As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Eagleton COO and Founder – of Intellabridge Technology Corp.
Maria has experience in CxO roles, strategic marketing, and competitive intelligence. She is responsible for developing and implementing the overall marketing strategy including market research, advertising, campaign management, and client acquisition programs across multiple channels. She also has experience in operational management and has an educational background in International Finance. Maria teaches “Operational Management” at the Unit Business School and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Authority Magazine.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. I would love to know more about your story and your background. Give us some details about your journey as an entrepreneur.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur and worked in the organizations I helped to co-found. Throughout my career, I have worked on multiple projects in different industries, but fintech has always been the industry I found myself most excited about. My current company, Kash DeFi, was born out of my personal frustration with banking fees and restrictions.
What do you specialize in, and why should someone choose you over your competitors in your field?
Kash is a Mastercard-incubated, publicly-traded company (ticker: $KASHF) offering 10% stable interest rate saving accounts. We care more about the customers than competitors. Our customers can trust us as we are thought leaders in the industry, co-publishing reports with Ivy League institutions like Wharton’s Innovation Institute on leading topics like insurance innovation on customer deposits.
What are the three things that mostly helped your online business succeed?
Strong value propositions: Kash combines the values of traditional banking + benefits of blockchain technologies. This enables us to offer a higher annual interest rate by disintermediating the cost structure of traditional banks, 10% on savings which helps families, businesses, and nonprofits fight inflation with a “living savings rate.”
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
The harder I work, the more confident I get.
There is no shortage of good ideas out there, but people struggle to take a good idea and translate it into an actual business.
Not all good ideas are worth implementing, and not all bad ideas are worth ignoring. Instead of the “big idea,” what matters is the small ideas every day to make the big idea a reality, which is a combination of many factors which come with experience.
What are your three biggest accomplishments?
- My current company I co-founded, went public when I was 25.
- Surviving crypto winter with stronger product and growth
- Mother and stepmother of 6 children.
What were your most important challenges? & How did you overcome those challenges?
Finding the right channels for distribution is always a challenge for any emerging organization. Experimenting, measuring, and iterating help to overcome those challenges.
What’s your piece of advice for readers who want to achieve wealth and success in life?
I love doing what I’m doing and consider that to be the biggest success in life.
What do you think is the key to a truly successful online business?
Strong organizational processes and having deep customer empathy in mind as the greatest priority. We regularly screen record sessions with our customers to see how they navigate our product, feel their frustrations live on screen, and learn why they are even trying our product. In the process, we gain insights, customer loyalty, and in some cases, friendships. Even though we’re an online platform, the human connection is paramount, and the organizational process to systematize it and keep it at the forefront of every decision we make.
What’s your business model? How does your online business make money?
As a fintech product, we have a transactional model where we take a spread between the decentralized finance yields and the yields we give our customers. We found that through our testing if we gave the complete yield to our customers, it actually causes a negative reaction as they don’t believe it’s possible! Hahaha. Instead, psychologically, it’s more important to eliminate as many fees as possible. Due to our revenue through capturing interest spread, we can absorb many fees in traditional banking and make it a delightful consumer experience.
Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
Running a successful organization that has scaled and impacted many individual customer lives. Setting an example for women in cryptocurrency, where there are not many female leaders today.
What’s your piece of advice for people who want to quit their 9-5 job and start a business?
I never had a 9-5 job:) Probably be prepared for a 9-12 am job, and if you truly enjoy it, you’re on the right track.
What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?
I would tell myself to enjoy everyday pleasures and realize that problems today aren’t going to define me 20 years from now! With hard work, having controls in place, and staying on top of things, you can overcome any individual challenge in life. That’s true whether you’re solving organizational problems or at-home situations.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?
Embracing uncertainty as an indispensable, eventful, and memorable part of life
What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
My inspiration and mood have very little to do with running my organization. Having consistency, discipline, and a “fierce urgency of now” mindset is what gets me out of any rut. I don’t need inspiration; I just need to keep pushing harder every day. That usually does the trick.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
“Never give up” x5
When you’re running a company, whether it’s a startup or a publicly-traded company, there are many reasons to give up every day. You need the discipline to say “no” and choose to keep pushing.
Lastly, what do you think this world needs the most?
There are a lot of dreamers in the world. What we need are more implementors. More tenacious people who refuse to give up. What Y-Combinator calls “cockroaches” who refuse to die. There’s incredible technology in the world, but not enough has been fully realized in industries where we need it the most, from finance to healthcare to education. We need further penetration of existing technologies that will govern people better: in the public sector and in business.