Jelena Ewart – Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019

This article features an interview with Jelena Ewart, Co-Founder of Upside Partners, one of LATTICE80's Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019.


This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring female Fintech leaders globally. LATTICE80, in partnership with Miss Kaya, recently published our Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019 list.The effort reflects our efforts in women empowerment and support in a field where women continue to be underrepresented. Check out the full list for 2018 here as well. 

Miss Kaya is a lifestyle driven financial platform for the modern woman that aims to empower them to carve their own financial freedom through technologically-empowered financial tools. The mission is to provide the modern women globally with the support, resources, and community they need to live the lifestyle that they want.

Disclaimer: Th interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.

This article features an interview with Jelena Ewart, Co-Founder of Upside Partners.

1. Tell us more about what you do and how did you move into Fintech?

What I do: I advise corporates and startups working on new business models and technology solutions. At Upside Partners, my co-founder and I bring corporates and startups together to co-create and commercialize disruptive offerings.

How I got into Fintech: Somewhat randomly! A job in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and a few International Math Olympiad medals led to an entrepreneurial role building out NerdWallet’s largest businesses. From there I ended up joining the Board of Directors of a San Francisco-based financial institution, investing in early-stage Fintech companies at 500 Startups, and advising multiple corporates and startups on their growth, investment, and innovation strategy.

2. What does being a woman in Fintech mean to you?

It’s an incredible opportunity to play a part in a massive generational shift. On any given day I feel like I’m being both underestimated and overhyped.

3. What challenges do you think women face in Fintech?

We could debate the extent of the biases women have to overcome, but we can’t deny they exist. One time, for example, I saw two execs boldly proclaim in a meeting that they “don’t like reporting to female managers” to zero objection or argument from others in the room. We still have a long way to go. On the other hand, I also feel I’m able to access amazing opportunities because there’s an awareness being built up around the gender imbalance in both finance and technology. You can’t let the bad days get you down, but you also can’t start getting too comfortable with the recognition and flattery.

4. What advice would you give to other women starting out and growing their careers in Fintech?

The sooner you start controlling capital and means of value creation, the more inevitable your seat at the table. And if you feel that lacking a proper STEM background or a particular kind of work experience is holding you back, you’re in luck. You don’t have to wait for centuries-old institutions to take you under their wing anymore. It’s never been easier to overcome educational deficits, and the startup ecosystem is starved for talent willing to roll up their sleeves and earn their operational stripes the fun way. And yes the odds and biases may feel brutal, but you don’t need the whole world to give you a chance, you just need to open one door at a time.

5. What are 3 keywords to describe Fintech for 2019?

Global, ubiquitous, irreverent