Seth Radman, Co-Founder & CTO of Infinite Giving.
He is an Atlanta-based tech entrepreneur and Georgia Tech alum who has started and grown multiple successful companies. He is a 4x startup founder with 2 exits, and he has built 40+ products used by more than 300 million people.
Seth was previously the Founder & CEO of Crescendo, an AI music training app used by over 1 million musicians that was acquired by Ultimate Guitar in 2019. He also built Upbeat Music App, a real-time virtual music platform acquired by MakeMusic in 2022.
Currently, he is Co-Founder & CTO at Infinite Giving, a modern investment platform for nonprofits. Seth has been featured by Apple, Forbes and TechCrunch, and he serves as a coach and advisor to startups in Atlanta and the southeast.
Connect with Seth on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Fintech for nonprofits, Infinite Giving (current startup)
- Coaching and mentoring early stage founders
- Going through 4 startups with 2 exits
- Prioritizing mental health as a founder
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on Pay Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And these are very favorite ones. These are the GSU ENI radio special editions and today is going to be a good one. Today we have Seth Radman and he is with Infinite Giving. He was recently a judge at the Main Street event over at the GSU football stadium. Welcome, Seth.
Seth Radman: [00:00:47] Hey, thanks for having me here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:49] Well, I’m so excited to learn. First of all, tell us about Infinite giving. How are you serving folks?
Seth Radman: [00:00:55] Yeah, I’m happy to talk about I’m going to give it. So I’ve partnered up with Karen Houghton. She was previously the vice president at Atlanta Tech Village, and we have built a beautiful online platform that helps nonprofits invest reserve funds, create endowments and accept stock and crypto donations. So a lot of the things that they’re already doing that are kind of archaic with big banks and PDF forms, we’ve created a platform to help automate fully online.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:20] So now this is nonprofits of any size or do they have to have a certain kind of supply of money to be used in this manner for it to make sense?
Seth Radman: [00:01:31] We serve nonprofits of any size. Most of our customers so far are less than $20 million in assets under management, usually because once you’re bigger than that, typically you have your own people internally that help you manage stuff. So probably the more small to medium sized nonprofits, but we also do serve some very large ones with our crypto indoctrination tools to make things easier for them.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:51] Now what’s kind of the pain they’re having where infinite giving solves a problem for them?
Seth Radman: [00:01:56] Yeah, there’s really there’s really two big pain points. And really the the background for this is when COVID happened, we went on lockdown. A lot of nonprofits either got more emergency relief funding than they’ve ever gotten before or unfortunately, they had to shut down and close up shop because they just couldn’t meet ends meet. And so the net result is a lot of nonprofits have an excess of cash, at least if they’re still around. And so as we’ve seen in the past couple of years, just based on the way the stock market has moved and crypto and especially with inflation rate where it is, a lot of nonprofits are looking to invest their reserve funds or create endowments to create longer term sustainable growth. The challenge with that is working with big banks can be really tough for nonprofits. They don’t meet the greed index. They’re not going to grow as quickly as other for profit companies. And since they’re not for profit and tax exempt, there’s higher risk for things like money laundering. And so the risk level is just a lot higher for traditional banks, and it’s a very poor experience with high fees. So we’ve created a platform that essentially, instead of you having to work with manual PDFs on a 4 to 6 week process to open an account with another big bank, for us, it takes about just 10 minutes online.
Seth Radman: [00:03:05] So that’s that’s one way we help people with investing their funds in low risk, low cost ETFs and index funds. The other way is through alternate asset donations. You know, probably I don’t know the exact number, but it’s got to be at least 80 or 90% of the world’s wealth is held in stock, not cash. Yet nonprofits continually are primarily asking donors for cash. And so what we do is we make it a lot easier for nonprofits to donate stock to nonprofits. Sorry, for donors to donate stock to nonprofits, which is the most tax advantageous way to give right now. It’s very clunky to do that. Usually you have to fill out a PDF form, you have to sign it, you have to email it to your financial advisor. Then they do stuff. It’s a pain. Again, we’ve changed that so that it’s a two minute form online and we connect with your bank and give the instructions for you to transfer that over. So essentially helping nonprofits manage everything except for cash that they interact with, that’s the big problem that we’re trying to solve now.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:01] Is it a difficult conversation to have with leaders of nonprofits to make this kind of a change? Because it seems kind of large, at least they could perceive it as being this massive change?
