Building a Culture of BuildersHow Onramp Thinks about Leadership, Change, and Pace
June 7th, 2022
As CEO, my priority is to make sure that we have the right people on the team and enough capital in the bank so those excellent people can execute on the opportunity in front of us. It’s been 90 days since I stepped into the leadership position here at Onramp. The chaos of those first early days is now behind us, but we still have a lot of work to do. The Series A is near-complete (more on that in a few weeks), so the next piece of the equation was to make sure we had the right people on the team and that we were all rowing in the same direction. When I first took over, time was a luxury I could not afford. I had to be decisive and swift with the initial cuts, but over the past few months, as I worked with the investors and the team, I was able to evaluate and assess the existing leadership team. One thing was clear, we all saw great opportunity, but the mission, vision, values, and (crucially) the tactics were not always aligned.
As one investor put it, “…you (Onramp) have a bunch of great people. You are all in the same boat. You are all passionately rowing as hard as you can, but you are all rowing in different directions and at different cadences.” This is precisely what it felt like at times. Change isn’t easy, but unless we get this right, we won’t be able to build the company and the solutions that the market so desperately needs right now. Over the past 90 days, we have had to overhaul nearly our entire leadership team. As I mentioned before, the company “hired up” too quickly. As one investor put it, we were suffering from “title creep”, we had way too many chiefs way too early. I believe we are now on the tail end of this transformation with Ashton Chaffee as COO, Joel Themmen as CTO, and myself as the CEO. Fortunately, the company is already starting to see the green shoots of growth and alignment from these changes.
We are now looking to build out the sales team by hiring a VP of Sales, an Account Executive, and a Business Development rep. Please tap your networks if you know of some candidates for those roles.
A culture that can move fast to solve big problems
The fundamental benefit of small teams is that they can move quickly and accomplish more in less time with fewer resources. Smaller companies can move with an agile approach towards delivering and iterating on solutions for clients because we are all working with a common sense of purpose. It is also easier early on as the company grows and scales that the entire team truly understands the customer and can relate to the customers who want us to build solutions for them. Previously, I noticed a bit of “that’s not my department” kind of speech and it drove me nearly insane.
Every executive at Onramp must commit first and foremost to being an executive with deep customer empathy, and not just the head of their department. They must be accountable to all of the other executives in the business and most importantly, the clients. They do this by making sure that we are delivering on our common vision for ourselves and our clients.
Slow is fast
I’ve mentioned previously that Onramp got ahead of itself by hiring for positions that looked good on paper but the company simply wasn’t ready. In my experience, these mistakes do more damage than the obvious waste of capital, they are disruptive to morale. Half the team may be working very hard and they have a difficult time understanding what these other executives are actually contributing to the business. A philosophy where we hire slowly will go a long way towards stabilizing the culture here. It will also amp up the accountability for leadership. It is difficult to hide if you are one of the few people accountable for something. We are currently operating with half the staff that we had 90 days ago, and I feel like we are able to accomplish almost double the work with a lot less drama.
By putting our customers first we also put our other stakeholders and partners first. We seek to know, understand, and serve their needs, and doing so has already led to breakthrough solutions we hadn’t envisioned. Innovation is an emergent, ground-up phenomena, and our customers, themselves some of the most innovative advisors and intermediaries in the finance technology space, are LEADING us into it.
At Onramp, our mission is to empower them so they can, in turn, offer their clients the best investment experience with little to no disruption to their daily routine. An easy way to access an exciting opportunity. An opportunity that is taking the world by storm.
Committed to excellence
We are committed to a strong team of empathetic leaders who are passionate about delivering elegant solutions to complex problems that delight our clients with the ease and peace of mind that they deserve. We want to change the way the world thinks about finance and wealth technology. For years, the wealthtech industry has lagged behind the consumer fintech when it comes to the user experience, this shouldn’t be the way. We are here to change all of that. Financial advisors, intermediaries, and the technology they use should not be overly complicated. Cryptoassets and other alternatives should not be this big scary opaque asset class. Onramp simplifies the access points so advisors can feel empowered to deliver the best financial advice and solutions for their clients.
Eric Ervin, CEO
Onramp Invest, Inc.