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Building Fintech Businesses in Data Privacy With Sid Yenamandra

Sid Yenamandra

Sid Yenamandra is the Founder and CEO of Surge Ventures, a privacy tech venture studio. Surge Ventures helps create data governance, privacy, and compliance management startups in regulated industries. 

Sid is an accomplished entrepreneur and software executive with a proven track record of success in cybersecurity and information governance. He has founded and successfully exited three startups, including Entreda, and served as VP of Product and Marketing at Plato Networks and Founder of PacketFX. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Sid Yenamandra talks about Surge Ventures and how it helps people

  • Investing in tech to manage compliance risk for wealth management firms

  • Where Surge Ventures source its funds 

  • Surge Ventures’ clients’ acquisition process

  • Sid explains how they help firms with risk management 

  • AI risks and adoption in the financial services industry

  • Sid’s leadership style and problem-solving techniques

In this episode…

The financial services industry is highly complex and ever-evolving. Entrepreneurs face numerous challenges when establishing a tech firm in the industry, from obtaining funding to developing a product that caters to the constantly changing market demands.

To thrive in this fiercely competitive landscape, seasoned entrepreneur Sid Yenamandra emphasizes the importance of collaborating with experts. Whether you're just starting or seeking to scale your existing fintech business, these proficient professionals possess the know-how and proficiency to take your SaaS product to the next level. They offer valuable counsel and leverage their extensive network of connections to help you establish a foothold in the market.

In this episode of The Customer Wins, Richard Walker sits down with Sid Yenamandra, Founder and CEO of Surge Ventures, to discuss his journey of building a RegTech, ComplyTech, and PrivacyTech-focused venture studio. Sid talks about Surge Ventures and how it helps people, investing in tech to solve compliance risks for wealth management firms, risk management, and AI adoption in the wealth management industry.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:02 

Welcome to The Customer Wins podcast where business leaders discuss their secrets and techniques for helping their customers succeed and in turn grow their business.

Richard Walker 0:16 

Hi, I'm Rich Walker, the host of The Customer Wins where I talk to business leaders about how they help their customers win, and how their focus on customer experience leads to growth. Some of our past guests have included Jeff Schwantz Advisor360, Jonathan Michael at Wealth I/O and Robert Kirk at InterGen Data. Today I get to speak with Sid Yenamandra, founder and CEO at Surge Ventures. And today's episode is brought to you by Quik! the leader in enterprise forms processing. When your business relies upon processing forms, don't waste your team's valuable time manually reviewing the forms. Instead, get Quik! using our form extract API, simply submit your completed forms and get back clean, context-rich data that is 99.9% accurate. Visit to get started. All right, Sid Yenamandra is an accomplished entrepreneur and software executive in the field of cybersecurity and information governance. He has founded and successfully exited three startups, including the founding and leadership and Entreda, a top provider of cybersecurity compliance software to financial services firms. Prior to Entreda, Sid served as VP of product and marketing at Plato networks and was the founder at PacketFX. Sid also led a program to accelerate cryptographic algorithms for the NSA, and solutions approved for protecting national security systems. Sid holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley School of Engineering and two software patents and numerous publications to his name, man, you're successful here. This is awesome. Sid. Welcome to The Customer Wins.

Sid Yenamandra 1:52 

Thank you, Rich, thanks, excited to be here.

Richard Walker 1:54 

Now, if you haven't heard this podcast before, I talk with business leaders about what they're doing to help their customers win, how they built and deliver a great customer experience and the challenges to growing their own company. Sid we want to understand your business a little better. How does your company help people?

