A Simple Tale: The First Pitch

How we pitched Simple to the best VC firm in the world

De Novo banking was dead, and nobody told McKinsey.

If you can’t start them, then join them

This seemed to present an insurmountable problem. How could we launch a simpler bank if it took 10 years to get a bank charter? But Josh and I⁴ quickly came up with a solution — we’d just partner with an existing bank. After all, we weren’t trying to do anything innovative with a bank’s balance sheet, or compliance, or regulatory reporting, or anything that regulators really worried about at all. We just wanted to build beautiful usable banking apps that helped customers mange their money on their mobile phone. We should be able to find a partner bank, sign a deal where they handled all the banking stuff, and we handled all the customer facing stuff. Really all we needed was access to their APIs and we could build on top of those.

The first pitch deck

By this time it had also become clear to me that it was time for me to leave McKinsey, and I was figuring out what to do. BankSimple⁵ seemed like a crazy idea, but Josh had a ton of experience working in startups, and if we could raise the funding, we felt like we had a shot at making it happen. Josh was consulting for the Pinch Media team, and so he knew the Union Square Ventures team well. They had just hired Albert Wenger, and he wanted to hear the pitch. So I flew to New York, and Josh and I worked on a pitch deck for BankSimple. I had a typical McKinsey 100 page deck drafted, but Josh wanted something a lot simpler and cleaner. We ended up at 18 pages.

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Shamir Karkal

Co-founder and CEO of @SilaMoney. Co-founder of @simple. Investor in @realty_mogul, @earnup, @transferwise and others.