Seth Radman: [00:04:13] That’s a really great question. What we’ve found so far is a lot of executive directors, a lot of executive directors and CFOs absolutely love this. It’s the product that they wish they had years ago. They can’t wait to get on board. I think the bigger challenge is typically navigating the politics within your board to get this approved, that some nonprofits require board approval to move forward with this. And usually from what we found, there’s usually one or two people on the board who have a background in finance and would think that it’d be better for them to personally manage the funds, which is a pretty big conflict of interest. So I think just navigating the politics around that is a big deal. But honestly, the problem is so big for a lot of these nonprofit leaders. It’s causing them such a headache to be missing out with inflation the way it is and to have to call a traditional wealth advisor every time they want to know their balance or get a giant stack of PDF reports just to see how they’re doing that they want in. I think it’s a matter of using the right tactics to persuade the rest of the leadership in the organization that it’s the right move for them.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:12] Now, in your free time, when you’re not leading this organization, you invest a lot of time mentoring and serving the startup ecosystem. Can you talk a little bit about maybe some of the less? Since you’ve learned through going through so many startups, including infinite giving and how you kind of relate that to what a startup founder maybe who is going through it for the first time.
Seth Radman: [00:05:36] Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. I really enjoy mentoring and coaching other founders. I had a lot of fantastic mentors for me and I went through the Critics program at Georgia Tech, which was fantastic. Now I’m a coach for that program as well as an advisor for some startups at Georgia State and others across the Southeast. I think the probably biggest lesson, that biggest piece of advice that I really try to drill into a lot of the founders I work with is just spend more time with your customer. A lot of founders jump straight into building the product because that’s the fun, exciting thing to do. And and I get it. I’m a software engineer myself. I really like to build. It’s fun to hunker yourself down and build, build, build. But the reality is a lot of people are building things that unfortunately no one wants. And so it’s really important to be talking to your customer a lot more than you’d expect. And that’s one of the biggest failures that I’ve had. I’ve I’ve built over 40 iPhone apps and probably only three or four of them have had more than a thousand downloads because I built what I thought were cool ideas without actually talking to customers and making sure that it was solving a real problem for them.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:37] Now, as that relates to infinite giving, was this something that when you and Karen and your team were kind of brainstorming, you’re like, Oh, this is a no brainer. They’re going to just, you know, compounding down the door. This solves it’s so obvious. And then when you got into the weeds of this and you realize there’s always that one kind of rogue person that doesn’t want to give up control or has their own agenda. And it’s a little trickier navigating those politics than maybe how you pictured it on the whiteboard.
Seth Radman: [00:07:07] Yeah, it’s definitely we’ve definitely had some curveballs and things have been different than how we expected. Karen, my co-founder and our CEO, she used to run a nonprofit. She has that background. She really understands what it’s like to get burnt out in this endless fundraising cycle. And so I think our mission of helping nonprofits has stayed the same. How we do that has shifted a little bit. I don’t think it’s difficult to anticipate what the market’s going to do with the market being all over the place where it is right now. Some folks are more hesitant to investing, even though that arguably could be one of the best times while prices are low. So we’ve we’ve shifted a little bit towards some of our asset giving tools, helping with stock donation and endowments. But no doubt we did not know things right off the bat. But there is one thing we did that I highly recommend for a lot of entrepreneurs, which is before we wrote a single line of code, we did 100 customer interviews, we talked with 100 nonprofit leaders and we tried to understand, Hey, how are you currently managing your funds? What are you doing for stock donations, crypto donations? And we heard the same thing from a lot of them, which is, Oh man, we we know we should be investing. We just haven’t gotten around to it because we’re not quite sure where to start. We’re not quite sure how to even go about crypto donations, but we know we should be because all the research says that the average crypto donation size is much bigger than cash or stock. So we definitely validated the problem talking to a lot of customers. But once we built the product, it’s an experiment. There’s a lot of unknown variables that come into play and we’ve definitely had to pivot and adjust as we get feedback from our customers.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:37] Now, how do you take that information and and then relate it to pricing? How do you know? You know, you interview these hundred people who are probably in some way or another, an ideal prospect, some of them at least. How do you know? Hey, that’s worth a dollar, that’s worth $100. That’s worth, you know, $1,000,000. How do you kind of know the sweet spot or kind of can project somewhat of a sweet spot of pricing so you can begin offering it to the market?
