EP 318 – Sherry Jiang – co-Founder and CEO of Peek – You Just Accept the Variance and You Move On

by | Apr 3, 2024

"It was a bit of a blind bet... if something feels right, I don't really need a long time to make the decision... I was like, ‘You know what, what do I have to lose?’" The Asia Tech Podcast welcomed ⁠Sherry Jiang⁠, a co-Founder and the CEO of ⁠Peek⁠. Sherry is no ordinary entrepreneur. She is super bright and filled with an energy that has to be experienced to be believed. Our conversation was so awesome, covered a ton of ground and I had to put an end to it, so that it would not turn into a three-hour episode.

Some of the topics that Sherry covered included:

  • The importance of embracing change and taking calculated risks in both business and life
  • The power of a clear and relatable vision (Marie Kondo of Finance) that also ‘sparks joy’
  • Embracing vulnerabilities and viewing setbacks as learning opportunities
  • Creating a real emphasis on building a supportive community in the entrepreneurship ecosystem
  • The necessity of balancing passion with practicality in the entrepreneurial journey

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

  1. Clutter-Free Finance: The Marie Kondo of Finance
  2. Embracing the Unknown: From Silicon Valley to Southeast Asia
  3. Breaking the Mold and Betting on Change
  4. Angel Investing and Cultivating Community in the Startup Ecosystem
  5. I’m All About Abundance Mindset
Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:03
Ready? Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Sherry Jiang, a co founder of Peek is with us today. I cannot wait to get into the show. Thank you so much for coming to the show. And before we start, let’s get a bit of your background for some context. Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 0:22
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I currently live in Singapore, even though I’m actually not originally from here. Born and raised in the US spent some time in Chicago some time in California, bit the big tech bug back in the early 2010s, and started working for Google. And actually was what brought brought me over to Singapore in 2017 2018. Time to work on the payments opportunity that was just burgeoning in Asia. So I’m super excited about it, because it was witnessing like this jump from cash to digital payments, right? There wasn’t this like credit card era that you see in like Western markets. And so that was incredibly exciting for me. And I guess I fell in love with living in Asia. So I’ve been here for six years now, and decided to lay more roots and start a company here. So you’ve started to work on a couple of different ideas within FinTech and web three, just after I left Google in 2021. So I can definitely go into some of the journey about being a founder, but finally landed on a problem that I’m very, very passionate about. And one that I like to specifically which is about financial management for investors, personal investors. So what we’re building with peak really is this Marie Kondo of finances, right, where a lot of people are very, you

Michael Waitze 1:37
have to see who’s Marie Kondo is for people that don’t know you can’t just rush by that.

Sherry Jiang 1:41
Okay. Okay. So I thought that most people know Marie Kondo, but maybe I’ll stop here, but I will do it. It’s good. Cuz Yeah, the

Michael Waitze 1:49
whole thing is just like, throw away all the stuff. You don’t need clean your closet, I’d like three times a month, or whatever it is, right. And just to make sure that it’s neat and clean and organized. But most people can’t do that, particularly with their money anyway, go ahead.

Sherry Jiang 2:00
Yeah, I mean, exactly that right. And so I mean, we think about the metaphor of like cleaning your closet, organizing your desks very often when it comes to peak, because most people I would say 99% Do not think they manage your finances very well. Right, including myself for a very long time. So I have Excel spreadsheet 20 different accounts across crypto, different brokerages, different banks, like I’m a US citizen still, and I had, you know, to company like, you know, 401 k’s and it’s just a mess, right? And so just seeing, like, what I have in one snapshot was just a lot of work. And every single time you do it just doesn’t really spark joy, right? You’re just doing so much admin, that by the time like you’re thinking about doing some analysis, you’re like, I’m, I’m damn tired. It’s Sunday. I just want to spend time with friends and move on with my life. Right? So this is something that we we hear a lot, right. So why isn’t there more powerful tools out there that just make this easier? So that people can have superpowers when it comes to personal finances? When you can go

Michael Waitze 3:05
ahead and couple a little bit for me if you don’t mind? Yeah, absolutely. So you said you bid the tech bug back in like 2009 2011. Right. Was that when you were still in school? Or was that after you graduated?

Sherry Jiang 3:15
Yeah. Actually, it was during school. So my first tell me

Michael Waitze 3:19
what it was like at Berkeley? Because, yeah, it’s part of that tech ecosystem there. Right. And I’m just curious, you studied in business biz admin, right? So it’s kind of normal thing to do. Yeah. What is it like, like out in the bars and out in the restaurants and stuff like that? Is there? Is there really a bus? I’ve never been to Silicon Valley, at least not as an adult? Yeah. What is it like? Yeah,

Sherry Jiang 3:38
absolutely. And, you know, as you know, Michael alluded to, I went to Berkeley, for my undergrad, which was was awesome. Yeah. Um, so I know for sure. I mean, I feel like people were just talking about new technologies all around you. So at the time, cloud computing was the hot topic. I mean, nowadays, like, nobody really talks about it, but it was cloud computing, it was big data. Actually, I learned about Bitcoin and crypto kind of early ish on in university as well. So there were just people that were on that, like, they’re just on the nerd bandwagon, right, just wanted to talk about all the stuff that was happening, because, again, you would meet a lot of friends that were interning at these companies, you had a lot of people that were reading and following these kind of, you know, news cycles. And there were also a lot of like entrepreneurship clubs on campus as well. And even within the business school, there was this like, you know, program where you could have actually gotten like, an extra minor in like technology. So it was like this extra degree, right? It was definitely embedded in the DNA of you know, Silicon Valley, Berkeley, you know, as a as a result of that. Um, so you asked me like, how I got into tech, right? And actually, it’s a pretty roundabout way. So I thought I wanted to be an investment banker in school, right? I

Michael Waitze 4:58
mean, you definitely did not Want to be an investment banker? at Goldman Sachs, you would have destroyed your soul. And your soul seems like a good one. So let’s

