Solving Access to Finance for Underserved Communities: Interview with Supratik Mukherjee

Solving Access to Finance for Underserved Communities: Interview with Supratik Mukherjee

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Hey Hackers! I’m Supratik Mukherjee and I’m the Product Lead at Camino Financial — the first AI-powered Community Development Financial Institution (“neo-CDFI”) expanding access to credit for underserved Latinx entrepreneurs in the U.S.

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First of all, a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community and staff for nominating us for a 2021 Noonies award! We’ve been nominated in the following category:

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  1. HackerNoon Contributor of the YearSMALL BUSINESS: https://www.noonies.tech/award/2021-hackernoon-contributor-of-the-year-small-business

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As someone in the FinTech industry, something that excites me a lot is the use of Alternative Credit Data, given its potential to provide a more comprehensive, well-rounded picture of who potential borrowers are — which in turn not only helps extend much-needed credit to thin-file consumers, but also helps make better decisions about who to target, extend credit to, and strive to retain over the long run.

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I invite you to learn more about my thoughts and opinions on FinTech and my journey in the tech industry via the interview below.

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1. What do you do and why do you do it? (tell us your story)

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The short answer is – I help build things.

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I currently manage Product Development at Camino Financial. Our team helps design solutions for complex problems, and personally — being able to see those solutions affect success in real-time is the rush that helps me get out of bed each morning. More than anything else, being able to address and resolve problems that I’ve faced as a consumer myself in the past brings a certain level of satisfaction to my job.

2. Tell us more about the things you create / write / manage / build!

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The Product team that I lead at Camino Financial is responsible for a plethora of important responsibilities. We engage with stakeholders, trying to find out more about their needs and objectives, putting ourselves in their shoes while helping design short-term, medium-term as well as long-term solutions to their problems. These stakeholders can be customers who we design products and solutions for as well as internal team members from the finance, credit, sales, customer success or marketing teams to name a few that we support with process optimizations through the adoption of technology.

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Our team is involved in everything from conceptualization through to implementation, execution, and iteration of solutions to complex problems. We use the power of technology to help make credit decisions that help fund the dreams of the ‘credit invisible.’

3. How did you end up on your current career path? Do you like it?

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Growing up, I was always interested in tech and so it didn’t come as a surprise that I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science & Engineering. However upon graduation, I sort of “fell into” Product Management. Post-graduation, I got my first job at a recruitment startup as the company’s first Product Manager (PM).

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As a first-time PM, it was quite a daunting task transitioning from being a student to managing the product roadmap for a company with limited training. What started as a sink-or-swim situation helped me learn on the go and build product management skills that helped me develop as a professional.

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A big part of being a halfway decent product manager is the ability to prioritize. Nothing helps develop these skills more than having limited resources to work with. I love what I do and my start in product management helped put me on the path to leading the team and solving the problems that we do today.

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I joined Camino Financial as it was solving a problem I’d faced. While not a 1:1 comparison, as an international student getting my MBA in the US, I didn’t have a lot of funding options available to me and struggled to find a solution to my problem. It gives me great satisfaction to be on a team that helps solve this problem for underserved individuals that need it the most.

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4. What tech are you most excited or passionate about right now and why?

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These aren’t exactly current, but these are concepts that excite me most: Machine learning (ML), Blockchain Applications, and Alternative Data Solutions. For example, ML has the power to build predictive models and not only automate but also make smart credit decisions in the absence of human effort. On the other hand, Blockchain has the potential to create secure transactions that establish a guarantee of verified originality. Lastly, alternative data for the credit invisible introduces the concept of using non-traditional financial data to be able to lend to those who have a limited or thin credit profile.

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5. What tech are you most worried about right now and why?

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One concern that comes to mind is the lack of control and standardization of data use when it comes to digital advertising. It’s the kind of problem that the likes of Facebook and Google are facing daily with no simple solution. What allows many small businesses to gain access and reach the customers they need at a fraction of advertising costs, on the flip-side has the potential to be misused for nefarious purposes by bad actors as has been exemplified in the recent past. As someone working in the space who understands the implications – both good and bad, I can recognize that this doesn’t have a straightforward solution that will please all parties, but it’s a problem that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

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6. If we gave you 10 million dollars to invest in something today, what would you invest in and why?

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If I was given 10 million dollars, I would invest in alternative / non-fossil fuel-based energy — solar, electric, etc. When we use renewable resources to produce energy, it’s much gentler on the environment than burning fossil fuels. It’s past time to build a strong foundation in renewables. Not only is this a decision that positively impacts the environment, but it also stimulates economic growth as well as jobs in the installation and manufacturing industries.

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7. What are you currently learning?

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Currently, I’m learning about Behavioral modeling in Product Lifecycle Management and Engineering Design.

8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

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Not advice particularly, but an amusing quote – “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they didn’t have our team on the project.”

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Slow down, listen, understand – then execute.

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11. Would you also be interested in joining us on the HackerNoon podcast? If so, what would you like to chat about?

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Yes, I’d love to have conversations related to my experience as a product lead at a FinTech as well as be involved in discussions related to product development, process management, and the power of technology in helping magnify and resolve the voices and needs of the underserved.

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About HackerNoon’s 2021 Noonie Awards

The annual Noonie Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the tech industry, bringing together all who are making the Internet and the world of tech what it is today. Please be sure to check out our award categories, nominate, and vote for the people and companies who you think are making the biggest impact on the tech industry today.

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The 2021 Noonies are sponsored by: bybit, Dottech Domains, and Avast. Thank you so much to these sponsors who are helping us celebrate the accomplishments of all our nominees.

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