Seth Radman: [00:09:06] Pricing is one of those things that is is really tough. I think there’s really only one way to truly do pricing right, which is to test it, right. You have to test lots of different pricing with lots of different customers for us for good or for bad, because we’re in a regulated industry and as an investment advisor, there are certain things that we have to engrave into our product a little more rigidly than you would with a more dynamic pricing model for other products. So for us, for our advisory services, we have a fixed fee based on your balance for assets under management that we’re registered with CC and we have to stick to that. We do have a SAS product that is a monthly fee that frankly we’ve just experimented with with different price points and we want to call with the prospect we’re going through everything, they’re sold on the product and then we get to the end when we’re talking about the fee and the cost and we’re looking at their emotional reaction, we’re looking at our close rates, we’re looking at the emails that we get after these calls to see if they want to move forward or if they don’t and what their pricing threshold is. But most of the time, frankly, what we do is we ask them, hey, what’s your budget for a technology like this to improve sustainability and increase your donations? I think for consumer products, it’s maybe a little bit of a taboo subject to say, hey, how much would you pay for this? You know, humans will tell you what they think they’d pay, but you really don’t know for sure until they convert. But for organizations, it’s usually a little more cut and dry. Not always, but a little more. Where there’s typically a budget specifically for things like this. And if you ask people, at least that’s a good starting point. But from my experience, the only way to truly know pricing is to start with your what you think is your best gut at first and experiment. Do split tests and see what the data shows.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:47] Now, in your experience going through several start ups, several exits, can you talk about kind of and maybe this is a bit of a taboo subject, maybe not so much today, but definitely, probably when you started, it was the kind of the mental health of a founder. You know, at one point there was just, you know, you’re living 24 seven and you’re proud of 24 or seven, 30, 65, Hustle, hustle, hustle. And today that seems to be a little less at least overt. At least.
Seth Radman: [00:11:18] Yeah. I’m so glad you brought this up because it’s not talked about enough. I was one of those people with my first couple of startups, my first app company, Plutonium Apps, and my my next startup Crescendo. I was one of those people working 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. And the truth is that can only last you so long, right? You have to neglect so many other aspects of your life, your physical health, yours, your relationships with other people, eating, sleeping. You know, these are all things that you should be doing during the day. And I went through a period of time where I just was I kind of lost myself to the grind, just working as much as I could every day to move things forward. And it broke me where I essentially I had to take about a month off and I almost quit just because I was falling apart. And now I’m definitely one of those people who is in it for the long run that I’m trying to build not only sustainable business but also a sustainable lifestyle and a sustainable schedule for myself to be able to pursue this because I don’t want to be doing this just for another year or two.
Seth Radman: [00:12:19] I’d like I’d like to be doing this ideally for decades, the building products that people love. And so yeah, now my schedule is, is much better that I rarely work more than 8 hours a day. Sometimes it’s even less than that. If I’ve a time block where I have very focused and I’ve found that if I’m really dedicating a couple of hours to doing one thing with no distractions, no notifications, no email, no slack, that I can get a lot done in a short period of time. So I’ve I’ve really started focusing more on doing less, but making sure that I’m doing the important things and I’m doing them better, and also having the right balance of my day to spend time with my wife, with my cat, to be getting exercise and going rock climbing or playing saxophone and having some balance so that I can take breaks as needed and be able to sustain this for a longer period of time.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:04] Now, do you have any tips or advice for the listener regarding prioritizing? Because that’s at the heart of this. You have to have a true north. You have to have an idea of what is that most important thing, not the most urgent thing, but the most important thing. How do you kind of how did you solve that riddle?
