FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder at Paysail, Nicole Alonso
"In high school, I spent my summers working at different medical facilities as a receptionist and in medical billing to get a glimpse into the world of medicine and what I hoped would be my future career — becoming a neurosurgeon. After applying and being accepted to Claremont McKenna College (CMC) as a neuroscience major, I received an unlikely opportunity that changed the course of my career. The summer before college I applied for countless scholarships, one of them being a Google STEM scholarship. Although I was not selected for the scholarship, I was invited to spend the summer at Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute, a four-week crash course in computer science. It was there that I uncovered my passion for technology, and as soon as I arrived at college in the fall, I switched my major to Economics and Computer Science, which I studied through Harvey Mudd College. After completing my sophomore year in the spring of 2021, I left school to work on Paysail full-time!"
Nicole Alonso, is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder at Paysail, a company aiming to not just offer a platform that simplifies the invoicing workflow, but also offer access to payment rails that allow businesses to complete payments anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, not days. The team's current focus at Paysail is to enable low-cost, user-friendly crypto on/off ramps so that any business can start seamlessly transacting in cryptocurrency for the first time.
Nicole joined Paysail after an interview for a college club (CMC’s Student Investment Fund), where she pitched a FinTech stock and spoke about her interest in the quickly growing field. Coincidentally, her now co-founder, Liam, was her interviewer and had just started building Paysail. "He told me about the idea, and between my experience working with medical billing and invoicing systems combined with seeing firsthand the impacts of gash gaps associated with legacy payment rails, I was enthralled by the opportunity. While I started out building the initial MVP for the platform as a way to get more experience developing, fast forward to a year and a half later and I’m now the company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. "
"At Paysail, we value intellectual curiosity, differentiated perspectives, and people who are not just problem solvers, but also problem identifiers." One characteristic in particular that Nicole shares with the rest of the team members is an inquisitive nature that permeates both work and personal life. "When a question arises in my mind about how the world works, I have an inexorable need to find answers to my questions. I think this inquisitive nature goes hand in hand with both identifying and solving problems. If you’re a person who questions the world around them, you’re more likely to find flaws in the ways current systems work, and in turn, create hypotheses about alternate solutions." Nicole shares.
Nicole is proud to be impacting FinTech through their mission from the origin of Paysail, which is to enable the seamless exchange of capital across borders. "We’re doing so by leveraging digital currencies that allow for near-instant low-cost payments that are agnostic to the amount, origin, and destination of funds. In doing so, we hope to not only save businesses time and money, but also provide an opportunity for businesses to participate in the global economy more easily. Furthermore, with Paysail, businesses will have full transparency as to where their money is and when it will arrive as opposed to the ambiguousness of legacy payment rails like international wire transfers."
More on Nicole
Currently live: I’ve been a bit of a digital nomad over the past two years, although I am most frequently bouncing between New Jersey and Nevada where my family is based.
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
Favorite hobby: Extreme sports! So far I’ve gone skydiving, white water rafting, sandboarding, ziplining, and rappelling just to name a few.
Favorite part of your day: Our daily product/engineering sync at 11am ET. In a remote environment, I truly cherish the moments where we’re all in one place (even if it is virtually) to verbally problem solve and share a few laughs
Favorite show to binge: CBS’s reality TV show Survivor. One of my dreams is to be on Survivor as a contestant one day. I actually played in an on-campus version of the show at CMC. Don’t be fooled, we all took it very seriously and even had a filming crew that followed us around!
What’s the best job decision you ever made? What’s the worst job decision you ever made?
During my sophomore year of college, I made the decision to decline what was then my dream internship to work on Paysail. That summer, I then made the decision to take time off of school to fully commit to building the company in a way I knew I wouldn’t be able to if I was juggling both school and work. I’ve never once doubted my decision, and feel blessed to have jump-started my career in ways that go beyond my wildest dreams. On the flip side, one of the worst job-related decisions I made was not getting an executive coach sooner. Since working with an executive coach, I’ve learned lessons in a 1-hour conversation that would’ve taken me months of trial and error to otherwise discover on my own. Through the process, I have been able to drastically improve my communication skills as I’m forced to think about how I want to articulate the root causes of challenges I’m facing. I strongly believe that some of the best traits a leader can have are self-awareness coupled with a desire for self-improvement, and executive coaching has given me both the tools to strengthen my mindfulness and actionable items to embark on a continuous cycle of personal development.
6:00 am: Wake up to the sound of my iphone alarm and start my morning routine. I press snooze and turn on my laptop for a half hour of Netflix or YouTube before getting out of bed. Then I’ll run to the kitchen for a quick cup of morning coffee with my mom before she heads off to work, at which point I’ll eat breakfast and read the most recent book one of our employees has recommended me — The Field Guide to Global Payments by Sophia Goldberg.
7:30 am: Get in a quick workout whether it be a walk, run, HIIT workout, or virtual ballet class. 8:00 am: I try to set aside the first several hours of my day as “focus time” to get high priority items completed before any meetings. Today it’s reviewing several documents from our lawyers and preparing for our next engineering sprint.
11:00 am: Each day, we have a quick product and engineering sync to discuss any blockers related to our current sprint and answer a fun question of the day.
12:30 pm: Meet with a vendor we’re working with for transaction monitoring and go over implementation details.
1:30 pm: In between meetings, review and leave comments on Figma designs related to our next sprint cycle.
3:00 pm: Weekly one-on-one meeting with one of our employees.
5:00 pm: Take a break to go to a hot yoga class, make and eat dinner, and edit some pictures for my photography Instagram account.
7:30 pm: Clean up our GitHub kanban board a bit and make sure we are on track to meet upcoming deadlines. Then, I’ll write out a to do list with my top three priorities for the next day.
7:00 am: Once a week, I treat myself to a special breakfast. Today I drove to my favorite coffee shop for an iced dirty chai and picked up a bagel sandwich from a nearby deli. I enjoy the two while sitting outside and listening to my Spotify playlist of the month.
12:00 pm: On Fridays, we have a virtual team happy hour which consists of us playing Srkibbl.io, an online drawing and guessing game or GeoGuessr where we guess locations from street view maps all around the world.
1:00 pm: Weekly product sync where we go over product ideas for upcoming cycles and do a bit of live wireframing. This ends up being a collaborative creative brainstorming session where we talk through different logistical components of future flows.
3:00 pm: Spend a few hours testing a new feature that’s set to be launched on Monday.
5:30 pm: Quickly answer all unopened emails so I can end the week with “Inbox Zero”.
7:00 pm: Take the bus from New Jersey into New York City for a dance class and to try a new restaurant. Recently, I’ve been on the hunt for the best bowl of spaghetti pomodoro.