Travis Smith Of Tribevest: “Disruption has always been a very positive learning word in my mind”

Disruption has always been a very positive learning word in my mind. Any system that has been built before us, was built for a specific time in space. Companies that were built a hundred years ago were built to serve a society that no longer exists in 2021. Nowhere is this more apparent than in […]

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Disruption has always been a very positive learning word in my mind. Any system that has been built before us, was built for a specific time in space. Companies that were built a hundred years ago were built to serve a society that no longer exists in 2021. Nowhere is this more apparent than in financial institutions. Those institutions are still serving the same families they served hundred years ago! What’s left is a huge void and a population that is hungry to level up and change its financial trajectory.

I can’t think of any system or structure that has truly stood the test of time. But if you build a platform, you have a chance. By the very definition of “platform,” the user is responsible for their application. As long as the platform is maintained and remains a neutral party, the platform has the potential to evolve with society, and therefore ‘withstand the test of time’.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Travis Smith.

Tribevest CEO Travis Smith founded the company in 2018 with a mission to close the wealth gap in the United States. When Travis and his brothers decided they wanted to pool their money and invest together as a group, they found the process to be almost insurmountable. Believing there must be a better way, Travis started Tribevest as the first collaborative, group investing platform that enables friends and family to easily organize as an investor group, pool money, and manage joint investments.


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?

About a decade ago, my three brothers and I came together on a trip where we shared our desire to obtain financial freedom for our families and future generations. We knew we couldn’t do it alone. So, we decided to begin pooling our money starting with $500 a month per person, which led to our first $24,000 down payment on a real estate investment.

By forming and funding that small group, we took ownership of a future that we could have never imagined. But our master plan almost never happened. Banks looked at us like we were crazy when we told them our idea of auto-saving together. Forming an LLC, creating an operating agreement, and opening a joint bank account were some of the hurdles we found unbelievably difficult to navigate. It took hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. We made it through and have since built a multi-million dollar portfolio of various alternative investments

We learned so many lessons to get to that point. Then, we had the “ah-ha” moment where we realized there must be a better way for friends and family to invest together. That’s when I decided to leave my comfy career and leverage my FinTech experience and network to start Tribevest.

Before Tribevest, I was an early employee at Hyland Onbase and most recently headed up strategic alliances at Jack Henry’s Profitstar division in the Enterprise Payments.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Pooling resources to overcome barriers and achieve more is nothing new. Wealthy families have leveraged economies of scale for centuries. For the wealthy, outsourcing the administrative process to pool their money may cost tens of thousands of dollars. But that is a drop in the bucket when considering the tens of millions or hundreds of millions of investments for each group.

Most of us don’t have existing lump sums of capital to finance the process to set up and manage an investor group. As a result, the power of numbers were reserved for the rich. Investing for the rest of us was very much a solo player job.

The average investor is looking at investments under $100k. Before Tribevest, the effort and cost of launching and managing an investor group were too much of a burden for such a small venture.

As a result, we built Tribevest. Now, in less than 48 hours your group can quickly align and assemble, start a multi-member LLC, and bank together all in one easy-to-navigate place.

What was a solo-player game, is now a multi-player wealth-building experience. We call it tribe-vesting.

Average investors won’t be restricted to traditional brokerage investments or limited to their 401(k) account. Now, they are ownership partners in their own investor business and can achieve wealth that they couldn’t or wouldn’t as a solo investor.

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?

After my brothers and I created our investor group, people started asking if we could help them start and manage their own group. We were asked: “If we would do it over again, what would we do differently?” The answer was loud, without hesitation, and in unison, “EVERYTHING!” We did it ALL wrong. We didn’t even bother with an operating agreement until one of those “what ifs” happened. We almost never got off the ground and then there were some moments when we weren’t sure if we were going to carry on. When an average group of investors got together before Tribevest, there wasn’t a playbook. So we just did our best.

