Building Big Things and Moving Fast — Allison Barr Allen, Co-Founder/COO at Fast

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In this episode, Miguel Armaza sits down with Miguel Armaza sits down with Allison Barr Allen, Co-founder and COO of Fast, an online login and checkout platform on a mission to make buying online faster, safer and easier. The company is backed by Stripe, Index Ventures, Susa Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and Brian Sugar.

Prior to Fast, Allison held senior product roles at Uber, where her team launched and scaled Uber’s payments, risk, and compliance products globally. And before that she was a strategy consultant at PwC.

Allison is also a passionate private and public investor, both as an LP at Operator Collective and as an advocate for value investing in the public stock market.

We talked about

  • Allison’s fascinating experiences at Uber
  • The power of investing in public and private markets
  • Her journey at Fast over the last 12 months,
  • The value of listening and acting on client feedback
  • The importance of company culture, partnerships, and having a really clear vision of the future of your company
  • and much, much more!

Listen to the full interview → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple Podcasts

Back when Allison was working at Uber, her interactions with drivers made her realize payments was the most important part of their ecosystem. Drivers were driving to get paid and if they did not receive their payments on time it was catastrophic. So she moved from Operations and Logistics in Chicago to the Product Payments team in San Francisco to work on driver payments strategy. In her role, she ended up being responsible for helping roll out Uber to dozens of new countries around the world and figuring out their localized payments strategy in every market.

“To build a really big company, you have to solve a really big problem”

Allison has always had a passion for investing. She originally met Domm Holland, founder of Fast, to talk about a potential angel investment in the company, but their meeting went so well that Domm ended up doing everything possible to recruit her as his Co-Founder and soon thereafter Allison joined the company.

Today, it’s no secret the duo has ambitious plans for the company. As Allison puts it, “Our mindset is we’re building a company, we’re not building a startup”. Her time at Uber taught her what it really means to scale and they have similar aspirations at Fast, where they are working to reduce friction on the internet for customers and businesses. Businesses want Fast’s product to increase site conversion and then consumers want it to make it easier to buy things, which allows them to solve a problem for both sides of the marketplace. Helping customers have a more seamless shopping experience also enables stores and businesses of all sizes to compete with the likes of Amazon. Additionally, Allison believes there is a huge opportunity for a company to create a trusted user identity source online and is convinced a payment provider like Fast could be the one to solve this problem.

A Fast Culture

Allison describes the culture at Fast as a place where people can be their whole selves. They aim to build an inclusive and diverse workplace and try to look at networks outside of their usual circles when recruiting for new team members. They consider character important, especially when evaluating the effect each new joiner will have on the team. Will they make the team more productive? Will they improve the team and make it more diverse? Thinking about it from the team’s point of view is considered more important than just the individual. They are focused on building big things that they are excited about, and Allison admits they have high expectations around performance.

Fast also has a notoriously transparent social media culture. Specifically on Twitter. In fact, Domm and Allison actually met on Twitter and their active Twitter presence has been an incredible marketing channel and a crucial way to help them build a lot of excitement and buzz about the company in a very organic manner. As of today, Domm, Allison, Matt Kobach (marketing director), and the Fast corporate account have a combined 170k followers!

Builder Advice

“I think the most successful founders will be people who are building a company because they want to solve a problem. Whatever you’re building, the most important thing is that you believe it in your bones, and you know that you are the very best person to solve this problem, and that it’s a really big problem, and that you have some sort of unique advantage that gives you superpowers over others who may be able to try to tackle the same problem.

Being a founder is a long term journey (…) we’re repeating the same messages often over and over and over again. So if you don’t believe that message you’re telling and you don’t believe it into your bones, it’s gonna be really hard for you to go sell and repeat the same message to 10,000 people.”

Allison Barr Allen, Co-founder and COO

Allison Barr Allen is the co-founder and COO of Fast, the world’s fastest online login and checkout platform. Previously, Allison was the head of global product operations for the Money Team at Uber, where she helped scale Uber from 2,000 employees to more than 26,000 worldwide. Allison’s team launched and scaled Uber’s payments, risk, and compliance products globally, including on-demand payments, cash products, debit cards and credit cards.

Prior to Uber, Allison served as a healthcare strategy consultant at PwC. In addition to her role at Fast, Allison is a limited partner at Operator Collective, a venture capital firm that brings together leaders from diverse backgrounds to invest in the next generation of enterprise technology. Allison is also deeply committed to supporting entrepreneurs through Trail Run Capital, her angel investment fund.

Allison graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

About Fast

Fast’s mission is to make buying online faster, safer and easier for everyone. Its Fast Login and Fast Checkout products enable a one-click sign-in and purchasing experience that makes it easier for people to buy and merchants to sell. The company’s products work on any browser, device or platform to deliver a consistent, stress-free purchasing experience. Fast is entirely consumer focused and invests heavily in its users’ privacy and data security. Headquartered in San Francisco, Fast is a privately held company funded by Stripe, Index Ventures, Susa Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Brian Sugar — who also serves on the board.

Previous Episodes You May Enjoy:

Unlocking Entrepreneurial Progress with Vanessa Colella, Head of Citi Ventures

Solving Consumer Financial Needs with Lupina Iturriaga, Founder & Co-CEO of Fintonic

The Wharton Hackathon with Sarah Hammer from the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance

Fintech Trends and Opportunities with Donna Parisi, Global Head of Finance at Shearman & Sterling

Developing Talent & Culture with Crystal Williams, Chief HR Officer at FLEETCOR

Creating Pathways to Better Financial Health — Anu Shultes, CEO of LendUp

Empowering the Vulnerable with Financial Tools — Claire McDonnell, Co-Founder of True Link

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