Experts Q&A With Kevin Sandhu

The CEO of lending firm Grow explains why passion and risk are key elements of business success.

Kevin Sandhu is the founder of online Canadian lending firm Grouplend, which recently rebranded as Grow. He previously worked in private equity and corporate finance at companies like RBC. He's the latest subject of Advantages' ongoing Experts' Q&A series.

Q: Why did you leave a good job in finance to start a company?

A: I lifted my head up one day and thought this isn’t really what I want. Not that I was entirely dissatisfied. I was working as a senior VP in investment banking and I had a good career path. But it wasn’t truly what got me excited.

Q: So what was your next move?

A: I looked around the landscape and thought, what could I do if I wanted to go out on my own? I had this background in technology. I was really interested in finance. I saw an opportunity to apply great technology systems and analytics to traditional financing. So I threw in the towel and took a risk.

Q: Do you embrace being a disruptor to traditional banks?

A: There’s a real sort of David vs. Goliath analogy there. I’d say for us, we get really fired up about that. We love being the underdog. We love that challenge. And being called the disruptor in such an enormous industry, it raises the bar. There’s no way you can rest on your laurels.

Q: What would you say to businesspeople who are risk averse?

A: The reality is you take a risk with your career if you’re pushing yourself to your limits anyway. If you’re the type of person that’s putting forth the best ideas to your boss or your team, you’re taking a risk and you’re putting yourself out there every single time.

Q: You might as well go all-in then, right?

A: Exactly. The problem is when you win, you don’t necessarily reap the same rewards you would in a truly entrepreneurial environment. If you’re a high-performing person, you owe it to yourself to really capitalize. I don’t just mean maybe making a lot of money. I mean that real deep down satisfaction you get from building something.

Q: Once you find your passion, what’s the real key to success after that?

A: You’ve got to really believe what you’re saying. If something is your domain, you have no excuse for not being the most knowledgeable, smartest person in the room on that particular topic. I think that’s really the key to it.