Working for Free as a New Startup Business Owner

Working-for-Free-as-a-New-Startup-Business-OwnerStartup companies are usually drawn out with only a basic idea. When that idea blossoms and plans begin to slowly roll into place, exponential growth and revenue start playing a role. Customers flock by the thousands and leads become somewhat of a bore. You’ve finally made it.

This may all seem like a dream and with the best of the best out there competing against you; the odds don’t work in your favor. But every startup company has to begin somewhere. You need your first customer and that first paycheck. You need the “free” investments where you essentially give away your product for case studies. You need to experience all of these things to be able to make a splash as an entrepreneur.

Javier Loya CEO of OTC Global Holdings says: “Consider working for free as an investment. If you are barely starting as a company, you need to spread word about what your company is about and why you’re qualified to do what you claim you do. Skepticism often occurs when people think about services offered mainly because they don’t really know what to expect. This is where you shine.”

One small “yes” can create the exposure that your company needs to be able to attract the public. While it may be tempting to increase your prices tenfold after getting your first customers, you have to remember that you are still swimming in the shallow end of the pool. “Hard work does pay off, and committing yourself to the nuances of free work in the beginning of your career could potentially be the best decision that you ever made,’ adds Javier Loya  of OTC Global Holdings.

A Reflection on the Greek Default Crisis

By Samuel Phineas Upham

The crisis involving Greek National Debt began in the latter half of 2009, and it has been ongoing until just recently. At the beginning of August in 2015, the crisis finally showed signs of becoming a thing of the past. As of this writing, it appears that Greece has mostly navigated this turbulent time period. What remains, what was gained and what was lost are worth reflecting upon.

The Bigger Issues

Greece as a country only accounts for a little over 1% of the European GDP, so why was it so important to keep this country in the Union? There was some concern that if Greece exited the Eurozone, that other countries might follow suit.

Because more than half of the GDP already consists of government spending, Greece further contributes to this problem and shows no signs of stopping the downward slope. The European taxpayers, meanwhile, are on the hook for a debt they aren’t even publicly aware they’ll pay.

There is also the European Central Bank’s promise that bonds will always be paid whatever it takes, so long as countries remain within the Union. Some might see this as a free ticket for Greece to continue mismanaging its funds. Certainly Germany hopes for a different outcome.

Bigger Challenges

The idea that a unified Europe solves all ills might seem attractive, but is there evidence to support such theories? Other, more developed parts of the Union like Spain or France have also suffered from the threat of default. Those past challenges may only grow more intense as time passes.

Samuel Phineas Uphamis an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

Phin Upham Talks About the Biggest Challenge Today’s Consumer Faces

By Phin Upham

According to Phin Upham, the biggest challenge that today’s consumer faces is one of access. Over half the population, Upham argues, doesn’t have the kind of access to data they need to properly manage their finances.

In a world where a supercomputer is in most people’s pockets or backpacks, technology has not been able to keep pace with demand.

What’s at Stake?

If consumers don’t start saving, they are likely to face a future of borrowing for services at crippling interest. The poor already pay steep fees for late payments, and their credit takes a hit too. Amplify that and add twenty years to it. That is the challenge economists face today.

Possible Solutions

Phin Upham and others at the Milken Institute Global Conference floated around a few ideas that could solve this challenge:

  • Legislation: AKA regulation, this solution is a double-edged sword. Regulation has strengthened bank reserves, but the need to keep that kind of savings has reduced liquidity. As interest rates rise, banks literally cannot choose between saving and lending. Something has to give.
  • Deregulation: Perhaps rolling back some rules will help, but which ones and can we afford to wait long enough for the government to react? Also, if deregulation is pushed too far there are consequences for that too. Like unchecked corruption.
  • Investment: Perhaps the soundest approach is a continued investment in FinTech. Something needs to change, or the middle class will continue to erode. The solution is technology, but big banks are slow to respond. Smaller startups need money for a “sandbox” environment they can use to experiment and grow without fear of reprisal.


As with any investment, FinTech is risk but it’s a controlled risk with a massive potential reward. If FinTech wins, everyone grows.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.

What Does it Mean to Be Wealthy?