Sherry Jiang 5:06
thank you. Well, funny enough, you mentioned that because actually, I saw that Goldman Sachs

Michael Waitze 5:13
How was it. You loved it? Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 5:15
Absolutely. Which is why, you know, I just wanted to say a resounding YES to going back to I think, you know, that’s a joke. I didn’t actually end up going back. But what was really interesting to me was actually working out of the San Francisco Bay Area office and actually getting exposure to the tech companies on the deal. So actually, you know, some of the companies that were IPO in that summer were Nimble Storage and Solar City, right, so just reading it back then in 2013. So, um, I got, I remember, like, people, I’m thinking, we’re just like, you know, tech doesn’t really make sense, you know, these P E ratios through the roof, but it’s really about, like, you know, people’s perception of the better the future. And I was like, You know what, that’s so cool, right? You have this area where the opportunity to scale is almost infinite. Right? Right. Why not actually work there instead of just being a banker?

Michael Waitze 6:04
Yes. So didn’t you wonder because this is the thing I was gonna ask you like, didn’t you wonder why all those guys and gals that were doing investment banking for TMT? Right? Yeah. Nice to see what was happening over there. Yeah. Why didn’t they leave and go do that? Or did a lot of them do that? Actually, when you were there? A lot of them? Were gonna do it. Yeah. I’d

Sherry Jiang 6:21
rather actually people did leave, right to join tech companies, right? Yeah. Um, there was actually one person I remember who joined this company. Later on called Lux valet, actually, I use that as an example that I kind of make fun of a little bit. But again, it was like this era of like, you know, Uber for any kind of like, you know, one percenter product that was like, kind of like for the people of SF the one percenters by that one percenters type of thing. But anyways, she, among other people, were a group of folks that actually did move into the tech industry. So so that wasn’t uncommon. Um, there’s someone else I knew that now works at Greylock, used to work at Greylock. Right. So it wasn’t uncommon to move into tech. Because again, people were like, Why am I why am I doing this part of the work in this industry, when I could be more on the forefront of it right, not just doing the, you know, the m&a side or the transaction side of things. So, I mean, I kind of felt that way early on. And I was like, You know what, like, let me just let go of whatever procedure you’re supposed to try for a job like this. Let me just go straight into tech, real right away for my first full time role.

Michael Waitze 7:31
What was it like we’re gonna Google? Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 7:34
I absolutely loved it. My first few years. I mean, I think and Google was, you know, I think at a different place when I was there as well. So one of my favorite things was just like being in the front row seats of witnessing, like, history, right? You’re at one of the significant companies in the world, right? Yeah, you had access to Larry Page and Sergey Brin almost every week at TGIF, like, that was so cool. Yeah, ever don’t do it anymore. But like, you know, back then they did it every single week. And it was all about this culture of transparency, right. So you can literally go up to a mic and ask them questions. And I love I was like, wow, like, you get to like witness that. Um, I also really liked um, you know, what Google taught me about how you can be a smart and a nice person at the same time. I feel like,

Michael Waitze 8:23
that was not the golden golden Sykes ethos at all. Actually, can I share this with you? One of the things he says all the time at work is you don’t have to be a dick to be smart. Like you just don’t have to be.

Sherry Jiang 8:34
Absolutely. And you know what, that was something that I had to deprogram a bit because, again, I was formulating internships, my, you know, everything I was doing based off of a career in finance, so I kind of assumed that, like, Hey, you can’t be softer, like, you’ve got to be like, if you you have to be a bit of an asshole to get ahead, right. And so, this idea of being somewhere where people are so nice, so accommodating and collaborative, yet also very intelligent, like made me like, really question that. And I was like, You know what, like, that’s the kind of person I want to be right? Like, I’m all about like, abundance mindset, not scarcity mindset, not like, hey, I need to be this way. bulldoze and get ahead at the expense of others. I’m like, How can I be a multiplying effect to the people around me, and be generous and help others without necessarily thinking about that, you know, calculus right in your head, just do what you love, and just, you know, hopefully uplift the other people around you as well, which is, I think very much Google ethos. I could

Michael Waitze 9:34
not agree with you more, or really, I could not agree with them. I spend so much time talking about this and thinking about this and in the building of my own company, right. Yeah. Think about that ethos as well. And I do believe that in the earliest stages of company building that you are the culture. Yeah, you mean to the people with whom you’re working, or if you’re nice because I don’t think being soft is being weak. Like I want to say this right away in any part of your life, like sometimes being soft as being extra strong, because you allow yourself to be maybe a little bit violent. Roller understood, which means you have so much confidence in yourself that it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks about you. You don’t have to bulldoze them like you said, Yeah, I agree with you this abundance mindset is way better than like this hoarding mindset of if you win, and I lose, exactly deal with it. I

Sherry Jiang 10:16
can’t either. And, you know, I have a lot to thank for Google to, you know, for for kind of bringing that mindset to me. And that’s actually how I think about building my company as well. Like, we, we don’t want to hire brilliant assholes, right? Like you are. But if you’re going to be toxic, if you’re going to be condescending, if you’re not going to be someone that people want to work with, I don’t want you on a team. Right? And so, and again, like, I agree with your point around, like being kind is not weakness, you can be firm and kind at the same time, someone’s not doing a good job, you should still tell them, hey, there are some gaps in what’s happening here. But you do so in a way that’s not you know, going to create this like fight or flight response to them, right, you talk to them and right, and you say, Look, I know you can do better, let’s figure out how we can do that together. Right? That’s that’s how I approach it. Not like you suck. Right. That’s, that doesn’t really work that just creates perpetuates that toxic culture in my mind. So

Michael Waitze 11:14
in 2018, you left?

Sherry Jiang 11:19
Um, 2018 is when I moved to Singapore, actually.

