Updated: Oct 11, 2021
What’s it like to be a fintech marketer? In our “Fintech Career Walks” series, we’re revealing the career stories of some of the most inspiring and successful marketers in the sector. Subscribe to the Fintech Marketing Monthly Digest here so you don’t miss any of our future stories.
I understand the various parts of the funnel well, can talk about outbound marketing and sales pipeline challenges with the sales team while understanding the job-to-be-done enabled by our latest feature or product offering. I think this is essential in a fast-paced Fintech, where the market is constantly shifting and you need to be aware of the wider ecosystem to truly add value to prospects and customers.
“Extremely collaborative, insightful and never shy to roll up his sleeves” … “Kartik is the kinda guy you’ll never forget!” These are just a few of the words people say about the fintech marketing star of this edition of our “Career Walk” interview series: Kartik Krishnan.
Kartik started his career at probably every tech marketer’s dream company, Google, where he’d spend more than 3 years managing a portfolio of key Google AdWords accounts.
Following his career jumpstart at Google, Kartik completed an MBA at the University of Cambridge and entered the fintech startup space by joining the fintech ‘soonicorn’ Onfido. Originally hired as a digital marketing specialist, he quickly realised that what Onfido actually needed was a more outbound and demand generation approach to its marketing. So, his role shifted to a “Head of Demand Gen”.
“Realising that Onfido’s enterprise B2B focus required other approaches, my managers and I figured a ‘Head of Demand Gen’ role would be better for the company. To this end I had to learn about outbound marketing approaches, hiring and managing an inside sales team and justifying the spend (attribution).”
Currently, Kartik is a Director of Growth at the UK-based equity management platform Capdesk. Founded by the serial Danish entrepreneur, Christian Gabriel in 2015, Capdesk has raised more than £11.7 million funding over two rounds. The company is now planning to use this capital to build a “seed to post-IPO” equity platform for the usually underserved private secondary European market by onboarding established private and publicly listed companies.
About his role at Capdesk, Kartik comments: “The work is both challenging and exciting. To do it well I need to be able to trust my team, empower them to do their best work, and constantly ensure we are pulling in the same direction with speed and precision.”
What’s the difference between Growth and Marketing, and why data and empathy are key to fintech marketing?
Find the answers to these questions and more in Kartik’s complete story below.
Tell us about your career start? How did you end up doing marketing for a fintech?
My career to date has involved a lot of serendipity - as a bonafide generalist and quick learner, I’ve been able to run with the opportunities life has thrown at me.
The first was when I joined Google. I’d come out of Nottingham Uni with degrees in Science and Maths. So joining a tech giant to account manage a digital marketing offering (AdWords) was not a part of the plan. But knowing the company would provide some powerful learning opps and sensing that digital marketing was a growing realm, I got stuck in.
Since then, I’ve worked at Fintech ‘soonicorn’ Onfido following my MBA, at the incubator / accelerator Founders Factory and now am Growth Director at Capdesk (with a few stints either as a freelancer or for shorter periods at a couple of other startups along the way).
What’s it like to be a Growth Director at a fast-growing startup? What do you love about your current role at Capdesk?
As a curious and versatile person I naturally look across the entire funnel and as the founders of Hubspot say - I try and generate sustainable ‘flywheels’. Next, I try and challenge existing processes and test to find better and more impactful ways of doing them. This is the ‘growth’ part of my title.
As a ‘director’ the other side of the role is to enable the channel specialists to help us run our tests better and keep the ‘business as usual’ activities running well.
The work is both challenging and exciting. To do it well I need to be able to trust my team, empower them to do their best work and constantly ensure we are pulling in the same direction with speed and precision.
Before Capdesk, you held various roles at companies across multiple industries incl. recruitment, business services and regtech, and spent more than 3 years at Google in its Ads division. How is your previous experience helping you in your current fintech marketing role?
All of these past experiences have given me the ‘T-shaped’ skillset I believe I need to help Capdesk grow. I understand the various parts of the funnel well, can talk about outbound marketing and sales pipeline challenges with the sales team while understanding the job-to-be-done enabled by our latest feature or product offering.
I think this is essential in a fast-paced Fintech, where the market is constantly shifting and you need to be aware of the wider ecosystem to truly add value to prospects and customers.
No matter how innovative, there are always alternatives to any Fintech - very often it is the humble spreadsheet or some other simple but well-used and familiar process. It is the marketers’ job to empathise with their users and align the product in such a way that they see the reason to trade their time and money to understand your proposition.
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What has had the biggest impact on your career so far?
I’ve mentioned the ability and indeed the desire to take on new challenges throughout my career. This capacity to accept change as a constant and embrace it comes from my childhood. My father worked in the Indian army as a doctor. As a result of this, not only was the social structure around me a melting pot of cultures and people from different economic backgrounds, but we also physically moved from city to city every three years. This meant I went to 10 schools before I even did my A-levels! And then we moved to the UK, and I had to adapt to life here.
The experiences gained and the desire to learn and challenge myself inculcated by my parents has set me up for my career.
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement in your fintech marketing career so far? What about a failure?
Aside from steep learning curves both at Google (familiarising myself both with the world of SEM and the small businesses I was helping use Google AdWords) and during my MBA (all round business skills and multi-project management abilities), I must mention my role at Onfido here.
I was hired as a digital marketing specialist. But realising that Onfido’s enterprise B2B focus required other approaches, my managers and I figured a ‘Head of Demand Gen’ role would be better suited to the company. To this end, I had to learn about outbound marketing approaches, hire and manage an inside sales team and justify the spend with meaningful attribution.
My biggest challenge, however, lay in handling the volume of inbound enquiries that were not a good fit for us. While I was able to build an MvP self-service solution that just about worked, more clarity and foresight on the challenges involved, the level of product thinking needed would have eased months of pain and frustration.
What’s your favourite fintech marketing campaign?
Not a single marketing campaign per se, but I really appreciate the way Stripe revolutionised the payments space by making their product appeal to an unusual audience - developers. By making their APIs so easy to integrate, developers added Stripe by default when their business needed to take payments. Once bedded in, other decision-makers were so much more likely to say yes to continue using Stripe no matter the costs and other options!
A great case of thinking out of the box, challenging themselves to make it so intuitive and easy to use that it resonated with an unusual, hard-to-please, but vital user.
What advice would you give to anyone considering starting a career in fintech marketing?
Expect things to change. Change is not only a constant, embrace it and leverage it to find ways to constantly improve. Can’t stress this enough!
Next, data is your friend. You might be the most creative and intuitive person, but having some ability to parse through reports, understand where the numbers are coming from and deriving insights will be handy and indeed mandatory at some point in your career - I am more and more sure of that.