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Being wealthy is not a chance occurrence. There is plenty of evidence that the single-minded pursuit of wealth can lead people into dangerous and stupid decisions. There is also extreme animosity towards the wealthy, especially as financial crisis looms on the hearts and minds of people. Having wealth can mean different things to different people.

Is Money the Root of Evil?

Bill Gates uses money to bring technology and infrastructure to third world countries. There are some who use their money for less ambitious purposes, but money is not inherently evil. Money is most often misused when people are not honest with themselves concerning how they acquired their wealth or what they plan to do with it. Money is inexorably wrapped up in the ideas and concepts of culture, so it’s important to understand how money affects you and to be honest about what you can do within your own means.

Money Won’t Make You Happy

Money doesn’t suddenly provide fulfillment. It is a tool used as a means to an end. If you are confused as to what those ends are, you will struggle with finding meaning for the money you spend. There is a false perception that life is a series of external events. Life is not what you wear, what you drive or the home you live in. Richness and wealth are values that you instill in yourself. Develop a thirst for life and wealth will complement your lifestyle.

Being rich isn’t a miracle cure-all for life’s problems. If anything else, the old adage is true that more money can be more problems. Staying true to you is crucial to being happy, no matter what your means.

Samuel Phineas Uphamis an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

The Jewish View of Philanthropy

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Philanthropy, according to Judaism, is not just something you can do. It is something you must do. The act of giving is a duty not just to your God but to your community, and it’s not something limited to the rich alone. Everyone is encouraged to give what they can, to give tzedakah and support their fellow man. This concept is very different from how other religions perceive charity.

Christianity, for instance, was very specific on its definition of philanthropy. This was a problem throughout the Dark Ages, as one could not trade or offer food or supplies to others for gain of any kind. As a result, this period had almost no commerce to speak of and civilization was very close to primitive. Excommunication from the Church was a major offense, and would likely lead to lifelong consequences.

This is very different from the Jewish concept, which is closer to what we think of as justice. When someone donates their money to a worthy cause, it is not an act of benevolence but an act of justice. Because God is the source of all money, you are merely giving back to the whole.

Yet the faith does recognize that money and acts of kindness are not so easily given. Though we strive in our principles to do right, and to act charitably, we are not able to save everyone from every circumstance. This is why the concept of tzedakah is more powerful than life itself. Charity can literally save someone from their own demise, and is considered one of the most powerful acts a person can do.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Linkedin page.

The First Stock Exchanges

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

The New York Stock Exchange is like the major leagues of stocks, but it’s neither the only nor the original stock exchange. In fact, people have been trading shares in companies since the dawn of banking. From Venice to New York, here is a brief picture of the world’s stock exchanges.

Venetian Merchants

The merchants of Venice helped to fill a gap that the big banks of the time couldn’t. Certain debts were considered high risk, either because of the amount borrowed or the interest associated with the loan. These merchants would trade the debts with one another, which eventually gave way to the ability to sell that debt to customers in the form of “securities.”

Belgium Stock Exchange

The exchange at Antwerp was one of the earliest examples of a stock exchange in existence. Merchants would gather in Antwerp to discuss business, and trade debt notes with one another. The exchange was almost exclusively confined to paper notes and bonds. Though it was common to partner up for business ventures, there were no official shares that could change hands at the time.

East India Companies

The Dutch, British and French governments all lent money generously to companies who agreed to carry the “East India” brand. The formation of these companies changed how business was done. Each company had stocks that paid out dividends depending on how well it performed. In the past, earnings were calculated voyage by voyage, but the East Indian companies considered all voyages for the year when looking at earnings. This is similar to the modern concepts of quarterly and annual financial statements.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Twitter page.

How a Mortgage Works

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Mortgages are long-term loans that are granted by the bank to a borrower. Mortgages use the property and the land it sits upon as collateral for the loan. When a home sale closes, the buyer signs documents that essentially grant the lender rights to a lien on the property.

Mortgages can trace themselves back to the Great Depression, when the Federal Housing Administration first got its start making loans to the general public. Loans were not entirely unheard of before then, but most real estate transactions were all-cash. Today, consumers pay these loans off over a long period of time (usually 15-30 years).