Michael Waitze 11:22
Are you excited about coming to Asia? Like, did you know anything about it at all?

Sherry Jiang 11:26
Well, it’s really funny, because I have like, never lived in Asia before even though I am Chinese American, and like, you know, Asian origin. I’ve been to Shanghai, a couple summers in my life to visit relatives, but like living in Asia, like months and months at a time. Never had done it before. It was a bit of a blind bet. If you were to ask me, so. So I’m kind of this person. We’re like, you know, if something feels right, I don’t really need a long time to make the decision, even though people might think it’s insane. So my manager at the time at Google was like, you know, there is this, like, I really think that, like this payments, opportunity in Asia is going to be great for you. You’re looking for somebody who’s really good at gross, but it’s gonna be in Singapore, you can’t work from the States. Just think on it. Like maybe take, you know, a week or two, decide if you want to do it. I know it’s a big move. I came back and 48 hours, I’m like, Yeah, I’m in like, completely. And my manager was like, you know, you can take your time. I’m like, No, I did my thinking. And I was like, you know, I what am I to lose? Right? It’s, you know, it could be a year or two, if I don’t like it, I leave otherwise, it could be like one of the best experiences, right? Just taking that risk. Let

Michael Waitze 12:35
me let me tell you a funny story. on a Monday in December of 2000, and I’m gonna get the year wrong. I can remember for I think my boss had Goldman Sachs came over to me and said, we’re not sure yet. But there may and I’m in Japan. Yeah. He said, there may be an opportunity for you in Hong Kong. We need someone who knows what you know, and can do what you can do in Hong Kong. He goes, is that cool? And I just turned around him in the middle of the damn trading and stuff. And I’m like, I’m already passionate. I’m not kidding. That’s all I said to him. And you won’t believe the second part of the story. But on Thursday, so four days later, three days later, he came to me, he goes, You better be packed, because you’re leaving tomorrow. And I did I got on a plane the next day, and I stayed there for four and a half months or whatever. Yeah. I love it. But that’s the way I think, too. It’s like, I never turned on an opportunity. That I feel like it’s just gonna make me a better person full on. Yeah, just never, never never. And I’m not the guy that says no to most things, if that’s fair.

Sherry Jiang 13:33
Absolutely. I mean, I’m the same way too, right? I mean, these kinds of chances don’t necessarily come that regularly. Right? And so in my mind, I’m like, What’s there to lose? Right? What’s the worst that can happen? And you don’t grow as a person unless you insert randomness in your life, right? You You have to kind of break out your comfort zone, introduce newness, where I see how you respond and learn in these new situations. I mean, that’s part of the reason why I love being out here more, because I’ve actually feel like I got to discover more and more who I truly am by being in like a city of situations, right. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 14:11
So did you think that you were going to be an entrepreneur like is your and again, I don’t need all the details. But like, when I look back on it, my grandfather had his own company, my dad tried so many times to start his own company failed most of the time. But I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur. Right? Because we grew up really poor. And the idea for me was like, just get a steady salary, make as much money as you can. And then, you know, hopefully, you’ll tie with some of that money in your back in the back kind of thing. Yeah. What about you?

Sherry Jiang 14:38
So I would say that I’ve always liked being entrepreneurial. I wasn’t sure if being an entrepreneur necessarily was at the forefront all the time in my life, right. I had to undo a lot of programming for my parents because they again, because they emigrated to the US and we didn’t grow up with that much either. The The pinnacle of life for them, for me, is to get like a stable job, like in law or in banking or something like that. And that’s it right? And just like live your merry life that way. But I think, throughout my life had this entrepreneurial bug in the sense that if there’s a problem, I just want to solve it. And they actually came in the form of like doing a bunch of NGOs. So I remember like, this is back in, I think, 2004 when the tsunami happened, right, in Asia. And I mean, that was probably one of the most devastating events that I remember, at least in my childhood, right? Well, it was, it was crazy. And I just couldn’t sit around and do nothing about it. So I enlisted the kids in my neighborhood. We collected rocks, we got chalk paint, we made colored basically colored rocks, and then we went door to door and sold them for charity. Right. And we raised $2,000. Just door to door. Yeah. Now obviously, like, I don’t think they weren’t necessarily artistic masterpieces, or whatever. But I guess. I mean, maybe honestly, I’ve been to some modern art museums, and I think my rock like better, might be better, right? Like young Sherry’s rocks might have actually rocked that museum, no pun intended. But, um, but yeah, like, that was kind of always me. Like, if I feel something here, right in my heart that I want to solve a problem, like, I’m not gonna wait around for permission. I’m like, you know, what, I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. But I’m just gonna start doing things. And I’m gonna learn along the way. Right? So I’ve done a series of these different, like, you know, kind of either short term or longer term, you know, charitable organizations to solve some kind of cause, right? Yeah. But I didn’t actually, like, think about, I guess, doing a startup maybe until like, you know, halfway through my time at Google, right? Where I kind of realized, well, I joined my team with a specific purpose in mind, which was like, I’m not only building a product that I think is part of the future, but it’s accelerating financial inclusion. So that social element of like doing something for the world was there, right? That the same way that it was there with some of the, you know, charity work that I’ve done before? And so I kind of thought, Okay, actually, if I wanted to scale positive impact, I have to build something like it has to be commercial, in some ways,

Michael Waitze 17:29
it doesn’t sustain itself. I don’t want to use the word sustainability in that in that way. You don’t I mean, it’s not there for the long term, like, what are you doing?

Sherry Jiang 17:35
Exactly, right. I mean, exactly. So. So I think being on, like, the team, and the product that was at Google, like gave me that kind of thought that I can actually go and build something like this myself, as well. So yeah, I think that’s, um, you know, when there’s enough of those thoughts that accumulate, especially during COVID, when you have a lot of time for self reflection, you get to a point where you’re like, you know, what, like, I don’t have exactly an idea just yet. I’ve five ideas. Let me just, you know, take a chance, take a leap, and just try to solve for it, like, any any way possible, right. So the I just kind of, I took a YOLO leap from Google, I can definitely dive into more details there, but certainly is not something that everyone recommended, because people were like, You should do a side gig, you should build it on the weekend. You know, no, I’m just gonna go 100%. All in?