Sid Yenamandra 2:09 

Yeah, that's an excellent question. So Surge Ventures was founded about a year and a half ago. And what we fundamentally focus on is investing in companies, entrepreneurs, products, that help organizations particularly in the wealth management space, RIAs and BDs, deal with emerging risk, whether it's cybersecurity, whether it's AI risk, whether it's compliance risk, we feel that the amount of technology and innovation that's happening is just enormous in this space, just keeping pace with all of that is extremely challenging. And I think a lot of financial services firms don't know where to go. And they don't understand what to choose when it comes to solving compliance risk for them at scale. So it presents a very interesting opportunity for emerging players like us to be able to use some of the things that technology allows us to do today that you couldn't do five years ago, to solve problems in a very interesting way. AI is a good example of that. You could do things today with AI that you couldn't do five years ago. Exactly, it's we're able to apply a lot of that, invest in assets, invest in companies invest in entrepreneurs, to solve compliance challenges using AI for wealth management firms, rapidly. And so that bring about that innovation change rapidly. And so that's kind of what we do. Super excited about here. We're a young firm that we launched about a year and a half ago. my previous company was Entreda as you described it. I spent a decade working on helping financial firms, RIAs and BDs deal with cybersecurity threats, and helping them organize so they can face the scrutiny of the SEC, FINRA, the state boards when it came to their cybersecurity protocol. We were very successful. We're very, I was glad every morning I would wake up because I felt good that we were helping firms deal with risk when it came to cyber risk, and it was omnipresent. We exited the business, Smarsh acquired us in 2020. I was the CEO of the cybersecurity unit for about two and a half years, briefly took over as the Chief Customer Officer of Smarsh. And then left about a year and a half ago to launch Surge Ventures.

Richard Walker 4:34 

Nice. That's an amazing story. When you think about Surge Ventures, you guys are bringing different products with different businesses together at different companies, or is it just products?

Sid Yenamandra 4:44 

Yeah, excellent question. So, typically when people think of Surge Ventures, they think about it as a venture capital firm, a firm that typically invests in companies and you take a board seat, you invest in 500 companies or 100 companies or 50 companies and you spread your risk by diversifying your investments, we kind of think about things a little differently. So what we're doing is we're saying, if I look at a space, a market, let's just say compliance for financial services, specifically, Wealth Management, what is the amount of investment that's gone into that space? How many companies are serving wealth management firms with innovative products to help them deal with compliance risk, the number drops off really quickly, because the kinds of companies that are out there pretty large, that are owned by private equity, or the very large public companies. So the pace of innovation is different. And they don't quite operate in the same way, as a young, nimble startup that's using technology to solve problems in a unique sense. And a lot of the firms we serve, like RIAs are small firms or small businesses like us, right? And so they need their unique problem solved quickly. And then you've got these large organizations that are operating at scale. Are they able to operate that fast , can they keep up the innovation pace, and so we saw an opportunity to build a venture studio is what we are, where we can invest in products. And we can acquire companies that are doing things that we are interested in, or deploy capital in companies to accelerate their pace of innovation, bring it all together, but focus in a space. And that space for us is compliance, compliance and emerging risks. So it's a unique category of venture. There's a lot of new venture studios are forming a lot of people confuse us with incubators, like the white combinators, but we're not about helping entrepreneurs get venture funding on Demo Day. That's not what we're about. We're about building businesses. So we stay with our companies a lot longer. So it's a unique way of sort of looking at adventure investing. I'm excited. I'm an operator, you know, I built my own business, I've done it a couple of times. So I am more excited about the innovation process, and working with clients solving their problems, deploying capital to solve real problems rapidly. That's what drives me. And so that's why we're here.

Richard Walker 7:15 

So it sounds like it's somewhat of a hybrid between what a venture capital firm might do and what an entrepreneur does, because you get to still be an entrepreneur. But you don't start necessarily started from scratch, unless you have this brilliant idea that you want to start from scratch. You've got to work with people who are passionate, driven, they've got a vision, etc. Where does the money come from? Is it all private with your partners? Are you out raising capital, like VC funds do?

Sid Yenamandra 7:37 

Yeah. So we partnered with a firm called Burgo Capital, they're based out of Austin, they're large, I would call them an opportunistic fund, some would call them a private equity fund. But they're not a typical private equity fund. They're much more of an opportunistic fund. I was fortunate to meet these guys a couple of years ago, and we sat down together at a coffee shop. And we were sort of thinking about, how do we build businesses in parallel? Rather than building them serially if I'm an entrepreneur? How do we deploy capital across multiple startups in one market? So a lot of the sales and marketing in the demand generation activity scales across all companies, so you invest once, but you benefit many, right? How do you build a central nervous system of services? When I started Entreda, I had to find an attorney, I had to go find the finance team, I had to go find a PR firm, I had to decide, do I hire a salesperson first? Do I hire a marketing person first? Do I invest in product? Do I go create the demand first? There's all these issues? It's sort of like, you're climbing Mount Everest and doing brain surgery at the same time and entrepreneurial venture is not easy. It's not for the faint of heart failure rates super high. So how do you de-risk the investment because an entrepreneur is there to build a product solve a problem for a client, that's what they need to be focused on. You take away a lot of the mundane activity and you centralize it. And so that was the structure of what we designed with Surge was really a set of shared services that all firms can partake in. And we partner we co-found startups with creative entrepreneurs that are solving a specific problem in an area of interest. In our case, it's compliance, AI and risk. And you basically let them go, and you partner with them, you support them where it's needed. we operationalize these businesses. We're involved in their design reviews, we're involved in their sprints, we're helping them decide how their MVP is going to look their minimum viable product. We help close the first five clients, we work with their clients understand the problems, make sure the product is actually addressing the client for all this stuff that you don't see most VCs doing, right? Most VCs will typically invest rely on the entrepreneurs will pick the best. Let them go do it We tend to want to be more active. Does that make sense?

