Meet the Team! Tarique Khan looks forward to digital transformation for SMB banking with Railz
Last month, Tarique Khan joined Railz as Director of Business Development. Aside from sharing his experience, Tarique has some great insights on how financial technology (fintech) has transformed in recent years. Check out his tips for anyone who is looking to join or start a fintech company!
Thanks for being part of the Railz “Meet the Team” interview, Tarique! We’d love to know more about your professional background — what’s your story?
I’ve always been fascinated by financial services and data. I started my career in insurance right after graduating from university. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in business development in a wide range of financial services and data-focused companies, which led me to Railz.
Most recently, I worked at Exagens in Montreal — a company that leverages behavioural data to help financial services better serve their customers.
I’m also super-passionate about startups. I spend my spare time as a mentor at Fintech Cadence where I support early-stage fintechs to help them achieve their next company milestone. I also spend my time with Holt, the go-to Fintech Accelerator. Their mission is really exciting as they are powering innovative tech products and entrepreneurs.
What got you interested in joining Railz?
In the last few years, I’ve been on the consumer side of banking which has seen a lot of digital transformation in the past five years. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve seen the same outcome for small-medium business (SMB) banking. I believe opportunities for digital transformation are ripe for this market segment. After all, SMBs account for 80% of all business in the US and Canada and they should be better served.
Railz has the potential to be a real disruptor in the SMB banking space. It not only democratizes access to SMB accounting data but also converts that data into ‘jet fuel’ with its capabilities in data analytics. This really excited me about Railz and I’m stoked to be a part of the team.
You have extensive experience in fintech - how has this space changed over the years?
The narrative of fintech’s disrupting traditional banks, in my opinion, is a thing of the past. The financial services space has witnessed strong collaborations between traditional institutions and fintech startups, and that benefit has been passed along to the SMB or retail customer.
Fintech companies rarely provide end-to-end solutions as they are designed to focus on a niche product or service offerings for larger corporations. Take Wise (formerly, Transferwise) for example — they focus on sending money overseas and they do it really well! This type of thinking has incentivized traditional banks to partner with fintech platforms to improve their service offerings, without having to build anything complicated in-house.
Banks have strong trust and a loyal customer base while fintechs have fast-paced innovation and technology, which is another reason why we’ve seen some exciting partnerships come along in recent years.
How has your first month been at Railz? Anything exciting you’re currently working on?
It’s been an action-packed start at Railz with a lot of learnings right from the get-go!
Truthfully, I had my doubts about joining a fully remote team. In the ‘normal world’ I would typically walk up to someone’s desk to introduce myself. There’s a similar feel to remote work at Railz — the team is always available and open to chat. Kudos to Railz for re-creating that experience and culture digitally!
I am working on many exciting things! Railz has made some really great partnerships and I’m thrilled to build on them. Aside from nurturing our existing partnerships with great companies like Citadel and Visa, I’m currently collaborating with amazing banks and credit unions, such as M&T Bank. Look out for some exciting announcements in the coming months. 🤫
As a startup mentor, in your opinion, what separates successful startups from the rest?
A successful startup has a strong business model, great product-market fit, and the right team in place. What I’ve noticed in my experience as a mentor is that ‘grit’ separates the best from the rest. Having the stamina and passion towards jump-starting a company over a sustained period of time is, in my opinion, the secret sauce for a winning startup. This is particularly true for the fintech space where it's a marathon and not a sprint.
Some of the successful fintechs I’ve worked with truly believe in their product and have kept pushing for 3 to 4 years. This is why I think grit can go a long way in helping build a successful startup.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to start a career in the financial technology space?
A great way to get started is by getting involved. Fintech Cadence is an awesome organization to be a part of. They have amazing events such as Formathon to solve specific problems in financial services. As well with Holt — if you’re launching a startup in the space then apply to their accelerator program!
The networking opportunities they provide are important, as well! Attending Fintech Cadence’s Demo Days allows for networking and learning about new companies in a space you’re interested in. FYI, Railz will be a part of Venture Centre FIS Accelerator’s Demo Day on August 26th. Reach out to the founders and teams at these events to get to know them. This will not only help build your network but also understand your niche interests as fintech is a very nuanced space.
The last piece of advice is to get out there and reach out to someone you’re interested in connecting with. People are now pretty open to chatting remotely so take the plunge! 🌊
If you’d like to reach out to Tarique, feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samantha Lloyd is the Director of Marketing at Railz. We're building the largest financial data network to support the future of finance. She has a decade of experience building organic growth, brand, and digital marketing for startups and technology companies. In her free time, you can find Sam SCUBA diving, snorkelling, paddle boarding, and jet skiing.