Michael Waitze 18:30
Can I say that it wouldn’t have fit your personality suicide? It doesn’t.

Sherry Jiang 18:35
It doesn’t feel right, you know? And look, I’m not saying that. That doesn’t work for other people.

Michael Waitze 18:39
I think that’s why it doesn’t fit you though, at all. Because you’re not a you’re not a halfway person.

Sherry Jiang 18:45
Yeah. Because I’m like, What’s the biggest risk, right? Like,

Michael Waitze 18:48
I’m not gonna die. And I always look at it this way. Like, I’ve already been broke. What’s the worst thing that could happen to me go broke again, I know how to survive that. I want to ask you this. Have you ever been like interested in finding out more about a company and you go to their website? And by the time you’re done, you’re like, it was just filled with platitudes and stuff you didn’t understand? You? Don’t? I mean, you’re like, what do they do? I know less now than when I got there. Yeah. So the reason I asked you this is because I wanted to find out what peak was about. And I went to the website, and it took me like three minutes and I was like, got it. Like, I just get it. Do you want to just run through this story? Because I did you do this yourself? Because I love the way it just goes. Well, it starts with this thing, and then it sucks. And you also use this phrase earlier. It doesn’t spark joy. You need to use this way more often. I love that phrase. You come up with that yourself, by the way. Um,

Sherry Jiang 19:40
I came up with it in conversation with a very smart creative friend. So like, I’m like, if you believe in Myers Briggs, or whatever I would like an extroverted person and if you can’t tell, so I think a lot of my ideas are actually like they did come in conversation with someone so like, Marie Kondo reference, a spark joy I came up when I was talking to somebody, we were just bouncing ideas. But to answer your question, right, like, how did we come up with a storyline? I mean, we listen to people like that. That’s a first step, right? Like, I think a lot of the issues when it comes to like FinTech companies, or any financial services, companies, they talk down to people, they’re almost just like, hey, we’re gonna talk up here, if you don’t want expense ratios are or like Sharpe ratios, or blah, blah, blah, like, you give us some money and trust us, right? Like, you don’t have to know those things. And the entire present entire industry,

Michael Waitze 20:30
go off nomenclature and jargon. Yeah?

Sherry Jiang 20:32
Exactly. Manufactured information asymmetry, right. And you have very, very smart people that are like, I don’t get this, well, maybe I’ll pay like 1000s of dollars to like provident, or, you know, a wealth advisor to deal with this. But we have a very different approach. We’re like, look, we think our users are intelligent people, they just haven’t been empowered in a way to believe that they can actually do those things, right. And so what’s important is to step inside the shoes of the person. Now, in order to know how to do that, you need to know the person, right? So we spend countless hours talking to people about money. I mean, I’ve probably talked to like 200 300 People like at least 30 minutes about, like, what are your anxieties around money? Like, what are your pain points, right? And I drop little ways to metaphorically describe things and then see what picks up, right? Because again, people think a lot of times in terms of metaphors in terms of tangible things, right? Of

Michael Waitze 21:29
course, I know this thing, because it sounds like this thing is a much easier way to explain something than just saying, What’s your expense ratio? What does that Yeah, yeah, no

Sherry Jiang 21:37
one, no one gets it. There’s another metaphor I did use. It’s not on the website, but I use it in person, sometimes, depending on who the person is. We say we’re like the health. Like, we’re like the health tracker for personal finance, right? Oral ring. Personal Finance. Actually check if people have like,

Michael Waitze 21:52

Sherry Jiang 21:54
And they’re like, instant, like, Oh, yeah. Okay. Make sense. I like to measure my health metrics, see how things are doing make some changes? And it’s something that was long term beneficial? I get it personal finance. Okay, that makes to

Michael Waitze 22:07
wait a second. So how does this work? So what you’re saying, because you mentioned this earlier, right? All you have all this money and all these assets. And again, I think, similar this way, just because we’re very international people, I’ve got bank accounts in United States, I’ve got some in Canada, I’ve got, I don’t have as much crypto as you do. But I’ve got all these different assets and stuff. I’ve got an apartment hear someone in Bangkok, like all this stuff, there’s no way to keep track of it. And sometimes I just think, what do I even have? But are you suggesting that like, you’ve built something that goes out and takes all this data in real time and will actually notify you like, pay it into your savings this month? Kind of thing?

Sherry Jiang 22:41
Basically, yeah. And it’s gonna be an evolution, by the way, right?

Michael Waitze 22:45
Oh, simplifying, so that people can understand. But But

Sherry Jiang 22:47
yes, absolutely. Right. So basically, like we I mean, we want you to be in in control of your finances in a way that you’ve never been ever in your life, right? Like where you can literally see everything. So like, a big problem with just tracking software in general in finance, is that it’s so siloed, right? I don’t care about dBs, NAF planner, because I have so little of my assets in DBS so you can have all the fancy charts. It does not give me the complete picture. There are a ton of crypto portfolio trackers, right. Here’s, here’s the reality. Even the most degenerate people in crypto probably happens like property ETFs and retirement accounts. And 401k is right. Because like, I mean, as much as you like meme coins, you’re gonna have to figure out as 60 years old or whatever, how are you going to like retire on that beach? Right? Yeah, that’s the reality and so that like holistic, degenerate,

I just said to general love it. No, good. That’s a that’s a term that like, is used with pride and like, my niche circles, right? Like crypto as long as you get into that later. But um, yeah, like that, like, like that feeling of like, the wholeness right, like, the holistic pneus of like, asset types, holistic, pneus. And countries like that’s something that it’s so hard to do just manually and sheets.

