Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Meet Fundera: Birdwatching or Bacon? Which One Does This Fundera Team Member Love More?

We’re excited to introduce our new monthly series: Meet Fundera. Each month, we’ll interview a member of our team, letting you get to know a bit more about the people who work hard to help give you greater access to capital.

Meet Garrett Van Wie, Business Analyst

Fast Facts

Nickname: Bubba. (Yup that’s right—you can call Fundera and ask for Bubba and we’ll know exactly who you’re talking about.)

Hometown: New Gloucester, Maine.

Education: Amherst College. History Major. Member of the Amherst Soccer Team for 4 years, playing defense, winger, and striker. 

NYC Neighborhood: Financial District.

Favorite Show to Binge Watch: Game of Thrones.

Favorite Sports Team: Manchester City.

Favorite Little-Know “Garrett” Fact:  I have a fear of belly buttons.*

*Apparently, a fear of belly buttons is indeed a real thing—and it’s known as Omphalophobia. For Garrett, this means he can’t look at belly buttons (his or anyone else’s), can’t have his touched, can’t watch other people’s touch theirs, and will not, in any case whatsoever, touch someone else’s. You learn something new every day, huh?

Meet Garret Van Wie

Meet Garret Van Wie!

Putting a Face to a Voice Behind the Phone

We’re proud to call New York City home. How did you end up here?

I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do after college. I didn’t want to be a teacher, but that was really the only thing my major positioned me for. I had a lot of friends who came to the city in a similar predicament and ended up finding something they really loved, so I decided maybe I could find something for myself here. I took the plunge, and a friend of mine introduced me to a headhunter who helped me land my first job in sales at a SaaS startup.

How did you then find your way to Fundera?

I was at my college coach’s summer house with some other ex-players and, at some point in the weekend, I found myself talking with 4 of the guys who were also working at startups. We were sort of commiserating over our experiences but when I heard Ryan Conti, a Senior Account Executive at Fundera, talk about his experiences, I knew Fundera was the place for me. My job at the time wasn’t connected to a greater mission like Fundera is. I recognized how much I needed that.

I’ve always been intrigued by small business owners. My dad actually tried his hand as a small business owner for a few years when I was growing up. He’s an environmental consultant, so he opened up his own practice for a little while. But it didn’t work out quite like he hoped. My dad wanted to branch out and do his own thing, and he didn’t really love going back to the big corporate structure. He was pretty disappointed, and that really stuck with me—just how hard it is to be a small business owner. But it’s something so many people desire. I loved that Fundera helps make it possible for more people.  

What’s your favorite thing about Fundera?

I’m lucky because, in my position, I get to talk to hundreds of business owners every week. So there’s this endless stream of people who need help, and it feels good every time I can do something for them. Alongside the constant reinforcement that what I’m doing matters, it’s great to work alongside so many people who are passionate and willing to help business owners get what they need. The core of our business is helping these people. It is really so genuine. It’s our business model and it’s every team member’s priority. There’s no end to how far we all go to make sure small business owners get the right treatment.

Bubba Soccer

Garrett in Action During an Amherst Match

When you’re not talking to small business owners, what’s your favorite way to spend your free time?

I’m an avid birdwatcher—I have been since my senior year of high school. Unfortunately, I don’t get out as much as I’d like to now. But if it is a beautiful morning and I’m up early, it’s definitely how I prefer to spend my time.

College athlete and birdwatcher seem like an unlikely pair. How did you get started?

Funny enough, it actually started because I am extremely, extremely competitive. Senior year in high school, there was a class all my friends took because the professor was cool. It was called Ornithology. And in class, all we did was go out and study birds. There was this award in the class called the Hall of Fame that people would talk about every year. Everyone wanted to get into the Hall of Fame, but it had been a decade since it had happen. Obviously, it was hard.

To get into the Hall of Fame, you had to take a test where there were 250 slides that would show for 30 seconds of… You guessed it, 250 birds. You had to guess all of the birds right to get into Hall of Fame. Every single bird.

So my roommate and I went out by ourselves, outside of class, and really tried to get and know these birds. Before we knew it, we aced the test and made it into the Hall of Fame. And I’ve loved birdwatching ever since. 

It’s one of the few things I do that isn’t high energy but gets me out of my apartment, outdoors. It’s also super relaxing. Who doesn’t enjoy a nature walk here and there? You can appreciate what’s around you, the calmness of it… Which is so important in a city like New York.

(The photo featured above the headline happens to be of Garrett with his birdwatching classmates.)

How do you birdwatch in NYC?

Central Park has one of the most diverse bird populations per square mile anywhere in the United States. It’s a great spot for birdwatching!

Switching gears… You’ve accomplished a lot so far. What is the one thing you’re most proud of?

It’s my heritage, actually. I’m biracial, and I love the different sides of my story.

The black side of my family was one of the first “highly-educated” black families in the US. My grandmother went to BU and was one of the first black female athletes there. The white side of my family has been around New York since New Amsterdam, which makes it extra special to live here now.

Being half-black has been a huge part of my life, especially growing up in Maine. I’ve definitely been treated differently because of it. Because I’m light-skinned, some people don’t realize it. But then when they realize, they act differently. It’s not always in a bad way: some think it’s great that I had a black mom and white dad. No matter what, it’s always a good icebreaker. When someone finds out I’m black, it more often than not strikes up a good conversation.

Bubba Mom and Dad in Hawaii

Garrett’s Parents on a Family Trip to Hawaii

Lastly, what’s the one thing you wish more people knew about you?

There isn’t anything in the world I wouldn’t try if it had bacon on it. I’m as obsessed with bacon as I am afraid of belly buttons. I’ll always welcome bacon.


Care to challenge Garrett on that one? Feel free to find out what he wouldn’t eat bacon with in the comments! If you’d ever like to speak with Garrett (or someone on his team!) about your small business, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-FUNDERA.

The post Meet Fundera: Birdwatching or Bacon? Which One Does This Fundera Team Member Love More? appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

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