Andrea Inokon is the COO and Co-founder of Cadence Cash, a fintech platform dedicated to providing business financing solutions for women and minority-owned small businesses. She is a distinguished C-suite executive, advisor, lawyer, and entrepreneur with a 20-year track record of championing the rights and opportunities of women and minorities in the financial and tech sectors.
Andrea is a founding member of Chief, an organization focused on advancing women leaders into the C-suite. She is also the Founder and CEO of The 1972 Project, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting gender and racial equality in the workplace. Andrea serves on the advisory board for The RAND Center to Advance Race Equity Policy.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:48] Andrea Inokon introduces Cadence Cash and what it does
- [05:41] Where did the idea for Cadence Cash come from?
- [07:53] The pain points Cadence Cash is solving
- [11:48] Andrea shares some of the learnings and feedback from initial customers in their product development journey
- [13:20] Cadence Cash’s business model funding and lending to small businesses
- [17:47] Who is a good fit for a Cadence Cash loan?
- [19:25] Andrea talks about the funding challenges for minorities and women in business
- [20:59] Chief and what it does
- [28:17] The secrets for running a successful family business
- [31:44] Andrea’s experience as the whistleblower at PIMCO
In this episode…
There has always been a racial wealth gap, and accordingly, it can be difficult for women- and minority-owned small businesses to get funding. How can these small businesses acquire the financing they require?
Capital is necessary for the day-to-day operations of a business. Most women- and minority-owned companies struggle to acquire the funding, resulting in their closure. Discovering this, change-maker Andrea Inokon, her husband, and sisters-in-law decided to launch a fintech platform that could offer financing solutions to the underrepresented. She shares how they are innovating to close the racial wealth gap.
In this episode of Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Andrea Inokon, Co-founder and COO of Cadence Cash, to discuss how women- and minority-owned companies can access funding. Andrea talks about Cadence Cash, what it does, its business model for financing and lending to small businesses, and the funding challenges faced by minorities and women in business.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Laura Barnard on LinkedIn
- Charles Inokon on LinkedIn
- Angel Inokon on LinkedIn
- Cheryl Inokon on LinkedIn
- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- [Top Giver Series] The Power of Video Storytelling to Transform Your Business with Ian Garlic of StoryCrews on Inspired Insider Podcast
- [Top Agency Series] Navigating a Merger and Becoming an End-to-End Digital Partner With Kevin Hourigan of Spinutech on Inspired Insider Podcast
- “There still is a leeway in some underwriting processes… that allows for human bias to creep in.”
- “Transparency and networking are not necessarily a dirty word.”
- “Never let a small thing become a big thing.”
- “Let the thing that breaks your heart be the thing that heals your heart.”
- “The impediment to action advances action — what stands in the way becomes the way.”
Sponsor for this episode
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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today’s no different I have Andrea Inokon. She is the co-founder of cadencecash.com. And I’m going to formally introduce you Andrea in a second. But I always like to mention other episodes, people should check out of the podcast and some of my favorite episodes, it’s interesting, I’ve had Ian Garlic on. I love hearing stories of founders. And just seeing some of the challenges and struggles that we don’t hear that we don’t see on the surface. Ian talked about, he does kind of case stories for companies. But he talked about how growing up he saw his dad, who was an entrepreneur, do some interesting things. Even at one point, they had dolphins in a restaurant that his dad owned, and you think, oh, it was in Florida? No, it was in Wisconsin, actually. So I’m not sure how they did that. But go listen to that episode. That’s interesting. Also, Kevin Hourigan. He’s had an agency since 1995, and still has one today. So it’s interesting to kind of see the trajectory and evolution of that agency through the different time periods. So that and so many more on inspiredinsider.com. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually do that by helping you run. Your podcasts are an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do strategy, accountability and the full execution and production behind the scenes. Andrea, we call ourselves the magic elves that kind of work in the background and make it look easy for the company and the host. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people in companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, you can go to rise25.com. We’ve been doing it for over a decade and happy to answer any questions. But we have a lot of free episodes on that on our podcast too where you can check everything out from what should I name my podcast to what tools and software should I use to anything else under the sun. So check those out. And I want to give a big thank you to Laura Barnard, who founded BREAKTHRU Brands. They empower women helped break down barriers, close gender gaps and leadership. You could check them out at breakthrubrands.com. She also played basketball at Harvard, just impressive person all around. And she introduced Andrea today. And I’m excited to Andrea Inokon. She’s a leader in the movement to achieve workplace equity. So I see why you get along with Laura so well Andrea. She’s a C-suite executive lawyer and founder with over 20 years of experience in the financial services and technology industries. And Andrea is co-founder and CEO of Cadence Cash. Cadence Cash is a FinTech platform focused on providing funding to underrepresented founders. She’s also the founder and CEO of The 1972 Project, which is a nonprofit organization focused on gender and racial equality in the workforce. And Andrea, thanks for joining me.
Andrea Inokon 3:41
Yeah, thanks for having me. Excited to be here today.
Jeremy Weisz 3:43
Talk about Cadence Cash and a little bit more about what you do there.
