Raul Wald Podcast Transcript

Headshot of Founder Raul Wald

Raul Wald Podcast Transcript

Raul Wald joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, Home of The Digital Executive Podcast.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Raul Wald. Raul Wald is the founder and Chief Visionary Officer at Estu, a student life FinTech company, dedicated to streamlining finances, academic responsibilities, and social events all into one app.

As a 20-year-old international student from Brazil, with a keen focus on the intersection of financial services and technology, he brings a unique perspective and entrepreneurial spirit to his role. Day to day, Raul leads Estu with a focus on creating innovative solutions that enhance student life both on and off campus.

Prior to founding Estu, Raul honed his experience in financial services and technology through notable positions as a business analyst fellow at Will Bank and as a fellow at Southern Hemisphere Investments. His background in these roles has provided him with a deeper understanding of the financial sector and the potential of fintech solutions.

Well, good afternoon, Raul. Welcome to the show!

Raul Wald: Thank you so much, Brian. Great to meet you!

Brian Thomas: I’m glad you jumped on a podcast with me today. This is just so awesome. Get to hear your story and share it out with our global audience. Well, let’s jump right into your first question here at just 20 years old.

You’ve already founded Estu, a student life fintech company. What inspired you to start Estu and what unique challenges have you faced as a young entrepreneur so far?

Raul Wald: Well, Brian, thank you for having me here. First of all, as a young founder, I always aimed to, to tap into underdeveloped markets and as a student, especially I realized that one of the markets that were very underdeveloped in terms of financial and social life.

Was the student marketing deed. And when I was applying to a Wharton summer course, back when I was applying to college, I had to have an idea, right. To, to apply to them with, and I left my house one day with nothing, but my student ID. And that’s when I really realized the student ID was actually an extremely powerful tool that students have in their hands, which is not ideally used.

And once I got that, I realized that we could make a financial technology company through that powerful tool that students use on the day to day and make it more powerful for them to not only use on campus, but off campus. This idea rose, it developed, right? And it became not only a tool like a product, such as a student ID, but it became more of a platform, right?

That integrated every branch of a student’s life into one platform. Streamlining financial, social, academic. And services to all the student body. I mean, one of the unique challenges I faced as a young entrepreneur was more of balancing my student life with Estu. And this is something that I try to do, but in general, it’s not only me who suffers to balance their student life.

And that’s a part of why I created Estu. To create a company that balance the life of students into one platform.

Brian Thomas: Great. No, I appreciate that. And again, at the end of the day, you’ve really found a problem, found a solution for that problem. And obviously in college, there’s a lot of stress there with trying to keep everything in one place, you know, being a young adult and trying to get your schooling done, but you’ve got to have other responsibilities.

And I’m glad that you have created this platform for students worldwide. So, I appreciate that. Raul, Estu aims to streamline finances, academic responsibilities, and social events into one app. Can you explain some of the innovative features of Estu that set it apart from other student focused apps on the market?

Raul Wald: Yes, of course. A part of the integration that we have with every single branch of the student’s life, we offer also different sorts of integrated payments, such as peer to peer, which other financial companies focus on the student life doesn’t offer. So, peer to peer tuition payments. We offer also international wire, domestic wire, that other student life companies don’t offer.

We offer a chat, right, to create kind of a sense of networking. When you receive money or you want to request a sort of capital from friends, from other students, we have a chat that you can not only use for the financial part, but also for the social aspect of the student life. Which really is innovative because no other company has integrated both the social aspect, the social experience of a student with a financial experience of a student.

And these in the student life go hand in hand, because if you think about it, a school, a university, when you’re part of the university, You are part of an institution with a campus and students spend, let’s say, 60 to 70 percent of their life of their day to day on campus. But there’s the other 30 that it’s not explored yet, right?

That they don’t tap into. They don’t, they can’t. There’s no company that helps, right? There’s no school that helps. So, once you go beyond that, schools lack, right? The services, the interaction with students and when students are on campus, they don’t The other way, brands lack, companies lack the interaction with students.

So, we really built a platform that could satisfy both the companies when students are on campus, and both the schools when students are off campus. Which were the main problems between these two companies, as I call it. Because schools are companies, they’re big businesses. And these businesses lack communication when students are off campus, and brands and companies lack communications when students are on campus.

So, this is what we kind of facilitated by integrating their social and financial life into one single place.

Brian Thomas: That’s awesome. You really, as I call it, killing two birds with one stone here, you’re solving a problem on both sides of the fence. And I think that’s incredible that you’re doing that, you know, integrating everyday life, the social aspect of a student’s life with their finances there that they can easily tap into and manage all that.