Richard Walker 10:02 

Yeah, that sounds like what I want to do if I ever found myself out of my position, which I don't look for that. I love that I love that because you're really helping entrepreneurs succeed more. And you're right. I mean, geez, when I think back to starting this company in 2002, there was no Google search and go look at code on line, you had to go to the bookstore and read books, there was no email campaign manager, there was no stripe, or I mean, you had to invent all these things. So I get it. And that's just the tech when you talk about lawyers and HR. Oh, my goodness. So I think that's a great model.

Sid Yenamandra 10:40 

That's right. Yeah. And so, it works for some firms, it does not work for every firm, right? So because some firms want to do it all themselves, because they want to control that experience. And in that case, you're out there, you can look for a partner raise money on your own and Bootstrap and whatever the, which is what we've all done. Yeah. But I think there was an alternate way, where you had an entrepreneur who doesn't really want to focus on a lot of that stuff, he wants to de risk that piece is so committed to the cause on their product, because they think this, what they're building their service or their product solves a problem for a client. That's what they want to do. That's what they're passionate about. We're interested, we want to partner with you. We want to co-found with you, we want to be sitting there on your side, because we've done that before. And we want to help you we want to enable you and so that's sort of the idea and been great.

Richard Walker 11:33 

You're the broker-dealer for entrepreneurs.

Sid Yenamandra 11:36 

Or the Hightower for RIA. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, that's sort of it's interesting. I do think that there's a lot of corollaries and similarities to the broker-dealer or shared services model. Whether it's compliance, whether it's marketing, whether it's virtual assistants, all this stuff that a lot of BDs will offer their reps. And yeah, there's a lot of similarity.

Richard Walker 12:01 

So are entrepreneurs seeking you out? Are you seeking them out? Or is it just purely opportunistic when you've come across it?

Sid Yenamandra 12:08 

The good news is because we've been in the space for a while we've built certain relationships. And so there's a lot of inbound traffic, it's a very interesting time right now. Because what we're seeing in the marketplace is, venture investing has dropped significantly, in the last year, year and a half. So the avenues for entrepreneurs to seek capital are far fewer now, either you're gonna have to bootstrap, you're gonna raise friends and family funding. The VC funding market, like we discussed is slowing, private equity won't touch you until you're at scale at some scale. Right? And so, this is a very opportune time, because we're seeing a lot of folks coming to us going, I'm building this service for RIAs. I'm building pre vetted marketing videos, because those have to go through compliance. And so they've already been vetted. We're selling the services with a company that came to us recently. intriguing idea, because why do you want to have your marketing videos go through a ton of ad review and Marketing Review, if it's already pre-built content, pre-check pre-verified, things like that. And so we had the opportunity of looking at them and saying, okay, how does that work into the risk stack of an organization. And we're able to kind of put together a line card, if you will, of services that we can offer to clients through investments we're making. So a lot of the deals we have three portfolio companies right now. And about another one that we're very close to completing in a year and a half. So we've made quite a bit of progress. In fact, when we met Rich, I was representing one of those portfolio companies at T3. So reg bursts. Yeah, so, that was a company that we built in-house. So there's a lot of exciting things going on right now.

Richard Walker 14:02 

So let's go back to risk. When do people come to you for the solution of risk? What is the key thing in their mind that they're saying, I need a solution for it? What's the pivot point for them?

