Ulupreneur Gina Sanchez never lets a crisis go to waste; she has faced one after another in her life, ranging from personal health to career. She was diagnosed with a terminal medical condition—and beat it. Early in her career, she worked with emerging markets from Mexico to Asia, and each job shift coincided with a monetary crisis and uncertain financial markets. That chaos, however, helped Gina develop incredible coping skills. As she says, “Life will hit you and how you respond to it determines your life.”
She grew up poor in McAllen, Texas. Her grandmother immigrated to the United States during the Mexican Revolution, while her mother was the only daughter to go to college and later worked at NASA on the Skylab program. She told Gina when she was a youngster, “You are going to Harvard.” Gina never doubted it … and indeed she did. She earned a degree in economics, focusing on emerging markets, before going on to work for JP Morgan as an analyst.
“After leaving JP Morgan, she became the youngest portfolio manager at American Century Investments, overseeing a $1.5B portfolio at age 28.”
During her time at American Century, Gina was given a terminal diagnosis due to a heart-lung condition; she was told she had three to five years to live. While she kept working and even became a popular market analyst on CNBC, she began to get job burnout and continued to get grim medical news.
The California Endowment, a Los Angeles non-profit, offered Gina a job. She accepted the position, but her lungs collapsed only a couple of years later. She was rushed to two different hospitals and then given an extensive battery of tests. One of those tests found that her condition had been misdiagnosed: she actually had a very rare heart murmur that could be—and was—surgically fixed.
After spending time at the Ford Foundation, she took a job with Roubini Global Economics. A few years later, when things began going downhill at Roubini, she decided to strike out on her own. She created Chantico Global, an investment consulting firm specializing in asset allocation. She believed that investment advisers needed something better, so in 2021 she launched Chantico Technology, building a platform to help wealth advisers better guide their clients’ financial journeys.
Gina is still a frequent CNBC contributor on all things financial. We spoke to her about how her life led her to becoming something she never dreamed of: an entrepreneur.
What are your tips to other founders who are fundraising?
Fundraising doesn’t come naturally to me. I failed in a fundraising stint in 2015 and then went on to have a successful round later.
“I had to learn very quickly that technology companies have to be technology companies; investors don’t want any kind of consulting services mixed in because that’s a low-margin business.”
So, understanding the margins and the potential of what you’re selling your investors—you need to understand what your margins will be.
You also have to envision your product and why it is going to be the most important thing that people can buy. Know where your clients are coming from. I think the main reason I got funded pre-product, pre-revenue, was because we were actually taking a known client base that was already willing to pay us; they had committed to pay for the product if we built it. That was enormous in terms of being able to get the product off the ground.
Why Chantico Technology, why now?
The markets today and in the last several months have been incredibly choppy, where you need a lot of information input. The demand for our products has skyrocketed over the last nine months, because this is the kind of economic landscape and this is the kind of tool that provides incredible explanatory value; it makes advisors feel and appear intelligent and prescient to their clients. Right now is the time that everybody needs this product.
What have been your biggest challenges?
The greatest challenge was really just finding the excess manpower and bandwidth to take a break from the constant—constant—needs of consulting clients to build the intellectual property of Chantico Technology. It really wasn’t until the pandemic that we ended up with the kind of bandwidth that we needed. We initially lost a segment of our clientele when we did white papers, but I was able to participate in the SBA PPP program and suddenly I had resources to pay people for other work. I wasn’t going to waste that. And so we developed a whole piece of IP that became valuable.
What are your dreams for the future?
Personal savings in America is in crisis. We are an “under-saved” nation.
“Financial advisors are still struggling with tools that haven’t really been updated since the 1990s in terms of ensuring that their clients have good, sound plans.”
If my product can keep people from making disastrous decisions that harm their portfolios, if I can save people money in their savings by keeping them in good plans, then I’ve done my job. Financial planning is the source of the greatest stress for most Americans; if Chantico Technology can reduce that stress, I think I’ve done the world a service.