March 8, 2022
Perry Zheng, Founder, and CEO of Cash Flow Portal, wrote his first line of code on April 8, 2020. Fast forward two years to the present day, where the startup now employs a team of 15 to build a world-class product focused on customer obsession.
April also marks Perry’s graduation from Y Combinator (W22), a startup accelerator and incubator. With all the momentum of growing a company, we caught up with Perry and the team to learn about company culture and what’s next!
Watch the full interview below to learn more!
Perry describes his feelings of YC graduation as “hungover” and “humbling,” in the sense of the program’s intensity but also surrounding himself with others who went through a similar journey. By joining YC, Perry received actionable advice (i.e., focus on sales vs. marketing). He also realized that his proximity to other YC founders of multi-billion dollar startups is relatable: “they are not any more eloquent than I am, they don’t necessarily speak another language than I do, they’re just normal people.”
The entrepreneurial path can be long and lonely, and maintaining a work-life balance can be a challenge. Perry explains that the work comes in two folds – physical work that can be delegated as the company grows. However, the emotional toll can be stressful. As a solo founder, Perry thinks about everything he has to do and “cannot just turn off his brain.”
To manage the list of ongoing tasks, he appreciates afternoon walks around the lake to let his mind wander. The serenity of the lake allows ideas to form organically while taking a break from the high-paced nature of the startup world.
If there is anything that Perry has proven, running Cash Flow Portal is his poise for leadership. During his Second Seed Round webinar, he mentioned that he permed his hair and changed his appearance about his commitment to serving the company in any way, shape, or form. His willingness to act on feedback is an attestation to being malleable to better serve the company.
Another note on Perry’s leadership is that witnessing employees grow puts a smile on his face. Perry has benefited managers and directors who believed in him more than he believed in himself. Through this philosophy, he hires junior/ staff engineers who have demonstrated talent and potential but still strive for continuous improvement.
His team’s growth and progress make his role rewarding, “When people can make the right decision and can think outside the box, even if it’s not what I would have done, I understand the logic of their decision, which makes my day.” This is comparable to the tiger mom analogy, where he sets the standards high for operational excellence, and his team can meet those expectations through autonomy, collaboration, and resilience.
Perry is very excited about Marketplace, which connects sponsors with new investors to raise more equity. Trust in real estate transactions can be one of the biggest barriers to making an investment. However, we can leverage technology to facilitate this. Technology does not replace trust, but “information breeds trust and technology breeds information,” which can be the vehicle to increase transparency, visibility, and track record.
While Perry can technically retire yesterday and live comfortably, his mission is to help more people achieve financial freedom. Ironically once people have a taste, they will find more purpose in their work as it is a means to an end, or even go the entrepreneurial route to uplift more people!
“When I joined, it felt like a passion project we were working on during our spare time. Over time, we refined and expanded the product and our vision. Now that we have a bigger team, a lot of the passion remains, but we have so much more capability to create our vision.” -Russell, Software Engineer.
“Supportive” -Philip, Software Engineer
“Perry is extremely caring, understanding, and respectful of every individual. His theory of having a positive influence, cycle, and creating an environment where we can all grow together makes him a very powerful and admirable leader.” -Yui, Executive Assistant.
“Has a great vision of the bigger picture, and works tirelessly to achieve it.” -Russell, Software Engineer.
“We have big plans and big ambitions, but our current focus is growing our Marketplace to connect more everyday investors with experienced syndicators who can help them reach their financial goals faster. In 3-6 months, I’d love for the Cash Flow Portal to be the first port of call for any investors that want to diversify their portfolio and gain access to truly passive income.” -Shelley, Head of Revenue.
“I’d say loyal because we’ve never had a customer leave us, and they always have great things to say about us at conferences, in forums, etc.! Another word could be proactive – they stay on top of their stuff, give amazing feedback, schedule calls with us as needed, and ask for great feature requests!” -Chloe, Account Executive.
“Can’t think of anything- after hearing the Cash Flow will be the brand and Portal is just one of our products, just thought the name “Cash Flow” was already perfect and fitting our target audiences and future product visions.” -Tow, Software Engineer.
“I think that we, as a company, are very inclusive! Even though I’ve only been here for a few months, I do think that everyone is very friendly and easy to work with. The work environment is very welcoming.” -Chaithat, Software Engineer.
“Empowering work environment pushes me to be the best engineer I can be.” -Russell, Software Engineer.
“Cash Flow Portal’s engineering team is one of the best I’ve seen in a startup. We combine the expertise of industry veterans from large teams building complex products at large tech companies with scrappy hackers who get us from point A to B as quickly as possible. We also have the benefit of having a CEO who has significant experience as both a leading engineer and as an engineering manager.” -Allen, Software Engineer
“One unique thing about CFP’s engineering team is our approach to team composition. Although we do hire at all levels, we tend to focus on two groups: junior engineers with lots of potential and experienced and high-performing senior engineers. The idea is that the more senior group can provide sound direction for the company as a whole and as a result, the entire team can grow quickly and move efficiently.” -Allen Software Engineer.