My transition from Goldman Sachs to an early stage startup

I’m not your average college drop-out startup founder. It took me thirty years, three degrees, and five brand names to gather the conviction to join a startup. It had never been my goal to join an early stage startup while in a precarious immigration situation, but two weeks in, I couldn’t be more excited about our journey ahead. Prodigal is building an artificial intelligence based decision engine to power the consumer credit and lending ecosystem. Our decision engine uses human-centric natural language processing and workflow automation techniques to boost visibility, efficiency, and compliance across the value chain.

“A Man Must Have A Code.”

I decided to join Prodigal after what was meant to be a casual meeting with the CEO, Shantanu, turned into a 3-hour long chat about Prodigal, our IIT Bombay hostels, the future of tech, and our (real and metaphorical) babies. Going into that meeting (drinks at The Old Pro, in Palo Alto), I did not expect any more than to hear his thoughts on the various startup ideas out there and what makes the good ones stand out. Coming out, several hours later, I knew that what Shantanu and his team have at Prodigal was special, and I wanted to be a part of it. I spoke to my friend (and mastermind behind my hiring), Smeet, who was already part of the early team in the US, and his enthusiasm was contagious.

What I liked about Prodigal, beyond the competency of the core product and the sizable market, was its team. We shared a lot in common, including our intimate experience of the tiny hostel rooms of IIT Bombay back in the day. And yet, our shared history didn’t prevent us from engaging in healthy debate, in questioning each other’s beliefs and pushing each other to do better and to do more and to do it faster. It seemed like we had an unspoken code that would make working together easier. We could see far into the future without losing sight of the present. Our investors would agree with me.

“The Thing About The Old Days: They Are The Old Days”

Up until this point, I had operated small pieces of large companies (at ITC and Apple), I had studied companies (as an MBA student at Harvard Business School), and I had advised companies (as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs). But I had never been truly excited by a mission, an idea, before. And I had never understood why. But now, for the first time, I had the chance to be a run a company alongside a team of brilliant and thoughtful individuals. I had the opportunity to take an idea and help grow it, solve problems both grand and granular, and build a forward-learning metric-driven organization. For the first time, I felt like a co-owner of a company. A co-owner of its successes, its challenges, its products, and its people.

I decided to take the plunge, leaving behind the safety net of my past.

Everybody advised me against it. “Startups fail,” they said. While that’s statistically true, startups with clear plans and strong leaders fail less (re: succeed more). And until you really stop looking in the rearview mirror, it’s hard to accelerate forward.

“We’re Building Something, Here, Detective, We’re Building It From Scratch. All The Pieces Matter”

I probably looked at and considered around a hundred odd startups before choosing Prodigal Technologies. As an early stage startup, they stood out with a good balance of factors: compelling product market fit, sound tech, strong economics, large market, the best of investors, and above all, a thoughtful and humble leadership team.

I began a few weeks ago in a broad role spanning strategy, finance, and sales ops. I’m in a unique position where I get to evaluate the past, drive the present and look yonder to envision our future. I’m in the ultimate support function, the fulcrum between the GTM and product, where the executive decision-making needs to happen, and fast. Where things move quickly, grow steadily, and we learn and iterate daily. To quote the legendary Omar Little, "It's all in the game, yo… All in the game."

Looking forward, I’m excited being a part of this driven team and taking our ideas to fruition.

We’re hiring across the board, write to us with your resume at jobs@prodigaltech.com - tell all your friends! For more information about Life @ Prodigal, visit https://www.prodigaltech.com/careers

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Posted by

Vijayan Seshasayee

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