FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Partner at Restive Ventures, Cameron Peake
Cameron has focused her career on using technology to extend financial services to new and underserved markets. Prior to joining Restive Ventures, Cameron served as the CEO and co-founder of Azlo, a leading digital banking platform for small businesses. Before Azlo, Cameron collaborated with the international NGO Mercy Corps and launched banking and payment products in countries including Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Haiti, and the Philippines. In her early career, Cameron realized the impact of technology on disrupting the status quo in financial services, and this realization has remained an essential component of her professional journey.
Cameron Peake pivoted into venture over a year ago, and now serves as Partner at Restive Ventures, a seed stage fund. Upon stepping back from Azlo, Cameron spent some time advising others on their startup journeys, and realized how energizing and rewarding her experience was. Due to this experience, Cameron moved into venture and joined Restive because of her former connections with the team, and Restive's mission, which is to provide early capital and deep operational support to fintech founders.
In her role as Partner, beyond day-to-day investing and portfolio support, Cameron is advancing two areas of the fund of particular interest to her. The first is expanding the fund's investment and support into companies where she brings her deep expertise in SMB, B2B, enterprise, infrastructure, and operational tools for fintechs. The second initiative is to encourage more women to make the leap into the CEO seats within the industry.
Cameron is passionate about the culture at Restive. "Our goal is to be the most helpful investors in fintech, with a particular focus on early-stage founders. This means that everyone on the team is empathetic, brings a strong operating perspective, is willing to roll up their sleeves, and is committed to working closely with our portfolio companies (and others in the industry!) to make their companies better. I can’t imagine a better marriage of grit, targeted support, and optimism."
Cameron has dedicated her career to making an impact in the fintech industry since the beginning. In the early phases of her career, she built products and companies to directly unlock financial services in new markets. Currently, she is able to have a similar impact, but at a portfolio level. She is proud to impact the industry through investments and support into some of the brightest fintech founders in the industry. "My goal is to take the lessons, connections, and insights from over a decade in the industry and help others achieve their visions," says Cameron.
More on Cameron
Where you currently live: Austin, TX
Living arrangement: I live with my husband and 2 kids (ages 4 and 1.5) at home
Hometown: Portland, OR
Inspirational quote: “Within chaos lies opportunity”
What's the best job decision you ever made? What's the worst job decision you ever made?
Anything that made me feel scared or uncomfortable in some way always turned out to be the best decision - I’ve found that they’ve always unlocked a new phase of growth in my life. So I think about becoming CEO at Azlo, flying to Haiti for the first time after the 2010 earthquake hit to roll out mobile money solutions. In both those situations I leaned into new and unknown things, and I’ve come out smarter, stronger, and more well-rounded.
On a similar continuum, the worst decision has always been picking a job because of peer pressure or because it's what someone “should” do. I went to business school where there is a lot of pressure to pick a job - typically in consulting or banking - just because it’s what everyone else is doing and there is an element of competition. I didn’t end up going down either of those routes (I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t the right move for me), but I did make some decisions that were contradictory to my entrepreneurial roots because I felt social pressure to do so.
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?
Before I joined Restive, something I struggled with was finding my own authentic leadership style. While I had always identified as an entrepreneur and creator, actually leading others was unfamiliar ground. The leadership styles I saw in others seemed to be remixes of the aggressive “wartime” or “hacker” CEO models, which didn’t resonate with me - particularly as a female, non-technical founder. I’ve since come to realize that the prevailing narrative of an aggressive, growth-at-all-costs mentality doesn’t resonate or work for most people - male or female, technical or not, founder or employee. Eventually, I came to understand that while breakout success almost always requires some combination of unique market insight, grit, and luck, one of the most important catalyzers of our growth was when I stopped pretending to act like what I thought a tech leader “should” be, and instead started embracing my own model of leadership.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mistake you’ve made in the past?
Have a growth mindset! The book Mindset was a big shift for me, wherein I realized that if I worked hard enough at something I could accomplish anything. My mistake and turning point was pretty mundane - I was taking the GMAT (to go to business school). I didn’t end up working very hard to study, and predictably didn’t do very well. I thought my performance was just a result of my natural ability. It was only after realizing that I could expand my capabilities that I applied myself and ended up doing really well. I’ve taken that lesson with me through the rest of my personal and professional life.
Do you have any productivity hacks?
My biggest hack is having support to help with a lot of our household tasks! I have two young kids and without extra hands it would be impossible to get all of my work done, be able to spend quality time with my family, and to build a community here in Austin. I know I’m in an incredibly privileged position to be able to incorporate this into my routine, but it is an absolute life saver.
Wake up typically around 7, get kids ready for school, breakfast
Next, my husband and I alternate days to drop our kids off at school. I work out on the alternate days.
Work day is typically some combination of pitches (~⅓ of the day), portfolio support & internal coordination (~⅓ of the day), and ~⅓ strategic items (i.e., brand, networking/ coordination, fundraising, etc).
Dinner time & put kids to bed
Evenings alternate between work, downtime, or late dinners with people here in Austin