Bo Brustkern – Co-Founder & CEO, LendIt Fintech

A conversation with Bo Brustkern, Co-Founder and CEO at LendIt Fintech

Bo Brustkern is co-Founder and CEO of LendIt Fintech, the world’s largest event
series that provides context to the rapidly changing universe of technology and financial services.

For over 20 years, Mr. Brustkern has set himself apart as a leader in understanding, funding and leading cutting edge developments in fintech and financial services. Mr.
Brustkern’s experience includes private equity, venture capital, fixed income, asset management and investment research.

In addition to co-founding LendIt Fintech, Mr. Brustkern co-founded Arcstone Valuation (2006), Arcstone Equity Research (2010), Cardinal Rose Group (2013), and NSR Invest (2013).

Previously, he was a venture capitalist at Rustic Canyon Partners in Silicon Valley; and a private equity investor at BACE Industries in Denver, Colorado. Prior to his career as a private equity investor, Mr. Brustkern was a senior analyst at Wellsford Residential Property Trust (NYSE: WRP), where he focused on acquisitions and development for the fifth largest residential REIT in the country.

Mr. Brustkern has performed industry research and investment analyses related to the following industries: financial services, financial technology, blockchain technologies, enabling services, software as a service, among many others.

Masters of Business Administration, concentration in Finance, the Anderson School at UCLA, with distinction as a Deutschman Venture Fellow (2001)

Bachelor of Arts, Dartmouth College (1995)

BRW: What is LendIt Fintech for those who may not have heard of your conference?

LendIt Fintech is the world’s most influential fintech events company. Entrepreneurs and investors from around the world rely on LendIt Fintech for the best and most valuable industry gatherings, timely and insightful information they can get nowhere else, and as a showcase for the innovations transforming financial services.

Financial services are undergoing massive, tech-driven change, and the industry needs a way to better understand, stay ahead of, and benefit competitively from it all. LendIt Fintech is an indispensable source of connection, insight and innovation in fintech – it’s where the forces shaping the future of financial services all come together. When we create a forward-looking community, understanding and innovation flourish, money flows more freely, and the financial system works for the betterment of all.

BRW: What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love working with this dynamic and energized team. Everyone here at LendIt Fintech is driven by our mission to engender positive change worldwide through the application of innovative technologies to financial services. This spirit shows in every interaction we have, whether at our weekly stand-up meetings or in the constant conversations we have with our clients. There’s an energy here that only comes with commitment to purpose, and it’s contagious!

BRW: What is new for this year as opposed to previous events?

Our event evolves every year in response to the dynamism of the fintech industry. Most notable this year is the addition of BlockFin, our conference-within-a-conference, which is on pace to become the world’s largest event covering blockchain in financial services. We will have over 130 speakers and two tracks of content devoted entirely to enterprise blockchain, infrastructure, cryptocurrencies and investing.

BRW: What discussions do you look forward to having with the audience?

Every day we ask ourselves Are we challenging the financial services industry with our content? My favorite things to experience are audience members challenging speakers, and controversy in panel discussions. When controversy and confrontation are taking place, we know we’re posing the right questions. In that spirit, I most look forward to interactions that challenge my understanding. I love learning where I’m wrong, why, and how that impacts my world-view.

BRW: How did you get into the industry?

By accident. All of my co-founders were building fintech-related companies and we were looking for a conference to attend, of which there was none. So we decided to invite the most interesting innovators of the time to join us for a day-long conversation in Midtown Manhattan. This was back in 2013, and we were hoping to attract some 200 folks to join us for what turned out to be our inaugural event. When more than 350 people showed up, we had to close the doors for fear the Fire Marshall would shut us down. Just five years later, we’re gathering more than 10,000 delegates annually on three continents! Such growth cannot be achieved without committed support from the industry we serve, and the fintech world has been extremely supportive of us through the years. We are truly of the community, by the community and for the community.

BRW: What are a few new trends in the industry?

Fintech is always moving, and fast! Here are a few trends we are seeing that have captured our attention:

  • Blockchain is moving from concept to application at major banks globally.
  • Artificial intelligence has gone from interesting and useful to mandatory tech for financial institutions in the last year.
  • Most large banks are launching or are planning to launch their own online lending platform.
  • Digital identity is a hot topic in the wake of the Equifax breach.
  • Lines are starting to blur between banks and fintech platforms as partnerships and M&A accelerate.

BRW: Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

Wow! That’s a tough question. If I had to choose one favourite place to be, it would be swimming across Horseshoe Lake on Blakely Island USA, a small private island in the San Juan archipelago of Washington State in the glorious Pacific Northwest. There are only about 200 residents on this 6-square mile island, where a wave and a smile are always de rigueur. That said, if you allowed me to have a half-dozen favorites I would add:

  • Stoddard Cabin in the Second College Grant, New Hampshire USA
  • The train station at Kleine Scheidegg, in the shadow of the Eiger, Switzerland
  • The balcony of Phaedra Hotel in Idra, Greece
  • The Cabo Surf Hotel in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
  • Late night at The Mighty Session in Dingle, Ireland

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