I founded Reel to debunk the myth that credit is the only way to achieve our goals, a myth that has caused so much harm to this society. Showing people that they can buy the things they want with their own cash flow is the first step towards achieving a better financial future. Whatever it is, a new computer, a pair of shoes, a comfy couch, at Reel we give the power to the consumer to achieve their aspirations, debt-free. We have taken a different approach to saving, connecting saving with shopping so we can ease people into feeling more comfortable with their cashflow. We have helped thousands of people save millions of dollars and I’m proud to say a high percentage of our users are Latinas like myself.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniela Corrente.
Daniela is the founder and CEO of Reel, since she was a kid, she has always been passionate about understanding human behavior, why and how we choose to do things. That fascination led her to start a business that focuses on making it easy for people to achieve their aspirations without going into debt. She is a Latina founder that believes real change and equal opportunity come from investing in not only social, but also economic empowerment.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Ever since I can remember I’ve been a curious human being. I like to understand what motivates people, plus I love fast-paced environments, because they challenge me to constantly evolve. So, it was natural for me to choose a career in advertising and moving to New York City after college. My rationale at the time was “If I left my country to move here, I better be playing in NY.” My interest in consumer behavior led me to work for incredible brands on the agency side at Saatchi & Saatchi and Grey NY. While working there, I had the opportunity to learn more about how consumers thought about their finances and brands. Not only I had personally struggle with my own credit card debt for years, but I also saw first-hand how consumers, specially the millennial market, were growing more opposed to credit cards. That’s when my co-founder, Alejandro Quilici and I brought the idea of Reel to life. Instead of encouraging people to swipe a credit card, we set out to create a new debt-free shopping experience.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
As a society, we have been led to believe that the only way to achieve our goals is to go into debt. The financial system is incredibly predatory, from credit cards to loans at the point of purchase, it seems it’s all built to drive us into a vicious cycle of unnecessary debt. I myself struggled with credit card debt for years. The U.S. has $14.3 trillion in consumer debt. I founded Reel to debunk the myth that credit is the only way to achieve our goals, a myth that has caused so much harm to this society. Showing people that they can buy the things they want with their own cash flow is the first step towards achieving a better financial future. Whatever it is, a new computer, a pair of shoes, a comfy couch, at Reel we give the power to the consumer to achieve their aspirations, debt-free. We have taken a different approach to saving, connecting saving with shopping so we can ease people into feeling more comfortable with their cashflow. We have helped thousands of people save millions of dollars and I’m proud to say a high percentage of our users are Latinas like myself.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It was my first ever investor meeting and I had no idea it was supposed to be a full pitch. I was so excited the first time an investor asked me to meet up, that I didn’t ask all the details, and it ended up being quite a mess. I learned to always ask details ahead of a meeting, to do full research on the person before I show up, and to always, always be ready to sell when the situation calls for it.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Running a business requires a lot of mental space and it pays to have someone to guide you along the journey when need it. A big part of being a good CEO is investing time developing your personal skills so you can evolve as your company evolves. The founder you are when you have one employee has to be fundamentally different to the founder you need to be when you have 50 employees. One of the smartest moves I made early on was hiring a business coach, mine is Robyn Ward from Founder Forward. We meet on a weekly basis to discuss everything from hiring strategy, to fundraising, to establishing company values. She was the first person to tell me I should really focus on EQ instead of IQ when hiring, and that has been a huge learning. I’ve also learned a ton from my investors, Will Hsu from Mucker, is a person I highly respect and someone that always pushes for more. He was the first VC to write me a check. I appreciate his ambition; he is someone that will never think an idea is too crazy or too big to go after. I like a good dare.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disrupting just to be a contrarian is counterproductive. Disruption is fantastic when it leads to evolution. I particularly like when companies disrupt a market because they see that the “traditional” way of doing things it’s not enough anymore. Look at Stripe, Square, Amazon, Instagram, Uber, they are all big disruptors, they challenged the way we transact, buy, interact with each other, and even move around (I have not owned a car in a year, and I live in LA). All this companies came to life in moments where businesses, and consumers were looking for alternatives to the norm. In many cases, companies that successfully disrupt a market have convenience as one of their biggest attributes, it might seem simple, however convenience is a big incentive for consumers.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Good stories shape the world: the biggest lesson working in advertising taught me was the importance of storytelling. I remember my first pitches to clients, they were very transactional and solely focused on the idea, I was missing the narrative behind them. Stories forge connections, culture; they shape the world around us. We have the power to create our narrative; focusing on what you have to bring to the table not only makes your ideas stronger, it also makes you mentally stronger. I love listening to stories and crafting stories, making any topic interesting for the listener forces me to stay creative.
You give life to what you give energy to: I’m selective with what, and whom I give my energy to. I learned from an early age that we control more than we think. The concept of reframing thoughts and doing self-affirmation came from my parents. When I was upset about something as a kid they would force me to think, why is what happened so important that you would choose to stay angry over playing with your friends? What can you do to solve it so you are not upset anymore? Honestly, it’s one of the best things they could have thought me. We have the power to be selective with our time and our brain space. Some people say I’m extremely positive, but the reality is that I just like to focus on doing things that fulfill me or finding solutions instead of problems.
Find moments of boredom: I heard this one a couple of years ago and it really got to me, because in an era where we are 1000% connected to a screen all the time, taking a step back and urging the need to be always “doing something” actually opens your brain to amazing ideas and it’s extremely relaxing and disorienting at the same time. When was the last time that you sat down and didn’t do anything for 10 minutes? I have to constantly force myself to step back and do nothing, let just thoughts flow. Some of the best ideas for Reel have come during this moments where I just decide to be.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
My vison is to give people the power to own what they love debt-free, to disrupt the way we shop online and offline. We have amazing partnerships in the works, so stay tuned.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
The book Measure What Matters was a huge catalyst to ignite a better structure around goal setting for my team. It helped me build a solid framework around what we prioritize on. Another book I recommend to everyone is Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s journey of hustle, learnings and evolution is one of my old-time favorites. It reminds me that most people just see the tip of the iceberg, and thinking about his hustle gives me comfort.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s actually a poem: “There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky. And you ask, “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, “What if you fly?” I adore that poem, there is no chance of knowing what wou can achieve if you don’t try. That mentality lead me to start my company. I think there are no limits to what we can achieve if we set our mind to it. If you try and fail, congratulations, most people won’t even try. So, I say jump, the worse thing that can happen is that you learn from your mistakes and you move on stronger. Nelson Mandela said it best, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would inspire people prioritize on themselves. Humans tend to deprioritize their own needs and put themselves second. There is too much goodness being wasted for lack of selflove, it’s truly a shame. Invest in you, get a coach, book the massage, do something at least once a month that is good for you. When you feel good everything is better. always remember, in your world, you are the absolute boss.
How can our readers follow you online?
Daniela Corrente on linked in and @danicorrente on twitter also @joinreel on all social, of course.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!