Credit Karma Ken Lin

Summary List Placement

When I first moved to the Bay Area in 2004, I was instantly drawn to the startup ecosystem and, like many founders, I couldn’t resist the urge to build something that would have an impact.

At the time, I was running my own performance marketing agency and scheduling regular coffee meet-ups with friends and colleagues to run through other business ideas on the side.

Each week for the better part of a year, you could find me at a Bay Area Starbucks bouncing ideas off of people to see what might stick. This was a humbling process, one that required persistence, vulnerability and a bit of thick skin. 

After countless Starbucks conversations and dozens of “duds”, the idea for Credit Karma hit.

This idea certainly had the most fanfare among my colleagues, mentors and friends, but here’s what made it really stick: it combined my existing interest and years of experience in the financial services industry with my passion for making financial services more equitable for all.

Without those components, I don’t know if we’d be where we are today — a $8.1 billion company that was just acquired by Intuit. 

In a lot of ways, deciding to join forces with Intuit felt like dating.

One of the first conversations between the CEO and me took place at a Bay Area park equidistant from our respective homes.

When we arrived, neither of us had cell service so we spent the first 30 minutes trying to locate each other. What felt like a clumsy start to a first date led to a fruitful conversation about our potential future together. From there, we spent months “dating more seriously,” getting to know each other and discussing how our businesses could work together to deliver on our shared mission of championing financial progress for all. 

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Ultimately, the decision came down to one thing: impact.

By teaming up with Intuit, I believe we’ll be able to accelerate our product roadmap and deliver on our mission faster and with more resources than ever before.  

This decision wasn’t made overnight and neither was the success of Credit Karma. For those just starting out, here’s what I learned about business — and myself — along the way. 

1. There’s no blueprint for the perfect CEO

Like others who start to ascend in their careers, I spent much of my early years at Credit Karma feeling a bit like an imposter. I remember thinking other CEOs seemed so confident in their understanding of the marketplace and the sophistication of their technology.

Meanwhile, I was putting together IKEA desks and hoping I could make payroll.

To combat this feeling, I studied up on the prototypes of other successful CEOs who came before me, devouring books by the likes of Jack Walsh and Tony Hsieh, and adopted their leadership styles as my own.

However, something about this didn’t feel right to me. I later realized there really isn’t a playbook for becoming a successful business leader and, while you can learn a lot from other entrepreneurs, the key to success is specific to each person. 

2. …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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