Michael Waitze 24:03
So do you think most people are doing this kind of thing where they like, have most of their assets in one place, or like in two places, they’re like, there I have it tracked perfectly. And I’ve got 150 grand here and 75, zero to $125,000. I kind of know that. And in other places I have around like 30 grand got anything. And they just added in their head in even if the and then don’t forget to have insurance. They have mortgages and all this other stuff. So how do you how does peak do this? Like, what is the platform? Really? How does that get accomplished?

Sherry Jiang 24:31
Yeah, well, it basically automates everything, how, right

Michael Waitze 24:34
Because that’s so cool. If you can do it. Yeah?

Sherry Jiang 24:37
So um, there’s a couple of ways that we do this. So number one is that we will work with third party integrators like plaid, as well as salt edge and Singapore. If for those who don’t know a plaid, they’re like the biggest open banking player in the States. But basically, they allow you to bring in data from any They’re partners. So if they have JP Morgan, they have fidelity, they have TD Ameritrade, you don’t have to go to each of them individually, you can actually just work with Platt and then pull that user’s data into your platform. So you get like access to 10s of 1000s. Just right away 10s of 1000s of assets. So that’s one way to do it is actually doing integration with the accounts. The thing that is really cool about that is let’s say you have 20 positions in fidelity, right? You don’t have to key in 20 different positions and update them every single time every single month. You just like connect ones to Fidelity, it will spit out your 20 positions. And I’ll track it real time. That’s it, right? You’re saving yourself so many button clicks right throughout your life to just figure out what’s going on. So that’s one way that we do it. The other way is we actually pull in real time data feeds on stock prices and crypto prices as well. So if you’re somebody who wants to have, like, I guess, even greater fidelity or greater speed of updates, when it comes to stocks, you can actually input in 200 units of Nvidia into peak. And we actually pull that price data real time. So that’s that’s happening. Is

Michael Waitze 26:12
that expensive to get the real time data? Like where do you get that from?

Sherry Jiang 26:16
We have a series of data providers that we work with. It’s a SASS platform. Of course, the more things we ask for the more we pay for it, but it’s not breaking the bank. I mean, it’s not like Bloomberg, right? I mean, Bloomberg does.

Michael Waitze 26:28
That’s what I was thinking. Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 26:29
Yeah. No, look, the great thing is like there actually are like, alternatives to Bloomberg that you can use. Thank God because that Yeah, right. Because Bloomberg, I mean, really works with a large like our ex-employers, right that like

Michael Waitze 26:45
there’s a reason why Bloomberg is a billionaire.

Sherry Jiang 26:48
Exactly right. And you know, what, sometimes you don’t need a Ferrari, right? You kind of just want like a good Toyota, right? And Bloomberg will only sell Ferraris. Right. So yeah, that’s that’s why we’re glad that there’s other providers, right, so we can get those get those data feeds.

Michael Waitze 27:06
What’s the status of peak right now? Is it rolled out at all to anybody? Like, do you have people actually testing it? And I’m curious what the feedback is because, again, for someone like you and for someone like I am, I’d love to have that. Like, I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. Like I was the guy who, as soon as Quicken came out, you probably don’t remember, I know, Quicken I was started inputting stuff in from my bank accounts. And for the first like, three months, it was completely done. And then you know, one month you miss it, or one day you miss it, you’re like, then you’re done.

Sherry Jiang 27:35
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it’s actually very good timing. I mean, while we’re having this conversation, now, we’re actually starting to roll out our first invites to our beta testers. Wow. Yeah. So what we’re doing is we’re onboarding 40 People in the inaugural like version, one class or cohort. And we’ve selected them out of over 400 signups, actually, that are currently on our waitlist for the product. We’ve been kind of out in the market ish for like the last month and a half. So we’re actually pretty excited to see the kind of responses coming back to us about one product. And the thing that we like to hear isn’t just like, Okay, what are the numbers, but people being like, this feels like a product, like, why hasn’t someone built this? Like, why doesn’t this exist? Right? And we’re like, we know, it’s a hard product to build. Maybe that’s partly why it’s

Michael Waitze 28:27
very complex. There’s a lot of moving pieces, and it’s not static. It’s dynamic. Like every day, a new institution comes up and some new FinTech starts. And you have to connect to that. Yeah. Yeah,

Sherry Jiang 28:36
exactly. It’s a lot of work. And I think the people who’ve come before us building this didn’t focus on a more narrow, ideal customer profile, right, they were kind of like, Let’s build a mass market product like a mint.com. For everybody, right? We’re trying to solve this all encompassing product, for every one, it doesn’t work. So then a lot of the data connections are just garbage, because they’re just trying to get out there and bring in as much as they can. For us, we’re like, let’s just start very narrow, right? Let’s look at a digital native, digital, digitally native global audience that has complex financials, and they’re just trying to find a way to consolidate things together. And so it helps us actually frame the problem a lot better. So one of the features that we are looking to add on later that wouldn’t probably exist in a US based product is better understanding of foreign exchange risk. Right? Right. You will not really get that for like a US based product, because most people are like, I have no money in the US like who cares, right? But I mean, I care about effects risks, because I have accounts in different currencies, right? So that that specificity of that user is what allows us, I think, to build a product that works very, very well for them. And we kind of don’t care about the rest, at least at this point

Michael Waitze 29:52
at this point, though, right? You’re right. It’s, I mean, there’s so much simplicity inside of this complexity, but if you choose the right customer cohort, then you’re not like you’re not trying to build a car that everyone’s going to drive, you’re just trying to build a car that a few people are going to drive, but because they’re going to drive it forever, and actually those, those clients are gonna be some of the hardest clients to build for as well. Oh, yeah. So does that mean you deal with new companies like neobanks, like tonic and stuff like that? So you can connect to them to where do they not have the API or whatever the necessary connectivity is for them to be involved?

