SOMETHING I CANNOT DO WITHOUT: Earplugs. SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T USUALLY KNOW ABOUT ME: I have a degree in Pop Music. TWO TRUTHS ABOUT ME AND A LIE: I once got trapped in an elevator with a real housewife, I’m banned from Russia for staging a political protest outside the Kremlin, I’ve been to every continent.
Make banking inclusive, diverse, & LGBTQ-friendly
BRINGING HER WHOLE SELF TO EVERY PROJECT. Billie Simmons very specific and varied interests, hard work, and enthusiasm has led her into an unlikely field: “My degree is in pop music and I was a professional musician for a couple of years, but I also taught myself to code when I was 11 and I have an early background in web development—so I didn’t start in a place that immediately makes you think, ‘this woman must run a LGBTQ banking company’, but I do!”
Today, she’s the co-founder of Daylight, a banking platform developed by, run by, and for LGBTQ+ people. “It’s hard for me to get excited about things that I don’t connect with, so when I do—look out—because I dive in head first and give it my everything, always,” she explains.
Billie had a variety of frustrating and negative banking experiences, realizing the infrastructure and systemic issues were universal: “I’d previously worked in finance, so this project was a perfect combination of experiences and interest all rolled into one and I felt a light bulb go off in my mind—I was in.”
STANDING OUT BY FITTING IN. Taking all their research, spending and saving insights, and the hurdles they faced with traditional banking, Billie focused on core problem-solving models of design: “I love being able to work on a variety of difficult problems, and I’ll take them in whatever kind of shape or variance they exist, because I’ve done marketing, software engineering, fundraising, administrative design, and other bits and pieces of my past that lend to my ability to discover and create solutions.”
With research and insights, a sleek design, and a clear demographic, the Daylight team quickly found interest and trust with the LGBTQ community: “People try and design for the LGBTQ community all the time, but more as a cash-grab and less because they’re trying to extend value or solutioning. We were seen differently because we were our own customers first,” Billie says.
Billie knows diversity and inclusion might be seen as trendy, but Daylight’s embraces these values at all levels of their organization: “Of course the customers, the community is LGBTQ, but so is the whole company. When you roll something out this authentic, it’s actually incredibly easy to find amazing LGBTQ talent because everyone that is LGBTQ and talented wants to work for us because we’re building a company that excites our wildest dreams!”
But Billie quickly points out that even within the LGBTQ community, she is in a unique position: “I’m a trans founder. There are just a small handful of trans founders and CEO's. I know that makes me unique, that makes Daylight unique. But moreover, it also makes us more powerful, because we’re well represented in a variety of ways concerning the wider community, not just from one lens or one perspective.”
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