Brian Bristol is the founder and CEO of Pigeon, a platform designed to help people create and manage loans with friends and family. A software engineer at heart, Brian’s mission is to build accessible technology that supports relationships and communities throughout their financial journeys.
His experience includes working with tech giants Intuit and Pinterest, and he has raised $3M in funding from world-class investors such as Y Combinator.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Brian Bristol: My name is Brian Bristol and I am the founder and CEO of Pigeon. A builder at heart, I’m currently working on creating accessible technology that supports relationships and communities throughout their financial journeys. During the pandemic, I saw a gap in the market. Many people were in desperate need of emergency funds from loved ones, including my family. I wanted to help, but I realized it was difficult, uncomfortable, and awkward to lend money to my family members.
That’s where Pigeon comes in. I designed the app to help people lend money to friends and family in a smarter way, from anywhere in the world. I built Pigeon from the ground up to support people through the headaches and pains of the loan process. Pigeon helps friends and family keep track of IOUs, set up payment schedules, move money online, send automatic reminders, encourage on-time payments, and more.
Pigeon is also a place where people can come to learn about financial best practices. Our app includes amazing articles and advice on financial matters, both related to and not related to lending money to family and friends. With nearly $3M raised from top investors like Y Combinator across the world, we’re on a great path to helping people better mix their money with their relationships.
Before starting Pigeon, I received my Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Bowdoin College and spearheaded software development at tech giants Pinterest and Intuit. In my free time, I enjoy traveling the world, spending time outdoors, and learning new things.
2021 and 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned?
Brian Bristol: To adapt and pivot when necessary – nothing ever remains the same in business so entrepreneurs must be nimble, agile, and move quickly when necessary. It is also important to stay positive, keep our heads up, and be open to making changes.
During the pandemic, some people used their time at home as an opportunity to explore their ideas, research, or build something new. Even though we aren’t in lockdown anymore, people should take more time for themselves – travel more, read more and just listen to your thoughts because you never know what idea may come to you that could take your business to the next level.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2023? What advice would you share?
Brian Bristol: Provide a stellar customer experience. The way your customers feel about your business is super important to growth. At Pigeon, we make sure our customers understand who we are, what we stand for, and most importantly, that they can rely on us for a great experience from start to finish.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Brian Bristol: The pandemic has caused fintech to blossom. Prior to the pandemic, many fintech companies had to defend themselves as to why they were important additions to society and the way we live. Once the pandemic hit, everything moved online. With everything shifting to an online ecosystem, fintech became more important than ever before.
This shift allowed Pigeon to come to life, and since our inception, we’ve been doing everything in our power to add meaningful innovation to the space – we’re defining our own category of interpersonal finance.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2023?
Brian Bristol: When the pandemic first started, I wish someone had reminded me to make the best use of the time I had been given. For most of the pandemic, I spent it building Pigeon, but I always believe there’s room for doing more.
In the coming year, I plan to focus on improving my time management skills so that I can get more done throughout the year.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2023?
Brian Bristol: I strongly believe online businesses are here to stay and that they’ll continue to grow faster than ever before. In the fintech industry, the gap between financial institutions and tech is beginning to disappear.
There was a time not long ago that traditional brick-and-mortar businesses did not embrace the online lifestyle. For example, banks and traditional in-person institutions are quickly switching their services to being almost exclusively online.
As a result of these changes, businesses are saving money, services are becoming more accessible, and people are embracing these changes wholeheartedly.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Brian Bristol: I spend about 18 hours a day in front of a screen, whether it’s my phone, laptop or in front of the TV – my eyes hate me for this. One of these days, I would like to cut down on screen time. Right now, my life really revolves around screen time, but more and more I’ve been slowly putting a bigger focus on taking time to travel and experience new things that don’t involve a screen.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Brian Bristol: I use stories to explain everything. I like to use short analogies that people can relate to and understand. When speaking with my team it helps me break through any mental blocks, create stronger connections, and ultimately enables me to be a more approachable founder.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Brian Bristol: The real challenge I’ve seen is that businesses often struggle to set realistic goals for themselves. And if they do set goals, they often struggle to define an actionable plan for how to reach them.
We’re currently in an economic downturn, making setting and achieving realistic goals crucial to success. Time and money are precious, so making sure that you can constantly move forward is important.
In 2023, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Brian Bristol: Even though it’s a buzz word right now, I’m most interested in learning about AI topics. Along with computer science expertise, I studied philosophy in school and it is still a big focus in my life.
As I keep tabs on advancements in AI, like GPT-3, I want to understand the implications AI is going to have on society as a whole. How will people respond to the negative and positive impacts AI will have on our lives?
There are many questions still unanswered in the AI space, and although I may never work directly in that field, I’m interested to know more about its advancements and ways it may change the world.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Brian Bristol: I think people today are much more aware of the type of work culture they want to be a part of and won’t put up with being at a company where it’s less than ideal. Because of the new remote work wave, people who don’t want to go into an office four or five times a week aren’t going to work at a company that makes them do so.
With a small but impactful team at Pigeon, I try my best to create the work environment that everyone dreams they could be a part of. I enjoy getting to know my employees, I really try to pay attention to their needs, and ultimately, I see them as people first – so there’s a ton of freedom in our company.
The changes in the workplace have already begun around the US, and it’s important for leaders who are still stuck in their old ways to start paying attention, otherwise they risk losing amazing employees.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Brian Bristol: If I had the ability to pick any business superpower, I would choose the ability to sell to anyone. I believe that power to sell can get you pretty much anywhere in business. Selling doesn’t always mean your traditional customers, being able to sell well to investors, potential acquirers, the media, interested users, and more can unlock amazing doors for you that you never thought possible.
Being able to sell well does take a lot of practice, but mastering it enables you to easily convince people of the value of your product, ideas, and impact on the world.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Brian Bristol: To me, success has many meanings. At this moment in my life, success to me means impacting people’s lives for the better – no matter who comes across Pigeon, I hope they are better off after using it – and if their frustrations or stresses are relieved, then I consider that success.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Brian Bristol for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Brian Bristol or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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