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Eli Wachs
Eli Wachs

Investor Update

December 4, 2023

6 min. read

Update about Updates (Update #21)

I hope everyone had a great October!

We had a team offsite in Nashville and then were back at Money2020 last month. I feel there are fewer “back to school” milestone moments with company-building, but both events did serve as nice spots for reflection. When we had our September offsite in 2022 and attended Money2020 last October, we were pre-launch, pre-revenue, pre-any proof points. A long road remains ahead, but it is nice to get those spots to see that we have covered some real ground.

We’re pleased to report we are now doing >1k verifications a day (to become portable identities). We've also received great feedback on our ability to reduce fraud while improving conversion. Footprint also signed two new customers this month—an investment platform (with 1 million users) and a payments app (who will be using us for identity, security, and auth).

A tremendous amount of work lies ahead for us. Both on product goals we want to ship the rest of the year, and sales goals to close the year hitting our targets. We need to show more crumbs of repeatability by closing some of the actionable changes in our pipeline. We’re eager to make these last two months the best of the year.

Wishing everyone a great November!

Eli

Essay

This is the second update I wrote for October

The first may be better. Probably will. I like it a lot. I can’t be certain because these are the first words I write for the second update.

I believe in symmetry

The first one was called Regrets. It is the (happier) response to Feelings. But I sat on Feelings for months. As I didn’t feel things. So I am also going to sit on regrets for a few months. As I regret more. Intentionally.

European Cigarettes smell different

They seem romantic over there. On the flight back from Money2020, I can’t feel my throat. Why do casinos let people smoke? They become congested chimneys that accept cash as down deposits on future illness.

Being Outside is nice

My gondola rides at Money2020 get discussed (mostly by me. maybe only by me). It is indoor. You sail by the smoke. Maybe that is why they smell different in Europe. Outside. Waiting to be discovered around the corner.

Sentences inspire me

I finally finished a book my sister recommended, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. It is about a man (and boy) named Leo Gusky. Some of the chapters are written in a similar format to this. I would not say I stole it. Moreso, I have six days to write my second October update and decided to start writing. This was top of mind. Okay. Maybe I stole it.

Order is key

There is a beautiful sentence in the book. “The truth is the thing I invented so I could live”. I just love the construction of words. The order. I invented the truth so I could live is so much less fulfilling, despite being perhaps the more natural and concise sentence to write.

Variation matters

I used to solely write long sentences. I thought they made me seem smart. It would be a circuitous path to the sentence, with questionable use of semi-colons to bifurcate the sentences. Good writers puncture paragraphs with shorter prose. It’s the shorter prose that impacts you. No fluff. “It’s possible I cried. What’s the difference”. Only four words. Then three. Magical. The interplay of an inner dialogue with oneself and the defensive expression to those we deem capable of hearing our own thoughts.

English class lied

With each year, my primary school English classes become more faint, unclear, and distant. In essays, we were encouraged to vary our vocabulary. To use new vocabulary in the next sentence. After I was fairly accused of using the word plethora too much, I learned myriad and litany so I could continue my performative intellectual show. I never found a good synonym for cacophony, my second favorite word. Often, I will transform a trait into something genuine, even if I didn’t start [its acquisition] with those intentions. But vocab is one for me. People say I have a good vocabulary. At first I did it to sound smart in 5th grade English and get good grades. Then I just kept using the words.

The author of the book—Nicole Krause—hates variation. Hate is a strong word. And maybe she does not hate it. But she does a beautiful job of repeating words. Sometimes within the same sentence. Or sometimes she re-uses the same string of adjectives in the next paragraph. It makes the reader feel like a good detective noticing the patterns. She used the string of adjectives I adopted to describe the memory of my English classes above, and in the next paragraph wrote “Every year, the memories I have of my father become more faint, unclear, and distant. Once they were vivid and true, then they became like photographs, and now they are more like photographs of photographs.“

Someone I didn’t know pitched Footprint better than I did

Recently, I have been transfixed by saying Footprint is not a KYC company. I am not sure when it became my mission in life to make this clarification. I had heard some feedback that people were unsure of how we differentiated. It was fair feedback. I speak to many audiences—investors, recruits, prospective customers, friends.

