Facet Wealth

Anders Jones

“I graduated from Stanford in 2009, right after the stock market crash. Seventy-five percent of my class didn’t have a job when we graduated. I was initially thinking I’d take a more traditional path out of college, but everything was shut down. Since Stanford is in Silicon Valley, one of my only options was to get involved with the early team of a startup that eventually became a company called LiveRamp. I was lucky because LiveRamp was a startup that ended up becoming successful and is now a public company. I was also lucky because the CEO of LiveRamp was a guy who had this philosophy of hiring energetic, young talent who hadn’t been shaped by anything yet. He gave us a bunch of responsibility and we’d course correct along the way.  As a 23-year old I was running a business development team and basically had the authority to do anything I wanted. I learned a ton very quickly so it was natural for me to stay in that swim lane. 

Before I started my own company, Facet Wealth, I was doing some early stage seed investing and became very interested in emerging tech hubs outside of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. I did a lot of deals around the country, and three investments were in Baltimore. Baltimore was not on the radar until my team and I dug deeper into what it had to offer. What struck me about Baltimore was the raw talent, cost of living and innovation. There is a ton of technical talent here. If you look into a place like Hopkins, it’s filing something like 500 patents a year. There are very few organizations in Silicon Valley that are innovating at that level. People always think Silicon Valley is this hub of innovation, but actually, the very early stages of the innovation often happen outside of Silicon Valley. Baltimore happens to be one of those places. 

When we got ready to start Facet Wealth, we had to ask ourselves objectively, ‘What is the best city in the country to start a fintech company?’ Baltimore rose to the top. It has all of the raw ingredients to witness a thriving tech ecosystem. There is such a huge demographic of really skilled technical talent here that gets largely overlooked. I think that has to do a lot with marketing. A place like Silicon Valley has done a great job of marketing itself. It’s a much more mature ecosystem at this point. Baltimore is on its way, but we need to put Baltimore on the map for existing firms that are outside of our city. 

Before COVID, the trend was already starting to move away from geographic investing. An example is that folks used to say, ‘I’m a Silicon Valley VC and I only invest in companies where I can drive to a board meeting.’ That trend was fading before COVID, but with COVID and the rise of remote work, you can be anywhere and the money can come from anywhere. It really doesn't matter. What matters the most is attracting talent to lead companies in Baltimore that understand the startup lifecycle. In Baltimore, there aren’t nearly as many of those people. In order to build a successful company you need to have people who’ve experienced that startup lifecycle before, can lead a team and  do the pattern matching to determine how to react to reach desired outcomes. 

When we determined that Baltimore was going to be the place to build our business, we knew it could work because I had been through the startup lifecycle before. I moved to Baltimore sight unseen in 2015, recruited the founding team, started the company and here we are. 

There was such a general excitement from the community at large to have a fintech company here in Baltimore. In San Francisco, if you say you’re going to start a tech company, there might be people with pitchforks in the street trying to get you. The enthusiasm we felt from Baltimore was a huge motivator when we started Facet Wealth here in 2015. One of the other benefits worth mentioning is that we’ve probably spent about one-third of the money we would have spent if we started our company in San Francisco. 

Right now we employ 260 people and we’re growing every week. Every day I wake up and I’m in the biggest job of my life. I approach the job with a fair amount of humility because there’s a whole lot of learning between here and our eventual outcome. 

I've had the great benefit of some really amazing mentors in my career that allowed me to grow well beyond where I should have been, especially considering my age. People recognized my talents and abilities and gave me a shot. I’ve been very lucky in that sense. I’m a big believer in paying it forward. I’ve followed that same model of hiring young, super talented, driven people, and turning them loose, but also helping them grow at the same time. I can point to a few people on my team who started very young in junior positions, who now have huge positions of responsibility. Those are probably my proudest achievements.``

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