Andrea Inokon 3:48
Sure. So, as you mentioned, Cadence Cash it’s a black owned majority women owned financial technology platform. Specific oxymoron but yes, we’re a guess black on majority well known FinTech platform that is really focused on revolutionizing funding for small businesses. And we have a focused on women owned and minority owned small businesses. And our goal is to help businesses get the funding that they need, so that they can continue to grow and thrive as we like to say on their own terms. So unlike traditional, we think about like traditional VC, we are a patient pool of capital. So we’re really in it for the long term with these companies. So, we’re not thinking about how fast they can scale they can grow what our exit is like. We’re here to provide a ready-made pool of capital so that, one example if we provide invoice financing, so if a business has a contract, they are getting pay on 60 or 90 days, they can come to us get that invoice financed and then meet paid make payroll. They can provide, you know, buy equipment that they need. So kind of keep that flywheel spinning faster for the businesses. Similarly, we provide micro loans to small businesses for the same thing so that they can yeah, really, they can kind of grow and kind of grow and thrive.
Jeremy Weisz 5:29
Where did the idea come from, your background is at Duke, then you went on to get your law degree at New York University School of Law, where the idea come from for Cadence Cash.
Andrea Inokon 5:41
So Cadence, it’s actually a family business. So I work with my husband, Charles Inokon. He is our CEO, as well as my two sisters-in-law’s Angel Inokon, who is our Chief Product Officer, and Cheryl Inokon, who is our Chief Development Officer. And I think the idea had been percolating for years, it actually started I’ll give Charles credit — it started with Charles, he had this idea, really just starting off based on looking at his own parents, as small business owners. And I think the challenge is that they do. So his father had an accounting firm that was based in Washington, DC, and his mother had a real estate business. And so just seeing the challenges that they faced as small business owners, it was something that was just kind of growing in his mind. And then he spoke to myself, he spoke to Cheryl, he spoke to Angel. And we like to joke that each of our backgrounds kind of brought together superpowers, essentially. Angel she’s an alum of Silicon Valley, she has worked on in development of numerous products. And so she’s really leading the development of our product here. Cheryl is a multimillion-dollar fundraiser. And so, yeah, she’s basically leading, our fundraising and our development side. And then my background has been in fund formation, I worked for over 20 years as a lawyer with a focus on hedge funds and private equity funds. And so I mean, I’ve grown a creative fun products I’ve grown billion-dollar funds. And so it all really came together to recreate Cadence.
Jeremy Weisz 7:40
What were the pain points that Charles saw with his parents, or when you were discussing around the kitchen table? What were some of those pain points that you wanted to solve for?
Andrea Inokon 7:53
There are a couple. So I think one is, I think that actually the probably the biggest is access to capital. When you look at kind of traditional banking relationships, for women and minorities, there’s a couple of I think it’s a couple of ongoing issues. One is, I think, when applying for loans, the underwriting process tends to be longer, there’s more scrutiny. I think, oftentimes, women minorities are actually approved or less than what they’ve requested. And then two, I think, because of that process, that difficult process, they’re often discouraged or even applying for loans. So I think one kind of having that access to capital grow their businesses, and then too, a lot don’t have a relationship with a banker. So they may have a bank account, but having a true relationship with a banker, really does make a difference and knowing what products are available, I think, in the pandemic, having access to PPP loans. So even today, as I talked to women business owners, minority business owners, it still comes out that a lot don’t have their own dedicated banking relationship. So at the gap that we saw on that we’re trying to help bill.
Jeremy Weisz 9:21
Is there something you know, when you were discussing this, a story that popped out that Charles would share about his parents like, specifically they were looking for this? And if only this existed for them? What were the specific challenges that his parents were facing when they’re running their business?
Andrea Inokon 9:40
I think one we’re talking about just in terms of timing to payment, I think when we first started came at cadence, the first thought was around invoice financing. And so oftentimes as a small business, you may have a contract with a certain like company or person And the payment terms, maybe 30 days, maybe 60 days, 90 days, and you’re still hoping that people pay you on that timing. And so, when it is those longer tails, it can be difficult for small businesses, especially where you have dual entrepreneurs. So, um, I think that’s one of the things that we talked about is, kind of that initially that tail. And then I think from my own family side, both my grandfather’s were also, they were serial entrepreneurs. And so, as we were talking about those pain points, and I think particularly around like, access to capital, when you’re thinking about talking about stories, when I always tell is, one of my grandfather’s had $1 store in Pennsylvania, it was called Joe’s Dollar Hauler, and it’s a family legend, I think that we probably had one of the first dollar stores. And so we talk about if he had access to capital, what that may have grown into, what he may have been able to grow his company to and, then in terms of generations, what wealth that could have created for future generations. So we think about, yeah, like, his parents, my grandparents, and just other family members that we know, who have businesses and kind of the pain points that we’ve seen through them in being able to access capital for their companies.
Jeremy Weisz 10:18
There’s a lot of moving pieces with launch. But I love to talk about, you had early customers that you really honed in and learn from to help shape the product, and what were some of the learnings and feedback you’re getting?
Andrea Inokon 11:48
Yeah, so I think one of the early learnings actually, was probably helped to lead to our one of our first new products, which we started off focused on invoice financing. And as we were talking to customers early on, loans kept coming up. So people were like, yeah, I like that. But you were like a really us alone. And so we actually pretty quickly added micro loans as our second offering. So I think that was really one of the biggest discoveries that we had when talking to small businesses. The other was that, some of the small businesses, I think, some have incredible, kind of financial hygiene, they’re doing their financial statements, they have like all of their corporate structure kind of together, and then some just need a little bit of help in that area. And so it’s one of the services that we actually will be providing with Cadence is coaching seminars, to kind of help businesses make sure that is just addition. So whatever funding needs, that they have their structure kind of completely together and sound.