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

The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets) is available at

Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see for additional important information.

Stay on top of fintech

Sign up for our fintech newsletter to get the a16z take on the future of fintech.