Sherry Jiang 30:22
Yeah. So I mean, we would love for that to happen. But I have to say, there’s not really a culture around exposing your API’s in Singapore just yet. It is the case in the US because of regulation. So basically, they say that consumers like you and me, we own our data. If we want to be able to connect our data from one platform to the other, it is our right. And that’s why it happens. Right should be, it should be the case where I owe my data. In the case of Singapore, we’re still a little bit behind, right? I mean, I know that it’s technically possible. I mean, it’s just exposing the API, right? It’s a software at best software pump. But what and where things end up breaking down a little bit is the commercials, right? So you can go to the BD teams for some of these, you know, FinTech companies, right, robo advisors, etc, they might end up coming back and say, Look, $100,000 to expose an API to your users. And at that point, I’m like, I think my investors will probably think that is an irresponsible use of money just for your single use case. Right? Right. And so, so I wish that it were different, because like, for me, just creating this interoperable system where people can get all their financial data together is so powerful, right? Like, just think about how many, like, good financial decisions are not being made today, because people don’t have that complete, right? And so for me, like that mission is way more important than just profit motive, right, just keeping data and, you know, users enclosed within a certain system. So one

Michael Waitze 31:53
of the reasons why I asked people at the beginning of the show to give me a little bit of their background and kind of just let them talk a little bit is because like you said, it exposes parts of them that maybe they hadn’t connected to some of the other things that they’re doing, or maybe their friends haven’t. But clearly, there’s a theme here for you. Of, I want to do something great. But I want to do something with impact as well. And I want to combine those two things together. You mentioned the NGOs that you worked for before, when you were younger, but this idea of building something with impact that also makes money is really important to you, it seems and that’s kind of cool, right? Because it’s okay to make money. And in a way, if you don’t, we said it earlier, like the company is not just not going to exist, right? Yeah. No,

Sherry Jiang 32:32
exactly. Right. Like, the thing is, when you have profit motive, it also makes it forces you to be efficient, right? Yeah. Scaling, impact is best done if you’re looking at your CAC, right, like, how are you keeping that low? How are you being smart about it? Right? So to me, those are not mutually exclusive, just like being smart and nice, are not mutually

Michael Waitze 32:55
coming full circle.

Sherry Jiang 32:56
Exactly. I’m like, There’s no, it’s not easy to do. Don’t get me wrong, right. I mean, there’s probably a whole bunch of things that like I could have explored as startup ideas where like, I could maybe make a lot of money doing it, but like, I would definitely not be waking up, like, you know, spending, like random hours outside of sitting at a laptop thinking about my company if I didn’t care about the problem.

Michael Waitze 33:16
So that was your thing I was gonna ask you like, when people talk to me about what I’m building, they can hear the excitement in my voice, right? I have to slow down because otherwise, I’m going to talk too fast about what I’m doing. I feel like if I just said to you tell me about peak and just didn’t say anything for the next hour, you just wouldn’t stop.

Sherry Jiang 33:33
I probably would not next hours. I mean, that’s just scratching the tip of the iceberg. We’re gonna run out of time I go

Michael Waitze 33:40
about running out of time. I have no time limits. Because I was gonna ask you like, what excites you about this? But you’ve already said it? You can you can hear it, and you can feel it. Right. And that’s kind of awesome. Can I ask you something like on a slightly different topic, if you don’t mind? Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned poker. Just in passing You like poker, whatever. Maybe we’ll talk about it later. Do you play poker? Why do you play poker? And here’s the other thing I want to ask you. I think that the things that people do, in this part of their life are completely related to what they do in the other part of their life. It’s just a different way to manifest it. Do you know what I mean? Yeah, yeah. So you’ve taught me like what poker means to you? Yeah. How it manifests itself in other parts of your life. Is that fair?

Sherry Jiang 34:20
Oh, absolutely. So look, I’m somebody who like believes, like, as a startup founder, you should still have hobbies outside of your job, right? Um, it’s, I know, some people are like, You should be 100% just on your startup, but like, I get great ideas by having some exposure to things unrelated right? I fell into poker kind of by accident, to be honest. And it was during COVID Actually, when we were like, just stuck at home and like a little board right, so I started playing online poker with a few friends. Very small Biden’s like $10 $5 like tiny and I was garbage garbage. So bad, right? I was like five 10 bucks like, you know, I like playing blackjack at the casino, whatever. Entertainment. And then COVID like restrictions started to loosen in Singapore and then I started to play live like in person $100 buy in. stakes were higher, and oh my god, I was like, I am so not good at this game. I enjoy it so much. So I gotta learn

Michael Waitze 35:24
it right if you’re seeing the movie, have you ever seen the movie “Rounders”?

Sherry Jiang 35:28
“Rounders”? No, I haven’t seen that one. I thought it was a Molly’s game but okay,

Michael Waitze 35:32
I’m gonna hang up the phone right now. I want you to go watch Rounders and then call me back. The recording. Okay. Okay, I

Sherry Jiang 35:39
got some. Some homework now. Okay. Um, no, I haven’t seen it yet. But I thought I, I thought I saw most of the gambling movies. But you know. So yeah, I realized, like, there was so much more to this game, right? I need to crack this nut and I’m, I’m somebody where like, again, like, a lot of times when people are learning something new, they hit that first hump of adversity. They might be like, Look, this is not for me, I give up. I look at it. And I’m like, You know what, I’m going to crack you. I’m gonna crack you open down on this. I’m doubling down on this. So I don’t care. And I like, studied my ass off actually, like, I started to like, also like to meet new poker friends and talk to I mean, again, I’m somebody who’s like, I have no shame or ego problems. When it comes to that. I’d be like, hey, messed up that hand. Can you tell me how you would have done it differently? You asked three people. And you’re like, wow, that’s like, I’m getting like valuable feedback, right? So I feel about startups too. It’s like, just just put something out there and get feedback, right. But