Each month, the borrower is required to make a payment towards the loan. This payment, often referred to as PITI, covers all elements of the loan itself. The lender helps the borrower set up an amortization table, which describes where the money from each payment will go. The principle represents the full balance of the loan, not the purchase price of the house. So the principle is the loan minus the down payment. The user then pays interest on that remaining balance based on what the bank agreed upon with the borrower. There are also taxes on the property that the owner will always remain responsible for. The owner is also responsible for maintaining property insurance against theft, fire, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Borrowers also have options for where their money goes. They can choose to pay off taxes and insurance in one lump sum, which helps reduce the monthly payment without affecting the mortgage balance.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website

Trust Documentation to Tech

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All companies have to deal with documentation, even in this, the paperless age. If you don’t handle it correctly, though, something as seemingly minor as invoice mailing can come back to bite you in a big way.

That’s why it’s important that you leverage documentation technology to your company’s benefit. Otherwise, you’re just begging for human error to eventually make your life much more difficult than it needs to be.

Document outsourcing is a great option so long as you’re entrusting it to a superior form of software. If that’s the case, you can rely on it to handle everything from addressing to formatting to mailing it out to tracking it. That’s how outsourcing is supposed to work and you didn’t even have to pay somebody extra to do it.

What’s more, with technology on your side, you have an absolutely infallible paper trail. Handling documentation correctly is one thing. Being able to prove you did so is another. The latter is essential if you want to succeed in your industry on a regular basis. Mistakes will happen, after all, so it’s important that you’re prepared.

Don’t let something as simple as documentation become your company’s Achilles heel.


Whether you have credit union statementsto contend withor some other vital type of documentation, you need to ensure that it gets to where it needs to be as soon as possible and in the correct form. Don’t leave this important matter to chance, leave it to Lanvera.

What Caused the 2008 Financial Collapse?

This article was written by Phineas Upham

Though the housing market is showing signs of recovery today, the 2008 crises dealt a significant blow to US backed mortgages. The resulting collapse of several mortgage banks led to an over $700 billion bailout package arranged by the federal government. How American banks got there is a lesson in financial planning.

There were many causes of the mortgage crises, the biggest being a vast increase in subprime mortgages. Historically, subprime mortgages have never peaked above 8%. In two years, that number spiked to almost 20%, and 90% of those mortgages were adjustable rates. This meant that borrowers were facing ballooning payments on rates that would change at a specified date.

Coupled with the extreme debt faced by many US households, lending was at risk of default. Prices for homes also rose, which caused many loans to go upside down. When the adjustable rates kicked in, buyers found themselves in a difficult situation. They could not refinance to a more acceptable rate, nor could they afford the higher house payment.

The crisis also had repercussions outside of the US, where foreign lenders lost money on the debts they bought up. This led to worldwide concerns that the US would default on its loans, and the country lost its triple A credit rating.

In total, the housing market lost nearly 30% of its value by 2009. Roughly 6% of the American work force was jobless, and the stock market had lost almost 50% of its value. Today, the markets are rebounding but the climb back up is slow to come.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.

Repealing Glass-Steagall

Written by Phin Upham

When the Glass-Steagall Act was passed, it was hoped that consumers would get some protection from banks using their money for speculative dealings. Over time, these protections weakened and the legislation no longer covered consumers the way it had. It took 66 years and many pieces of legislation to fully repeal Glass-Steagall and update the banking laws.

First Repeal Efforts

Senator Glass tried to repeal his own act in 1935. He believed that the act was causing undue damage to the securities markets, because banks were prohibited from underwriting corporate securities. He managed to pass a revision in 1935 granting banks this power, but Roosevelt argued that the language would restore old abuses. Subsequently, the final bill passed without Glass’s additions to it.

Continued Competition

Banks had a problem with their borrowers over time. In an attempt to help their best customers, banks issued commercial paper that certified their customers as borrowers from capital markets. This left banks with a lot of poor credit customers that eventually couldn’t borrow. Many in the financial industry viewed the regulators as having too much power, which led to several important decisions made during the Reagan administration.

Reagan Administration Changes

In an effort to give bank affiliates broader powers over their securities, a bill was put forth to allow banks to underwrite and use customer money for mutual fund investments (among other securities). Another sweeping change came in the form of the Competitive Equality Banking Act, which established a moratorium on bank regulators and prevented new securities activities. CEBA would buy congress some time to review the remaining legislation in Glass-Steagall and eventually finish the full repeal.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham