Hum-an Stories: Q&A with Chief Product Officer Kevin Smith
This interview is part of Hum-an Stories, a Q&A series with Hum Capital leadership and employees providing a look under the hood at what drives Hum and its funding platform, the Intelligent Capital Market.
Kevin Smith is Hum’s Chief Product Officer. He has 20+ years of product management and customer success leadership in both B2C and B2B/enterprise companies. Kevin’s career includes stops at Google, Trilogy, and multiple startups, building products and driving innovation via best-fit technology, teams, tools, and processes.
In this Q&A Kevin shares his thoughts on the ICM’s biggest differentiator and what he and the product team are most looking forward to accomplishing this year.
Q: What excites you most about Hum’s Intelligent Capital Market and its mission to make private capital financing more efficient and equitable?
Over the course of my career, I’ve been on both sides of the fundraising process, working with startups and growth stage companies, as well as being an angel investor and a mentor and advisor to companies raising capital. And what always stuck with me was the classic wisdom of “It takes 99 NOs to get a YES.” If we can skip those NO conversations and just go straight to YES, it seems like we’ve significantly helped both the company and founder and investor.
Q: Prior to Hum, you worked at larger tech companies such as Google and Khoros. What best practices from those organizations have you brought over to the product team at Hum?
I think the important thing to look at isn’t so much size as it is speed: both companies were fast-growing when I was there, and I saw a range of scale. In that environment you have to be flexible and nimble while ensuring you have the right product, team, tools, and processes to support you as you grow from smaller to larger. I’ve brought this mentality over to Hum: It’s neither the wild west nor big-company stability…we’re threading the needle and moving quickly.
The other key piece is communication and collaboration. At earlier-stage companies–and this is especially true in today’s remote and hybrid world–it’s easy to forget that not everyone has all the information or context that you do. Therefore being proactive in communication and context sharing, and creating space for intra-team and cross-org collaboration is critical for success and enabling further growth.
Q: As the owner of Hum’s product, what would you say is the Intelligent Capital Market’s (ICM) biggest differentiator?
Specificity. Most solutions look at generalities: who is the investor, who is the company, do we think they’d be a good fit for each other? ICM captures the investor’s specific investment criteria, analyzes the company’s live financial data, and algorithmically determines the match. This is incredibly powerful, saving both the investor and company a significant amount of time and effort, while also dramatically increasing the likelihood that the actual relationship–through assessment, diligence, funding, and beyond–will be successful.
Q: What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in 2023?
We just had our major launch of SmartRaise, which enables companies to receive preliminary funding terms just by connecting their financial data, and simultaneously behind the scenes our algorithm finds the right investor. Launching SmartRaise was exciting and rewarding, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Expanding the capabilities and reach of that offering so that everyone not only CAN participate but DOES participate is what I’m looking forward to. And when you couple that with continuing to make the fundraising process more efficient for both companies and investors–I’m extremely excited about this year.
Q: Can you share any passions and interests of yours outside of work?
I’m a big film fan (watching, not making) and a big music fan, so I go to a lot of film and music festivals. The major festivals like SXSW and Jazz Fest are amazing for their size and energy, but I’ve found that the smaller, local festivals give me a great opportunity to see smaller indie films, enjoy music from less-well-known and local acts, and meet great people who are having just as much fun as I am.
Oh, and we just joined Sonic Guild this year, which is an organization that supports up and coming music artists, giving them performance opportunities and financial grants so they can focus on their music. If you think fundraising is hard–try making a living as a musician!