Ulupreneur Federico Baradello attributes his resilience and entrepreneurial values to his Argentinian immigrant parents, and to his grandparents, Italian emigrees to Argentina. As Federico says, they had to be tough; immigrants often start out on the ground floor and are forced to be entrepreneurial. Federico sees parallels between the immigrant experience and the work involved in conceiving and scaling a business—for one thing, immigrants have to figure things out on the fly. He found his parents’ and grandparents’ journeys inspirational.
Growing up, Federico describes himself as a “bookish nerd.” In his family, there was no such thing as having too much education: his father had a PhD and his mother earned a master’s degree. But he exceeded even his family’s expectations, graduating from Princeton, then getting a master’s in public policy from Harvard, a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, and a law degree from UC Berkeley.
He began his career as a lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis in San Francisco, one of the leading corporate law firms in the United States.
He found it ironic working on some of the highest-profile tech deals on behalf of some of the world’s leading private equity firms—but executing those same deals by leveraging 30-year-old technology. He saw a tremendous opportunity to modernize the ways in which many folks operated in the private markets.
He initially thought that the way to deliver digital disruption in the space was to improve the productivity of the deal process itself, and when he launched DealSyte in 2017, he expected it would be revolutionary. But after 200 failed sales calls, he realized it was not a winning strategy at all. So like all good entrepreneurs, he pivoted.
He gained valuable insights from those failed sales calls, including the knowledge that if you’re talking to a small investment bank or an independent dealmaker, their primary pain points are regulatory and compliance issues. Currently, regulatory compliance is geared towards big banks, not small ones. So DealSyte evolved into Finalis, an investment banking back office platform that delivers regulatory compliance solutions for independent dealmakers—and one with an audacious roadmap ahead.
We caught up with Federico following the announcement of Finalis’ $10.7M round and explored how it is unlocking deal flow opportunities for independent dealmakers by delivering turnkey regulatory infrastructure as a service.
How did you get your first customers?
We piggybacked off of DealSyte because we’d already had many conversations with bankers. In those conversations, we identified a number of them who would be qualified customers for the regulatory solution that we could develop. And so we did “go back to the well,” as it were. Once we launched our regulatory solution, we started closing customers on the basis of that initial call list that we prepared.
What were the biggest challenges in building Finalis?
Investment banking is a highly regulated industry, so we had to go through an arduous process with the regulator in order to get our approvals in place so that we could offer the solution. But equally challenging was the need to get compliance officers sitting next to bankers … sitting next to product managers … sitting next to engineers … sitting next to lawyers—to actually conceive of, and then develop, the solution. These are not professionals who typically interact with one another. We had to put this motley crew together and find ways in a fully-remote COVID context to get folks to collaborate with one another and effectively build the product.
“COVID presented challenges, but also significant opportunities, because it forced the investment banking space to move into the cloud. And investment bankers were increasingly searching for a cloud-based solution to drive forward their compliance back office. So, Finalis was uniquely positioned to deliver that solution and to speak the language of tech to the customer cohorts. That was a tremendous opportunity to provide a product of real value.”
What are your dreams for Finalis?
We’ve scaled to support 150 customers in just a little over two years, which is unheard of in this industry. I think that bodes well for the days to come as we seek to become the world’s largest dealmaking platform.
I’m excited about the protagonist role Finalis is playing to truly democratize access to the private capital markets. Through technology, I believe Finalis can deliver world-class regulatory compliance, which scales the trust layer that unlocks revenue opportunities and growth for customers and their clients on our platform.