FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Founder & CEO at Orum, Stephany Kirkpatrick
Stephany Kirkpatrick is the Founder & CEO at Orum, a platform for frictionless money movement. By leveraging its exclusive intelligence for predictive funds availability, Orum is building an infrastructure layer to maximize the financial potential of every American household.
"As the daughter of an immigrant, I dedicated my career to thinking about how to help those that have less, have more. That’s a big part of what led me to start Orum,” Stephany shares. Orum handles the complexity of payments and provides intelligence-backed payment orchestration and settlement in as fast as 60 seconds. "We believe that by giving people the confidence to quickly access their money, we can bring financial opportunity to all, not just the few. The reason that’s so important is because people are often held back due to the fact that they don’t have access to their money when they need it, like nights, holidays and weekends. Orum’s thesis is that we simplify a complex process of accelerating money movement for our customers so that they can build better products for their end user. This ultimately leads to better opportunities for financial inclusion."
Stephany began her career as a certified financial planner and has always found herself wanting to work on things that can create better financial outcomes for American households. "I started working on a project where I was rebuilding a piece of software (back when CD-Roms were a thing). That first piece of software, RetireReady™, taught me so much about becoming a builder and entrepreneur." Through that journey, Stephany realized how much she cared about financial planning and the opportunity to build upon and modernize the financial system through technology. Shortly after, she met a career and life mentor, Alexa von Tobel at LearnVest, who offered Stephany her first true role in fintech. "We were bought by Northwestern Mutual about six years ago and after leading the post-merger integration and innovation portfolio for three years, I started to think about what I wanted to build next. So much of Orum was inspired by things we saw at LearnVest and Northwestern Mutual," Stephany shares.
At Orum, they base a lot of what they do on their values and that has driven so much of the firm's culture. "Who and how we hire, how we celebrate our wins, and how we come together as a company," she shares. Orum's team members are focused on diversity, staying curious, leading with good vibes and good intentions, and getting things done, done, done. "The bar of excellence is high and we favor a culture of feedback to drive this excellence.
As a remote company we love 15 minute “donut” meetings every week with another randomly selected person from the team and Cafeteria on Fridays with lunch included – we know people love a meal together and this is a great way to bring that to life." For Orum’s anniversary each year, people do an “inspiration check” and give every teammate a chance to invest in something in their personal lives that they are passionate about – "This was inspired, literally, from the first investment to launch Orum from Inspired Capital!" Stephany adds.
Stephany is proud to be impacting fintech with Orum's intelligent payment platform - "our customers can send payouts and receive deposits through a single API at a much faster rate and a lower cost. The industry average for money movement is T+4 days! In a world where instant access is the norm, four days to move money into a savings or brokerage account, make an insurance claim, or payment to your credit card is antiquated. We are working to bring your spending power to the 21st century. The modernization of money movement has the opportunity to drastically change the financial system and the future of financial services products. "
Looking back, Stephany says that one of the best decisions she made was to take a detour out of fintech and help build and launch the at-home digital business for SoulCycle (now Equinox+). "I loved learning my way through a new set of skills; building hardware, solving complex supply chain needs, and seeing inside a successful brick-and-mortar business."
"I don’t really have any career regrets. I have made many mistakes but those missteps make me who I am today," She added: "I have failed epically, I have cried deeply over things, I have hired the wrong people, I have been the reason a client said no and revenue was lost. The lesson in all this is if you are taking risks, failures will happen but you gain invaluable insights. These lessons shape how you approach your next challenge and if you're smart you will not make the same mistake twice. "
Looking forward, Stephany is motivated by the constant need to "leave the world better than I found it". She says: "There are hundreds of millions of American wallets that can have access to a better financial system if I keep working on this problem. Nothing is more meaningful to me than helping others who have less, find ways to have more."
More on Stephany
Where you currently live: Larchmont, NY (NYC suburb)
Living arrangement: Since COVID my kids are keen on “sleepovers” so we spend a lot of time coming up with fun ways to do that
Family at home: With my husband and two fantastic daughters, plus a dog, a cat and on most weekends, my mom.
Hometown: Portland, OR
Favorite hobby: Yoga + baking cookies + anything in the sunshine
Favorite part of your day: Mornings (but like, after 7am!). Love getting cuddles with the family and I try to log 3-4 miles a day on my Peloton Tread.
Favorite show to binge: I don’t watch TV, but I do love to read and loved Recursion by Blake Crouch
7am: My Whoop haptic alarm gets me up and I go wake the girls for school. I usually steal some snuggles before we make our way downstairs and get breakfast underway. I love these morning moments when everyone is a bit sleepy, warm from bed and the day is yet to unfold. We love to bake – Trader Joe's mini croissants are a favorite breakfast. I also feed the cat Cosmo and get our dog out for a walk. Fresh morning air (even when it's winter) is part of my daily routine.
I do a 5 minute (set a timer) glance at all my Orum tools – email, slack – and make sure nothing urgent has come up. Getting sucked into emails at 7am isn’t good for anyone but I do need to make sure that once the kids are settled I have a sense of what is on deck. I spend another 5-10 minutes reading major headlines while the kids eat breakfast.