Michael Waitze 36:36
I have to interrupt you here, because I think you’re making a really good point. And this is exactly what I was talking about when I asked you this question. If you have, like, everybody wants to present themselves as I know everything, and particularly in the startup world, right? There’s all this fake bravado. And again, you just segwayed really nicely into this. Yeah. Nobody knows how to build anything. If you’ve never done it before you just keep making it up. I can’t believe I just said that. Right. But but to be able to ask people, and the example that I use is, is again, back to Google, actually, you had you had Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and they’re like, We think we have something here, but we don’t know what to do with it. Let’s find somebody that does. What is Eric Schmidt doing? Yes, get some adult supervision here, in a funny way, right. And it’s usually learned it took them what, seven, eight years to learn, like how to be a CEO. And then they were like, Eric, you’re a billionaire. Thank you very much for your help. Now, we’re going to take over, but they were at least willing to admit they didn’t know.

Sherry Jiang 37:29
Yeah, yeah. Which. Yeah, I think, um, again, like, this is something that, like, you kind of learn along the way. And that confidence isn’t about presenting the like, you know, the veneer of knowing everything. Competence is actually that deep level of self awareness of where you are currently at, with your knowledge and capabilities, and the ability to then bring in resources to fill the gaps and grow like, that’s what confidence is, right? Well, so even with my own team, I publish this memo, actually, almost every week, and I will tell them, This is what I don’t know. And this is what’s keeping me up at night. Here’s what we do know, right? And we’ll figure this out. And like, you know, that’s my style, right? Because at the end of the day, like, there’s no way I know everything, right? No, no one in the world knows everything. Right? We don’t have a crystal ball. We’re not God. Right? So instead

Michael Waitze 38:32
was for God’s sakes, we have way too much knowledge out there.

Sherry Jiang 38:35
Exactly. And so when you like when you when you put things that way, you invite conversation and invite help and support from other people. Exactly. Because the world is not this us dumb. It’s not like oh, like, I need to present myself as this note, like this person who knows everything. And if I don’t keep this veneer up, the people out there won’t trust me and won’t like me, that is actually not true at all. People relate to somebody who is confident in their abilities, but still is vulnerable at the right moments. And people want to root for you. Right? They are they’re wanting to roofer they want to help, right. I’ve learned

Michael Waitze 39:15
this gets back to the conversation we’re having earlier, right, if you’re a jerk, no matter how you are, no one’s gonna root for you to get a root against you from day one. Like, Yeah, that guy fails. I definitely.

Sherry Jiang 39:25
Right. Right. Exactly. So yeah, like, you know, going back to Poker like that is one of the main ways that I think that like, I guess, you know, personality trait or mindset manifests. You know, broadly speaking, like, you know, poker has been a very important part of my life. I think there’s so many things that it’s taught me about just knowing how to make decisions under uncertainty and take risks. Yeah, because if you’re someone who never wants to take risks at all in poker, you’re not going to be a winning player. Right? Ever. and you’re gonna make marginal calls a lot of the time that feel very, very close, I’m not sure if you play poker as well. Or

Michael Waitze 40:06
remember, you have to remember I sat on a trading desk for. So it’s the same thing to me, if you’re not willing to take a risk on a moment by moment basis, you’re just gonna do nothing and doing nothing is the biggest risk there is because then you have no agency over the outcome. And you also have no agency for learning. So I’ll never get better as a trader. And to be to be fair, like, there’s not a lot of differences, because there is information asymmetry, there’s a deadline there other participants and their emotional biases, and there’s money on the line. And yeah, their biases, there’s some things that they know that you don’t know, because they’re holding cards, you can’t see it’s the same thing in the market, right? You don’t know what I’m going to do on the close, you can maybe make a pretty good guess. Or you can bet based on my other market behavior. So all these things to me are the same. So I don’t play poker. But I’ve done that for so long that I was telling somebody yesterday, I feel like everything I’m doing today move so much slower than what was happening on the trading desk. So I feel like I have an edge there because I can make decisions in real time. And I’m not afraid to make them because I’ve made 1000s of decisions every day. Some of them.

Sherry Jiang 41:11
All of them are wrong. Yeah, yeah. Yes. And boba another great lesson from poker and trading as well, is how to be a good loser. Right? How do you lose Well, right? Because you’re going to lose like, there’s, there’s nobody I know, who hasn’t lost and lost in a major way, right. And sometimes the losses are pure, just bad luck, right. And some of them are honestly, marginal decisions where you took potentially the wrong decision, right? Or you just didn’t know enough at the time. And you need to learn to forgive yourself, right? You need to not beat yourself up all the time. Because guess what, the next hand will come, the next hand will come, the next startup decision will come, it will come you need to just pick yourself back up and keep going. And use each of those moments as evaluation points to see how can I do better, because the startup or Live Poker, it’s all about the long game, even though the episodes feel like they’re these, you know, contained experiences, all as of to the long game. So make sure you have a process and method for learning profit process and method for forgiving yourself and to seeing what that like actual, like long term horizon is going to be for you. So there’s a lot of patients involved in poker actually, as well.

