Kaine takes credit where it's due

Kaine joined Fundsquire in late 2018, and that makes him quite the veteran on our young and fast-growing team. He's a bona fide expert in helping us understand what makes our customers' financials tick and how to find a good home for our R&D tax incentive facilities.

In this short interview, he has allowed us a peek at what his journey has been like over the past two years at Fundsquire.

Let’s start at the beginning: how did you come to join Fundsquire?

Joining Fundsquire seemed like it was almost meant to be. When I was just starting out in my career, just after University, I was working in mortgages. It was in line with what I studied, but not the most exciting job. One day I just decided: “I don’t want to do this anymore.” The same day I made the decision I got a message on LinkedIn. A Mr. Damien Petty sent me a message talking about starting a new company in Melbourne and asking me if I’d be interested in joining. The idea sounded a bit different and a lot more interesting. The rest is history.


What was interesting to you about the concept?

The concept of lending to high-growth companies that are loss-making seemed so foreign to me because I worked in mortgages. That market is very black and white, and they only do very conservative lending. I dealt with many excellent businesses, but they could still not borrow any money from banks. Working with companies that I previously couldn’t help sounded like a great opportunity, and career-wise, it was a no-brainer.


How did it feel to be there, on the ground floor of this new company?

We were a bit smaller at the time, so there was a lot of exposure to clients in the UK and Canada. I thought it was just an unbelievable opportunity to understand this new product in three different markets. I caught up with Damien in a little café in South Yarra in Melbourne, and he sold me the dream. My first day in the office was – well it wasn’t in an office. We actually didn’t have an office yet, so my first day was finding an office with Damien in Melbourne. That was already a little bit different. That’s been the awesome part about it, just being part of a company where I contributed from the start.

"Seeing so many people affected by not having trust between customer and lender, it's something that I really care about. So integrity is incredibly important to me, and I always want to be honest with our customers.Building trust, building relationships, you become a part of the journey."

You were THE credit analyst for Fundsquire for a while at the beginning. You were getting all sorts of different facilities from all around the world. How was that?

Yeah, I remember there were some cryptocurrency companies in London that we were looking to fund. They had pretty exotic financials to me at the time because the assets they had were very different. I never imagined myself looking at balance sheets with exotic crypto assets back when I was studying. That was really alien but definitely interesting, and I had a very steep learning curve ever since.


It seems like Damien threw you in the deep end. What was that like at the start?

We had some excellent customers from the get-go, and having the opportunity to speak to CEOs and CFOs of innovative companies was a fantastic opportunity. I definitely came out on the other side with a lot more skills than I thought then when I started.
Talking to people isn’t typically something that credit analysts in other lending companies would be doing. In Big Four banks, you’re often just trapped in a room ticking boxes. At Fundsquire, you’re reaching out to people, catching up with them, solving problems with them. I think that’s an excellent part of what I do. And a lot of these people, they’ve built their own companies and are pretty brilliant.


What do you see as a highlight of your job?

I like the exposure to three completely different startup ecosystems and also to all our other businesses. Everyone’s got their unique skills, and because we’re still a small team, you have a lot of exposure, from things like marketing to legal.


What do you think are some challenges in your role?

Often things don’t have clear answers, and you’re dealing with unique problems. We’re a high-growth company, so sometimes you’re going to come across something that will take a while to understand and get through. I think that’s probably the most common challenge. Another challenge is that there’s no set instruction manual for everything we do, so you’ve got to pave your way, work together, and try and work out the best processes. Some people don’t like that, they like a bit more guidance. For me, it’s challenging as well, but I see it as a growth opportunity.


How do you see yourself reflected in our values? Do they resonate well with you?

The main value that resonates with me is ‘real-time trust’. Coming from my background as a mortgage broker, it was an industry that already has many issues, including a Royal Commission investigation, so the trust for that entire sector was utterly broken. Seeing so many people affected by not having trust between customer and lender, it’s something that I really care about. So integrity is incredibly important to me, and I always want to be honest with our customers.

Building trust, building relationships, you become a part of the journey. One of our clients really killed it in the last few months, and it’s been a great adventure to watch. Obviously, any startup’s going to go through a lot of challenges, but then you see them come out the other side, and it’s awesome to be a part of it.


What’s your relationship with your work/life balance like?

I think it’s gotten better because we’re a little bigger now and can work locally with better capacity. With COVID and everyone being locked in, work/life balance gets another hit. I’ll typically try to go for a walk in the middle of the day. At the start of COVID, I went to my GP and he said: “There are so many people coming in where their bodies just aren’t used to being indoors all day.” So I knew I had to integrate some movement into my day-to-day, and I’ve stuck with it.


What in your work do you find meaningful?

You get to see these companies rise from the bottom. Some of them start from nothing. It might just be one person in a room on a laptop, making a $50,000 R&D project to someone bringing on 20 people and living the dream. That’s the part when it becomes meaningful to me. The other thing that’s meaningful to me is the relationship with the team. At Fundsquire, I think we’re a great team. We make each other better. I try to help other people out and try to make them better as well, and in that interaction, there’s a lot of meaning to me.

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Alex Kepka

Alex is a tech-focused funding expert, helping innovative companies grow through innovative funding through her work at Fundsquire. She also has a background in journalism, having written for outlets like Vice and many others in the past on topics ranging from philosophy to economics.