7:45am: I hop on the Peloton Tread which has been a staple in my life for the last 2 years and log some miles. I try to get 3-4 miles in and I often stack 20 minute classes so I can mix things up. If you are on Peloton follow me – @PursuitofMagic and let’s cheer each other on! I love Olivia, Jess Simms, and Becs if I am feeling strong. I am trying to commit to stretching more when I am done running!
9:00am: I am at my desk in my home office catching up on emails and getting my day at Orum underway. I work from home almost every day, though travel is more regular. I spend basically all day on zoom – which I actually love! I am energized seeing people’s faces and we are a “camera on” culture because I think that deepens human connection and allows for a lot more nuance in a conversation.
9:15am: I write the “Orum Weekly” which is an email I send every Monday morning. I don’t walk into an office with my teammates so this is my way of saying hello and getting the week started. This week was Episode 77 so I have been at it for a while and this routine on Monday’s is one I get inspiration for in so many ways. The message itself often starts to shape in my head when I am running and I have that free headspace to visualize the focus I want to bring to the company with my note.
12:30pm: It’s time for All-Hands (every Monday) and everyone at Orum gets together for 15 min to kick off the week. I am changing my background to an image of spicy Cheetos because today’s theme is comfort food. Every Monday we have a theme and it’s a cool way to mix things up from a standard “boring” company meeting – you learn the funny little details about your colleagues and we always find a conversation sparked or new connection made over shared interests. This week we are covering the launch of our new website and showcasing the work of our marketing team who spent months pulling this together.
12:45pm: I am religious about eating lunch and so now I dash to my kitchen and make a quick salad. My husband is the household chef so I grab any protein we have from the day before and then throw together some arugula (my fave!). He taught me the art of homemade dressing so that’s my final step. Our GC Sheena calls me from her WFH set up in Oakland and I pop an earbud in while I grab my food so we can sync on some contract terms for a big customer we are working on. We also chat about her almost one-year old daughter and finalize our plans for a work dinner next week when she is in NYC. While I sit and eat lunch I also catch up on slacks - we are a huge slack culture and it is our primary form of internal comms.
1:00pm: I make sure to drop a few things into our #hypesandbrags channel and call out great work I am seeing across the team. I want to shout out someone from product today who took ownership of our customer integration process and developed some great tools.
2:30pm: Our Exec Weekly gets underway and all of my direct reports (Tech, Product, People, Finance, Ops, Revenue, Legal) get together. We spend 3 hours together every Monday and while that sounds like a long time (and it is, we take a break!) it is our most valuable time together. Our CRO leads us through the pipeline and we look at every deal in every stage and make sure we are all tracking on what’s coming, where we have blockers, etc. Our product leader Emily reviews our integration pipeline and shares some learnings from a product/sales workshop the following week. We learn so much in these convos and it’s a great chance to slow the pace down in what is otherwise a busy, fast moving day.
4pm: We take a quick break and I need a snack!!! I dash to make a quick iced matcha latte. This is not as good as going to my fave spot in NYC – Cha Cha Matcha – but it does the trick. I am big on coconut almond milk in case you were wondering.
5:30pm: My phone rings from one of our advisors and he is pretty much the only person who I don’t use zoom with! We chat every 2 weeks and today I need some help thinking about how to represent an aspect of our forecast in an upcoming Board meeting. These 30 minutes are invaluable. I always have a 911 list of people who you can get advice from!
6:30pm: I zip downstairs and am immediately bombarded with both my girls talking over each other to tell me about their days. The joy they carry about going to school and how eager they are to tell me all the details is so refreshing – and also a bit stressful as they clamor to talk and be heard. My husband has been cooking as is usually the case and we are about to dig into some amazing BBQ. I do keep an eye on my phone in case any slacks come up that are timely since we have teams in all US time zones.
7:30pm: The bedtime routine is underway and I am coaxing (possibly yelling) my kids to brush their teeth. We all pile in my bed for stories if it is my turn for bedtime (which it is) and do some reading. I love that my girls like books as much as I do! We are currently loving ‘If I built a School’ for our youngest and ‘Unicorn Academy’ chapter books for our first grader.
7:45pm: I turn my attention back to Orum and check in with my West Coast teams to make sure everything is smooth. I look at our metrics for the day, check our #criticalincidents channel and then I do an email scrub. I live by Superhuman for email and make sure I am inbox zero every night. I also glance at my calendar for the next day and make sure I am set for the podcast recording I am doing – time to check the notes and prep/practice my talking points.
9:30pm: I eat ice cream every night. Yes, every single night! And for some reason 9:30pm has become that time when I have my scoop!
9:45pm: My whoop gives me data all day about my activity, which is set to help me optimize my sleep. Now it’s time for me to get cozy with a book and head towards lights out. I aim for 8+ hours of sleep every night and need to go to bed early to make that happen because my body wakes itself up a lot (things I learned from wearing a whoop and tracking sleep). I also love short mindfulness meditations right before bedtime.