This resilient and motivated trailblazer is leveraging the power of community to make the process of achieving financial goals for marginalized communities less lonely, confusing, and more seamless. Billie Simmons and her team at Daylight are emphasizing and reimagining things like identity and customer support with empathy at the core, to create a more inclusive banking landscape for the LGBT+ community.
Full name: Billie Simmons
Current job title: COO and Co-Founder
Current company: Daylight
Current location: New York, NY
"I’m obviously biased but I’m super excited by this recent wave of community-led banks for marginalized communities. The BaaS stack has made building hyper-specific products more accessible than ever and that means we can stop sacrificing specificity for scale."
Billie Simmons has a uniquely diverse background, having worked in various roles from marketing to software engineering at FinTech focused companies such as Techstars and Anthemis group. In 2019, Billie had the realization that she not only wanted to become a founder but also wanted to build out something that bettered the lives of the LGBT+ community. She founded startup affirm.space to help trans and non-binary people access safe spaces with a Yelp-style app. “It didn’t go anywhere but I learnt a lot about building for marginalized communities and was eventually approached by my now-co-founder Rob Curtis to join him on the mission of Daylight.”
Despite her capabilities, Billie was consistently underestimated because she was a woman with an unconventional background in the industry. “Even when I was first brought into Daylight in the early days, I think there were a number of advisors and peripheral individuals who doubted me or questioned the value I could bring and suggested I be treated as such. Thankfully, I have the greatest ally in my co-founder Rob who has seen my value and advocated for me since day one (worth also mentioning my other co-founder Paul Barnes-Hoggett is also an amazing ally and advocate, but he joined the team after this period).”
Daylight was founded in 2020 and is the first and only digital banking platform in the U.S. specifically designed for and by the LGBT+ community. Daylight is described as banking reimagined for the 30M LGBT+ people in the US who are not being served by traditional banking. Two-thirds of trans people cannot get bank cards with names that match their identity and LGBT+ people as a whole have a huge gap in the wealth needed to access things like families, homes, and transitions (which are all more expensive and less accessible than their non-LGBT+ counterparts). “We’re still in Beta for a few more months, so everything we’re focused on right now is around getting PMF and making our acquisition channels as efficient as possible ahead of public launch.”
The company also launched its first national advocacy campaign alongside All Out and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The campaign ‘Call Me By My Name’ calls for incumbent banks to put together an action plan by the end of the year on how they’re going to address the different ways in which their services are inaccessible for trans and non-binary people, specifically the ability to have a person’s chosen name on a card and see that name reflected across all their customer touchpoints.
Billie persistently works towards her role at Daylight and being a changemaker for the LGBT+ community. Having been built and launched fully remotely during Covid, remote work is built-in by design into the fabric of the company. Given the company is still in Beta, a work-life balance is hard to achieve, however, Billie tries to accommodate various activities like playing the piano, reading a lot of sci-fi books, and she is also planning to start learning the harp!
More on Billie
Currently live: New York, NY.
Living arrangement: I live blissfully alone after a brief foray into communal living at the start of the pandemic.
Hometown: A tiny village in the middle of England.
Favorite hobby: Hiking.
Favorite part of your day: The mornings, before most of the city has woken up.
Favorite show to binge: I re-watch Fleabag far too much for such a short series.
6:00 am: Wake up with the sunlight. I recently bought an automatic blackout blind so I can have darkness until it’s time to get up.
6:30 am: Meditate, breakfast (granola, almond milk, and coffee), cleaning the kitchen.
7:30 am: Workout on my bike, check my emails, stretch.
8:30 am: Shower and make myself look presentable for zoom (god I love the retouch feature).
9:00 am: Catch-up call with my co-founder Rob, figuring out what the goals are for the day/week and anything either of us needs to be aware of.
10:00 am: Morning standup with the community team, getting the latest on the upcoming events, social pushes, and marketing activities we’re planning. Currently planning a very large photoshoot with video with lots of models for pride.
11:00 am: Morning standup with Operations team to go over any customer or operational concerns.
11:30 am: Morning standup with the whole Daylight team.
12:00 pm: Castings for the aforementioned photoshoot.
1:00 pm: Lunch break (usually an everything bagel with cream cheese).
2:00 pm: Budget meeting for the photoshoot.
2:30 pm: Emails, updating our financial model.
4:00 pm: Therapy.
5:00 pm: Founder weekly, anything that needs a consensus decision or that the others need to be aware of and generally checking in about how we’re all doing.
7:00 pm: Went to my first IRL networking event since pre-pandemic! Felt eerily normal.
10:00 pm: Bedtime skincare, listening to a fun podcast (currently obsessed with ‘POOG’ on iHeartRadio).
10:30 pm: Lights out.
8:00 am: Wake up in an Airbnb in rural Virginia.
9:00 am: Realize we have no food in the house, smother myself with sunscreen and pack protein bars, water, and spare socks into a bag.
10:00 am: Go on a giant hike with some great friends in one of my favorite forests (Prince William Forest!). No phones, no thinking about work (unless it’s creative thinking).
6:00 pm: Return to Airbnb, exhausted. Shower and eat inordinate amounts of BBQ while watching Shadow and Bone on Netflix.
9:00 pm: Sleep very soundly.
Reach out to Billie on LinkedIn.