Founding Stories: Synapse

Imagine moving to a new country to start college. Now imagine trying to open a bank account at a local branch without the traditional forms of identification: no driver’s license, no social security card, and so on. You’d think that in 2019, you’d be able to do all of this online, but that’s simply not the case.

This is the situation founder and CEO Sankaet Pathak found himself in. He had just moved to Memphis, TN from Rajasthan, India to start his undergraduate studies at the University of Memphis. Every interaction with the local bank — from account opening to receiving payments to getting a debit card — was an excruciating, in-person experience with new hoops to jump through.

Motivated by his own experience, Sankaet decided to be part of the solution. He started Synapse to help companies build new banks or financial services (like Propel).

a16z General Partner Angela Strange talks to Sankaet to unpack the founding story. Along the way, the two of them discuss:

  • The synapse founding story
  • Who in the world actually needs more financial services?
  • Solving the (product) cold start problem
  • Winning the earliest customers
  • The most creative fintech startup ideas
  • Biggest surprises for a first time technical founder

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