Sid Yenamandra 14:14 

Yeah, that's a great question. So the market we primarily service, our RIAs and broker-dealers, and broker-dealer reps. Yeah. So when it comes to risk, and if you look at the risk landscape for an RIA, that start there. There's a tremendous, I mean, the surface areas why, there's financial risk, there's compliance risk, this cyber risk. There's vendor risk, I mean, portfolio risk. I mean, there's so many components of that. What we've tried to do is focus in areas of risk that are under-invested or where the pain threshold is, or the pain is super high for the RIA. So one of the areas for example that we're looking at is, if I look at how an RIA manages compliance today, basically basic compliance, they register with the SEC, because they've got enough assets under management, the registered with the state. Very basic things. Form ADV. So those files, I'm gonna do my 13F, I want to do my annual policies and procedures review. How do I put that together? A firm decides they want to go independent, they want to be independent? Who's your compliance partner? Who's going to help them kind of put all that together? Are they going to take that on? Because they're in the business of doing what they do best? Which is managing money, managing the client relationships, earning their trust? Did they really start their business to work on compliance issues?

Richard Walker 15:43 

So, part of what you're saying is when people are looking to streamline things that they don't really want to be the experts in? That's a component of how you manage the risk, right? That's right. Okay, that makes more sense. So they're thinking about how do I become more effective in what I do and spend less time doing the mundane, all the stupid work, if you will? And you guys are there to help them handle that? What about AI risk? I mean, there's so much risk around AI.

Sid Yenamandra 16:11 

Yeah, so it's interesting. AI presents an opportunity, but also presents a risk. Right? So what you just described is an interesting pivot point, right? So we focus on what we call undifferentiated, heavy-lifting tasks that an organization has to go through. And compliance falls into that, it's just grunt work that you got to do in order to stay in business. Stay out of the crosshairs, the regulator's just do the things that you need to do. But AI actually comes in handy to help you automate some of that there are things you can do today with AI that you couldn't do many years ago. AI can look at what you've been doing for the last five years and recommend the following five changes based on new policies based on new proposals that are out. So it can give you templates, it can help summarize your annual policies and procedures review, for example, right? Again, you always need a human to make sure that the content makes sense, and it passes muster. But AI can do a lot of that. But AI on its own is a question, because you've got the regulator's asking organizations, if you're using AI, you got to vet your AI, you got to make sure the AI itself is not going rogue on you or making recommendations that could put you at risk, right. And so it's sort of picks and shovels. But in my mind, AI presents an opportunity, but a risk. But it's not entirely different than what Cloud did to infrastructure vendors. Back in the day, when people were everybody bought a server, they put it in their garage, or they put in their wiring closet. And then you had AWS show up and say, well, why don't you just move your workload from your server into the cloud, and let us manage it for you. So you don't have to worry about making sure your power is up and making sure that your hardware doesn't crap out on the end, you got to replace it, we'll take all that we will charge you in a utility computing model where you pay as you use it. There was a lot of questions around trust. Do I trust having my data sitting in your environment? Who are you? Can you see my stuff? I don't trust. And now, if you look at where we are, I mean, there's parts of the industry that still don't adopt cloud, but they're typically the ones that are more the laggards. Most of the innovators. Most of the organizations are using Cloud actively or in some hybrid fashion. I think we're in the early days of AI. And so there's a trust issue with AI, because people don't know if the AI is giving you the right outputs. Is it being biased? Is it hallucinating? There's all these terms around AI. But there's a lot of companies that we're seeing that are working on that problem, which is to help address the picks and shovels in the AI race, right.

Richard Walker 18:57 

So I think it's interesting when you go back in time, we talked about the cloud, Quik! was in the cloud before we started calling it the cloud. We were generating web-based forms early on. And I remember I won't mention them by name, but our competitor was telling the world, you can't trust your data up in the web up in the cloud. And so they pushed against that, well, we pushed forward. And it was interesting, the adoption was slow. It was a tough sale for a long time. Like let us generate things right out of the web, and you don't have to host it, you don't have to manage it. You don't have to receive it and then put it in your servers, etc. So I wonder with AI, how fast the adoption is going to be on some of these things. Because it is really, really hard to tell at least I think it's really hard to tell if your data is secure, if you'd give it to an AI.