Those hard lessons learned along the way turned out to be a blueprint of the platform we wished we had when we were starting our own investor group.

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?

Much of the Tribevest spirit comes from my amazing family. One of our core beliefs is “Anyone with a supportive and loving tribe should never be underestimated.” I’m proof of that. I’m so lucky to be surrounded and encouraged by my family.

I’m also fortunate to have Pete Kight as a mentor and investor in Tribevest. Pete started CheckFree in his grandmother’s basement about 10 miles from our office in Columbus, Ohio. There is a legendary story, where he pokes fun at his decision to turn down Peter Thiel to buy out PayPal. As founder and CEO, Pete eventually had a $4.5 Billion exit to Fiserv.

The deficits and challenges for startups outside of silicon valley are well documented. But perhaps the biggest deficit is the lack of role models. I’m not saying there is a shortage of good people and successful entrepreneurs in Columbus. We have those in spades. But there is only a couple that has built and sold their business for billions of dollars.

Before I met Pete, founders and CEOs of unicorn startups were like heroes in a fantasy adventure book. They didn’t seem real or relatable — except for Pete. There he was, from Columbus, and willing to talk to me about Tribevest. He never wanted to talk about how smart he was or his big innovation breakthroughs. All he wanted to share was how hard it was and how much he struggled toward his eventual success. Now that seemed real and relatable. I had now met a Columbus-native who took a fintech business from startup to unicorn status. When he told me, “you can do it”, I believed him.

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?

Disruption has always been a very positive learning word in my mind. Any system that has been built before us, was built for a specific time in space. Companies that were built a hundred years ago were built to serve a society that no longer exists in 2021. Nowhere is this more apparent than in financial institutions. Those institutions are still serving the same families they served hundred years ago! What’s left is a huge void and a population that is hungry to level up and change its financial trajectory.

I can’t think of any system or structure that has truly stood the test of time. But if you build a platform, you have a chance. By the very definition of “platform,” the user is responsible for their application. As long as the platform is maintained and remains a neutral party, the platform has the potential to evolve with society, and therefore ‘withstand the test of time’.

Tribevest is building with this intention.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Dream big and never give up, Dad.” ~ my son, Brant, told me this when he was in 3rd grade. By far the most impactful voice and words to reach my ears.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” ~ So much is wrapped up in the wise words of Peter Drucker. This led to another one of Tribevest’s beliefs, “A person’s mindset is the biggest indicator of their future”

“The worst thing you can do for someone you love is something they can do for themselves.” ~ Abe Lincoln

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Our vision is too big to think about what’s next. Since the beginning of civilization, we have been coming together with our tribe to survive and even thrive. Yet, in the modern world, wealth building has become a single-player job. Through technology, we won’t stop until building wealth becomes a multiplayer experience.

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?

I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki when I was 22 years old. It switched my thinking, which led to forming the first investment tribe with my brothers. A must-read.

More recently, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, has had a significant impact on my thinking. We all have upper limit problems (ULPs) — meaning we all set limits on ourselves. The book helps you become aware of the ULPs so you can break through and make big leap, after big leap. It was also critical to developing my daily meditation, gratitude routine, and mantra.

“I expand in abundance, success, and love every day while inspiring those around me to do the same.”

Others that have shaped me and my business:

  • The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries
  • How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
  • The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

  1. After reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck, I realized there is more than one magic word. The 2nd is “yet”.
  2. My Father Milt Smith, told me, “Teeve, Dream of Glory”.

Those things have enabled and empowered me to pursue my most outrageous dreams.

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. 🙂

Our vision is to create a movement where people diversify their sources of income, wealth, and security through business ownership. My parents had one job throughout their careers. I’ll have six. And my children will have six at a time. But they won’t be all jobs. Most of them will be businesses that they are passionate about or with people they care about. It’s already happening.

How can our readers follow you online?

Learn more about Tribevest at Tribevest.com or follow the company on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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