• findSisterhood

Lori Shao


Founder & CEO at Finli

https://finliapp.com


Tell us about your career and how it all started? What is Finli, When did you start it and Why?

Finli is a mobile app that enables family, friends, community to directly contribute to

your bills. We are a bill payment platform with crowdsourcing - think GoFundMe plus

online billpay for families with kids. We aggregate the contributions and pay the bills

directly to the merchant. Mom and dad get to outsource bill payment to Finli and

benefit from a financial lift. Contributors have transparency and certainty that 100%

of their contribution actually went toward the intended. Finli embodies “It takes a

village to raise a child” and we are that digital village to bring people together for the

benefit of children.

Finli started as a passion project that I started building by myself for my own family.

When I realized this could be a solution to help other families, I explored making it

legitimate from a business perspective and quit my job. I have worked in financial

services for 16 years and spent the last 8 years working with payment and fintech

startups. It was easy yet exciting. Easy because I’ve done it for so long and it really

became a comfort zone. Exciting because it exposed me everyday to interesting,

innovative and complex startups that all wanted to make an impact in this world. To

walk away from that lucrative and stable career was probably the most important and

toughest decision I have ever made professionally.


My last day as an employee of JPMorgan was April 1st 2019 and Finli soft launched in

both Apple Store and Google Play on May 3rd 2019.


How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

The inception of Finli really came from my own personal need. As a mother of

two young boys, it became apparent that the cost of raising kids are expensive.

In fact, statistics show the cost of raising a child has increased by 40% in the

last 10 years whereas wage remained constant. In a time when we are all in

need of help and there is no room for waste, there is so much waste. I find

myself attending at least one kids birthday party a month. I would run to Target

last minute, randomly pick up a $50-ish toy. Would the child like it? No clue.

Does she have this at home? No clue. What I do know is, this toy will most likely

be discarded or donated in a reasonable time. Through Finli, I can redirect this

$50 into a direct contribution to her ballet class or summer camp.


As a female entrepreneur what are your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge thus far has been my effort to juggle the many roles I

play: mother to two young kids, wife to a supporting husband, daughter and

primary caretaker to a disabled parent, and entrepreneur - all the struggles and

responsibilities of building a startup.


How do we educate the community to invest in small businesses run by women? What

can an individual do?

To ask the community to give women lead businesses a chance almost

downplays true value-add of these businesses. I do not expect nor do I want

empathy; however, I would hope that people will not discount the quality of

our solutions due to their own unconscious bias.


What does sisterhood mean to you?

A community of women coming together to help and support one another. We

are all going through similar challenges irrespective of education, race,

financial wellness. We are thoughtful, sensitive, self-less, nurturing. Likewise,

we all have moments of insecurity, am I too fat, am I beautiful, can I actually do

this…. We are complex souls and women get women. That’s what sisterhood

means to me.


What's your personal mantra?

I believe in myself


What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?

- Surround yourself with others who possess traits that you aspire to emulate.

- Do not give up easily

- Give yourself permission to fail. With failure, you can learn valuable lessons, so

embrace failure.

- Take a chance once in a while because life really does begin at the end of your

comfort zone.


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