So, I do appreciate that. Really do. It’s pretty exciting. What is your long-term vision for Estu? How do you see the company evolving in the next five to 10 years and what impact do you hope it will have on student community globally?

Raul Wald: Yeah, Brian. So nowadays we are basically a platform, right? We started off as not simple, I’d say, but as a platform, integrating these branches, these products and streamlining them into one place.

But as we evolve, right, we plan on tapping even more into the day to day of students, right, adding even more products. Let’s say insurance from insurance to real estate to airline tickets to. So, we want to create not only A platform, but also yeah, a student focused marketplace, but also operate in every single sector that the students use.

So, in the future, we might have, let’s say, this is an example that I’m giving to artists and to athletes. Right? You know, an Estu label, just like the Virgin label in the past from Richard Branson, Estu label, where we can help You know, artists, musicians, and athletes, you know, grow in their career and pass it on to other big labels and brands.

So, what we basically want to be is we want to be the middle man, right? The middle section where we can help the life of students so they’re prepared to the real world. And not only will we help them in this stage of their life, where their life is not balanced, not prepared. But we will also give them that kind of boost, right?

That career boost that they need or that help that they need to connect to a brand, to solve some problems through our services. And my hope in kind of impacting the student community globally is by being right. Nowadays, if you think about how companies are, if you think of Nike, you think of athletes, right?

You think of the most powerful athletes in the world. If you think of Red Bull, you think of Courage, you know, courage and adventure. And when you think of student life, there’s no brand that represents that, right? There’s no such entity that represents the student life and taps into our community through all aspects.

Right. And this is what we basically want to be. We want to be that brand that when people say student life, We’re it. And this is the direction we’re heading onto and that we wish to sustain in two to five years. Once we have some success stories with students, right? Our goal is to, as I say, impact as many people in the student market as possible and help them as much as possible.

Because we really do need that extended hand for us to be helped because nowadays students lack companies who go to them for help and students do not want to go to companies for help. We’re shy, right? We, we think we’re perfect, but if a company taps into a market where they can extend that helping hand or they can help, it would be way easier for a lot of people, especially for the student life.

And this is, this is what I think is going to happen in five years.

Brian Thomas: That’s amazing. And you are really establishing that brand, that standard where students can go to and have all their needs met and balance that a student work life that sometimes is hard to do, especially again, as a young adult coming out of the home, you’re your first step into the world.

So, I really appreciate that. And Raul with rapid advancements in technology, how is Estu leveraging new technologies to enhance its services?

Raul Wald: You know, these are uncontrollable factors that obviously we have to deal with. It’s, you know, the changing paces of technology, AI, and honestly, just integrations, right, unlimited.

And nowadays it’s not even about like a new product, but it’s like even more integrations that we have to adapt in our app to make it even more functional. Correct. With that being said, it’s for me, right, for the student market, it’s actually not a problem because. Think of this, right? Think of a market that is 5 to 10 years behind on technology, on platforms and technology.

The student market, the educational market, schools, they use things, they use products, they use platforms that were used still 5 to 10 years ago, right? The same ones. And it never evolves. It will evolve. It evolves, but it evolves in a pace that is way slower. So, in terms of leveraging new technology and enhancing its service, we leverage, we try to implement, you know, we’re implementing AI.

For example, we have our AI assistant in our app. We have AI for our metrics in terms of advertising for students in our app. But at the same time, we don’t need much innovative technology to tap in this market because it’s a market that, as I’ve said before, it’s very archaic. It’s very behind. So, we actually just need to keep up with what we have right now and start growing as if it was one year ago, two years ago, As if AI didn’t exist yet, or as if integrations like that didn’t exist before.

We just have to live as it’s a little bit of the past and implement what students in schools actually need. So, this is how we’re dealing. We obviously integrate some pieces, but there’s pieces that are not needed and we are truly keeping up with the technology and the advancements and in a very organic way, but it’s not one of our priorities, as I may say.

So, in the student’s life, the easier, the better, you know, the simpler, the better.

Brian Thomas: And this is what we want. Thank you. I appreciate you sharing that. And you’re absolutely right. You’re really at point in your business to really leverage some of the technologies, especially a conversational AI that has come out in the, been out a few years, but it’s really going through some major adoption right now, as you know.

So, I appreciate the share on that. And Raul, it was such a pleasure having you on today. And I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Raul Wald: Yeah. Thank you so much, Brian. Thank you for this opportunity and I hope seeing you soon in a better standard that we are currently with us still. I hope we in the next time we talk, we can be helping way more lives, way more student lives, you know, helping the student market. So, thank you so much. Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Raul Wald Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.


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