Sid Yenamandra 19:42 

Correct. So that's an excellent point. And what we're seeing with AI adoption is, there's a lot of general-purpose AI services and technologies that are running in the cloud. So Chad GPT good example generative AI pa like Cloud runs out there, you can feed it data. And you could have it give you some insights about the data that you fed. But you can feed it the document and ask it questions about the document as a simple example, that requires you to be comfortable sharing that document with open AI, because it's being actually hosted in their environment. Yeah, we think technologies that do that are going to be slower to adopt in this industry, because there's a general trust problem around AI. However, if you can bring AI closer to where your data is, and have it run where your data lives today, and gives you insight about your data, and is still under your control, we think those technologies have a much higher adoption cycle. So this is, again, akin to what happened with cloud, it was the private cloud deployments took off first, which was very similar to the mainframe deployments. In fact, there was a company called Eucalyptus that did extremely well, because what they did was they took everything that AWS was doing in the cloud, but they replicated it in the private cloud. So you get all the same API's, you get all the same benefits, but it's running in your environment. So you get the benefits of cloud, but it's hosted in your environment. So there's all these hybrid sort of options to the service that we see. So for example, in the health space, there are GPT solutions that are running in a private cloud, so you could run them in your environment. So a broker-dealer does not have to rely on chatGPT does most of them ban it, but they can run a private instance of a chatGPT in their environment, and make that available to their advisors, for example. Right, so things like where the data is still kept within their four walls. And so there's ways to de risk some of these aspects. But that's why you got to partner with the experts, you got to partner with the innovators out there that are working on solutions like this.

Richard Walker 21:58 

Well, and this is why I think it's early. I mean, for example, we are in a project with Amazon Web Services, to build a private large language model, because I don't want to give it to chatGPT, I don't want to get rid of the AI. But you can do that inside of an AWS environment, and then leverage their engine but not train their engine, except privately. That takes a lot of technical skill, which is why it was early. I mean, I feel like we're still building our own cars. And eventually, we'll just buy them off the shelf. So, advisors face a lot of different risks with AI, because a lot of products are coming out with AI. Does your company help them address that? assess it, find vulnerabilities or anything like that?

Sid Yenamandra 22:38 

Yeah, excellent point. So we actually have a program that we call the responsible AI program, where we can actually help advisors vet technology vendors, because half the battle is even knowing what questions to ask. So every product out there today is going to claim some level of AI, right? Whether it's a CRM product you're using, whether it's a portfolio management product you're using, whether it's risk rebound to it doesn't matter what you're you, there's some element of heuristics or AI, as many would call it, whether rightfully claimed, or wrongfully claim for marketing purposes, everyone uses the word AI. So there are a set of questions, you got to be able to ask, how are you using AI? What is the AI actually doing? How is it processing the data? Where's the data house? Are you buying third-party data and making a decision based on not just my data, but somebody else's data? So that presents a multi-layer amount of risk, right? Because now you're pulling data from somebody else?

Richard Walker 23:43 

Are you allowed to share that data with the model? I hadn't even thought about that Sid, That's right. If you're buying I mean, think about the marketers and salespeople, they're buying lists. If you run that through an AI, did you use it inappropriately?

Sid Yenamandra 23:56 

Correct. So there's a ton. So this is a multifaceted problem in terms of knowing. And so that's one piece, but then there's the reg, there's a compliance piece of this, which is okay, great. So fine. You somehow you got the data from all these sources that let's just say you're being ethical about all that. And you're complying with the data, privacy rules and data ownership and custodian data processing rules. How's your AI work? How do I know that the AI itself is not throwing out biased data? It's not using certain kinds of information, zip codes of where the person is located, or their demographic and making certain decisions based on certain things, certain factors that could bias the AI. How have you actively invested to take that out or filter that out? These are deep questions that people won't even know to ask. So I think we're going through this as an industry where people are learning their IQ is growing. And so it's paramount today if you are in this business, given the SEC recommendations of being very careful with how you use AI, especially for wealth advice, that you better have documentation, you better have a process for the kinds of questions you ask and you don't have to be perfect, but at least you got to have a process. Yeah. And so that's an area we see some near-term opportunity. And it's not about the opportunities really helping firms, because we've had about five firms that in just in the last week that we've talked to that have come to us saying, I'm using AI today, but I don't know if we're doing it the right way. And I don't know if this AI is worse, or more risky than this AI. How do I risk classify all my software vendors based on the risks that AI presents? Do you have a way to risk categorize? What questions should I ask? Put it on a spreadsheet for me? So that's an interesting area?

