facebook. Connect with Brusstar on LinkedIn.

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