I caught up with Josh Gelinas who is solving a very important problem in the FinTech industry. Josh’s startup Vestivise aims to simplify investments for everyone regardless of their financial knowledge.
Josh, thank you for taking the time to talk to Stannals. Have you always had the entrepreneurial spirit or were you somehow inspired to start your venture to solve a problem you believe deserved a solution?
I’ve always had a deep desire to create something from the ground up. My experiences before Vestivise were always of this nature—joining young teams of companies or organizations in their nascent stage. You could say that all I know is how to operate in uncertain and under-resourced environments. Starting Vestivise was just a continuation of the path I’d already chosen, but this time I get to be responsible for the whole enterprise.
The idea for Vestivise came from a very specific source—my parents. During high school, I became very interested in finance and started asking my parents about their investments. Surprisingly, they couldn’t tell me much so I looked at their account statements for myself. I realized how complicated and confusing the reports are that many asset managers send to people who possess little investing knowledge. This problem needed a solution because poorly managed retirement investing can be devastating to one’s financial future.
Tell us more about Vestivise.
Vestivise is an investment dashboard for the everyday person. A user links their investment accounts just simply by logging in through the portal on our application. We support the combination of 401k, IRA, and other accounts. We don’t store any credentials and our bank-level security protects the user data that we get from the financial institutions. From there, our application produces a dashboard that shows all the essential information a retirement saver needs to be fully-informed.
We built the dashboard with one main goal: simple visuals and explanations that don’t take a PhD to understand. A user needs less than ten minutes to understand his or her assets, returns, risks, and costs using Vestivise. We’re not an adviser so we don’t recommend certain allocations, but our dashboard will expose the weak points of a portfolio, such as too high fees or too little diversification, that a user can then act upon.
How do you tackle every day challenges like striking a work-life balance being an entrepreneur?
I measure my work-life balance less in terms of the time split between the two, but rather the quality of the interactions and activities I pursue outside of work. I may go into the office all seven days of the week, but if I can look forward to a few things that aren’t work related, then I find my balance there. One thing I look forward to on a daily basis is my walk to and from work—it’s very enjoyable in a city like New York.
Other than your current venture, what are some of the other entrepreneurial challenges you would want to tackle in future, if any?
I’d like to stay in the FinTech industry for a while if I can, but at some point, I would love the experience of starting a simpler business less driven by technology. I’m not entirely sure what that would be yet, but I do know I’m up for an entirely new kind of challenge.
Are there any entrepreneurs that you have always looked up to? If yes, please name a few of your favorites.
I’ve read a few biographies on Steve Jobs to understand his philosophy more. Although, it’s the words for Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign that have inspired my choices to take an unconventional route in my work more than anything else: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes.”
Can you share a personal experience with our readers that has had a profound impact on your life and how has it helped you become a better entrepreneur and a better person?
This is less one distinct experience but being a quadruplet is something that has taught me more than almost anything else in my life. Growing up one of four is normal to me, but looking back I’ve learned a lot about teamwork, sharing, consciousness of others, and empathy at a deeper level because of it.
What is the long term vision with Vestivise?
I believe that if we execute properly, Vestivise can be the most widely-utilized destination for transparency in retirement investing. We’re supplementary and don’t seek to directly compete with financial advisors, asset managers, and investment plan sponsors. We want the millions upon millions of people who feel neglected by their financial institutions due to poor communication and reporting to finally cut through the noise and confusion. Our team is always thinking of ways we can offer more value in the future while sticking to our mission to help people understand their investments.
Do you have a message for your fellow entrepreneurs from around the world who might be reading this?
Take some time to look back on where you started. As entrepreneurs, we’re almost always driven by visions of the future. However, reflecting on what you’ve already accomplished against the odds provides a much-needed reminder at times of how deep your capabilities truly are. This has helped me realize that a current problem is just one of many that have come before it, and just like we did in the past, we will find a way forward.