Richard Walker 25:53 

It is we just received our first due diligence request with AI-specific questions in it. Yeah. And this is a major company. I mean, really, really big one. So they've invested in it. And the questions they asked Are, are you going to use our data to train your model? I mean, that's a really fascinating question that would never have come up before and are you storing, etc. There's something else I was thinking about, which is, in the last six, seven years, the industry has been focused on things like best interest, and how you're a fiduciary and how you're really taking care of your clients best needs. Well, AI is poisonous to put that into a tailspin in some ways. I mean, what if you don't ask the AI the correct questions, and the best interest is not understood and it turns out wrong.

Sid Yenamandra 26:37 

That's right. Yeah. And so it's interesting to bring that up. So we have a company that we're building within the fund. It's called RegVerse. So we built our first product is a product called Avery. Okay, and Avery is a regulatory copilot. So what do I mean by that? There's a lot of co-pilots out there. But our definition of a co-pilot here is imagine all these regulations that the SEC has put out best interest, DOL, you name them, there's a cybersecurity proposal that's out, firms have to be compliant with that in May, how do you interpret the reg? You read the 1600-page document or the 600-page document? And you talk to five compliance consultants and everyone's got their own opinion? And how do you compare opinion A to B to C to D? And how do you decide which opinion to go with? And what do you implement it? This applies to best interest. And then how do you make sure that the products you choose that you've configured that operate on those rules are auditable? And then you can demonstrate that this was your entire sort of transcript, of risk of operation of compliance. Not easy to do today is very difficult, right from interpreting the reg all the way to implementing it, using the firm. And so I think this is again, a risk and an opportunity, where there's a tremendous amount of work being done today that can help process regulations. And that's what we do with Avery read every Reg, come up with the cliff notes of every reg and our golden template of what a firm should do to meet that Reg, based on a set of trained experts that are reviewed the results that have come out of this program. And then we offer that to firms and say don't use this as gospel, but this is a data point. And it can all be cited everything, we said you should do the following seven things based on this paragraph in this document. Everything is cited, everything is documented will versus somebody saying, well, this is how we've always done it for the last 10 years.

Richard Walker 28:48 

Right. Right. There's the danger of misinterpretation and bias in your own opinion and view of something. Yeah. Well, that's cool. Sid, I hate to slow us down, because I'm really enjoying this, but we'll have to wrap this up soon. And I have another really big question for you. But before we go there, what's the best way for people to connect with you and find you?

Sid Yenamandra 29:08 

Yeah, no, I think the easiest way is two ways. You can email me directly, it one word. The other way is find me on LinkedIn and just connect with me there. I'm pretty active on LinkedIn as much as I can be.

Richard Walker 29:28 

Your names unique enough to find.

Sid Yenamandra 29:30 

You're not gonna find a lot of Yenamandras out there, especially in this industry. Yeah, but yes, for sure.

Richard Walker 29:36 

Yeah. That is awesome. Okay, so here's my last question. I mean, given all your experience, all the things you've done, who has had the biggest impact on your leadership style, and how you approach your role today?