Seth Radman: [00:13:25] Yeah, that’s a that’s a tough one. You really have to think about what’s most important in life. And then also with your business, what’s going to move things forward. And so for me, I mean, people, friends, family are at the top of everything that it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in my business. If something comes up with a really close friend or family member, I’m going to drop everything and they’re going to come first. But in terms of the business, there’s an exercise that I like to do that I think it’s something Warren Buffett or some other successful person did that I’ve copied and really enjoyed. You know, we all have to do lists and we probably have a ton of things on these To-Do lists. One thing that I like to do is I’ll create the top ten things on my mind that I really want to get done today. And then I’ll cross out. What I think are the five least important things. So there’s only five remaining and then I’ll cross out two more. So there’s only three, and then I’ll circle one item. What I believe is the most important thing. The key thing is not only to focus on doing that one most important thing, but to explicitly not do any of the other things on that list. There are so many distractions, so many easy wins that I can check off that list. I really try to structure each day by focusing on what is the single one most important thing that I can do to move my business forward. And usually there’s multiple things, but man, having that kind of laser like focus is really difficult. It takes a lot of discipline because there’s so many other shiny, catchy things that sometimes could be more fun or more exciting. But I really found that being consistent with the daily sometimes mundane tasks like sending code emails that move your business forward, that’s that’s really the key to making progress.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:01] Now, you recently were a judge at the Main Street event for GSU. Can you talk about your experience there and the caliber of founder that is coming out of that program?
Seth Radman: [00:15:12] Man the advantage issue is fantastic. The founders were so well-prepared, the pitches were fantastic. As a judge, we I really struggled to evaluate who I thought should be first, second and third place because they were all so fantastic. I think we’re seeing incredible ideas coming out of universities with with college students that are just very creative and have a lot of ambition and a lot of persistence to move forward with things that they’re passionate about. So the startups that I think are fantastic, I think there’s an important thing to note, which is, you know, just statistically, from what I’ve seen from these university accelerator programs, I don’t think we expect that all of them are going to continue working on their startup a few years from now. Some are going to decide to move on to other ideas. Some of them will fail, some of them will succeed. But I really have no doubt that the experience of building their company, going out to get customers, building the product, pitching in front of an audience, learning how to present yourself regardless of the path that these young founders take. I think it’s going to be an incredible skill set that will help them if they’re at a bigger company, leading innovation or leading change from within. If they do decide to do their own thing and are working on a smaller team or startup or really whatever path, whatever path they take, I, I know for me, entrepreneurship has really been personal development disguised as professional development that obviously I’m working to build a business, working to get customers. But I think by doing startups I’ve learned more about myself and how I can grow as a person. And I’m I have no doubt that the founders at GSA will be doing that too, because they were just off the chart in terms of talent, probably one of the most impressive university accelerator pitches that I’ve seen in quite a long time.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:54] And I love the fact that it’s not it’s not just tech only. It’s everything’s probably tech enabled, but tech’s part of it, obviously. But it’s not just kind of the same software app startups that you see in other events.
Seth Radman: [00:17:12] Yeah, I mean, I think nowadays people think every startup has to be a SAS mobile app or web app that can scale to be $1,000,000,000 company. But man, there’s a lot of great service businesses or great lifestyle businesses that will never get beyond a million, 5 million, 10 million or even 100,000 in revenue, but can be fantastic businesses. So I think it’s important not to fit all startups into one bucket of being the typical SAS or tech product that’s going to scale and grow quickly. There’s a lot of great service businesses out there and tech enabled services that do a lot of good and are quite fulfilling and adventurous for the founders that run them right.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:50] And as you mentioned, that those skills are transferable no matter what you decide to do for the rest of your life.
Seth Radman: [00:17:56] Absolutely. And I’ve seen this a lot through Crate X, through GSU. There’s a lot of founders who decide that either the startup lifestyle isn’t for them or they’re not in love with the startup they do. And what do they do next? They go to lead in strong leadership positions at other companies. They go into another startup. They go and find a different career path. That is exciting. But I have yet to find a founder who says the trajectory of their life wasn’t changed through building a startup because it just opens up this whole new path of opportunity and growth in such a short period of time that I haven’t really found in lots of other places.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:30] Well, so thank you so much for sharing your story today. If folks want to want to learn more about Internet giving, what is the website there?
Seth Radman: [00:18:38] Yeah, you can find us at Infinite Giving dotcom or you can hit me up on LinkedIn. Send me a message. We’ll be happy to chat.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:45] And if you go to just a LinkedIn. Seth Radman Radman. They can find you on LinkedIn.
Seth Radman: [00:18:52] Yep, you’ll find me with the saxophone next to my name.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:54] Good stuff. Well, thank you again for sharing your story. You’re doing such important work for the community, for your company, and for those kids out there that you’re inspiring to pursue Entrepreneurship. I think it’s super important. And we appreciate you.
Seth Radman: [00:19:10] Well, thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity to come on here and chat and share a little more of my story.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:14] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on Atlanta Business Radios, GSU, any radio show.
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