KYC felt narrow to me. Despite the large dollar revenue generated by other KYC companies, it felt inhibiting. I thought it did not give our product enough credit. We increasingly found a lot of our value was in giving customers our UX. Onboarding forms are expensive to build and maintain. Someone the other night told me they have 1 engineer on a team of 22 who builds onboarding forms full-time. Another company said they spent north of $250k in the last year on it. I do think this is a real issue most companies we sell to must solve. I really wanted to drive home the Stripe Connect use case, despite it applying to less than 10% of our customers. I do believe that backend APIs can’t fight fraud. You need to do both. If we own the frontend, we will own the security too. It made a lot of sense to me.

I was added to a panel at Money2020 fairly last minute. It was a surprise to the other two panelists whom I did not know. And it was a surprise to me when I learned the panel was to be about one of the panelist’s recent job announcement. He asked what my company did. I said we were an onboarding platform. Then the other panelist confirmed with me that Footprint was the company that “did KYC while tokenizing the data for security.” Ah yes—my original pitch. Do we dance again my old friend? It conveys a lot more about what we do than my nebulous onboarding platform claim.

Maybe all I needed was a brief appendage to the start. We give companies UX to KYC users and secure their data. Much cleaner.

I like books about books

My three favorite books are all more or less about books. One is about games—digital books. I think it is easier to tell a story in a story than simply tell the first story.

It’s the season of the sticks

My sister recommended the artist. I stumbled upon the song. It is about many things. Hometowns. I think Fall? It felt apropos headed into November. It also is just a beautiful song.

Regrets is more interesting

But at least this one now, for a moment, was about Footprint. A solid two paragraphs two stanzas above it gave very basic information about what we do.

“Life isn’t an investor update”

A line from a journal entry of mine a year ago. I like reading what I wrote a year ago to remember where I was. Maybe this is obvious. I continued: “We don’t have the answers and we certainly don’t know the philosophy. Life is emotions we can’t always process in real-time.”

Leo Gursky is dead

This title makes no sense, even if you’ve read The History of Love.

People aren’t sure if Leo actually dies at the end.

I am not sure I have enough parts at the end here.

Endings are always tough.

Product Releases from Last Month

  • Many improvements to add additional stability and performance to the Footprint Verify embedded flow
    • Drop-off optimizations
    • Optimizations to our Cpp Clip, web document, and selfie capture flows
  • New detailed AML/OFAC explorer to help customers do manual reviews for their users that may match watchlists
  • A new “insights” feature for our customers to monitor pass rate and onboardings
  • Our initial version of our Auth product
  • A handful of new ways to “initiate” the Footprint verify flow. This helps us support a handful of new use-cases where Footprint is utilized beyond the onboarding flow, such as adding secondary documents, cases of expired documents (re-upload), and on-demand liveness.

Product Goals for Month

  • Rules Engine V1 (the ability for customers to customize conditions cases will go to manual review or fail—one of our more requested features)
  • Mobile SDK
  • Instant App
  • Auth V2

Other

  • Footprint was named by Primary as one of 25 up-and-coming fintech startups in NYC

Where we could use help—Recruiting

  • Web engineer with mobile SDK experience
    • Continues to be big priority for us

Companies We Are looking for Intros to

  1. Turo
  2. Apartments.com
  3. Cast & Crew
  4. Carefull
  5. EP Payroll
  6. Rentprep/Roofstock
  7. Drivetime
  8. Expert Networks
    1. Alphasights, GLG, Guidepoint
  9. Sandhill Markets (formerly Stonks)
  10. Possible Finance
  11. Backer
  12. way.com
  13. Stockpile
  14. Rently
  15. Outdoorsy 
  16. Cleo
  17. Sunbit

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