Sid Yenamandra 29:49 

That's a great question because I've met so many people in my journey, that have all taught me very different things. And it's sort of like an amalgamation of skill sets where you pick up two things here, two things here. But one of my early mentors was a gentleman by the name of Roubik Gregorian, he invented the 14.4 modem. Okay. Okay. I've used yes, we've all had, he was the early inventor of the 14.4 modem. He actually commercialized it, he built a chipset to basically that was deployed and virtually every modem that you would buy in the marketplace, PhD from UCLA, brilliant man. And I always remember this Roubik's cube right, that was at this thing that made me invented the Roubik's cube to because they invented the Modem, his name was Roubik's, he must have invented the Roubik's Cube, but not true. And Roubik was an interesting person. He was very strong, academically, very strong, technically, but an amazing, very ethical person, an amazing leader in that, the way he treated people, he was a pretty classy individual. And in the formidable years, as you're building your own leadership style, and you try to emulate, I'd say he was probably my earliest mentor, because I'd watch him in meetings. And we tend to be super, when you're in an entrepreneurial venture, you're super passionate about things, and sometimes overly passionate about things. And you get aggressive and there's some yelling, there's some screaming, and you're like, pounding on the table, because you want something done, it has to be done in a certain way. But Roubik had this really calm demeanor about how he would work through problems. He had the same, which is, let's define the problem for everything. There's a lot of chaos. And let's define the problem. Let's get up on the whiteboard. And let's just list what are we trying to solve? And it's amazing what a calming effect that would have on anything that you're doing. Because people tend to be super reactive, you're looking at a situation and you go, you're off the rails, because you're trying to get it done fast, quick. But when you sit back and you think, you look, and you say, okay, let's, let's sort of define what we're trying to solve. Let's list it and then prioritize it. Okay, these are the first three things, what is important to us? Does this meet our framework, if you will? Are we are we serving the clients, right? Are we doing what we should be doing? Are we taking a stand? Is this what we stand for? The prioritization exercise is a very tough one. And then you list the three problems, and then you dissect it. So the thinking in threes, the ability to define the problem, but calm demeanor, has a tremendous effect, because I find myself frequently, particularly as with context, switching between multiple different problems in the early entrepreneurial ventures, right. It's very easy to get carried away. And so taking a step back, looking at the problem, risk prioritization. What are we solving? Does it meet? Are we helping our clients? We take a stand. Now our stand is, we want to help organizations solve compliance problems using technology and more and do it fast. And we want to do it ethically, we want to charge a fair price. And we want to support them through the process. If these are your needs, and your requirements, all decisions have to take that into account, those of you constraints. And so it's very easy to forget certain things and get capitalistic, start focusing on the wrong thing, because it's hubris, or, oh, my competitor just announced a press release, and they've got these seven things, we got to go to the Senate. It's very easy to get lost in that. And so I think, for me, that has profoundly shaped me as a person, because I find myself in that situation daily. And so I think back and I'd like, that's so glad I used to see Roubik day and we used to have this stand up meeting every two days. And I'd see Roubik connection, right and the sky was always falling, there was always some problem. And you just watch and you process, and after a while it became a habit. We'd all be doing it. And I got home and my girlfriend at the time was telling my wife, she'd be like, we got all these problems. Okay, what is the problem? She hates me for it though. But it is a fact. There's certain things that sort of stay with it.

Richard Walker 34:26 

Oh, I love this. I really love this because that technique that you're talking about? I think number one it diffuses the ego when you are trying to collaborate with people and they have their perspective their point they want to get across their objective they're trying to nail down their ego their is driving it and you diffuse all that you're like, wait, what do we all driving for what point of all this first? I love that because then you get people thinking versus reacting to collaboration grows and you focus on things. We really try to do this in our company in a different way. I hadn't never heard of it the way that you presented it, which is check your ego at the door. and what's best for our customer first and foremost, like, that's it. I love that my team can sit back and say, yeah, it's not about my idea. It's like what is best for the customer? Because after we do the work so what? Let's get it right. That's right. So I love that framework. Man. I'm so glad I asked these questions.

Sid Yenamandra 35:18 

Yeah, no, no great, great, great ones. I mean, I think we often go about our business, we do things. It's muscle memory, we do things a certain way. But when you step back, and they're like, well, where did I really learn that? Or what was the inspiration that drove that behavior? It's interesting.

Richard Walker 35:35 

I think you're really fortunate to have been around somebody who has already calm and collected and mature emotionally. Because that is such a good guidepost to run your life with because it's so easy to get emotional, but to see what actually can be done with calmness and respect and trust. Ah, that's awesome. Lucky man.

Sid Yenamandra 35:54 

Well, look, I mean, there's always lessons that you're learning constantly. This is just one of those that mindfulness is something that you have to practice daily, otherwise, things that you like, I mean, the world we live in today, things can get out of hand really fast, so yeah.

Richard Walker 36:10 

Yeah. For sure. All right. So let's wrap this up. I want to give a huge thank you to Sid Yenamandra, the CEO of Surge Ventures for being on this episode of The Customer Wins. Go check out Sid's website at, where I think you'll find all of the things they're doing. And don't forget to check out Quik! at where we make processing forms easier. I hope you enjoyed this discussion, will click the like button, share this with someone and subscribe to our channels for future episodes of The Customer Wins. Sid thank you so much for joining me today.

Sid Yenamandra 36:41 

I appreciate it. This was great. Thank you for inviting me to your session. This was really enjoyed.

Outro 36:46 

Thanks for listening to The Customer Wins podcast. We'll see you again next time. And be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.


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