Cameron Peake, COO of Azlo, Opens the Door to Small Businesses

Cameron Peake is, in her own words, “super passionate about people who keep money under mattresses, where mom and pop retailers had to drive two hours to send money to kids, and extending services to those people.” Her company, Azlo, offers a fee-free bank account for small businesses, making starting a business a real option for many people who could not otherwise afford a typical merchant account. WE Source talked to Peake about being the Chief Operating Officer and Cofounder of the San Francisco-based Azlo that is breaking down the barriers to owning a business.

Headshot of Cameron Peake. White, long brown, straight hair, brown eyes, smiling and wearing a black blazer.
What made you decide to make the leap to going out on your own?
CP:

I spent time at MasterCard® and another startup, but realized I wanted something that was mine. I joined BBVA’s incubation unit. They wanted to invest in Fintech so they introduced me to Brian Hamilton, CEO and Cofounder of Azlo, and provided the seed capital.

How did you know you were ready to start a business?
CP:

As soon as Brian [Hamilton, Azlo CEO] and I met we clicked. He is passionate about this space and had a playbook for how to succeed. It was an “Aha!” moment and a no brainer.

Azlo doesn’t charge any fees for the business account it offers. How does Azlo make money?
CP:

We’re paid a certain rate for our deposits and debit card interchange. We are also going to have new services in 2019 that will create new revenue streams.

Do you have a business plan?
CP:

Yes, but it’s constantly changing. It evolved from being product driven to melding product driven with financials driven. It’s more than the conceptual pitch. They intersect and one driver trumps the other sometimes.

Who do you ask for advice?
CP:

It’s about having a broad network for relying on different things. My primary person is my husband. He’s an entrepreneur as well and a couple years ahead in company development, and it’s great but then we come home and talk about work, so not as great. We have a fabulous team at Azlo. I can turn to my team and peers--they give amazing inspiration and feedback. In the Bay Area we are surrounded by interesting entrepreneurs, too.

What are advantages or disadvantages to being a woman in business?
CP:

If my partner wasn’t male we wouldn’t have as much traction in getting money. And that’s the industry. Doors open more easily for men, which is why you need a network of women to help you through the doors. Azlo has about 50 employees and 2 of the 3 people in the “C Suite” are women. We intentionally chose women leaders. It’s been important for us to be strategic about that.

How do you deal with failure?
CP:

Failure is the best opportunity to improve. Every time something goes wrong, I think about what we can do better, improve or change. Don’t get downtrodden. A few months ago one of our main vendors went down for three weeks. We had a business continuity plan for outright failure, but not for extended outages so we went through and identified our dependencies and the options. We got more resilient as a result.

What will you be celebrating in a year?
CP:

Continued customer growth. Big things coming! New products! I’m very excited about them.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
CP:

With Azlo as the category leader. To be the no brainer choice when you start a new business, like Square or Etsy.

A store's handdrawn Open sign in chalk on a metal, rectangular sign with rounded corners hanging on a grey metal chain.

 

Failure is the best opportunity to improve. Every time something goes wrong, I think about what we can do better, improve or change. Don’t get downtrodden.
What keeps you up at night?
CP:

Being able to execute quickly enough so we can see the market opportunity and traction and ensure that we stay a step ahead.

What keeps you motivated?
CP:

Expanding services to underserved markets and seeing [the results] every day. We get immediate customer feedback. Hearing how we help companies excel is incredible. And I’ve been in financial services in a lot of incarnations and we are lifting the hood on banking and re-wiring it--that tearing it down and building it up is fun and motivating.

What’s your advice to new entrepreneurs?
CP:

Rely on your network of men and women. It’s so important to be able to rely on connections to break into this industry. Don’t have preconceived notions about what your qualifications need to be. Don’t be scared off by things that you think you need. Be tenacious! So important for women in particular. Everyone is going to reject you at some point. Be tenacious and keep at it.

 

Thank you!

Our success story Entrepreneur

Azlo company logo of double arrows on the diagnonal in medium blue with the name Azlo.

Cameron Peake

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer

Azlo is a new banking experience for small businesses—fee-free business accounts without a minimum balance requirement.

www.azlo.com

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Disclaimer

All views and opinions expressed by the entrepreneurs interviewed are their own and do not represent those of Bank of the West WE Source, Bank of the West, or its affiliates.