FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Co-Founder at Aura, Courtney Cardin
"I launched my impact consulting business in 2019 and spent a lot of time with entrepreneurs doing incredible things. I realized that you don’t actually have to be the smartest person in the world to start a company - you just have to be obsessed with solving a problem."
Today, Courtney Cardin is a certified money coach building Aura - a company to help manage financial anxiety and empower people to live their best, rich life. "Personal finance is personal, one-size-fits-all processes can’t help you feel better about your financial situation because your money story is yours," Courtney says: "Aura’s unique financial engagement helps users uncover their money personalities, limiting beliefs, and behaviors that cause stress and anxiety. We work with you to set goals, create a conscious spending plan and create a personalized portfolio that fits you."
Courtney started thinking about solving problems in personal finance in 2018. "That year, my boss lost her re-election, my marriage fell apart, and I moved half-way around the world to Australia. Up until that moment, I had a promising career in law and politics, I served as an economic policy and legal advisor to several U.S. Senators, political campaigns, and think-tanks in Washington, D.C. And yet, when I divorced my husband - a wealth advisor - I was totally unprepared to deal with my finances. I moved to Australia and got a job working for an impact investor writing policy strategies and curricula for his 'Academy.' While trying to help investors understand how to align their investments with their values, I learned about the universal traumas we all carry when it comes to our finances. I started working on my own money issues and realized that I wanted to help other people like me take control of their own money stories and empower them to find financial freedom on their own terms."
Courtney is proud of the culture at Aura: "I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone on our team is someone who came to us and wanted to be part of what we’re building. Our biggest partners are also investors in our company because they really want to see Aura exist in the world. I think this is because we’ve created a culture of curiosity and experimentation. We put our people first and rely heavily on all of them to help us guide the product. They know how something they’re coding or designing makes them feel - we do a lot of live design/building and we encourage people to just shout out their instincts when we suggest something new. This process has led to incredible updates and pivots that would be impossible if it was just me and Kelsey."
Looking back at her career trajectories, Courtney has been many things in her career. Her best friend joked that she "went from working for corporate raiders, to breaking up big monopolies, to being a TechBro AND a FinanceBro at the same time." But Courtney has always fought to push the boundaries and make room for people who are generally locked out and left behind. She adds: "The systems today are flawed - particularly the political and financial systems that govern daily life. I’ve worked on the inside to change the systems and from the outside to advocate for financial inclusion - now, I’m building a tool that expands access to passive wealth generation as a means to help empower the people for whom our financial and political systems were not designed. Empowering underrepresented investors and voters is good business and it’s good for democracy. "
More on Courtney
Where you currently live: Freeport, Grand Bahama (Nomad)
Living arrangement: Nomad shacking up with a Coral Farmer and Puppy in a beach bungalow in The Bahamas
Family at home: Partner, Sam the Coral Farmer, and Panda the Potcake puppy
Hometown: Baltimore, MD and Tulsa, OK
Favorite hobby: Scuba diving, planting mangroves
Favorite part of your day: There are so many, how do I pick one?
Favorite show to binge: Right now, Stranger Things
Can you tell us about a time someone encouraged you to try a task or take on a project you didn’t think that you would know how to do/or be good at?
In 2017, I was fresh off the losing Clinton Presidential campaign. I had just returned to my law firm a few weeks earlier when Trump’s first travel ban was issued. My firm sent out a request for volunteers to go to the airports to manage legal matters. When I arrived at the airport, my firm’s pro bono partner put me “in charge” of organizing the dozens of non-profit legal service providers in the Dulles Baggage Claim area. I had no idea what I was doing, but I went around, introduced myself to everyone, and tried to figure out who was doing what. In a matter of days, the Dulles Justice Coalition, a non-profit organization with 1,400 pro bono legal service providers, became a crucial partner in the nation-wide network of advocates working to reunite families, fight discrimination, and protect the constitution.
8:00 am: We’re still adjusting from California time, so we sleep in a little. I wake up first and write my “morning pages. ”A friend recommended “The Artist’s Way and I’ve been curious to try the practice.
9:00 am - 10:00 am: Money Date - we’ve been traveling for the past two months so we sit down to review our spending and talk about our goals. I’m going to Burning Man this year and it added a surprise, not insignificant expense to my budget and I’m starting to feel a little stressed. We talk through what we’ve spent, what we’re saving, and our travel plans for the rest of the year. Looks like we’re still on track and, though I’m admittedly spending more than I’d like, I’m happy that I’m spending my money intentionally.