Michael Waitze 42:31
Yeah, look, I always say like, no individual day is fatal. It feels like it is. But and I can’t I just want to share a funny story with you. I had Yeah, I was doing this really complicated portfolio trade. So it was four sides long, short, selling long. And then buying some skillings is very four sided trade. And I didn’t know what was inside, and I had to price it anyway, that was just beside the way the market traded in Tokyo. And I ended up being long this really illiquid stock. And I still remember the name of it. And this has got to be 20 years ago. And a few days into unwinding the street, I went to my boss’s office, we’d already lost a million dollars. And I remember walking to his office at the end of one of the days and I go, Look, we’ve lost a million bucks on this thing, just based on the volume that’s trading and the volume is traded historically, we’re probably going to lose three. And he was like, Thanks for telling me. I went back to my desk and just unwilling to trade over the next few months, we probably lost two point something million dollars on that trade. But you’re right. Yeah, it mattered. But it didn’t matter. Right. Because that day was not fatal. They didn’t fire me. We made a lot of money on other things. It didn’t really matter. But just being a knowing that feeling of just like being able to walk over to your team, because it’s not that different than what you’re doing. Right. Like I made this really wrong decision yesterday, and we didn’t get funded kind of thing as an example. Yeah. But you just tell everybody and you move on. Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 43:49
Yeah, exactly. Because tomorrow’s another day. And the next day is another day, and you need to get your head on straight to keep making those decisions. Now, obviously, if you’re making 10 of those really fatal, bad or near fatal, not great decisions, there’s probably you should be some self reflection. Well, if that happens to the best of us, right, like we’re not perfect, we’re not, you know, and actually, even under, like, even doing everything to the best of our abilities will sometimes result in an outcome that isn’t perfect, right? That’s, that’s just life. And you just accept the variance and you move on.

Michael Waitze 44:25
Exactly. So have you been funded? Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 44:28
We have been funded. We raised money two years ago. Well, but a year and a half ago during 2022, which was a very interesting time to fundraise. Yeah, we were like at the tail end of the bull market. But then it was like, just one after the other in terms of like, just macro going to share crypto winter coming and I mean, it was a difficult time to be a founder. I mean, a lot of founders left their companies because they realize this shits not that luxurious. I don’t really want to go through the hard times, a lot of people are like, this is not for me, it was for me when you know, I got to raise 5 million at a 50 million valuation and like I was a king, right. But when it came to actually real company building, like a lot of people did struggle. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 45:15
I take a long term view on this again, one of the other things I like to say is everyone’s an overnight success 10 years later, and if you not put in the work, you’re never going to be an overnight success. But in the reps, yeah, exactly. Every single day. Um, do you angel investors? Well, really? I do. Actually. It’s a thesis, like, what are you thinking about? And it’s not a test? I’m just curious. Yeah. Yeah.

Sherry Jiang 45:35
Um, so there was a couple of motivations for this, right. I think number one is that I generally want to invest in as many asset classes as I can. Just because I, I’m always curious about like, the, their individual dynamics, right. So last year, I started angel investing, I also invested into things like private credit, like other alternative assets, for angel investing, it was partly learning about the asset class, but then also, it was like, Look, this is a space where I feel like I can actually give back to the companies that I invest in more than just the money, right? Because, like, you’re gonna get a lot more from an institutional investor, then, you know, my, you know, leftover money here and there, right? Like, that’s the reality. But if I’m investing in someone at seed, I’ve been there, right? I was there very recently, right? I might even series BC founder like I finding PMF like dealing with co founder issues like all that I’ve been through it, right. So um, I would say like, in terms of thesis, right, I wouldn’t say like, I’m like VC level of, you know, thoroughness. And like, oh, like, I’ve looked at these industries, I want exposure to these industries. And I’ve looked at like XYZ signal, no, just nothing that scientific. I actually, it really actually came down to the founders that I wanted to back. Yeah, many of whom I already knew. Right? So two of the founders, I backed, building, actually, kind of similar products in the community, SAS space, community building is actually a space that I’m very, very interested in general, and how software actually can create the local global feeling of communities. How do you scale a company while also having like, you know, these individual subgroups where I feel very relevant amongst each other. So I’m very interested in that space. And I had two founders, I knew personally for a while, have companies there. And so I came in support of the two of them. The third company that I backed, I actually didn’t know the founder, but I knew the space that she was building in very well. She was actually building she is building a company that is helping women invest in India. And I was working on Google Pay for India, and oh, my gosh, I was trying to solve the gender problem. When I was there, I knew that it was like, not just a product feature challenge. It was actually a very much a marketing challenge, right. And so it was like seeing somebody build something that I wanted to build. Back when I was working on, you know, India, FinTech, I think got me really excited. So I was like, I want to, you know, back this person, right. So those are the three that I’ve done. I haven’t done a ton. I have to say if it’s a punt and nothing if it goes nowhere, I feel absolutely okay with it. Like I actually just enjoy having the relationships with the founders that I do.

Michael Waitze 48:20
I just call it tuition, like I’ve done a bunch of, I’ve done a bunch of little angel investments. And I just consider it tuition. It’s just a way to learn. Exactly, most of them, most of them will lose put, again, you talked about the importance of community, when you Angel invest at that, at that stage, you’re essentially building a community around yourself and those other people, and they’ll never, they’ll never leave you unless they’re bad people to begin with which in that case, you wouldn’t invest in them. You know what I mean? Yeah,

Sherry Jiang 48:45
no, absolutely. Right. I mean, there’s, there’s, I think, was almost like, hey, company is a cool idea. Let me know how I can help. I mean, those are just like, a few words that you’re saying, right? But when you put in time, and you put in money backing a person, that’s a signal to them, like, I care about you, right? I care about this relationship. And so that, I think is part of the motivation as well that you mentioned, right, it’s about, you know, not just like what I do with my own company, but like, Okay, how do I surround myself with people that also inspire me? Right and vote on the success right in a meaningful way?

Michael Waitze 49:22
Okay, sorry. I’m gonna let you go. I feel like you need to come back. Unless I really didn’t have fun. I have so much fun never talked to each other again.

Sherry Jiang 49:34
Honestly, the hour just like blitz by I feel like we were like talking for five minutes. And I feel like there’s more things that we could have talked about, but we just didn’t have the time to…

Michael Waitze 49:44
Let’s do it again, whenever you want. Yeah. Okay. Sherry Jiang, a co founder of Peek and just obviously so much more. You got to come back. Let’s do this again. I had a blast. And thank you again for doing it.

Sherry Jiang 49:56
For sure. I had a blast too. Have a good day.


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