This interview is part of Hum-an Stories, a Q&A series with Hum Capital Leadership, companies, and investors providing a look under the hood at what drives Hum and its Intelligent Capital Market.
Basile Senesi, Hum Capital’s Chief Revenue Officer, is no overnight success — even if he helped grow a fintech unicorn from the ground up. Leading sales and strategy for Fundbox, a lending startup that serves small and medium-sized (SMB) businesses, Senesi put customers front and center of the user experience. Before long, the company’s few customers doubled then tripled and more — and Fundbox’s staff grew to match with over 300 people in multiple countries.
He credits early experiences as formative in his career today — whether it was door-to-door sales in high school or serving one summer as a financial analyst for the state of California. More important was a realization that no one succeeds alone. “I’ve been very fortunate to benefit from incredible mentors at key steps in my professional journey,” he says. “These lessons were key in helping me build a massively successful business. It also helped me avoid a lot of mistakes I may have otherwise made.”
In this Q&A, Senesi talks Hum Capital, the finance industry at large, and imparts some lessons he’s learned along the way. (It’s been lightly edited for clarity.)
Q: What excites you most about Hum’s potential in the industry?
Fintech is just getting started. 10 years ago, fintech transformed SMB lending. In the last 5, cryptocurrency and insurtech have become common parlance, and enabled more efficient business outcomes. As we speak, open banking and open finance are upending traditional power dynamics and stand to benefit the end user. We believe that private capital markets are due for the same transformation and we are excited to be leading the way. We believe in democratizing access to capital and our customers are validating that premise every day.
Q: What drives investors and startups to use Hum’s platform? Why Hum, why now?
Tech may have swept most industries by storm, but most tech companies who raise money to fuel their growth realize quickly just how behind the times capital markets still are. Where most industries leveraged technology to create a paradigm shift in which new players are able to outpace incumbents, the same hasn’t been true in capital markets. Raising money, whether debt or equity, still implies pitch decks and spreadsheets — and a lot of courting investors one at a time.
We thought it was time to finally shift the way in which companies market themselves, while making it easier for investors and lenders to bet on the leaders of tomorrow. We’ve designed Hum’s Intelligent Capital Market around a better company and investor experience, using technology to automate the parts of the process that are tedious and painful, and added some of the brightest industry people at key parts of the process to act as true advocates for our customers.
The results speak for themselves: a faster fundraising process yielding more options and better terms for companies who raise on our platform, and the ability for capital providers to quickly evaluate opportunities with unparalleled granularity and specificity.
Q: What drew you to strategic advising? And how do you approach selling a platform that essentially gives people money?
My exposure to some of the best minds in fintech helped me sharpen my understanding of where this industry is going. I felt it was important for me to help pass those lessons on to other leaders and visionaries in the space, and help them get their work to positively impact their customers as fast and effectively as possible.
We’re in the business of providing solutions. Money, at its core, is simple, yet the financial landscape is very complicated. We make sure that companies who trust us with the fundraising process don’t have to navigate that landscape alone. We help them paint their business in the best light, and help them tailor their capital needs to their unique business situation. Speed, cost of capital, cash flow, ownership stake, and many other dimensions weigh differently on a business owner’s mind, and different needs call for different tools. We make sure they have access to the broadest range of options so that they can pick the mix most suited to their needs.
Q: Fundraising and the current VC market is red-hot right now — what are some of your thoughts on the current landscape? Is the capital being invested in the right places, with the right people, with the best businesses?
It’s true: There is more money flowing in the VC ecosystem now than ever. Of course, that raises the obvious question of whether that money is enabling the right businesses, and whether sound business economics are taking a backseat to hype and competition.
At the same time, the pandemic fundamentally transformed the economy for the better. 2020 saw more new businesses launch than any other year, and highly publicized exits have made clear that delivering amazing products to customers holds real value. The shakeup in the economy empowered many dreamers to think of a better future, and this influx in venture capital has enabled a lot of them to start building towards that world.
Not all companies are destined for greatness. Thankfully, we’ve never had more data to pick winners and true visionaries. That’s why I’m excited about what we at Hum are building. Our technology helps capital providers easily identify the signals that predict success, and facilitates capital flows towards the businesses that rank the highest.