Nickels uses behavioral science to solve bank customers' thorniest financial challenges.
Joseph Gracia, Founder and CEO
Joseph Gracia is CEO and Founder of Nickels, a company that provides white-label digital SaaS products to banks and credit unions. Powered by behavioral science, Nickels helps improve customers' financial health, while unlocking new credit opportunities for their banking clients. Joseph previously built and ran the product team at WHOOP, a wearables company focused on unlocking human performance. Joseph also ran the Behavioral Marketing & Design team at OPOWER, an energy efficiency company. Joseph started his career in strategy consulting, after earning a Masters in Environmental Policy from The University of Cambridge and a Bachelors with Honors from Bates College.
1. What experience or person encouraged you to be an entrepreneur?
I first worked for clean-tech startup, Opower, in 2011. Over the past 10 years, I've enjoyed being able to work with startups that are earlier in the process from positions of increasing responsibility. That career progression gave me the itch and the confidence to start something literally from scratch as the founder and CEO. It wasn't one experience, but a series of experiences over multiple years before I finally decided to make the leap.
2. What has been your biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur/startup?
Early on, I wasn't expecting the emotional challenges that came with startup life. The company is so fragile at the start, and it's a rollercoaster with dramatic swings from high to low in any given week. I knew the process and expected the swings, but it's different when you're the founder and it's your baby. I'd like to think that I've gotten better at maintaining an even keel as we continue to ride the startup rollercoaster.
3. What are you most proud of?
Four months after we launched our first product, the pandemic hit and nearly all federal student loan payments were paused across the country. Having just released a product that helped people manage their federal student loan payments, a 15 month pause to payments (and counting) could have, and perhaps should have, been a death blow to our company. I'm tremendously proud that we survived 2020, and now we are launching our second product.