10:00am - 12:00 pm: We haven’t been home in a while, so we do a big clean and purge and reorganize the kitchen. Now that we’re back in The Bahamas we have to plan our our meals - no Uber Eats on the island. I’ve also started working with a health and nutrition coach - she sends me some recipes and I decided that today is finally the day we’re going to invest in our own pressure/slow cooker.
12:00pm: We take a trip to the coral farm to drop off our compost and check on our mangrove nursery. We don’t have recycling on the island, but I try to compost my kitchen scraps to relieve my guilt about all the La Croix cans and kombucha empties that I create.
1:00pm: The mangrove propagules look good, especially considering that it hasn’t really rained much the last few weeks. In the Fall, these mangroves will be planted as part of an island-wide restoration effort to restore the 70% of mangrove forests that were lost two years ago during Hurricane Dorian.
3:00pm: We drive downtown to run errands. We go to the “Do It Center,” Kelley’s home repair store, and Bristol’s liquor store. Sam gets a bottle of scotch and I clean them out of all of the Hibiscus-flavored La Croix in the store.
5:00pm: We head home to finish cleaning and set up the new pressure cooker. We decide to test out the new pressure cooker to make tacos — solid effort.
6:30pm: We eat tacos and start binge-watching Stranger Things. I hide under a blanket at various points until Sam tells me that the gross/scary moment has passed. We watch a couple of episodes before I’m tapped out.
9:30pm: We take Panda for a walk and get ready for bed. Tomorrow is an early morning!
6:45 am: Early wake up for fishing trip. Our friend Rory just returned back to the island from France and is eager to get out on the water. He’s offered to take us fishing to a new spot - somewhere further south than we’ve ever been. It takes us about 45 minutes to go 50 miles by boat. Wild.
9:00 am - 12:00 pm: When we get there, the water is like glass - we’re drop fishing in ~45-60 feet. The water is so calm and clear that we can see all the way down to the bottom of the sea floor. We have to try three spots before we get some action, I catch at least 10 fish - we’ll be having strawberry grouper for dinner this week, and maybe breakfast too!
12:00 - 2:00pm: We head back to clean the fish. I go pick up Panda from our house and bring her back so she can see all the fun. We head home exhausted and with ~20lbs of fish.
2:00pm: I take a shower and sit down to write my “morning pages.” I’m supposed to do them first thing in the morning, but I didn’t have time to do them this morning.
3:00pm: Sam and I are exhausted and he has coral spawning prep tonight. We lounge on the couch binging Stranger Things.
6:00pm: Sam leaves for the coral farm and I start cleaning out my inbox. I hate checking my email and I have over 6,000 messages across 3 email accounts I need to clean up. I manage to reduce this by half, call it a success and give up.
9:00pm: I take Panda for a walk. Sam won’t be home until late tonight so I get ready for bed early and cuddle up with my new book.
6:30 am: wake up before alarm, debate whether to push snooze or actually get up and work out.
7:00 am: work out, begrudgingly (peloton class), it’s insanely hot right now, so I opt for the bike.
8:00 am: finish workout + stretch and make a smoothie adding in all the random adaptogens and supplements my partner’s brother is recommending. Sam and I take Panda for a walk on the beach and a quick swim in the ocean. It’s windy today, so we don’t stay out very long.
9:00 am: Sam goes to work and I start a full day of zoom calls, meetings, and if I’m lucky - blocked time to check my email and maybe write a few things down.
10:00am: ADHD kicking in - I make myself a Matcha tea for a caffeine boost and something else to do before I join a strategy call with my advisor to talk about behavioral psychology tools and techniques that are helping people manage financial anxiety. We talk about what we can learn from psychometric scales and how we can help people better understand their relationship with money so they can better understand how they show up and participate in their interpersonal relationships.
12:00 - 4:00pm: Meetings (growth, legal, investing, engineering).
4:11pm : Holy sh*t how is it 4pm. Co-Founder co-working time. Check email and sign off for the day.
6:00pm: Prep for coral spawning. My partner is a coral farmer in the Bahamas and right now, it’s coral spawning season. Yup, corals make babies - once a year after the full moon in July or August depending on the species of coral they release sperm and eggs. We’re in the middle of spawning season, so we’re going out on the boat tonight and I’m tagging along for the ride!
UPDATE: Coral spawned!